Welcome to another episode of The SHAIR Podcast. Today, we have Zach B. Joining us! Zach is a father of twins, an amazing husband, a wonderful, powerful example to the rest of his community, especially in the recovery community, where he does a tremendous amount of service, but prior to all of this, Zach was surrounded by drugs and alcohol from the age of twelve and had a tumultuous relationship with alcohol and drugs until he found recovery. Zach’s got an amazing and powerful story. Join Us Now!
Clean Date: March 10th 2013
This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation
Here are Zach’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights:
Zach: Oh absolutely. It’s pretty boring, to be honest with you. Right now, every second is accounted for. I’ll tell you that much. I hit the ground running. I wake up about 6:00 AM, and I have twin boys. They’re six months old now, so they keep me on my toes. I actually didn’t get up until about 7:00 or 8:00, but now I notice that I’ve got to get up a little extra early to get my work in and get my meditation going, so I can have a clear mind when they wake up.
After that, pretty much I do what I need to for work. I go in. I commute. I’m a marketing consultant for many companies, a social media strategist, Facebook expert, so I work for a lot of different companies. I have a lot of free range and I’m blessed for that. I try to dive into different meetings. I have a home group in my home town that I love, and it’s been a part of my recovery in a huge way. I have a beautiful wife. I’m actually converting to Catholic, so I have RCIA. Every Wednesday, I go and learn more about my higher power, and it’s just every second is accounted for, like I said. It’s just a blessing being where I am today.
Omar: No question about it. You’ve got twin boys, six months old.
Zach: Twin boys, six months old. Identical, yeah.
Zach: It’s been heck of a ride, and it wasn’t the best pregnancy. My wife, when we found out, we soon after found out that they had what was called TTTS, and that’s twin to twin transfusion. Basically, one was taking more of the groceries, to put it in the simplest terms. About eighteen weeks, we had to rush out to Ohio for emergency surgery, and after that surgery, everything kind of fixed itself and, by God’s grace, they showed up four weeks early. They spent some time in the hospital, but man, they’re growing and they’re thriving like ever right now. It’s tough to not believe in some kind of higher power when you go through something like that.
Omar: Did the boys come out fine? Did they have any sort of …
Zach: They had complications, yeah. They came out and they both had to be on breathing support for a couple weeks. I really didn’t even get to see their face. As soon as they were born, I got to see their face right off the bat, but we got to spend maybe sixty seconds total with them, and kind of see them real quick, and then they had to rush them off.
Zach: They were on mask and breathing tubes and all that for the first couple weeks, so the first time I saw their face, it was amazing. It’s just been a blessing.
Omar: Then after they were done in the hospital, I’m sure they were in the incubators and that kind of thing, have there been any side effects after that once they were released?
Zach: No. So far it’s been amazing. I mean, the doctors did everything they needed to do. Actually, one got to come home about three days earlier than the other one, so it was funny. When we got one home, something felt off, you know? It wasn’t complete, and then finally went back and got the other one, and then it started. They both got some colds about four months in, but nothing serious. I mean, they’ve just been healthy babies so far. Man, they’re growing.
Omar: The reason why I ask that is because I wanted to know just how much of a miracle went on over there. It’s nothing short of a miracle. I’ve seen this happen so many times in recovery because my next question is going to be about that, okay? That reliance on a higher power becomes so heavy in those moments because it’s so stressful. As a human, that fear based anxiety that takes over, and at the same time, you’re like, “Come on, God. Help me through this. Help me through this.” Then at the end of it all, you’ve got these beautiful boys. They’re like six months old.
Zach: I said down in Ohio when we were going over the procedures beforehand and the doctor said to us, he said, “You’re not going to get one of these babies out pretty much.” He said, “We’re going to save this one. That’s our goal is to save one. We can’t promise you two. We can barely say that you’re going to get one out of this.” As soon as he said that, my alcoholic mind went straight to, if this happens, I’m going to drink. That’s exactly what I thought. It’s amazing that I thought like that so quickly, but after just praying and all that, my HP kind of came back in and said, “Look, we’re going to get through this.” Sure enough, he had a journey he had to take me through, but at the end of it, it’s my alcoholic mind that I have to maintenance daily because I think like that. I mean, you know how we are, man.
Omar: Yes, yes.
Zach: You wait for something bad to happen so you can rationalize your situation. I’ve gotta completely give it up every time.
Omar: Was Buddy your sponsor at the time?
Zach: He was my sponsor, so having him was key to kind of be able to vent because my wife, as strong as she is, she’s not alcoholic and she’s not an addict either, so I can vent to her, but she really doesn’t understand what I’m going … I don’t want to put that. She was going through way too much at the time.
Omar: Right, right.
Zach: I did not need to throw that on her.
