“Can’t I ever catch a break? Or can I?” (02/07/17)

February 7th, 2017

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Have you ever heard yourself saying, “Can’t I ever catch a break? Why does everything always have to go wrong?” Awww, I’m sure you’ve never said that. Everything goes perfectly as planned in your life. I must be the only one who ever feels that way. But in the event you have felt as if you can never catch a break, please read on.

To simplify writing, I’m going to often speak in the context of “me” and “I”, but I’m referring to all of us. So please put yourself in place when I use the words “me” or “I”.

It always seems like I can never catch a break! Shit is almost always going wrong for me or nothing goes as planned. I’m like the kiss of death. Whatever I touch turns to dog shit. Or does it? Just because I didn’t get what I wanted (or thought I wanted), doesn’t mean that I didn’t catch a break.

So as I daily grouse, “Can’t I ever catch a break?” Maybe I DO catch more good breaks than bad breaks. But it seems that the bad breaks always stand out more, even when they’re small bad breaks. The good breaks feel incidental and feel few and far between. But compounded, I know that all the good breaks add up.

I wanted to get a better perspective on this. I wanted to analyze this mathematically. I’ve thought on this for quite a long time. But because there are so many variables and unknowns, I can’t even come up with a simple math equation or even  a complicated algebraic equation to allow for or include variables and unknowns. For instance, 1 bad break may have more dire implications than 20 good breaks and vice versa, in that 1 good break may outweigh 20 smaller bad breaks.

But for simplicity sake, let’s say that I catch a good break 50% of the time. Thus, 50% of 2 is 1. The same 50% ratio reveals more total good and bad break occurrences when I undertake more attempts. 50% of 10 is 5 and 50% of 40 is 20. The total number of good and bad breaks increases with the more attempts I try. That’s why it seems that the more you try the harder things get and the fewer strokes of luck come your way. But that’s how the mathematics of it works. The more attempts I make the higher number of failures occur but I also have more successes in total. Yet it’s those failures (big and small) that seem to stand out more.

So, how can I (and you), overcome this mental appearance of never catching a break? How can we maintain a pro-active and positive attitude when we already know that mathematically there will be failures? (In essence: Why try if you already know that you’re going to fail?) If your answer is, “I pray,” or “Let go and let God,” well then that’s fine, you don’t have to read any more. But if you’re the type of person that doesn’t expect God to do everything for you, then read on.

Still reading? Cool. Here are a few things to consider. Even in the face of likely failure, you don’t know what knowledge the failure will lead to. Failure at one attempt may reveal a better or different route to take. It may also reveal evidence that shows “don’t try this again.” Failures can point you in a better direction. A small failure now can save you from a huge failure later.

What does it mean to “catch a break?”

How many times have you felt something was a bad break but then turned out positive? (Not to be confused with “Everything turns out for the best” or “If it was meant to be…” bullshit.) I am a firm believer that, “Things don’t always turn out for the best, but you CAN make the best of how things turned out.” That doesn’t mean the outcome will be the best, but at least you’ve attempted at making the best from the situation. I could give plenty examples of things that didn’t turn out for the best. Not just from my life but many other people’s lives. Usually things just turn out how they turn out. But with a pro-active attitude you can make something good out of a bad break.

How many times have you not gotten what you wanted (and felt like you didn’t catch a break), only to go on to something even greater? So maybe by not catching a break today you actually DID catch a break? Consider things which have happened in your own life. I’ve had plenty of situations where I thought I didn’t catch a break but then better events unfolded as a result. I’ve also had plenty of instances when I thought I had caught a good break but then I ended up in a worse spot.

Because of all the variables, unseen happenings and unknowns, a good break in life is often veiled behind a bad break. I have also found that “good breaks” take time to unfold. Some innocuous event takes place today or you have a chance meeting with someone, which then, months or years later turns out to have been a lucky break, but it seemed like nothing at the time. How many times have I been lucky (or caught a break), and I was unaware of it?

I also believe that to “catch a break” you need to have a clear vision (or written statement) of concrete end results. “I just want to be happy,” is too ambiguous. What is the concrete reference point? Maybe you’re already happy but you don’t know it? I feel you should have clearly defined goals and definitive “end results” in mind.

You can help yourself catch more “lucky breaks” when you have clear goals and prepare yourself with knowledge and skills. Then you have to make attempts. You can’t get a job if you don’t apply for one. You can’t be successful or happy if you don’t apply yourself and you can’t “catch a break” if you don’t make any attempts at something. And just because you reached a goal or accomplished an end result does that mean you caught a lucky break? Weren’t there many points and stages along the way? What if your final goal is achieved but it was a struggle laced with many failures and only a few “lucky breaks” occurred along the way?

Louis Pasteur said, “Chance befalls the prepared.” (Often misquoted as, “Luck befalls the prepared.”) But I feel that “chance” is actually a better word. Because when you are prepared with knowledge and skills, then make an attempt, your “chance” for a successful outcome is much higher. You may get some lucky breaks along the way, but you can be proud of YOU because YOU did the work and allowed for luck to come your way.

There’s also an old saying that goes: “Be careful of what you wish for because it may come true.” I believe it should be stated: “Be careful of what you attempt because it may come true.” For instance, you may apply for a certain job, and you hope that you get it. You’re all excited because you DO get the job but then it turns out to be a miserable job. The same thing happens in relationships, marriages, friendships, businesses, investments, all sorts of areas of life. So when something doesn’t go your way, remember that it may be a good break after all because a good break in life is often veiled behind a bad break.

This subject has a lot of relevance with sobriety. When things go wrong I might feel like drinking. When things go right I might feel like having a celebratory drink. But I know that drinking will not improve my ratio of catching good breaks. In fact, I’d most likely have more failures and make fewer intelligent attempts if I were to start drinking again. However, my clear mind gets over stimulated and I start thinking that I should be catching more good breaks now that I’m a non-drinker. Sobriety owes me nothing and sobriety guarantees me nothing. Drinking would only make things worse (but I’d be too drunk to realize it, until everything imploded on me again). Sobriety has allowed me to make fewer dumb mistakes and I can recover faster from the mistakes I do make. So my sober mind has helped me improve my ratio of good breaks versus bad breaks. It just doesn’t always feel that way.

I may feel as if I can’t catch a break in life, but the reality is that I DO catch more good breaks than I think. I just need to be a bit more realistic about my desires and be a little less demanding and expecting of what I want from myself. I should also be a bit more grateful and appreciative of the breaks I have gotten. I need to be more appreciative of my sobriety and not be demanding or expecting of my sobriety. Going back to being a boozer won’t do me much good. It won’t advance my success rate any and it won’t help me accomplish more goals. It might help me forget about the failures of the past and present, but it won’t set the stage for future successes. It will only enable me to catch more bad breaks.

As for you, I hope that you prepare yourself with knowledge and skills so that more and more good breaks come your way. I hope you see them coming your way and that you take advantage when they happen. I genuinely hope that your end result turns out better than you ever imagined.

These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“Make booze pay you back.” (12/28/16)

December 28th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

This isn’t about getting rich quick; this is about making good use of the money you no longer spend on booze or drugs. I mention in my books that I wanted to “make booze pay me back,” and I have been able to do just that. I get a fair amount of emails from people asking me how they can do this as well. The answer is that there are a few ways to do this. One way is very simple, other ways are a bit more complicated. Investing in various financial instruments involves deep and sometimes complex nuances. However, with a basic education in finance, some self-discipline and a plan, you can make booze pay you back.

People want fast results. “Okay, I quit drinking this morning and it’s already noon but I’m still not a millionaire. This is bullshit.” Life takes time. Accumulating and retaining wealth takes time and getting the most out of your sobriety takes time, a plan and you taking action on your plan. I’m going to offer you some ideas for a plan to make booze pay you back.

I stopped drinking more than 10 years ago and ever since I’ve been investing in beer, wine and booze stocks. (I invest in many other sectors but booze is part of my diversification.) This is the primary method I use to have booze pay me back, but I began this journey with a very simple strategy, I started a “Sobriety Savings Account.”

