Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Being Around Alcohol

  As you probably know by now, I am a recovering alcoholic/addict who has almost four years of complete abstinence from both alcohol and drugs.
This Sunday night through Tuesday was The special days of 19-20 Kislev. On Monday night I went to a Farbrengen*at which alcohol is served. Another attendee who knows my story asked how I can be around alcohol without needing to take a drink. I did not answer him at the time, However, I would like to answer his question on this forum. I find that a few things need to be in place for me to be able to attend a gathering at which people will be drinking.
Let's first understand better what a Farbrengen is. A Farbrengen is not just another gathering or party. It is where a time that we get together for the sake of encouraging each other in our spirituality.

  Back to the original question. How can someone in recovery attend an event with alcohol? First and foremost, make sure that there is a good reason to attend.  You do not want to be hanging around alcohol for no good reason. After making sure that your motives are clean, Speak to another sober person and mention to them that you will be attending an event with alcohol. Bounce your thoughts off of them as to why you feel it is right for you to be going. And finally, make sure you have an escape plan/idea in case you need to leave.








*A Farbrengen (/fɑːrbrɛnɡɛn/, from the Yiddish פארברענגען, meaning "joyous gathering"; German verbringen "to spend [time/solidarity/festivity together]") is a Hasidic gathering. 





 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.

Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I have times still in my life where I feel like I am worthless. I don't think that anyone can do this alone, and that's what makes us stronger. Two hardest things to say are; I Am Sorry, I Need Help. Why? Look around people don't care anymore. We have become so caught up with ourselves that we forgot about our own family. The lies and manipulation we tormented our family with just so we could not feel, and be numb to everything. What's wrong with feelings? Isn't that why we were created to have personal relationships with other people? Yet we are looking for things outside ourselves to fix a problem that deeply embedded in our brains. Than we become just shells of people when we are in an active addiction because we only care about getting that next fix. We are dead in all the ways that matter; emotionally, mentally, spiritually but just not physical death. However, that's what we are slowly doing to ourselves every time you use, because you are playing with something that wants you dead. There is help out there and you have to want it in order for it to work, and most of us are self-sabotaging so when we get a few weeks clean we feel unworthy of the good things that start to happen. So we feel the need to screw things up and it's a vicious cycle. My question is are you going to stay part of your problem? Or grow up and become part of the solution to your problems? I think addicts are people that feel everything and we are very sensitive people in all reality. I know I wear my emotions on my sleeves and go out of my way to help strangers. Why do I do this? I do it because it takes me out of myself and I have learned that it's okay to feel. I am okay today with who I am and if I would allow the wreckage from my past define me I would be defeated. So I think my message is to empty your garbage daily and stop carrying around stuff from your past. We can't take back yesterday let alone the things we did weeks ago. All we can do is the next right thing and try and help someone else out. We can become obsessed with our own thoughts and reality is we have a thought every seven seconds and we choose to turn it into an action. What will you choose?







 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.

Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Making Amends

A big part of my journey in bettering myself has been and still is making amends to those I have wronged in any way. This leads me to think about what is a sincere amends.

 We all know that forced "I'm sorry" that we tell children to say.  When we get older we realize that we need to start making real apologies. How do we make a real apology? I would like to share a few thoughts with you.

In my experience an effective way to make a sincere apology is with three simple steps.

1) Express remorseful feelings.  Don't just say "I'm sorry", express your feelings of remorse. For example, "I'm sorry that by acting disrespectful to the bank teller embarrassed you.

2) Admit fault without justifying the hurtful act, and never place blame on the other person. Placing blame on the other person is counterproductive and sounds insincere.

3) Make the situation right. Ask how you can right the situation, and be open to doing what the offended asks of you (within reason). Above all, deliver on any promises you make. When we feel guilty or embarrassed, sometimes we over-correct in our attempt to gain forgiveness. If the person is asking for something that you can’t give, say so, and say that you will give some thought to what you can give to make it up to him or her.

Keep this in mind next time you need to apologize to someone.








 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.

Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Self respect

This past week after consulting with others I had to walk away from a job.The reason is that ever since the election there has been allot of abuse. It has been getting worse day by day. My boss saw it as a form of disrespect to him, and I got to double guessing my decision.