Zach: Being able to have that sponsor to kind of kick back in it. In this whole entire world, man, you can go to a meeting. I mean, you can literally find a meeting like a Starbucks now.
Zach: That’s so beautiful, man, about this program.
Omar: I’ll just say one more thing about, I mean, if I’m going to go through a storm like this one, I’d want Buddy next to me. That’s for sure.
Zach: Exactly, exactly.
Omar: He’s all about God, so let’s jump into that. My next question is how do you maintain your spiritual condition? That conscious contact with a higher power on a daily basis?
Zach: I was born into a very Southern Baptist family. I’m from Georgia, so it was pretty much where I was raised up, you walked up to the alter and you got knocked down. The preacher would hit you in the head and you would fall down, you know?
Omar: Oh man.
Zach: I would always look around and wait, you know? When’s a good time to get back up. I don’t’ want to get up too early. I don’t want to be in trouble with my mom, you know? It was like you’re going to do this or you’re going to go to hell, so my childhood religion was really screwed up to me. I chose, instead of faulting God, it was more of like abandoning that and going a different route. Now, I am a Catholic. Not yet. I am converting to Catholicism and it’s just a beautiful religion to me. Being able to refer to different prayer books and stuff like that. I’m real routine, and if I have to think of something off the top of my brain, like a free style prayer to God, it’s kind of tough for me. I get to rambling, so being able to have those stationary prayers is key for me.
I’m a big fan of carrying around my rosary in my pocket. It helps me kind of remember who is there and who is in charge. If I need to break that out and say a couple Hail Marys, that definitely helps me get through some tough times during the day where little things here and there, but my biggest besides God is going to AA. Going to meetings and connecting with these people that have the same struggles that I do, as well as my sponsor, but really just meditating. Making sure I did this today and I do this about three times a week.
I run about three to four times a week, and the other, I do crossfit. I love Les Brown. He’s an old time motivational speaker, but I’ll go to YouTube. You can YouTube. It’s Les Brown. I’ll go for a run and he’s very inspirational stuff. I can just forget I’m running, man. I can just tune into that and you’re really like, “Man, I’m glad I’m here right now. I’m so glad I’m in this moment. I’m listening to positive stuff, and I’m being fueled by just good vibes, man.” I’m definitely not spending hours a day meditating, but I do know that I can stop at any point of the day and restart and say, “Hey, God. Let’s start over.”
Omar: Man, that’s beautiful. I love it. It’s really, really a wonderful way of explaining what your routine is, and it’s also because, as we jump into your story, we’re going to be talking about the wreckage of your past. The metamorphose that happens to all of us when we find recovery. When we truly find recovery, and for me, it’s always been like once I found recovery, that’s when I found God.
Zach: Oh yeah.
Omar: I think for many of us, it’s exactly the same way, so I love it, man. I love it. Tell us, Zach, how much clean time to do you have and when is your anniversary date?
Zach: March 10th will be three years for me, God willing, so it’s coming up and it’s approaching quickly. Yeah, it’s about three years.
Omar: Excellent. Tell us how old you were the first time you drank or used drugs, and more importantly, how did they make you feel?
Zach: Yes. I was twelve years old. I was at a buddy’s house. I remember like it was yesterday. His parents were drinking, having a little pool party, and I was with my best friends. We cracked open a few Budweisers specifically. I remember having one to two Budwiesers. I was in the house, in their bedroom, and all of a sudden, the next think you know I’m in the pool. At that moment, I realized that I pretty much found how to teleport, and I was so excited about that. I was so excited. I was like, “Man, this is amazing.” Then two more later, I’m throwing up in their Birkenstocks and there’s just vomit everywhere.
Funny story, to fast forward it just real quick is I was having trouble, and I’ll get into it later, but I was having trouble the first three months and Buddy actually … I told him. I said, “Look, maybe I’m not an alcoholic. Maybe I’m just going way overboard here.” He said, “Zach, when was your first drink?,” or he asked me when was the first time I ever ate apple pie. I was like, “Hell, I don’t know.” He’s like, “Have you ever had apple pie?” I said, “Yeah, I’ve had it tons of times.” “When’s the first time you had it?” I said, “I have no idea.” He said, “When’s the first time you drank?” I was like, “I was at a buddy’s house. It was March, so and so date. It was a little light out.” He said, “You’re an alcoholic.” I was like, “Good point.”
Omar: I love those. I call that a bear trap.
Zach: Mmm-hmm (affirmative)
Omar: I call that a bear trap. I use it all the time.
Zach: I had no idea where he was going.
Zach: He said, “If you can remember something that blatantly and you enjoyed it that much, then you have an issue with it today.” I’m full blown alcoholic, man. I was really wanting to rationalize and get out of it at that point, but yeah, I was twelve years old, man. I knew from that point on that I wanted to base my life around figuring out how I could drink more.
