Robert and "O"

On this episode of The SHAIR Podcast we interview one my closest and dearest friends…Robert.

Robert, who is now 4 years sober, takes us though 20 years of active addiction and recovery. At the age of 19 Robert hits his first bottom with alcohol, ends up in rehab and jumps into recovery. For the next 15 years he lands an amazing job, gets married, has children, and… stops going to meetings.

During this period he leaves his wife and children, remarries, and after 15 years of not drinking or using, he relapses in spectacular fashion. For the next 4 years Robert’s addiction takes him to new lows… where suicide becomes his only way out…until a surprising phone call stops him and saves his life. It’s an amazing journey of recovery, join us now…

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Here are Robert V.’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:

Clean Date: 3/20/2010

Tell us about your life today. Your hobbies, what you do for a living. Take us into your normal daily routine including recovery?

Robert: I am an attorney. I have a pretty busy life – not just because of work. I’m also the father of three children.  I do yoga twice a week for 1.5 hours on Monday nights and Thursday nights. I also do a routine called “Tacfit” on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:00am. I started to learn French about three months ago so I take French lessons on Wednesdays at midday for 2 hours with a private tutor.

On top of that, I do at least 4 meetings a week and aside try to do in-service work so I have a pretty busy schedule. I love to travel. I love tattoos. I have a lot of tattoos. I had my most recent tattoo about 2 weeks ago. I’m sponsoring one guy right now, a wonderful sponsee. I started working with him when he was about 70 days sober maybe and he is a year and 4 months now approximately.

How old were you the first time you drank or used drugs and more importantly how did it make you feel?

Robert: Well it was alcohol. That’s what I was offered and that’s what I took.  I was 12 or 13. I don’t really remember the exact age, but it was 12 or 13 years of age and I believe it was beer. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I do remember what happened when I had it.

That feeling of inadequacy, which I had felt my whole life, was gone. I had 2 or 3 drinks. I was absolutely drunk, but I was also the happiest, most carefree person in the world at that precise moment. My romance with alcohol started that day with my first drink.

What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?

Robert: The most important feeling that I had when I used was that I felt good and I learned many years ago, I think I was taught incorrectly by my ego, if I felt good, if I felt a rush, if I felt that something was intense then life was good. Feeling bad was not allowed. The moment I took my first drink and my first high, I knew that I could feel good all the time and when I wasn’t drinking during that period of time that I talked about I would try to feel good with external things – food, shopping, money, opinions and people’s approval.

What was difficult was to realize that I would have to take it all the away. That I would have to feel bad and at times, it was very uncomfortable and difficult. I didn’t want to go through that because in my mind I had trained myself to believe that feeling good equal’s success and happiness. Feeling bad shouldn’t be there, not only because I had gotten rid of all these substances, but because I realized that I had to change everything in my life completely in order to be sober and that’s what kept me away.

What is the best book you have read in recovery and would recommend to new comers?

Robert:  The best book is the “AA Big Book” and I know that’s a boring answer, but it’s true. The big book is magnificent. Still today I find new words, new phrases that in my mind I hadn’t seen before.

Aside from that, there’s a book called “A New Pair of Glasses”, which is outstanding. I think the author is Chuck C. if I’m not wrong.

It’s great and once the new comer has felt comfortable with the concept of a higher power and comfortable with the idea of God and comfortable with the idea of surrender, then he should read “A Sermon on the Mount” by Emmet Fox, which I think, is amazing. It’s a wonderful book. Emmet Fox inspired a lot of our founders at first and some of our literature in the beginning.

What is the best suggestion you have ever received?

Robert: Keep coming back. I’m always going to say that. Keep coming back. It doesn’t matter if your day is not a good day. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t the best meeting. It doesn’t matter if you’re not feeling wonderful that day. It doesn’t matter. The end result is your life. If you keep coming back, it all gets better and it all gets easier and I’m going to put emphasis on the word “easier” because life continues to have a lot of trials and tribulations.

A normal person’s life can also have problems and the only thing that really gets better is that it gets easier. I have better tools to handle life on life’s terms, but I am only afforded that possibility if I keep coming back. Even if it seems like nothing is getting better, even if you think that it’s hopeless, even if you think that it’s going to be different for you, keep coming back. I guarantee that it gets a lot better and once again, I don’t know if it’s going to take three months, three years or ten years. It may take a long time depending on the things or events that appeared in your life, but it gets better and it gets easier. Don’t take my word for it. Look around the room and look at all those people in the room all the time who are smiling, happy and peaceful even if their world may be falling on top of their heads. It gets easier.

If you could impart only one suggestion to a new comer, what would it be?

Robert: To surrender, to believe. My suggestion is that as soon as you walk in find yourself a sponsor, somebody who you know is working the program and follow their suggestions. That’s the most important thing. The people in these rooms have a lot of wisdom you just need to find a sponsor and surrender to his guidance. That’s the best thing you can do at the beginning because your sponsor will try to guide us and lead us in the right direction no matter what, with unconditional love. Your sponsor doesn’t have personal interests, doesn’t have anything to gain except to give you loving words and to try to pull you through it. Get in those rooms, surrender immediately to a sponsor, find one and just follow the steps.

Of all the meetings you have attended anywhere in the world, which group is your favorite and where is that group located?

Robert: My favorite group has to be my home group, the Zú Group Escazú located in Cost Rica.

There are seven meetings a week:

Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00am
Wednesdays at 12:00
Saturdays at 9:00 am
Sundays at 12:30.

Amazing group, it keeps a lot of people sober. It’s great.


The Zú Group Escazú Guachipelin, Costa Rica

Thanks again for your SHAIR Robert!


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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.