You put a frog into a vessel filled with water and start heating the water. As the temperature of the water begins to rise, the frog adjusts its body temperature accordingly. The frog keeps adjusting its body temperature with the increasing temperature of the water. Just when the water is about to reach boiling point, the frog cannot adjust anymore. At this point the frog decides to jump out. The frog tries to jump but it is unable to do so because it has lost all its strength in adjusting with the rising water temperature. Very soon the frog dies. What killed the frog? Think about it! I know many of us will say the boiling water. But the truth about what killed the frog was its own inability to decide when to jump out. We all need to adjust with people & situations, but we need to be sure when we need to adjust & when we need to move on. There are times when we need to face the situation and take appropriate actions. If we allow people to exploit us physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually or mentally they will continue to do so. Let us decide when to jump! Let's jump while we still have the strength.

I would like to share some wisdom that was shared with me.

Just because you stop talking to or associating with a toxic person doesn't necessarily mean you hate them. It means you respect yourself enough to not put up with their drama, abuse, or be used by them any longer. Don't disrespect yourself by letting others disrespect you. You're worth more than being used as a doormat.







 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.

Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Writing inspiration

I was talking to a cousin of mine who mentioned that although I may not always feel a push to write, it is important to continue writing so that others can benefit. In that spirit, I bring back my blog.

A week and a half ago, someone that I know here in Baltimore Shot himself in the head. While talking to the family, I found out that he has been bullied for many years, and judged for his differences. Yes, I wanted to escape the reality of my feelings, but I knew that would not help. After a while, I would feel and it would be so much harder. What I can do is learn and grow from this other person's suffering and give his life, and death meaning.

Just a reminder that not everyone is as you perceive them to be. Maybe our perception is out of ignorance. Perhaps maybe fear of the unknown. But you remember YOUR words and actions could be the reason someone lives or dies, you might just be a little kinder. It is sad that some people expect to be treated better than they treat the others around them. Love truly spreads farther than hate.




 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.
Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Friday, July 15, 2016

I used to think if I was vulnerable and told people my real story it would be the end of me. But I did it anyways,and what I've found is that whenever I'm courageous and let people see the real me-all of my messes, mistakes, errors,and imperfection. I find new beginnings bursting with empathy not endings. I hear "me too" a lot more often,and it's easier for my heart to connect to another person now that I don't spend all my time trying to hide or pretend I'm someone I'm not. I'm imperfectly worthy and committed to vulnerability. That is why I am able to speak in front of many different audiences and in many different settings through out the United States and tell my story.



 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.
Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Life and loss

It has been a while since I last wrote. I would like to bring you up to speed with the Last couple of months. After having an interview for a job in Israel, I received the phone call accepting me.  A couple of days after Passover I boarded a flight leaving JFK airport with a final destination being the Holy Land. Approximately three weeks later, my father calls to let me know "Zaidy had a major stroke. The doctors say it can be a few days or a few hours." Zaidy (Grandfather) held on for another twenty-four hours. Who would have thought that I would move so far away, and never see my grandfather again, never making amends for how I hurt him so deeply.
In the last week, my boss was so kind as to inform me that the drug rehabilitation center in which I am employed, will be closing and has until July 15 to be moved out.
This past day has been extremely difficult. The story of my sexual abuse has been brought u once again, this time interfering with my relationship with someone very dear to my heart.
In times such as these, I can see very clearly how God is there for me in all areas of my life.It has been a while since I last wrote. I would like to bring you up to speed with the Last couple of months. After having an interview for a job in Israel, I received the phone call accepting me.  A couple of days after Passover I boarded a flight leaving JFK airport with a final destination being the Holy Land. Approximately three weeks later, my father calls to let me know "Zaidy had a major stroke. The doctors say it can be a few days or a few hours." Zaidy (Grandfather) held on for another twenty-four hours. Who would have thought that I would move so far away, and never see my grandfather again, never making amends for how I hurt him so deeply.
In the last week, my boss was so kind as to inform me that the drug rehabilitation center in which I am employed, will be closing and has until July 15 to be moved out.
This past day has been extremely difficult. The story of my sexual abuse has been brought u once again, this time interfering with my relationship with someone very dear to my heart.
In times such as these, I can see very clearly how God is there for me in all areas of my life.