A lot of people hate to admit how much they spend (or have spent) on booze and drugs. The reason is because the numbers don’t lie. When I stopped drinking and doing drugs I was curious about this. I began doing the math. I couldn’t believe how much money I had wasted on getting wasted. It hurt me at first. I felt like a real idiot. But then I began realizing some truths in the other direction. I thought, “If I stashed away the same amount of money I was spending, here’s what it will add up to over 30 days, 90 days, one year, five years, and beyond.” I suddenly became excited. I could see that I could do something positive for myself. I couldn’t get back what I had wasted, but I could begin to set a more secure future for myself. So here’s how YOU can begin to make booze pay you back.

Start with a “Sobriety Savings Account.” (I go into great detail on this in my book: Okay, I quit. Now what? But I’ll be brief here.) How much did you (or do you) typically spend on booze or drugs every week? You need to be honest with yourself about this. $100 a week isn’t out of the question. If you spend/spent $100 per week that averages to $14.28 per day. $50 a week averages to $7.14 per day. (At $100 a week that’s $400 a month and $4,800 a year!)

So here’s what I’m going to ask you to do. If you’ve stopped drinking, then set aside—EVERY DAY—the amount you would have spent on booze or drugs. After you have $100 stashed away, go to a bank and open a brand new account. (Make sure it’s a different bank from your regular bank or the account isn’t tied to your other accounts. There are specific reasons for this.) From here on out all of the money that you are no longer spending—and now saving—will be going into that account. You’ll surprise and impress yourself by how much you amass after 30, 60 and 90 days. That’s providing you stick to your plan.

Saving up your money into a “Sobriety Savings Account” is a concrete way of seeing what you’re doing for yourself. This is one way you can reward yourself (or your family) for your sobriety. When you have money stashed away in a “Sobriety Savings Account” it will have a calming effect on you. You won’t be as nervous about the future. You’ll know that in the event of an emergency you’ll have a safety net and you won’t have to charge everything and go deeper into debt. It can also help you establish goals. Your goal may be to have enough money to pay for advanced schooling, to buy a car, to take a vacation or to do something special for your family.

None of this reflects greed or anything evil. Money isn’t evil, the greed of money can make people evil. The fact is that without money you can’t afford to take care of yourself or your family. You can’t afford pleasant housing, nicer clothes, better food, a better education and many other conveniences. You do want to treat yourself and your family well, don’t you? You need money to do that. You needed money to buy booze and drugs, unless you traded “favors” for it. Don’t be afraid of money. Money isn’t evil, the greed of money can make people evil.

Next I’m going to talk about investing in booze. To some of you this won’t be new information. I certainly don’t want to insult anyone with my simple explanations or examples. But many people have never owned individual stocks and even more have no idea of all the terms and nuances involved with investing. This article is purely to answer a common question I receive, and I want to answer it in the simplest form.

Investing in stocks or Mutual Funds isn’t right for everyone. Some people don’t like the ups and downs. It makes them nervous. And investing requires money, sometimes a LOT of money. To buy a worthwhile amount of an individual stock you’ll need anywhere from $5,000.00 to $15,000.00. (At this writing, 100 shares of BUD would cost $10,350.00 at $103.50 per share.) Most of us don’t have that kind of money laying around. So that’s why you start with a Sobriety Savings Account and then move that money into a Mutual Fund and invest monthly into your Mutual Fund. Once the money builds, then you may feel like buying shares of an individual company.

When you’re comfortable and ready, you can buy stock positions in individual companies using the brokerage you have your Mutual Fund with. There are plenty of good companies out there. T. Rowe Price, Fidelity and Schwab are a few examples. You can research them through their websites.

Regardless of whether you buy individual stocks or Mutual Funds, I suggest that you follow a DRIP program. DRIP (Dividend Re-Investment Plan). This means that instead of you receiving a dividend check every 3 months, the amount you would receive in a check is used to purchase MORE shares of the stock. This strategy is used by most long-term (and wealthy) investors. If you plan on holding the stock for 3 years or more, then a DRIP is in your better interest. You will accumulate more shares and get more dividends every 3 months. The exponential growth of compounding is your friend. However, if you like to receive a check, then take the dividends in cash. But remember that the amount you receive is based on how many shares you own. So, a .32 cent quarterly dividend on 100 shares means you’ll receive a $32.00 check every 3 months. That same dividend of .32 cents on 1,000 shares means you’ll receive a $320.00 check every 3 months.

If you want to research some “sin stocks” here are a few stock symbols worth looking at: BUD, TAP, DEO, STZ, MO, RJR, PM, BTI. You can type the stock symbol into a site like Yahoo Finance and learn all about the company. You can see if, when and how much of a dividend it pays and find out much more information about the company, its products and history.

A lot of people are interested in buying Marijuana stocks. The following is strictly my opinion. Medical marijuana and decriminalization of personal amounts is happening. But the product hasn’t passed through to the level of consumer availability such as beer, wine, booze and tobacco. Legalized marijuana is coming. At some future point it will become commercially available to the public. But who do you think wants a piece of that action? Beer and booze companies want to own their competitors. Tobacco companies are perfectly positioned to grow, process, package and distribute pot. As an investor, I feel that individual pot stocks might be a bit risky right now. If you’re so possessed, you might be best served to “jump & dump.” That means buy the stock and be ready to dump it at a reasonable profit (providing that the stock actually does go up). Publicly traded pot growers and manufacturers won’t be paying any dividends soon. The cost to start and run a large, publicly traded legal pot growing or production company is too high for dividend returns. Tobacco and beer companies are better positioned to make a profit and pay dividends when pot does become a legal product.

Always perform research and understand the basics BEFORE investing any of your money. There is risk involved when you invest in stocks or Mutual Funds. What you bought may be worth less than what you paid for it when the time comes that you need or want to sell it. You CAN lose money. But if you invest conservatively and with a long time-horizon you will most likely make money. If the risk is uncomfortable for you, then at the very least start a “Sobriety Savings Account.” The money will be there when you need it or want it. Your savings account may not keep pace with inflation but at least you won’t have frivolously squandered money that you were once spending on booze or drugs.

If you want to look deeper into how you can get the most out of YOUR money and learn to enjoy your money, I encourage you to get a copy of my book: Living Broke Sucks! You can find it in paperback, eBook and audiobook through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places.

There are also plenty of good books out there which are specifically written for beginning investors and most brokerage websites offer free tutorials and explanations of words, terms and strategies. Naturally the websites want you to invest your money through them. I don’t want your money. I would just like you to buy my book once and then apply what you learn to keep more of and enjoy more of your own money.

Over the years I spent a lot of money on the creation of piss and vomit. (I conservatively estimate it to be over $109,000.00) I won’t berate myself for how much I had wasted. In fact, I had a pretty good time while doing it. And back then, had I not spent my money on booze or drugs I probably would have squandered it on something else. But today, because I have a different level of knowledge and because I have a different type of understanding, I will make better use out of the limited money that I have. So now with the money I am no longer spending on booze and drugs, I will use that money to make booze pay me back. That’s why I own “sin stocks.” Every time someone opens a Bud or a Coors, they’re paying ME. Every time someone drinks a Rum & Coke, they’re paying ME. Every time someone lights up a Camel, Winston or a Marlboro, they’re paying ME. Each can, glass or bottle of beer, bottle of booze, soda or a cigarette is a miniscule fraction of a penny put into my pocket. But compounded and paid over time, it all adds up. So I say, “Drink more and smoke more. Spill it on the bar, throw it up or just piss it away. Keep on drinking because you’re going to make me rich.”

The bottom line is that I suggest you do something specific with the money you were once (but are no longer), spending on booze or drugs. If you don’t specifically do something with it, the money will simply disappear. You’ll end up spending it on something else and you may not even know what you’re spending it on.

I receive no financial gain if you follow any of these strategies. I want nothing out of this other than to motivate you to live better. Do something positive for yourself and for your family. Starting in 2017, make booze pay you back!

(Disclosure statement.) I personally use T. Rowe Price as my brokerage. I own some type of position in every stock mentioned in this article. I make no endorsements on any particular stock or Mutual Fund to buy. The only recommendation I have is that you at the very least start a “Sobriety Savings Account.”

These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“I’ve come to accept this.” (12/21/16)

December 21st, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

This wasn’t an easy article for me to write. I didn’t want it to sound as if I’m unhappy or dissatisfied with my sobriety and I certainly don’t want to sound discouraging to anyone who’s just in the early stages or thinking about living as a non-drinker or non-user. I’d also been struggling with using the word “accept” in this article. The word accept almost has a defeatist sound to it. I want to clarify my use of the word accept by stating that living as a non-drinker is a conscious exchange that I am making. Therefore, the word accept (or accepting), is a part of my sobriety.

