Alan Charles joins today us on The SHAIR Podcast. Alan is the author of Walking Out the Other Side and most recently Charles has been doing a lot of public speaking on the discussion of addiction and recovery in schools, businesses, and universities.
“So many people share about seeing me go in and out of the program over the years, how heartbreaking it was, thinking I would die before I got well. They talk about how I am living proof no one is ever too far gone to get clean. The common theme is: if Alan can get sober, anyone can get sober.”
Walking Out the Other Side is the story of a journey from childhood to adulthood, from addiction to sobriety, from fearing life to living joyfully. Join Alan S. Charles through the dramatic ups and downs of his life from an adventurous childhood to the tragic early death of his father and his traumatic home life with a mentally ill brother and depressed mother.
Watch Alan’s attempts to overcome his past through professional sports–baseball and harness racing–and then a high profile career in sales. Plummet with him into a twenty-four-year cycle of cocaine addiction and recovery. Before it’s over, his addiction will destroy his aspirations and relationships and almost kill him. Yet he will walk out the other side.
Anyone who has experienced addiction will relate to Alan’s story. Anyone struggling with recovery will find hope in these pages. Anyone with addicted friends or family will get a clear picture of how the addict’s mind works and how they can best cope with their loved one’s behavior while practicing hard love to protect themselves.
Walking Out the Other Side is a cathartic read that will leave you laughing, crying, breathless, grateful, and maybe even believing in miracles.
Clean Date: December 8th, 2007
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Omar: Take us through your daily routine including recovery.
Alan: I have a regular job that pays the bills; I’m in the energy business. I go out to Brooklyn from New York City, but my morning starts early. I’m up somewhere around five O’clock, I sit and do my readings. I have a couple of meditation books, and also some literature. I spend about ten to fifteen minutes before I head down to the gym, get a good workout in, come up, shower, usually out of my apartment by six-thirty. I don’t know if this is a little too much information.
Omar: No, not at all.
Alan: I head out to Brooklyn, and work my job, and at some point in the mid afternoon or late afternoon, I head back to my apartment in the city. Some days, some nights I do a meeting. Not as much as I did my first couple of years, but now I’ve got about eight and a half years of sobriety. Then, as far as the recovery piece goes, if I’m not in a meeting, daily I call my sponsor, have a few other people in the fellowship that I reach out to check out to see how they’re doing. Then, hopefully, I come home. It’s a successful day to attend Step, and I’m good to go.
Omar: Can you just tell us a little bit about how you maintain your spiritual condition? That conscious contact with a higher power?
Alan: That’s very important. Part of it is I do it on a daily basis. As I shared previous, I have some readings that I do. I read through my book. I have some meditation books. Then, I also do some meditating. Those are the key factors in my spirituality. It is a spiritual program. I also reach out to other addicts; alcoholics, and people that are in my network. Ones that belong to my home group that happen to have the same sponsor that I have. I do things every day to nurture my spirituality.
Omar: You mentioned that you have eight and a half years clean. When is your anniversary date?
Alan: It is December 8th, 2007.
Omar: What was keeping you from getting clean, or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Alan: I didn’t want it bad enough. I was too far gone in the addiction. The only reason that I even considered it was because of some of the consequences I was having.
Omar: Number two, at what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that Aha moment in recovery, when you accepted you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Alan: I’m going to take a liberty, because I have an interesting story, and I’ll try to make it short that I’ll add. My spiritual awakening, I had had this therapist that I was seeing through when I first got my married, my second wife, I started seeing this therapist, and she knew that I had an addiction. Most therapists, at least the good therapists, if you have an addiction they’ll want you to go get help, and really not see you until you do get some help. She kept seeing me, and pushing me, and trying to help me. Eventually, the two days before I came in my last day of sobriety, my anniversary date, December 8th, 2007, she left a message on my phone, because I hadn’t seen her in about six weeks because I was on another run. She left this message that said, “Alan, you’re going to die. It’s time to come back”. She left that message while I was partying, and I didn’t hear it. I passed out, and I woke up the next morning, and I picked the phone up, and listened to this message. I was like, “Oh my God”. This struck me different than it ever did before. I started thinking about, “I don’t really have to die. If I come back there are people that are there waiting for me”. I listened to the message three or four times, because it had to be my spiritual awakening because it sounded like God was in my therapist’s voice. I called her back. She said, “Promise me you will go to a meeting tonight”. She said, “It has to be somewhere where people know you”. I’d been in and out so much that I knew a lot of people, and a lot of meeting where people knew who I was.
I went back to this regular meeting on eightieth street, between Amsterdam and Broadway. I crawled back there, and that was it for me. That was the beginning. That was my spiritual awakening. That message on the voice mail.
Omar: Alan, do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to our newcomers along with yours? Please, once you tell us your favorite book, and then your book, give us your website, how our listeners can reach out to you. All that good stuff.
Alan: Okay. I’m just going to give them. It’s a meditation book. It’s called Affirmations for the Inner Child. It’s by a person named Rokelle Lerner. It’s something that I carry around, and everyday gives you a daily inspiration. A lot of people, a lot of addicts may have experienced something to do with their inner child, and somethings and issues that have happened, I guess that you don’t even need to come from a household to have something that happened in your childhood, and you might not feel good about yourself, or something happened for some reason that affected you, and these Meditations for the Inner Child, I find, reading them every morning really helps for me to be easy on myself, and to show that it’s not my fault, but now I’m responsible for taking care of myself, and everything’s okay.
Affirmations for the Inner Child – Rokelle Lerner
Walking Out the Other Side: An Addict’s Journey from Loneliness to Life – Alan S. Charles
Omar: Beautiful. I love it. Now, tell us about your book, and the best way for our listeners to find you.
Alan: Okay. If you Google Walking Out the Other Side, it’s all over the place fortunately. My book is available at any online retailer, so you can go to Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, and you put in Walking Out the Other Side, my book will come up. It’s also available, I have links on my website, direct links to Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Again, my web address is Walkingouttheotherside.com; all one word. In addition to having the book, which is in hard cover and soft cover, there’s an audio book, and there’s an eBook, so that you can download it to your Kindle. It’s available all over.
Omar: Number four, what is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Alan: Okay. In the beginning, my thinking was so backwards, so the best suggestion I was given was that I should ask before I do anything in my first year, because no matter what I’m going to do, I’m going to do it wrong. Then, they told me, they said, “If you can’t find your sponsor or somebody else to ask what you should do, just assume you’re wrong and don’t do anything”. I didn’t make many decisions in my first real clean year.
Omar: If you could give our newcomers only one suggestion, what would it be?
Alan: Feeling are not facts. It’s okay to feel, you’re going to get suggestions, you’re going to get urges, but that’s okay, because we’re addicts. It’s okay to have the feelings, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to act on it, or that there’s anything wrong with you for having those feelings. They’re just feelings.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER
“Feeling are not facts.”
WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Alan!
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.