 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.
Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Update

It has been a while since I last wrote. I would like to bring you up to speed with the Last couple of months. After having an interview for a job in Israel, I received the phone call accepting me.  A couple of days after Passover I boarded a flight leaving JFK airport with a final destination being the Holy Land. Approximately three weeks later, my father calls to let me know "Zaidy had a major stroke. The doctors say it can be a few days or a few hours." Zaidy (Grandfather) held on for another twenty four hours. Who would have thought that I would move so far away, and never see my grandfather again, never making amends for how I hurt him so deeply.
In the last week my boss was so kind as to inform me that the drug rehabilitation center in which I am employed, will be closing and has until July 15 to be moved out.
This past day has been extremely difficult. The story of my sexual abuse has been brought u once again, this time interfering with my relationship with someone very dear to my heart.
In times such as these I can see very clearly how God is there for me in all areas of my life.



 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.
Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Living with PTSD

In the Jewish faith, the Western Wall in Jerusalem is the holiest place today that one can go to pray. It is the wall built around the Temple Mount, and the closest one can get to the place that the holy Temple once stood.  Out of respect for such a holy site many people, myself included, walk away slowly.
On Wednesday while praying, I saw a child molester whom I recognized, and he was trying to prevent me from noticing him. For some reason, seeing this specific  individual shook me to my core, and I freaked out. I fought to contain myself, however, that resulted in a more normal appearance of bursting out in tears. While I experienced this meltdown I asked God why he lets such people who destroy innocent lives walk free as if they are good people. After this short discussion with God, I freaked out again and ran away as fast as I could. That night I was awake  most of the night. Despite thinking I am ok, and not suffering from PTSD symptoms anymore, I had a nightmare and replayed my abuse over in my dreams gain.





l
 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.
Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

No one But One

I will never forget sitting in that nice office lined with religious books being told it never happened.

I had come to a religious community leader to ask for help. I had been fondled inappropriately.  "Religious people do not do such things", he said. "Don't you know what God has said about such actions? Why are you trying to hurt an innocent person?"was the reply. I had tried turning to others but the response was not much different. No one was there in my time of need No one (,soon to realize no one but one). That night when the house was silent, I turned on the computer, and waited for the slow internet to load. When the internet finally loaded, the search for help began. Nothing, No one was there for me. None cared. Finally I found this website, that showed that there was help. The memories of sitting there filling out an electronic report, are so clear in my mind to this day. The next night at 10:15 p.m. came the call that made all the difference. The person on the other end of the line, understood me like no one else, He believed me and let me know I do not need to go through this through this alone. This caring and compassionate person informed me that he would be there for me every step of the way. No one believed me no one but one. No one would help me no one but one.
Today I am a survivor who lives a productive life, always there for the next person in need. I try to use my story to help and empower others, If my story an save just one life, then all the pain and suffering will not be in vain.





Menachem Schoenes


 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.
Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Today's blog post may be a bit of a ramble, and not make much sense, as I am very emotional right now. This post is discussing a major part of my story.

When I was early in sobriety, I was incapable of being honest with myself. People in my regular meetings realized that things I said would contradict each other. Thanks to someone I consider a very close dear friend I was able to be convinced to get the much needed outside help required. I remember the ambulance ride from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, N.Y. to the hospital in I believe upstate New York (Although I may be mistaken on location) as if it was just yesterday. At the time although I never said anything then, I built up a huge resentment towards those friends, (and for an addict resentment will very possibly lead to a relapse).
Even when I got to the psychiatric hospital I though there was no reason to be there. The people involve saved my life. With out that help I would be dead today.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was still convinced that I did not need any help, and did not want to check myself in voluntarily. Although I did not want to be there, I participated, at first to be able to get out quicker, and later as I saw it was helping me.
For these true friends who helped in my time of need, I am forever grateful.
Today as a result of being convinced to check myself in, (otherwise I would have been committed), I am a productive member of society, and able to manage the disease of addiction.





 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.

Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My new life


I wanted to share some poetry with you all. 
Please give some feedback.


Contemplating thought and the purpose I will serve.
Seeking to find the needy and give the help they deserve.
Seeking to be more I must be at my best.
Draw my own opinions stand apart from all the rest.
Isolated, drifting, outcast yet I know I'm never alone.
In his path to freedom the solution I've been shown.
No longer lost in sadness my faith has set me free.
I strive for something better a quest to search for me.
Searching in the shadows no more demons do I find.
In my faith there is salvation it saved my shattered mind.