On to the real meat of this article:

I’m not completely thrilled with how things have turned out since I stopped drinking. But I’ve accepted it. I’ve accepted that there will be limitations by living a clean and sober life. Social limitations, emotional limitations, recreational limitations, all kinds of limitations. But the benefits of living clean and sober far outweigh the downside. So I accept that I must stay sober if I want to live a better and healthier life.

There are things that I wish were different or that would improve. We all have those feelings regardless of if we’re drunks or not. My life is now so different in so many ways than it ever was. I accept that it’s different. I accept that in exchange for a quieter lifestyle I am improving my chances towards better conditions. I accept that I have exchanged a “buzz” for a calmer and more productive existence. Are some things still missing? Sure, but I accept how things are now and I will continue to use my sober mind to develop a plan and then work at what actions I can take to allow for improvement to happen.

Ever notice that it’s easy to accept substandard living conditions as a drunk or a user. As a drunk or a user we tend to allow for or accept more shitty situations. Being broke or feeling like shit becomes acceptable. Drama and ridiculous problems almost become the norm. Getting loaded may be fun, but accepting a shitty existence isn’t. I am no longer willing to accept a shitty existence. I know and accept that certain things are out of my control, but with my clear mind I am able to evaluate my conditions and then think through the problems and develop a plan to overcome or go around the problems.

It’s getting easier for me to accept better living conditions as a sober person while at the same time accepting a quieter lifestyle. But this is a weird statement for me. I have by no means grown into a boring or sedentary person. I do a lot of crazy, if not dangerous shit. I seem to miss the thrill of a buzz, so I purposely place myself in some demanding situations for the exhilaration of it. How weird for me to say that “I’m not thrilled with how things have turned out,” but at the same time be able to say that I’ve experienced more and accomplished more worthwhile things in my last 10 years of sobriety than I did (or can remember) from all my years as a drunk. But I still seem to be missing something. I believe that others who have stopped destructive substance use might feel the same way.

Does my sobriety (and your own sobriety), really have anything to do with this? I don’t know. It could just be a side effect of life. But I do know that in some areas there is a direct correlation between sobriety and my “less than thrilling” life. For instance, it’s not thrilling being sober and single. Where do you go to meet uninhibited lunatics who don’t drink? Friends of mine ask me to join them at their church groups. They tell me, “Oh you should come. You’ll meet a nice girl.” I don’t want to meet a nice girl; I like dirty girls. It wouldn’t be proper for me to go hang out at a church when I don’t have the same beliefs or passions as someone who is at a church group. I won’t go to AA or NA meetings. That would be just as disingenuous of me. And besides, going to meetings or church functions with the specific intent of meeting someone seems a bit perverse to me.

Please don’t misinterpret that I’m complaining about my status. I am genuinely in a better position in life than had I kept drinking or started drinking again. But this is just my impression of how things are. I use the words “my impression” because this is how things feel to me. In all logic I know that things are better and that I should be happier than I am. It isn’t that I’m unhappy or dissatisfied. I’m not disappointed by my sobriety. What I am is I’m a bit disappointed with myself and my capacity to make the best out of my sobriety for myself. I know that sobriety doesn’t comes with guarantees of happiness or worldly success. It simply brings opportunity to think clearer. Happiness and worldly success is then left up to us as individuals.

I’m not using this as a platform for me to cry my blues. My hope is to assist you with an honest embracing and acceptance of what living as a non-drinker or non-user will or will not bring you. Your outcomes may be completely different than mine. Your sobriety may lead to extreme happiness within your family, career or social circle. You may not become bored or ever feel as if you’re missing out on something.

And then again you may feel disappointed because your sober life isn’t bringing you what you hoped for or thought that it would. It’s okay to be disappointed, but don’t become disheartened. I assure you that you will be better off (or at least not as bad off), physically and financially when you remove destructive substance overuse from your life. Odds become stacked in your favor when you approach life with a clear mind. A clear mind (or sobriety) doesn’t guarantee anything. But your clear mind allows you to better assess situations and gain the knowledge necessary to make better decisions.

I have come to accept that I have made such an exchange. I’m not saying that I accept boredom or that I am beaten by sobriety. I accept that there will be elements to my exchange. I accept that in exchange for a healthier body and healthier mind I must forego some things that I only perceived as exciting. I have no regrets about the exchange and I truly hold hope that I will discover more answers for this dilemma. I know, (or at least hold trust), that the odds of life improvement are better as a non-user than as a user.

I can promise you that things will change within your life. I’m confident that some of those changes will be unwanted. But none the less, I ask that you accept those changes. Accept them as truth. Accepting situations truthfully doesn’t mean you become a defeatist; you become a realist. Once you accept the facts and get a clear understanding of all the conditions surrounding those facts, you can then set your mind to work to think about different ways how you can make those changes work to your advantage or how you can work around the things you don’t like. So you see, I’m not suggesting that you accept a boring, unfulfilling or bad existence in your sobriety. Accept that you are making a conscious exchange: you’re exchanging sobriety for a better life. And within that exchange I would like you to be accepting of certain limitations, but then work with or around those limitations.

I don’t wish to confuse or dissuade anyone from making positive changes within their life. But with change comes exchanges. I believe that some of these exchanges will be uncomfortable and sometimes difficult to accept. I hope that by openly and honestly discussing these feelings we’ll both get a better idea of what the right answers are. Believe it or not, I would like to stimulate you into finding your happiness, because if you’re happy then that helps me become happy. And I do genuinely wish happiness and contentment for you and I believe that eliminating destructive drinking from your life will put you in a position to reach your happiness.

These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: “Okay, I quit. Now what?” “Living Sober Sucks!” “Living Broke Sucks!” “Drunk Dad–Sober Dad” and “A Vampire Story–the first 30 days sober“. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places.

I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“Sober by default.” (11/25/16)

November 25th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

I find that I get so busy that I don’t have time to drink or think about drinking. Hell, I’m able to write about the subject of drinking and it doesn’t trigger any desires to drink. I can even reminisce and talk fondly of my drinking escapades and I don’t get an urge to drink. I know what will happen if I drink and I truly have too many things that I want to accomplish, so I just don’t drink, thus I am sober by default.

We all have to make choices about what we’re going to do with our time. If you have a job or family responsibilities, that will consume a lot of your time. In that case it’s even more important to make good choices with the limited amount of time you have for yourself and your own interests. I’m just like you. I have a job (actually a couple of jobs), and I have personal and domestic responsibilities to take care of, so I have to make choices of what I’m going to do with my limited amount of free time. Even writing this article about drinking consumes time that I could be doing some other project. But I enjoy writing and I feel that the subject matter helps me maintain my own sobriety and I hope it will inspire others who also want to live as non-drinkers. But by staying so busy, I stay sober by default and so can you.

Just because I’m busy doesn’t mean that everything I do is a thrill-a-minute or that I like doing everything I’m busy with. A lot of the things I do are mundane or dull. But they’re important things to do and that need to be done. They help keep my life free of chaos and that in turn allows for a calmer existence even when I’m under pressure or really busy.

Please don’t misinterpret that just by getting sober that you’ll become a super-achiever and have a busy life filled with excitement and activities. Far from that. Sobriety will just enable you to think and work clearer. You will have to set goals, make plans, plan work tasks and then actually DO the work. Sometimes projects won’t come to fruition. But if you keep yourself busy you will stay sober by default.

In all fairness I will say that I know of plenty of drunks who are quite accomplished and very successful. But that’s because they follow the exact same simple processes I do (and that you can), as a sober person. Those drunks think, establish goals, plan the work to be done and then DO the work. Even successful drunkards are busy because they’re smart enough to follow some simple principles. Could those drunks be better than they already are? Probably. That may be acceptable for them, but that isn’t acceptable for me in my life.

I was fairly accomplished as a drunk. I was able to perform many tasks and accomplish many goals while completely loaded. But many things were also done poorly, never completed or done simply because I knew I could do them and still drink and get stoned at the same time. Oh sure, I would get too drunk to function a lot of times. I might get too drunk to drywall. But installing drywall wasn’t my occupation. I could stop and work on it another day. Ironically, because I could drink and drywall, I would do that instead of doing my occupation or taking care of some other responsibility which required clear thinking. So drinking did get in the way of many important and valuable things I wanted to accomplish.

