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    1. #1
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      The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Saturday, March 18th 2017 (My Story)

      Continued from ''Up Until Now''

      Over all then that's my story!

      The forum I used to help me before (the now defunct WQD) aided me greatly in finding my way early doors into a new kind of life far away from that one where I woke up on the floor of the bedroom in that cave over the winters. It had its problems, as any forum will. Many of its senior members hadn't been to the kind of places that many of us who are/were very serious drinkers and who have lifelong psychological and social dysfunctioning yet pretended they had, which is something I found to be deeply disrespectful. When I was going through my suicidal thinking I had to pull away from the forum for a while as it appeared to condemn me for feeling this way. Many of its members figured I was just seeking attention. Again many of them couldn't relate to what I was going through. The senior members especially.

      Things were never the same after that. I don't care too much for people posting responses to what I write. Sometimes there are periods when no one reads my text yet I still put down my 1000 1500 words daily. It's a tool I've used to help me stay sober since the beginning of my journey.

      This website is the latest place to be cursed with these words.

      Thanks for giving this your time.







      Stevie,

      Lunarer.....
      Prayin' for sober sleep......

    2. #2
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Sunday, March 19th 2017 (A Questionnaire)


      Right then, we'll just get right on with it.

      Thanks for the comments on the My Way Out forum. It's a nice place, this. So incredibly similar in style and design as the old forum I used to use.

      This morning Lindsay and I were supposed to be attending my oldest niece's dancing show in a neighbouring town but Sunday public transport has meant that it's not gonna be happening. Or, to be more honest, lack of advance planning on my part has meant that it will not be happening. I'm a little worried about things with my girlfriend though. We're fine in the house (her house – never my cave) but when we've been attending things recently there have been one or two problems. At the beginning of the month we were to be meeting up with a guy from my college course who was playing his first gig and we managed to get all the way to the town he was playing without actually getting to the gig. I kept getting the impression that she didn't want to go and we ended up arguing. Then there was Thursday evening when we went out to eat and for an overnight stay in a posh hotel. Again, we ended up arguing. Now we have this morning where we don't manage to make it to a social appointment. Maybe I still suffer from codependency.

      I'm a little worried. We have a little trip coming up soon to fishing town Montrose at the start of May and also we have only last night booked into a hotel room for a gig later in the year. Sometimes I wonder if I'm so used to doing things by myself that I feel it awkward to have someone coming along to everything now.

      I have my next session with my clinical psychologist coming up on Thursday afternoon (my fourth session, I think it is) and I've homework to complete before this. Lindsay offers some assistance with this. It's the usual kind of thing you've probably done yourself at some point. Answer the following questions using a number:

      1 – Never or almost never
      2 – Rarely
      3 – Occasionally
      4 – Frequently
      5 – Most of the time
      6 – All of the time

      I ask her for assistance in filling out this form. It's interesting to see how her opinions of me and my choices and personality traits differ slightly from what I believe myself to be. While placing my score from one to five based on what both of us say about each question I have to be aware that while Lindsay will be able to see me in a different light from that I see myself she will only have the experience of how I think, act and behave while I am with her and not all of the time. So I'll use her opinion as a guideline but not as a conclusive and definitive answer.

      Here are four of the questions I was going to put a different answer to until I heard Lindsay's take on them:

      Question 14) I have rage outbursts.

      I was going to put number 3 down there, occasionally. Lindsay then mentions that I never show any rage.

      Lindsay – ''Sometimes you get a little annoyed with the computer and the internet, like, when it isn't moving quickly enough for you or isn't working properly, but I've never seen you getting what I would say was really annoyed. Certainly nowhere near rage.''

      I guess she's right, but then she doesn't see what's inside of me. There are times when I do feel angry and it's usually always got nothing to do with technology – it's people!

      Stevie – ''Sometimes when people are walking towards me on the footpaths I get pissed off if they don't divide themselves up to allow space for me and just continue to take up the whole of the walkway. I think that it should be fifty – fifty whether you are on your own or in a group.''

      Lindsay – ''We all get pissed off with other people from time to time but I don't think that you should put a high number for that one.''

      Stevie – ''Sometimes I think I can get pretty annoyed though.''

      Lindsay – ''But you don't display it in an outburst, like the question is asking.''

      She's right. I guess. I end up putting a score of ''2'' because I do believe that I have a passive-aggressive stance on most things in life. How times have changed though – sobriety sneaking up on me.

      Question 2 ) I feel loved and accepted.