Omar: Absolutely. You fall into the category You Might Be An Alcoholic If. What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Zach: It was white knuckling in the beginning, but it came to be the program. The program actually introduced me to my higher power, which I now call God. That was it, man. It helped me understand that I needed to surround myself with good people and like-minded people with the same goals of recovery, and to hold myself accountable every day. That I didn’t have to do it by myself anymore. God was right there the entire time and I could always lean on him. That’s what held me.
Omar: Absolutely. At what point did you have a spiritual awakening? That aha moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed a hope that you could recover?
Zach: Absolutely, yeah. No, that was, and I didn’t mention it before. It was that first time when I kind of pulled into the AA clubhouse. I walked in the doors, and I sat in the back of that room. I heard a little bit of myself in everyone in that room. I knew from that point on. I was like, “I don’t have to do this alone. There’s a way to feel better than I am right now.” It literally was a spiritual experience that sent goosebumps through me at that moment. It’s tough because a lot of people that are in recovery, they don’t share that story. They don’t share that same experience, and some of them don’t have immediate spiritual experiences, so I’m blessed to have that because that definitely spiked my interest from the get go.
Omar: Zach, do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to a newcomer that you read in early recovery?
Zach: Yeah. Obviously, The Big Book. I went through that front to back. Other than that, The Alchemist, which I’ve heard on your show before. That was one of the first books I’ve read in recovery outside of any other literature. I read it before when I was in high school, half assed, and it had a whole new meaning. I read it again and it had another meaning, so no matter how many times I read that book, it seems like I get something else out of it. It was definitely a good one. Other than that, I read a lot of business and marketing books. Probably you do too, but I just love anything marketing, so I meditate through marketing sometimes as well.
Omar: Yeah. I’ll tell you, man. You get through the steps. There’s plenty. There’s The Big Book and the Twelve in Twelve. You’ve got you standard recovery material, but that Alchemist, whenever I would get lost in my life, I just pick it up. I would pick up that book, and at some point, I would always get something different out of it. It would always talk to me in those moments where I was in the most lost.
Zach: Have you ever heard of medium.com?
Zach: It’s a platform. It’s a social media platform for bloggers, and I always say his name wrong, but Paulo Coelho.
Omar: Yeah, Paulo Coelho.
Zach: He’s a blogger on there, and the stuff he shares is just amazing. I mean, just daily stuff he’ll blog. He’s just a beautiful writer.
Omar: What’s it called?
Zach: Medium, like small, medium, large. Medium.
Omar: That’s the name of the site? Medium?
Zach: Yeah. Medium.com.
Omar: All right.
Zach: I’m signed up on there, and I blog here and there. That’s another thing I do in the morning. Meditate, it’s just blog away, man. Just release my thoughts onto a pad.
Omar: Here we go. Found it. Excellent. I found it. Okay, so I’m going to add this to the show notes, folks. That will be on the show notes, so just go there and click on it.
Zach: Good stuff.
Omar: All right, so Zach, what is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Zach: It had to be Buddy. He tells me this over and over again. He says, “Let go or get dragged.” When I come up to him and I’m bitching and complaining. I was like, “Man, this is not going my way. I should be getting paid this much in this job.” He says, “Zach, let go or get dragged. You can’t control any of this. The outcome is God’s and God’s alone, so you just live this life, man.” I write that down everywhere I go, and I use it, and I love it. I mean, let go or get dragged. It’s so true.
Omar: I love it. Okay, and if you could give a newcomer only one suggestion, what would it be?
Zach: You deserve this. I mean, that’s one thing it took me a while to accept. That I could deserve something better, something more meaningful. If anyone is listening to this and they’re on the edge of recovery or in the midst of it and you’re doubting yourself, you deserve every bit of good that’s going to come your way. Trust me, good is going to come. When the storm is done and it’s weathered, there’s going to be sun, and it’s beautiful. It’s like you’re looking through glasses. I mean, just the vision is beautiful. You’ll learn new things. You’ll have new hobbies. There will be so much more to replace your alcoholism or your addiction. It’s not even funny. You can do some great things.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“Let go or get dragged…”
Omar: Chuck C, baby. New pair of glasses.
Omar: You will see with a new pair of glasses. Man, that is absolutely beautiful. Zach, what a wonderful way to close up, man. I love those suggestions, especially the one about let go or get dragged. I’m going to start using that one.
Zach: Yeah, that’s it.
Omar: For sure.
Zach: That’s it. Let go or get dragged.
Omar: Oh man. Zach, thank you so much for sharing your story.
Zach: Oh man, it’s been a pleasure, man. I love what you’re doing, and just keep it up, man.
Omar: You got it, buddy. I love this. You know, service, service, service. I’m all about it.
Zach: That’s it, man.
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Zach!
See you then!
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.