Sobriety doesn’t mean you’ll become a great super-achiever. I am in no position to tell you what you should be doing to keep yourself busy. I don’t know what your desires are or what your interests are. You may not even know. I have a tough time clearly knowing what my own long-term goals are, let alone knowing what I should be doing at this very moment to achieve those goals. None the less, I am always busy doing something or planning to do something. This is what keeps me sober by default.

At this point you might be saying, “Well whoopdee-fucking-doo, so you’re busy. Well I’m bored out of my fucking skull, what am I supposed to do?” As I just said, I’m in no position to tell you what you should be doing to keep yourself busy. I don’t know what you like and you may not know what you like either. But that doesn’t mean you should just sit on your couch staring out the window like a neutered cat. I’ll give you some suggestions and then YOU discover what is of interest to you.

First off, is your life and your house a mess? Try spending some time cleaning and organizing your life. It may not be all that thrilling, but it’ll give you a sense of accomplishment and it will make your immediate world around you less depressing and overwhelming. What about your weight and health? You can implement a self-imposed exercise or workout schedule for yourself. You don’t need fancy equipment or a gym membership. Use your own creative mind to come up with an exercise plan and an exercise schedule for yourself.

Start reviewing and evaluating your diet and eating habits. Cook more of your own foods or expand a little by trying to cook new foods or recipes. You obviously have an internet connection or you wouldn’t be reading or listening to this. Browse for food and recipe sites. Look for food types that pique your curiosity. Try some new foods and recipes. What’s the worst that can happen? You might get the runs for a day or two. Oh, like that never happened when you were drinking.

Here’s another crazy idea: watch some TV. Not just reruns of “Big Bang Theory,” but educational TV. Watch Discovery, A&E or the History Channel. Learn about more subjects and watch some biographies. Something will catch your attention and it might get you thinking about something you’d like to try or learn more about. The more diverse subjects I watch, the more I learn. Then I find myself discovering more about myself and my interests. Any biography or educational program can suddenly compel you to discover more about something. Maybe you’ll see something that you want to “disprove” and you’ll find yourself deeply involved in research or a new career field.

There’s also these crazy things called books. Go to a bookstore like Barnes & Noble and sit there reading their books. I’m sure there’s a public library somewhere near you. Libraries don’t just have books. Most have music, computers and DVDs. Unless you take action on your own behalf, you’ll simply sit and be bored.

Look for things that interest you. Set some goals. Determine what must be done or performed to accomplish those goals and then get involved and work at and on the activities that need to be done. It is completely possible to become so busy and so involved that you’ll become sober by default.

Part of creating a busy and achievement filled life will require that you reflect on your own behaviors, attitudes and typical activities. Use your clear, intelligent mind to take a hard look at yourself. What behaviors, attitudes and actions need some adjusting or changing? Most of us have heard the term: “Dry Drunk.” This is used to describe a former boozer who no longer drinks but still continues exhibiting the attitudes, emotions and (sometimes) crude behaviors they did as a drunk.

Don’t wait for sobriety to bring a sense of busy into your life. Use your clear mind to pursue your own discovery. Or, just sit there and stare and ruminate about how miserable you are. Drama, gossiping and bullshit doesn’t make you busy, it just means you’re involved in draining drama and bullshit.

I’m asking you to be present and play an active role in and with your sobriety. Let your sober mind work for you. Become so busy with living that you also stay sober by default.

These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

11 years sober, but just another day. (10/11/16)

October 11th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

There are a couple of common themes which have run throughout the last 11 years of my sobriety; however, it took me a while to understand them. The first is: “Don’t wait for sobriety to do something for you, do something yourself with your sobriety.” That means be present, play an active role in and with your sobriety. Let you sober mind work for you.

This viewpoint fits in with any plan or system you follow. It works along with alternative plans, non-traditional systems, 12-step systems, faith-based systems, any type of regimen you follow. If you’re going to make it a point to live as a non-drinker or non-user, wouldn’t you want to make the best out of living clean and sober?

Some of my recent articles and podcasts have sounded a bit dark. While preparing and writing this article I spent some time reflecting over my 11 years of sobriety. All in all, the past 11 years haven’t been all that dark. Yes it was (and still is), lonely at times. But that’s my problem and I need to take action to fix that. I need to make myself valuable and desired. If I don’t like myself or care about myself, why would anyone else like me or care about me? I have to address most of my problems and issues myself.

That’s the other common theme: “You have to do this yourself. You can seek outside help and you can use a means of support, but this is something you must do within your own skin. No one else can do it for you. You must take full ownership and responsibility for this.” That means no blaming others or blaming conditions which may or may not exist. If you want to be sober—you have to do it yourself. If you want to be a better person—you have to do it yourself. If you want to advance your education or expand your skills and knowledge—you have to do it yourself. You can turn to others for help on all of these things, but you still have to be the one to do it.

Sobriety completely upset my life, but it upset it in a good way. So much has changed in my life over the past 11 years, and most of it for the better. But I had to take action. I didn’t rely on anyone else to tell me what I should do. I had to do this myself. I had to actively search for what interested me as an alternative to getting loaded. I had to put myself out into the world and seek new friends and re-evaluate current friendships.

My first 3 years of sobriety weren’t a complete waste, but I spent too much time waiting for something magical to happen. The magic didn’t start happening until I began doing something with my sobriety. But a lot of the magic wasn’t obvious. Some of the magic wasn’t even magic. Such as I became completely debt free within 3 years of sobering up. That wasn’t magic; it was calculated, planned and done by me. It wasn’t all that much fun while I was paying off debt, but it was considerably easier due to the fact that I wasn’t spending any of my money on booze and drugs. I also wasn’t loaded, so I made fewer impulsive purchases and made fewer bad financial decisions. Sobriety didn’t magically pay off my bills—I paid off my bills through the use of my sober mind.

I also began rebuilding a healthy body. Sobriety didn’t magically do it for me—I did it, I had to get my ass into the gym and work out. I spent the time I used to spend drinking at the gym. My monthly gym membership costs about half of what I would normally spend on booze over a typical weekend. Plus, I was getting to know people who live a healthy lifestyle. Some drank, some didn’t, but they were people who wanted to be healthy and the socializing was far more uplifting than always talking about alcohol or addiction. I still enjoy the social atmosphere at my gym and I can honestly say that I’m in the best physical condition of my life. (Mental stability and maturity is an altogether separate issue.)

At 11 years into this there are still plenty of struggles, still plenty of disappointments, and yes, there are also plenty of pleasant, if not simply amusing, surprises. I’m not all giddy and beaming with joy. But I’ve found an acceptable level of calm happiness. I found my calm happiness through actively making my sobriety work for me. I certainly want more out of life and I must utilize my sober mind to discover what it is and how I’ll get it. I can’t and won’t rely on someone else to tell me what I should want. After I have an idea of what I want, I typically seek out input from others who I view as competent and successful.

That’s what I attempt to bring across in my books. I don’t tell you what you should do; I encourage YOU to make some discoveries and decisions for yourself. I have no idea what you want out of living sober. It’s unreasonable to allow anyone else to tell you what you should want and do with your sobriety.

I want to mention that I receive emails from people who call me out about my attending AA. “You say right in your book that you attended AA for about the first 6 months, so it did help you.” Yes, I agree that it did help me, but not in the way the organization or followers of AA would like to hear. It helped me discover that I didn’t like it and it helped inspire me to create an alternative. My alternative isn’t the final answer. My alternative is a formula to follow that involves YOU making your own plan. You customize a plan that fits your life and your beliefs. You determine if you’re motivated by gains or by loss avoidance. You devise your own reward system. Part of your personal plan may include attending AA meetings or it may include religious function attendance or religious activities. The bottom line is that you decide and you let your mind evolve along with your sobriety.