No longer trapped in yesterday I'm living for today.
Today I must take action no time I can't delay.
My motives are not self seeking I try to help them all.
Today I will live better and to my past can never fall.
Today my life's so different the pleasures that I feel.
My action's can't be selfish the consequences are for real.
I've ventured for his glory so I may be granted peace.
I am a better person threw torment I found release.
Life is wondrous I heard them say.
I chose to follow their every way.
The changes happened they seemed so fast.
If I don't give up forever they'll last.
Today there's hope and true salvation.
To follow his way is a revelation.
Every moment I feel his love,
and every obstacle will rise above.






 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.
Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Remembering the Rebbe

Tonight I am sitting here emotional thinking about the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Since putting down drugs, I find that one of the beauties, that used to be torture, is that I can feel emotion. For that I am grateful. 
Tonight and tomorrow marks 24 years from the date that the Rebbe had a stroke while visiting the grave of his saintly father-in-law and predecessor. While I do not have any memories of this Holy man, as I was not born until after the stroke, I feel a very strong connection with this Holy individual. He was the hand to which millions did and still do come.
I would like to share a brief story from the Rebbe, A teacher at a Chabad yeshiva once received a request from a friend to mention his name to the Rebbe for a refuah shleimah (compleate healing) when passing by for kos shel bracha (wine that the Rebbe would distribute after making a blessing on it at the end of a Jewish Holiday). The teacher agreed to do so, but when his turn came, he was so emotional that he did not manage to say anything. As the Rebbe poured some wine into his cup, he looked at the teacher with a penetrating gaze before saying "lechaim," and adding, "a refuah shleimah!" 
I would like to end of with a more recent story from just a few years ago, 
Here is a story that occurred in Kfar Chabad, Israel some five years ago.
It's not easy to imagine being blind - we can close our eyes and try but in a pinch we can always open them. But not Mrs. Schecter.
She was really blind.
She had been a housewife, a school teacher and normal, loving mother to her large family... until she got the flu.
It was some sort of strange flu that just didn't stop and after several weeks of it she decided that she had better visit the hospital for tests.
But after another week of intensive examinations and various tests nothing unusual showed up. 'Ordinary Viral Flu' they called it and sent her home to let the disease take its course and just naturally fade away.
But it didn't.
In fact, a few days later she was reading a book in bed when suddenly the letters became fuzzy. She looked up at the clock on the wall and became a blur. And then, as though someone turned off the switch, the room suddenly turned black with a few vague gray shadows.
She had lost her sight.
She kept calm. told her children to call their father from work and she was back in the hospital shortly after.
But this time, after a day of concentrated and intensive testing the doctors weren't so optimistic. They solemnly announced that the prognosis was dismal. Most probably the flu had affected her brain. There was no treatment for her condition and... they felt obligated to tell her that... the blindness could be, that is, most probably was, permanent.
Mrs. Schecter, a religious Jew, believed strongly in Divine Providence; if this was G-d's will then she would certainly make the most of it. But she was also a Chassid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that never took darkness for an answer.
There was only one way to be sure. She dictated to her children a letter to the Rebbe and had them insert it in one of the books of 'Igrot Kodesh'; (to date 23 volumes of letters that the Lubavitcher Rebbe answered to various questions in the first 18 of his 42 years as Rebbe.)
The letter ended with the words "And may G-d, blessed be He, return the light of her eyes".
The letter was her only thread of hope... but it was a very strong thread.
She learned to function without eyes. She already knew all of the prayers that we Jews say thrice daily by heart and it wasn't long before she learned how to cook, clean the house and function almost normally while continuing to search for and visit better doctors and experts. But it was in vain. All they could do was raise their hands in defeat and suggest that she should learn to read Braille.
Her friends, neighbors and family added special psalms to say for her recovery, others added in good deeds but the weeks and months passed with no change.
Her best friend wrote another letter to the Rebbe for advice and inserted it randomly in volume 8. It opened to a long letter (page 143) to someone that had problems with his eyes, advising him to add in the learning of Torah which illuminates the world, and also in the Chabad Chassidic teachings which illuminate the Torah.
Mr. Schecter added a new early-morning Chassidut class to his already crowded daily schedule. But still no change - none at all.
One Thursday afternoon there was a knock on her door. One of her children answered and when she opened the door standing there was a woman that no one had ever seen. She asked if this was the Schecter residence and asked if she could talk to the lady of the house.
Mrs. Schecter appeared, the strange woman entered, they sat opposite one another and she held out a dollar bill and begged Mrs. Schecter to take it; it was a dollar from the hand of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that would restore her sight.
But Mrs. Schecter was not impressed. She thanked the woman warmly but explained that she herself had been by the Rebbe several times for 'dollars' (every Sunday thousands of people stood in line to receive blessings and at least one dollar bill from the Rebbe to encourage them to also give charity.) and had several of her own.
"But this dollar was different!" the woman insisted. She related that she herself had once been terminally ill and when a friend of hers passed before the Rebbe one Sunday and requested a blessing for her the Rebbe handed her a dollar and replied, "This will be for a miraculous recovery."
Just days later she unexplainably and miraculously recovered and since then she had given this dollar to many seriously ill people with amazing results. So when she heard about Mrs. Schecter's tragic blindness she knew that this dollar would help.
Needless to say she agreed to take it.
Two days later on Shabbat afternoon as Mrs. Schecter was carefully setting the table for the afternoon meal groping for the knives and forks suddenly her eyes began to vibrate almost painfully. She put her hands to her eyes and began pressing. she didn't know what was happening. But there was first a flash of strong light and then...
She could see!!! When she took her hands away she could see! She could even read! It was as though nothing ever happened.
The news spread like wildfire in Kfar Chabad and just hours later their house was filled with an informal thanksgiving 'Farbrengan' (Chassidic get-together) that was unforgettable.
After Shabbat the word even spread to the Israeli media and reporters with filming crews rushed in to cover the story. Finally there was good news!
Two days later the woman who brought the dollar appeared, took it back and disappeared just as mysteriously as she had arrived. (Interestingly, to this day no one has any idea who she is.) 

