How rituals & routines help your recovery

Steven Galatioto is part of our SHAIR private FB network. He is a California transplant who lives in Japan where he owns an English school. He is a gifted artist, musician, husband, and dad. He is also a recovering alcoholic who used to hide whiskey bottles in his garden.

Now Steven has launched his own recovery platform called Serene and Sober. Listen his to story of recovery from alcoholism and how rituals and routines lay the framework so that he can make the most out of his life in sobriety!

Listen to Steven’s story now!

CLEAN DATE: March 4th, 2017

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Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!

Daily Routine

Steven loves routines and rituals. He wakes up 5:30 in the morning. First, he does about 300 sit-ups in his bed. Then he goes straight into prayer and meditation. He uses the sit-ups to get out of his head and get into his body. He starts with the Step 3 prayer and meditates for 5 to 10 minutes. Afterward, he hydrates with about a liter of water and exercises.

Once the first morning rituals are out of the way, he goes up to his home office where he does some affirmations and journaling. He lists 3 things he’s grateful and writes down his tasks for the day. This is how he gets his body, mind, and spirit set before waking up his wife and kids. He makes breakfast for everybody and gets his 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter out the door. Steven owns an English school for the past 6 years, and from the late morning through early evening he teaches English.

In recovery, Steven is active in his own local group. He does Facebook live videos every day. It’s a new challenge that is out of his comfort zone, but he thinks of the bigger picture. There are only 2 English-speaking meetings in Nagoya, Japan. He has a couple of sponsees he engages with a few times a week, and he connects with his sponsor on Saturdays. He’s blogs and squeezes in 10-30 minutes working on his book that he plans to self-publish.

Routines and rituals give me the space to be spontaneous.

Spiritual Connection

Steven is an acronym freak and has distilled the wisdom from books he’s read by authors like Eckhart Tolle to make them easy to remember. His acronym is A.W.A.K.E.

  • Attachment to nothing
  • Watch your thoughts
  • Accept or change situation (instead of complaining or worrying)
  • Kill the past or future (don’t forget it, refer to it. Don’t live in the future, plan it, and only with a pencil)
  • Enter the present moment as often as possible (breath, body, sensory perception without labels).

Prayer and meditation are my spiritual roadwork.

The First Time

Steven was 12 when he first met alcohol. His pops was “working on his Volvo” (aka drinking). It was one of those proverbial share-a-beer-with-your-dad moments. It is a crystal-clear memory for Steven. He doesn’t remember a lot of firsts, but he remembers his first beer. It was Tecate. After drinking it, he felt more present. He could breathe. All the hyper-sensitive and anxious tendencies he was born with disappeared. It gave him a glimpse of what could be.

He took the rest of the 6 pack, went up to the roof, and slammed it all.

It was my first spiritual experience.

Steven’s Story

Steven’s mom immigrated to the states from Northern Italy. His dad’s side are full-blooded Sicilians and had the addictive gene. His earliest memories were the red and blue lights flashing when the police would be at their house after one of his dad’s benders. This contributed to Steven’s hyper-vigilance and sensitivity.

Steven’s parents divorced shortly after that. His mom married a stable guy – the opposite of his dad. His time was split up to between two very different worlds. He would protect his father when his mom asked about his drinking. From an early age Steven knew about alcohol, cocaine, and shooting up.

In spite of his broken family, in high school Steven got good grades and got into power-lifting. Once in a while at a party there was drinking and weed, but it wasn’t a problem yet. Then he graduated and went to University of California at Irvine.

He maintained good grades in college and continued bodybuilding. He had a part time job and kept his life in order. Then Friday night would roll around, that’s when he became a weekend warrior.

True to his love of routines, he’d map out his bender, listing what he would drink and how much of it he would need. By the time Sunday or Monday morning rolled around, his roommates would have a house meeting to intervene with him to go over all the crazy stuff he had done. He realized he might have received the addictive gene from his dad when he blacked out for the first time on Halloween while he was dressed as The Incredible Hulk.

Despite his weekend binges, Steven succeeded in school and graduated. He didn’t have a clear career path, but education and teaching were always in the back of his mind. He started dating his first Japanese girlfriend. Through her, he found families who needed an English tutor. When he was 23, he came to Japan to work a big English conversation school.

It was the first time he lived alone in his own space. He partied hard on the weekends, but his drinking was manageable. Then his future wife walked into one of his classes. They got married and she got pregnant. Without being asked, Steven decided he would quit drinking for 9 months. He did it, but by the time his wife was expecting their second child, things were different. He had left his job and started his own English school. He was moving from an apartment into a house. His grandfather also died the same week. He took it as a green light to go all out.

Before long, he was drinking and teaching on most days. He started stashing whiskey bottles in planters at restaurants and in the garden of his backyard.

He knew he wasn’t living up to his full potential as a person, husband, and father. His rock bottom wasn’t anything drastic. He calls it a sunrise by accident. He knew if he could change his rituals, he would be okay.

If I could just start the day without whiskey.

What kept Steve from getting clean?

Steven blames his ego for the fear he had of getting clean. He was attached to his alcohol identity and was afraid to live without drinking. How would he attend a party? Or survive dinner with his in-laws? He was a Type-A person who was afraid of reaching his full potential.

Drinking was a great form of self-sabotage. 

The aha moment

Steven says that in the summer of 2014, he started working the steps. During his Step 4 inventory, he realized that the urge to serve became greater than the urge to drink. He developed the hope he could recover through service.

Fave book

Steven recommends The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod for those new in recovery. It’s not an addiction book, but it is about rituals and is great for a newcomer because it’s not a heavy read.

To hit the refresh button on long-term sobriety, Steven recommends the books The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.

Best suggestion

Steven suggests doing a random act of kindness for a stranger every day. It’s even better if they don’t know about it.

It’s another thing to keep me out of my f*cking head.

Suggestion to Newcomers

Steven knows it’s hard enough staying sober. It’s worse trying to go it alone. Get with a program. Work it. You will evolve and carve your own pathway.

Get with a program. You’ll be okay.

We SHAIR our stories every Tuesday so subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio!

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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.