It’s so very strange. When I first stopped drinking I couldn’t imagine myself sober for this long. I had no idea of what to visualize, so I didn’t even try. That was helpful at the time. But as my sobriety evolved over the years, I began visualizing farther out in advance. I’m a bit disappointed with my own results, but not with the results of sobriety. The disappointments are due to my own limitations (most of which are self-imposed), and my own laziness. I feel that I haven’t fully utilized the gift I have given myself. It’s a silly struggle: I know that sobriety itself won’t do anything specifically for me, but I keep waiting. I know that I have to make the best out of my sobriety. It’s my responsibility, no one else’s. But it’s still better than living drunk, broke and sickly. The realities and random disappointments are still better than living in a deluded haze where things never come to fruition and plans are only drunken ramblings from a drunken idiot.

If I had the opportunity to go back there are a few things I would do differently. I wouldn’t have waited so long to begin living out my re-invention. But the fact is that I can’t go back in time, none of us can, so I must live out my re-invention NOW. Every moment of every day. The rest of my sober journey of discovery begins right now.

I’m serious when I say, “If I can make the best out of living sober, I know that YOU can make something even greater.” If you’re not sure, just try it. Try living completely sober for 30 days. See what begins to develop and see how it works out. What’s the worst that can happen? If you don’t like it you can always go back to being a juicer.

These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“Good busy-VS-Bad busy.” (08/14/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Most of us lead pretty busy lives, but have you ever thought about the difference between being good busy and bad busy? I’m going to give you some examples along with my opinion on the difference, but I ask that you consider the differences yourself and then come to your own conclusions. I hope that this article/podcast will get you moving in the direction of spending more time being under the influence of good busy.

Being busy can feel overwhelming. Sometimes there seems to be so much going on in your life that it wears on you. You feel like you need a break, you may be stressed out and might use this as your reason to drink. But I think it’s important to stop and assess the situation. Would you rather have a busy life or be bored out of your skull? We all want to have a happy balance between busy and relaxed and we all have different desires of how busy we want to be. Some people thrive on a hectic schedule, others feel completely overwhelmed by even the smallest amount of responsibilities.

I believe that if you’re not busy you might be tempted to go down an unhealthy path. At least that’s how it is with me. Even if I’m busy with mundane or dull things, I still feel like I’m good busy. I do a lot of things that don’t have a big payoff, but if I wouldn’t get them done, I would end up with bigger problems. Keeping my house clean is an example of this. If my house is a mess then I don’t feel like doing other important things like paying my bills or working on developing my businesses. If I let small, but important duties fall to the side, then all of a sudden I find myself under pressure. If I don’t pay my bills on time then I have late fees or I’m scattering to take care of stuff that I should have taken care of. Then all of a sudden I’m busy, but it’s bad busy.

Staying busy was the best thing I did during the early stages of my sobriety. I can’t say that everything I was doing was productive, but it was still what I would consider as good busy because it kept me mentally and physically preoccupied, so I wasn’t thinking about drinking and I wasn’t just sitting around thinking or talking about my sobriety. And now, always being busy is the best way for me to maintain and continue with my sobriety. At this point in my life I’m way too busy to drink. There are so many things that I want to get accomplished, that I want to do and that I want to experience that I don’t have time for drinking. For me, staying busy is a distraction from the desire to drink. And I know that if I were to start drinking I’d never get anything done towards accomplishing or experiencing any of my goals.

You don’t have to be hyper-productive to be good busy. Reading a book, talking with friends, going on a vacation or watching a television program or movie that you like can be good busy. I think being good busy is all about enhancing the experience of your life. Some people would argue that getting drunk or getting all ghenked up is a life enhancing experience. For a good part of my teens and adulthood I did think that getting loaded was a life enhancing experience. And I did have a good time during my drinking and drugging years, but I also fucked up a lot of things and all my fuck ups came back around to make my life unpleasant. Even with all the rotten shit I did and all the people I either pissed-off or disappointed, I still feel that my biggest sin as a drunk was that drinking got in the way of me being good busy. Too much of my time, my skills, my mental focus, my money and my life was involved in the bad busy of getting drunk or loaded. I missed out on a lot of really good life building and life enhancing opportunities because of being bad busy.

So what is bad busy? Bad busy is filling your life with drama, and usually it’s not even your own drama. Getting involved in gossip or someone else’s problems is BAD busy. It might make you feel important and involved, but it’s bad busy and it distracts you from your own life. Getting overly involved in other people’s problems uses up your valuable, limited time. Sitting and commiserating with someone about their problems very often leads to drinking, and neither of those is a good use of your time. Not that spending time with other people or helping other people with their problems is wrong or a poor use of your time, but there’s only so much you can do for another person. I often say, “I can’t exercise and lose weight for you and I can’t stay sober for you. I can only support you and help you so much. Ultimately you have to do these things yourself.” Limiting your time and the depth of your involvement will help you avoid bad busy.

Another example of bad busy is fixing all the shit you did while you were drinking or drunk. After a good bender you might have to call people to apologize or to find out what you did. You might have to tend to all sorts of weird problems like clean your house or clean the puke off your bathroom ceiling. You may also find yourself busy sleeping as you nurse a hangover. That’s bad busy. Plus, while you were spending your time drinking you didn’t do other things you probably should have taken care of or wanted to do. And now you’re cleaning up after your drinking binge and you’re still not taking care of responsibilities, but you sure are busy.

Being in a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship (or because you think you’re supposed to be in a relationship), is another example of bad busy. The time you invest in a relationship that isn’t fun or rewarding is eating up precious time you could be spending doing something else or spending with someone else. People often get involved in these types of relationships. They feel that they have no value or lead a boring life if they’re not in some sort of relationship. But a worthless relationship can sap your time and energy. I can’t claim these words as original, I heard someone else make this statement: “I would rather be alone than wish I was.” It’s okay to be alone or not be in a relationship.

A bad or unrewarding marriage is a different matter. If you’re married, then that means you made a commitment to commit yourself to making your marriage work. Working at a floundering marriage isn’t necessarily bad busy. Being responsible for your children isn’t bad busy. You may have to sacrifice some of your own satisfactions and luxuries to accommodate your children. Spending time with and raising well-adjusted children will keep you busy, but that’s never bad busy.

Another example of bad busy is when you spend a lot of your time focused or worrying about your own sobriety. I know that it’s important to keep a focus on sobriety, but eventually don’t you just want to live a normal life? I understand that many people find groups to be helpful for them, (and it may be beneficial during the early stages), but those group sessions require your time. If you’re spending time doing one thing, then you don’t have time to do something else. Simply getting busy and getting on with your own life will probably be the best thing for your sustained sobriety. If you’re extremely busy working on goals and moving your life in a forward direction you won’t have time to drink or even be in a position where you’ll be tempted to drink.

So what is good busy? Everyone’s life goals and desires are unique to them. I don’t think it’s proper for me to tell you what actual activities would be good busy for you. But I do believe that there is a measure or a rule of thumb. I believe that if what you’re doing is enhancing your life, your family’s life or is building towards a better future, then that’s what I would call good busy. Even in the case of getting up and going to a job that you don’t like, you’re earning a living that I hope is enabling for a good existence for you and your family. If it isn’t, then you might want to get good busy and begin furthering your education or skill sets so you can pursue a job or career that is rewarding.

Since I stopped drinking my mental clarity has helped me begin to understand the power behind being busy and I’m better understanding the difference between good busy and bad busy. Yet I find that it’s not always easy for me to determine whether something falls under good busy or bad busy. I like to always be busy, but some of my “busy work” probably isn’t all that productive or moving my life forward. Even in sobriety I’m still capable of deluding myself and getting so busy at being busy that I’m too busy to do important things or things that require hard work. I’ll involve myself into “busy work” to avoid other responsibilities, to avoid doing the hard jobs or I’ll tell myself that I’m “too busy” to hang out and enjoy a social life. When I see myself doing that, I realize I’m partaking in bad busy. Yet even when I’m not able to determine what activities are truly good busy and which are bad busy, I still stay busy and being busy is what helps me continue living as a non-drinker.

I suggest that the next time you find yourself deeply involved in something or getting ready to involve yourself in something or someone else’s business, ask yourself: “Is this good busy or bad busy? Will this improve my existence or enhance my life experience? Is this the best use of my time?” The answer to those questions will be solely on you. And I hope you’re able to keep yourself focused on always being good busy.


These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“It still sucks!” (09/25/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

This title doesn’t sound very uplifting or motivating. I usually attempt to write with an uplifting and motivational flavor. But I also believe that in certain cases it’s better to write from a true heart than to gloss over or offer false hopes. But in the end, I intend that this will be a motivating message.