If you or someone you know could benefit from a blessing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, please contact me.



 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.

Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

One day or one week

Not that long ago I had one of those days, you know those days where you feel like everything's going the wrong way you wish you could just restart the day?  You can.
About a week ago I was having one of those days, where all seemed wrong. Towards the end of the day. the thought came to me, what is just one day out of a lifetime? For an addict even in recovery a negative thought like this can be life threatening. I came across an amazing piece of poetry. It goes as follows,
  One day out of a week
  One day out of a month
  One day no big deal,
  One day can change the week
  One day can change the month
  One day can change your life
  One day is a big deal.
Then it hit me like a lightning bolt. Just because today is not the best day, there is so much positivity in yesterday, last week and last moth. Why should I not use that positivity as a spring board for today, and tomorrow.







 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.
Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

I found something I wrote a long time ago, (I don't remember when). Reading the following section those who know me can clearly see from where I came to where I am now.
For me there is inspiration seeing as I do not have to be concerned with others opinions of me anymore. People will always judge, however I do not worry as I can not change them.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."




I have struggled with drug addiction for quite a few years. I have done things I regret, I've learnt a lot about my self and others in this long journey I've been on. I am no angel, I know I've done wrong, but I know I have a big heart. I do care about people and there feelings. I know what its like to judge and be judged. I would be lying if I said I have never judged any one. But i wouldn't be lying if I said that I no longer judge people before getting a chance to know them. I use to act like nothing bothered me and I would brag about being heartless. But deep down I wasn't although I did not care about who I was hurting at that time. I was just doing what was needed for survival.  I am a recovering addict, I'm not using. I am not using my DOC (drug of choice) whether it be street drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol.. People who are always drinking would judge me and many still do. Now everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But if you drink that does not give you a right to belittle someone who is addicted to something else. That is a hypo-cryt. That drunk is just as bad as the junkie. Get to know someone and what they have been through before judging them. Before you walk through someone else's shoes you do not know what demons that person is battling. Think before you speak b/c words can do more damage than sticks and stones.




 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.

Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Introduction

Some of you know me, and some of you don't
Regardless of all that, here it goes.

I was born in '93 to two loving parents, little did we know that would change way to soon. When I was three my mother got ill, for three years she fought a battle I don't wish on you. After a bone-marrow transplant all was going well.  that all changed one day and a month later she passed away.
Life was hard, however, we found a way. At a young age the bottle became my friend. From then moving forward things went south. Being 19 without a home, food or phone, and deep depression, I could not live with or without the drugs. I was ready to jump. Little did I know there was a way out.
With allot of hard work, both inside and out I can say today I have been clean for three years. Whatever your struggles in life may be, remember it can always get better.
God is great, just look around, see the sun and the moon, and the water in the sea.






 I am available to speak in your city, for your organization, school, or synagogue.
Please contact me at 443-415-0449 or at rabbischoenes@gmail.com for fee and scheduling information.