The first book I ever wrote is titled: Living Sober sucks (but living drunk sucks more). And I have to say that after more than 10 years of complete sobriety,,, it still sucks.

I will admit that this is purely all my own fault and probably based on skewed perceptions—my own skewed perceptions of how I would like things to be balanced against the way things actually are. I know that my expectations of myself are just too high. I am not under nor have I ever been under the misguided belief that sobriety in and of itself should or will make my life perfect. I use the word “perfect” here because there is no question in my mind that my life has become far better living as a non-drinker than when I was a user. However, in my case I am still a bit disappointed with my own results.

Sobriety has a way of allowing my mind to see things in a clearer, truer fashion. I can usually see what needs to be done if I want a certain result. The problem is then that with a sober mind I can also see my own limitations or I can see the end result, or in many cases the failed end result. Facts and reality are too blatantly clear. It’s not as easy to delude my vision or liquefy my perceptions. I can’t drink my mind into thinking things are different than they are. That’s why I say, “it still sucks.”

I realize that each case is different. For many people, sobriety is very rewarding for them. Many people who are married or are in relationships find that their family life and personal interactions with loved ones vastly improves. I have also heard from others who say that their relationship has become more difficult since they themselves have stopped drinking. If one stops and the other doesn’t, you’re pretty much going in opposite directions. I feel that sobriety is a rougher situation to be in for single people.

Many others have stated that their careers and financial situation has dramatically improved since they stopped drinking. I know that in my case I am able to work better and have been offered many new jobs. I can also afford to eat better and live better—without having to earn more money—simply because I’m not spending ANY money on booze or recreational drugs.

So in the overall, I have no regrets for stopping my destructive drinking hobby. But this has been a struggle and the struggle continues. What’s even more confounding is that the struggles are always evolving and they become different types of struggles. Here I am with over 10 years of complete sobriety below my belt and the temptation to drink those new and different types of struggles away continue to exist. The struggle and temptations aren’t outwardly apparent. The temptations aren’t brought on by seeing others drink or any other obvious triggers—the temptations exist within my own mind. They are a result of my own dissatisfaction with myself and the desire to escape reality.

My lifestyle as a non-drinker has become so normal to me that I’m rarely in situations where I face obvious temptations to drink. But that lifestyle change has also brought with it a feeling of boredom and depression and that’s when I’m tempted to drink. My personal hunger for exhilaration and excitement isn’t being fed. I thought that drinking and taking drugs enhanced and enabled that hunger to be fed, but it didn’t. Now that I’m clean and sober I can see that. I wasn’t living a rush, I was just loaded.

And here’s the most twisted part of it still sucking. Over the past 8 years I have been more places than I even knew existed. I have met more interesting people than I knew existed. I have had more new experiences than I ever had in my past. I have done more heart pounding and dangerous activities than I ever did when I was drinking. I now have the clarity to understand the consequences of dangerous and thrill seeking adventures. I understand that I must have proper equipment, skills and training to do many of these adventures. I have put myself in harm’s way and went after a genuine “rush” more times than I ever did when I was drinking. All of these experiences logically support that this can’t still suck, yet I continue to find myself being bored and with the impression that it does still sucks. (I said 8 years even though I’m almost 11 years sober because I feel like I squandered my first 2 to 3 years of sobriety. I finally began living again when I met some very caring individuals. I started to care back and I came to find a new life through knowing them.)

But I still search for that exhilarating rush. I still yearn for excitement and I hunger to have all of my senses and every fiber of my being on fire all at once. But now my clear mind allows me to understand that I can’t have all of those things and that I can’t live in a constant state of “buzz.” That’s why it still sucks for me.

Depression, skewed views and pessimism are rarely driven by logic. Logical data can often show the individual who is susceptible to these emotions that things aren’t as bad as perceived, yet the individual can’t change their feelings. That’s when, where and why mind altering substances are often used as an escape or diversion. The problem with using substances as a diversion is that it can result in things factually sucking. It can create problems ranging everywhere from poor health, poor choices, poor performance in life, financial difficulties and interpersonal difficulties. You can create your own logical reasons to be depressed and pessimistic.

I admit that living sober still sucks for me. It doesn’t seem to suck as much as it used to. And if I knew precisely what needed to happen or what I needed to do to make it not still suck, I would pursue that. I do however have faith in myself and hold hope that at some point it won’t suck any longer or at least suck a little less. But it could also just be one of the idiosyncratic quirks of my personality? Some people like to be miserable. I don’t think I’m one of those types, but I do know that I’m often driven by challenges and driven by the urge to overcome hurdles. And then again maybe I’m just a lunatic who isn’t making much sense?

Regardless of what it is, I have experienced both ends of the sober spectrum and I am glad I am on the clean end of the sober spectrum. I have full intention to stay that way. I am fully aware that no matter what psychological or emotional discomfort I may feel, I have a better life as a non-drinker and better chances of achieving happiness and contentment as a non-drinker.

I am genuinely sorry if you feel this is a dark article. I certainly don’t want to bring anyone down and I certainly don’t want to deflate anyone’s hopes that sobriety will be a fantastically rewarding experience. It may turn out to be the best thing you ever did for yourself and your family. I truly hope that living as a non-drinker brings you the happiness and contentment you desire. But please don’t expect sobriety by itself to make everything wonderful for you. Allow the sober you to discover and do all of the things that will bring about your happiness and contentment. Be a participant in your life and make your sobriety work in your favor.

My intention isn’t to force you into anything, I don’t want to lecture you or even persuade you. I do want to get you thinking on your own. I would like to help you empower yourself. These are my own opinions and all I’m doing is presenting an alternative viewpoint on all the traditional 12-step systems or religious based systems. I don’t want to dissuade you from following any system or faith. I just want to ask that along with your current beliefs or system you do a little thinking of your own.

If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“Recovery is not just for the alcoholic.” (09/17/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Recovery isn’t just for the alcoholic or the user. This article/podcast is more focused on and dedicated to those that do the helping than those that need or seek help. For simplicity in writing, I’ll be using certain words to describe either a person or the process. I’ll be using the word “recovery” to describe the process of first becoming clean or sober. I’ll utilize the word “user” when referring to the individual that has the substance issue. And I’ll be using the word “supporter” when referring to the individual or individuals who are trying to help or support the user.

First I want to talk to the current users or those of you who are recently clean and sober. Getting clean or sober is a dramatic change in lifestyle and emotions. These changes will be a challenge for all parties involved. Not just spouses and partners, but with family members, friends, with your job and with people you work with. It may even impact where you work or what you do as a career field. Everyone around you will have to deal with and get accustomed to the new and evolving YOU. You might think everything is great, but you don’t have to deal with you. Just as when you were a drunk, you thought you were fine because you never had to deal with you. But there will be changes and those who support you are going to have to put up with your changes.

Some recovering users may be in a position where they don’t have any normal non-drinker or non-user friends and family. Then they must seek those kinds of people out. Look for people at work that you could gravitate towards. Join a gym and hang out with healthy people. Go to bookstores or coffee shops. You will have to actively look for people. There are plenty of recovery forums online as well. There are also many recovery groups that have meetings. There are alternatives to traditional AA meetings or church group meetings. HARM Reduction is one and Smart Recovery is another. You can find information about each of those organizations online as well as many other alternative forums and groups.

I don’t endorse AA or buy into the ideals of the organization, but I won’t tell you not to go. I had no idea of any alternatives when I first stopped drinking and most of the people I consulted who weren’t drinkers suggested AA (they didn’t know about anything else). I attended AA meetings for about 6 months and used the sessions to serve my purposes. Attending meetings helped me get a better grasp of what I didn’t want to be like. I discovered that I didn’t want to be a temperance and sobriety lunatic. I discovered that I didn’t want to become dependent upon a group, organization or some other person to maintain my own sobriety. I just wanted to learn how to live a normal life as a non-drinker.

Those meetings helped me tremendously. I didn’t say much or engage very much. “I don’t really think I have anything to add.” But I listened and thought. Then I began writing notes about my observations. This helped me begin to formulate my thoughts into a written plan for myself. That eventually led me to writing 2 books on the subject of making the best out of sobriety. Living Sober Sucks (but living drunk sucks more) is my first book. It’s half memoir and half descriptive ideas about sobriety. (That book is in its 3rd printing. I could go back and edit or update it, but I think it shows a factual example of how raw my mind and emotions were at that time.) I followed that up with my book: “Okay, I quit. Now what?” I still use that book as my own platform for how I want to live my life as a non-drinker and non-user. The book is intended to involve the reader personally. I want the reader to think on their own behalf and use the interactive worksheets to come up with their own answers to what they want out of sobriety and what they’re going to do with their sober life.

When you the user starts going through recovery, there are going to be plenty of changes. Over the past 10 years so much has changed within my life. My circle of friends has changed, my interests have changed, my buying and spending habits have changed, my work and career field has changed. So not only have I had to deal with the changes during my sober evolution, everyone and everything around me has had to deal with my changes. Many of these changes have been totally unexpected and completely unforeseen. Many changes have turned out better than I had imagined and some have been more painful than I had imagined. I am eternally grateful to all of the people who supported me during those changes and who continue to hang out with me as I continue changing. It is the patient supporters who are my heroes.

So let’s talk about what it’s like to be a supporter. A lot of times people see someone else that has what they perceive to be “a problem”. They can see that the other person could be doing so much better in their life. They want to help and they want to say something but they’re not sure how to help or what to say. Well, here’s something to consider: “Unless the other person’s drinking or using directly affects you, your family or your safety, you might want to just mind your own business. Maybe the other person likes being a drunk or a druggy. Maybe they’re happy the way they are.”

You see, I really enjoyed getting drunk and I really really liked getting high. I wasn’t sitting around waiting and hoping for someone to come along and tell me how big of a fuck up I was. The few times anyone ever mentioned my heavy drinking to me I just told them to go fuck themselves. I finally had to see—for myself that my drinking and fondness for drugs was adversely affecting all areas of my own life and would ultimately affect my wife’s life and my marriage. I came to my own realization of this, no outside intervention played a role. Once I realized I needed to do something, that’s when I knew I would need help and support.

Most people have the best of intentions when they offer support or advice. But they’re rarely available for support AFTER they’ve given their advice. Support isn’t done by constantly talking about sobriety or rehashing all the bad things the other person may have done. Support is best served by just being present and being a stable part of the recovering user’s life. Invite the recovering user to come over and hang out with you and help you with your daily chores or a project. Don’t just sit there—do something together. Let the recovering user witness and participate in living a normal life. Let the recovering user see and experience what a normal life is like. And the most important thing if you truly want to be of support to someone, you must also be sober with them.

So let me tell you a little story about me. On October 12th, 2005 I stopped drinking. At the same time I also stopped smoking pot, stopped taking pills and stopped chewing tobacco. I made some major changes with my life and I needed help, desperately. My body and my mind was a mess. My spouse didn’t support me. In fact she was mean, insulting and undermined my efforts to stay sober. She continued to drink. I would be teased, criticized, told that “I wasn’t a man.” She would taunt me by flirting with other men right in front of me. She lied to me and cheated on me. I was going through recovery all alone. Shortly after I quit drinking I moved out of my home and began divorce proceedings. I was an emotionally fucked up mess. I ended up finding my support where I least expected it.

My support came from me actively searching and seeking out normal people that I wanted to hang out with. None of these people were professionally trained as rehab counselors. They were regular people who led regular lives. I asked if I could hang out with them and asked if I could help them with their projects. These people had no idea what an important role they were playing in my life. I wanted to see how normal, sober, non-drinkers and non-users lived. These people became my ‘secret’ mentors and ‘private’ role models. (I never told anyone about how highly I held them. I didn’t want anyone to feel awkward or feel that they had to live up to some expectation. But I was always openly thankful and appreciative of their kindness and friendship.)

To this day I still have ‘secret’ mentors and ‘private’ role models. I still gravitate towards non-drinkers. It isn’t that I’m consciously trying to avoid temptations. I just prefer hanging around people who have better things to do than just sit around and drink. I do have some very close friends that do drink, but their life isn’t focused around getting drunk. They’re productive, interesting people who might bring a couple of beers with them when we go out boating (and I’m serious when I say a couple—meaning only 2). They may have a beer after a project or a glass of wine with dinner. I also have friends who are heavy drinkers, but I don’t spend a lot of social time with them. I may have dinner or work on a project with them, but as soon as they start drinking heavily I just disappear. I have better things to do with my life than hang out and watch someone get drunk.

Very few people ever have regrets for being patient and making valid attempts to improve their life. Many times it may “feel” like you wasted your time when you try and try at something and the results don’t turn out as you had wanted them to. This holds true for both the recovering user and the supporters.

You as the supporter play an extremely important role. Whether the user openly admits it or not and whether they’re aware of it or not, you as a supporter are actually a mentor to them. The user will be looking to you to see how you handle your life. They will be watching to see how you behave as you go through disappointments and life’s daily struggles. And they will be closely watching as to how you handle temptations. You as the supporter don’t have to always be talking about sobriety and you don’t need to be professionally trained.

Recovery isn’t just about the user. The supporter is also going through recovery. Both parties are learning about this new sober person. Recovery is an evolutionary process. The need for sober support will change as time passes. The former user will change as time passes and the role of the supporter will change as time passes.

I sincerely salute and applaud any of you who have supported and helped a recovering user. You played an important role in someone else’s life. I hope it has been as gratifying for you as it has been for the recovered user.

My intention isn’t to force you into anything, I don’t intend to lecture you or even persuade you. I want to get you thinking on your own. I would like to help you empower yourself. These are my own opinions and all I’m doing is presenting an alternative viewpoint on all the traditional 12-step systems or religious based systems. I don’t want to dissuade you from following any system or faith. I just want to ask that along with your current beliefs or system you do a little thinking of your own.

If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“How bad is bad?” (07/16/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

How bad is bad? How bad do things have to get before you say, “I need to get a handle on this”? Well the answer to that is completely up to you. I know that there are tests and questionnaires that you can fill out to assist you in answering whether you have a drinking problem or not. But you don’t have to fill out a questionnaire to figure it out. If you’re worried about your drinking or your friends and family are worried about you, then you probably already have a problem.

You may not feel that alcohol is causing any problems for you, and it may not be. But I do know from my own experience that you don’t have to be complete drunk for alcohol to create problems for you in your life. I know that drinking consumes a lot of money and time.

Now let me point out that I’m not lecturing you or going to lecture you on the evils of alcohol.  You can drink all you want to, it doesn’t matter to me. I just happen to know that there are costs involved with drinking, and many of those costs are hidden. Sometimes you pay the costs, sometimes other people pay the costs; like your spouse, your kids, your family or your friends. And even when someone else is paying the cost, you eventually end up with the bill.

You don’t have to be a raging alcoholic for booze to cause problems. You may not have family problems as a result of drinking. You may not have alcohol related health issues. You may be responsible at work. You may be careful and don’t drink and drive. You might be a very pleasant and well rounded person. But if you drink every day or even every other day, your little drinking habit may be eating your life away. There are hidden costs to drinking.

Let me expand on the hidden cost of time. As I tell you this, I ask that you think about whether this has happened to you. You might find yourself saying, “Ya, I’ve done that.”

It’s a normal Tuesday evening and you’ve got plans to get some chores done. You want to clean up the house a little, pay some bills, answer a couple of emails and maybe work on a hobby or project. But right after dinner you grab a beer or a glass of wine. No big deal. But it goes down pretty quick so you grab another one. You sit down to work on paying those bills, but suddenly you don’t feel like doing that now. You grab your phone and call a friend. As you’re chatting with your friend that second drink magically disappears so you grab another one and keep on chatting.

You get done chatting and you really don’t feel like paying bills, doing laundry or working on your hobby. So you grab another drink and plop down to watch TV. You have a couple more drinks and the next thing you know, your entire evening has been wasted away. None of what you wanted to do (or needed to do) has gotten done. (I’ve wasted away entire weekends by being distracted with drinking. And I haven’t even touched on time wasted away with a hangover.)

Does any of this sound familiar or ring true with you? You’re not a rotten person if something like this happened to you. You’re not a full blown drunken lush because drinking can distract you at times. But when you become distracted by drinking it then consumes your mind and your time. (And you’re also consuming your money—not just the booze.)

This unintentional distraction of drinking can become a self-feeding cycle. My past is proof. I would get depressed or bored, so I would drink. Once I started drinking I would get distracted and I wouldn’t get some of my responsibilities done (or some other project I wanted to get done). Suddenly some of these things that I haven’t gotten done would become overwhelming. Then I would get sadder or more depressed and drink some more (or again the next night). Before I knew it I’d been doing that for weeks, and then it became months, then it turned into years. Not much of any substance was ever getting done, other than drinking.

Now there’s nothing wrong with talking on the phone with friends. There’s nothing wrong with sitting and watching TV or watching a movie. But if that bottle of beer, glass of wine or after dinner cocktail was the catalyst to wasting time, then even casual boozing is eating your life away. When drinking distracts you from doing what you wanted to do or should have done, then drinking is a problem.

Again, you don’t have to be a raging alcoholic for booze to be a problem in your life. Don’t you think it’s horrible for someone to waste their life away just sitting and drinking? To literally piss away money and time that they’ll never have again.

“Don’t waste your time or time will waste you.”

You don’t have to become a manic work freak. You don’t have to become some super-human accomplishment nutcase.

This isn’t a contest of who can be more sober or who can get more done. But please don’t rob yourself of your own time. Don’t allow drinking to distract you. Don’t let drinking consume your time and get in the way of you doing all the other things you want to do with your life.

I ask that you think about what you would like out of your own life. I would like you to evaluate—for yourself—whether you spend more time in the act of drinking than you would like to. Evaluate for yourself if even casual drinking is creating a distraction from accomplishing what you would like. Is drinking getting in the way of living how you would like to live. You may not even realize that it is getting in the way. Maybe this blog article or podcast will get you thinking about how much time even casual drinking takes up. Maybe you never realized that drinking distracts you from doing all that you want to do.

This is your own life, don’t rob yourself of the limited amount of time you have. You must also take other people’s lives into consideration, especially if you’re raising a family. Kids, spouse, family and friends all require your time.

We all have the same 24 hours per day. In that sense, we are all created equal. If you want to drink away some of your limited time, then do so. But remember that you’re making an exchange. If you’re doing one thing, then that means you can’t be doing something else.

It seems to me that many of my life’s unwanted and unexpected problems weren’t real problems, they were usually brought on as a result of my drinking. Drinking distracted me from doing what I should have been doing. I’m more than 10 years sober and I’m still paying on some of those hidden costs I spoke of earlier.

For your own sake, please think about how valuable your time is and don’t let habitual or destructive drinking distract you from using your time to its fullest. “Don’t waste your time or time will waste you.”

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“Is it ever good to lie?” (06/24/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Is there ever a good reason to lie to someone? Specifically, is it helpful to pass along false hope when someone is in the early stages of sobriety? This is a tough question I am often faced with. I have no idea if getting sober will be the best thing you ever did for yourself. I don’t know if it will work out marvelously or if it will be a boring or heart wrenching turn of events. Usually, turning yourself into a non-drinker does produce a lot of benefits, but there will be some disappointments and some unwanted consequences as well.

Nobody could have told me how the last 10 years would have played out for me. And if anyone would have been able to tell me how things were going to transpire, I probably wouldn’t have believed them or I wouldn’t have wanted to believe them. In hindsight, I’m rather glad that I was lied to. Most of what has taken place over the past 10 years has been completely unexpected. Much of it has been better than I ever imagined, but I have also encountered a lot of sadness and disappointment. Yet in the overall perspective, I have no regrets for stopping my personal destructive drinking hobby.

I seriously believe that if I wouldn’t have been lied to, I don’t think I would have even made an attempt at becoming sober. If I would have been told what was going to happen, I would have said “Fuck this. I’ll stay just as I am.” Even if I could have foreseen all of the interesting and fun future events I was about to embark upon, I would have also seen all the pain and bullshit I was going to have to endure and I never would have sobered up.

So I am grateful that I was lied to, but I am more grateful that I had an awakening and then accepted the realities that come with sobriety. I came out of fantasy land and had to accept that living sober just might really suck at times and that I had to make the best out of the way things were turning out for me. I don’t fault those who lied to me for the pain and disappointments that came to my world after I sobered up. I believe they had good intentions. And in truth, I think they even believed the lies themselves.

I believe that if people aren’t ever lied to they would never attempt anything. They would never attempt to start a business, they’d never get married and certainly never make an attempt at living sober. That’s why I tread cautiously when people ask (or email) me questions like: “Should I leave my spouse? Should I move? Should I change jobs? Should I quit drinking?” I don’t want to say the wrong thing, so I often lie a little.

There are different types and degrees to lying. There are lies of commission and lies of omission. If I ask you, “Did you steal my watch?” And you say “No,” but you’re wearing my watch, that’s a lie of commission. Lies of omission are what politicians use. They might either avoid giving an answer or they might be less forthcoming with the truth. For instance, let’s say someone asks me if living sober will be the best thing for them. I can give a partly honest answer by saying, “Well you’ll be healthier and you’ll save a lot of money.” But then I will give a lie of omission by saying, “However, I don’t know if it will turn out all that great for you. But it’s worth a try. You can always go back to being a drunk.”

I am avoiding telling them some truths. I don’t want to come right out and say, “You’ll probably be miserable for a while. You’ll likely be bored out of your skull at times. You’ll probably lose a few friends and you might end up with some other relationship problems that you don’t expect. But then again, you might not.”

People want to hear assurances, so I will be evasive but I won’t outright lie. I don’t want to deflate someone’s hopes; they may never put in a full effort or even try if it all sounds distasteful. Yet I also don’t want to offer false hopes. It isn’t that I don’t want to give an answer. I want to avoid giving a wrong answer or bad advice. I don’t have to live with the results or ramifications of their decisions. I try to get the other person involved in answering their own questions.

I will respond with, “I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that.”  Or, “If it were me, I would probably do it this way. But you’re not me and you need to decide what YOU think is best for you.” I don’t think it’s wrong to lie a little when someone approaches you about learning to live as a non-drinker. But I do caution that you don’t offer false or grandiose expectations. I was told a lot of lies and believed that “if I sober up, all that I had lost would be regained.” When my world got even worse after I had stopped drinking, I felt like I was wasting my time. I felt that I had no alternative than to go back to drinking. All sorts of bad shit was happening in my life. But for some reason (maybe my mental clarity?), I knew that drinking wouldn’t make things better again. I knew that things would only get worse than they were if I started drinking.

There were a variety of reasons why I continued on my path as a non-drinker. First off, I never want to give anyone the pleasure of seeing me fail. And plenty of people said I could never stay sober. Then, for some odd reason, I was enjoying my new found mental clarity. I figured that the struggle and pain I was going through was part of my penance. Now I actually enjoy the struggles and challenges of living a fun, rewarding life as a non-drinker. Sometimes the pain feels good.

I still lie to people. “Thanks for the invite, but sorry, I can’t make it. I have a lot of work to do tonight.” I don’t need to be blunt or hurtful by saying, “You annoy the fuck out of me, especially when you’re drunk. So I really don’t want to hang around you.” My goal in lying is to be pleasant, yet I need to protect and preserve my own sobriety. I know I sound a bit arrogant, but drunk people do annoy me. But that’s okay. I know that when I was a drunk I annoyed the fuck out of plenty of people. Some of my friends (and family) avoided me or didn’t want to hang out with me or attend events with me. I feel bad that I had to put them in the awkward position of having to lie to me just because I was a drunk.

You can’t help everyone. You can’t save everyone. But you can be supportive of someone even if you’re committing a lie of omission. I see nothing wrong with saying, “It might turn out to be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself and your family. Things may turn out better than you imagine. But I assure you that there will be some unpleasant surprises along the way. But you won’t know until you try. So why don’t you just try living sober? See how it turns out.”

In closing I want to spend a moment to promote my book: Okay, I quit. Now what? (It’s available in paperback, eBook and Audiobook.) I think it’s a really good and helpful book. It isn’t a book that tells you what you should do. It’s a book that invites you to think on your own behalf. It invites you to make plans of your own. You don’t have to follow any steps or read it from front to back. You can skip around and dive into the areas and topics that are of interest to you. I can’t make you sober, but I can help you get a better idea of what you want out of sobriety and out of your life. What’s the worst that can happen? You can always go back to being a drunk.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.