      This was one in which I felt a low score should apply. It's something that Lindsay picks up on. She seems disappointed. As if to place a low score here means that I feel as though she doesn't care for nor accept me. I know she does, but, as in every relationship, there are conditions placed on us and I am expected to be a certain way. My psychologist – the very guy I'm filling out this questionnaire for in the first place – asked me a couple of weeks ago if there were any relationships in my life in which I felt completely safe. I thought about it for a while and concluded that there is one. My friend English Sara. She's the only one who has seen all of me and still seems to accept me. I don't have to pretend when I'm with her.

      I put down the number two as my answer.

      Question 45) I don't let myself relax or have fun until I've finished everything I'm supposed to do.

      Lindsay is quick to suggest I give this a higher score. I think this is an interesting one though. I spend around two thirds of my time at Lindsay's flat. Around a third of my time at my own cave. I think that there are two very different Stevie's depending on where I am. The Stevie who stays with Lindsay probably does get things done before he is allowed to relax. In fact – doing college essays and so on IS my relaxation, which are things many people becoming stressed by. But when I'm in my cave the other Stevie comes to the fore. The Stevie so filled with anxiety and hatred at his surroundings that he gets in and straight away gets the headphones on and vanishes into his own little world.

      Because I am at Lindsay's more than I am at the cave I decide to answer a number 4. I frequently don't allow myself time to relax until all that is to be done is done. I'd put the lowest score on the other Stevie though.

      Question 122) I feel spontaneous and playful.

      I glance toward Lindsay on the other side of the couch. She's smiling while nodding her head. I know. Sometime I give myself a hard time for my apparent lack of playfulness and capacity for spontaneous behaviour.

      Lindsay – ''I can't wait to see your spontaneous side.''

      Stevie – ''Who says I have one?''

      Lindsay – ''Everyone has a spontaneous side.''

      I'm not going to get all negative and suggest that I might be the exception here (and this is what I believe to some extent) but I think hard about what my answer to this one might be. I have to go with the lowest score of just ''1'' – never or almost never do I feel or act playfully or in a spontaneous manner.

      Through the text messages I got a row from Scottish Sarah for missing the niece's dancing show this afternoon. I deserve it too. I didn't sober up to be a shitty uncle, yet here I am.

      I'm 771 days away from a drink but still can't get myself to keep to a fairly basic schedule.

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      Stevie

      RIP Chuck Berry

      1334
      Prayin' for sober sleep......

    3. #3
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Monday, March 20th 2017 (Spring)


      It's over! Normally my worst time of year by a considerable distance – winter. Autumn is a close second in the ''Seasons I Am Most Fearful Of'' competition but this is only, I feel, because it is during this month that I start to think about the winter. This winter has been nothing if not rather straightforward, There have been no suicidal thoughts or feelings (there's a big difference between suicidal thoughts and suicidal feelings) whatsoever. I even enjoyed Christmas. Whatever it was, slightly milder temperature, having Lindsay by my side, or the fact that there were no alcoholic drinks or cigarettes with anything other than tobacco inside – something has made the difference. I won't be nave about it, but I feel that there no longer needs to be within me this tremendous fear of the dark months. Spring begins today!

      I'm beginning to feel a little better generally. I'm not sure if this is directly a result of this one single date of the calender (it was sunnier yesterday after all and has been raining quite badly here in central Scotland this morning and later in the afternoon as well) or if it is, which I think is the much more likely scenario, that I am actually doing better with my life. My addictions counsellor, Margaret, whom I had almost one hundred sessions with over a three and a half year period, used to talk all the time about the flower and the petals. The idea that each of us is his or her own little plant and that we need petals, healthy petals, to surround us, to attach to us. These could come in the form of various friendships and relationships; jobs and hobbies; anything that I healthy for us, that helps us to be who we are, content in life.

      For so long I thought Margaret was mad. I used to become frustrated by her and all of this ''petals of a flower'' talk as it was clear from her demeanour that she came from a comfortable background, and even if she hadn't I had created an entire history for her in my head so much so that I struggle to take on board what she said. She had it all and at the time I had nothing. That was what I thought anyway.

      Now I realise that I have started to build up a little bit of a life for myself. I have some petals surrounding me. I suppose that I have something Margaret may not have all that much of – time. I'll turn thirty nine next month and so I am still relatively young. I noticed in Alcoholics Anonymous that mid thirties is a popular age to sober up. I could one day, effectively, become an ''old timer'' with thirty years of continuous sobriety. Thirty years! Holy shit! I have every reason to feel optimistic.

      Two weeks from now and this library will close down. It, like the charity shop just opposite which I volunteer every Friday morning, has been a great support to me while I sobered up. I try to imagine what I might have done when I lost internet access back in the cave. All those times when writing and posting on WQD wasn't as much an option as it was a necessity, like breathing in the fresh air of a morning. Less than two weeks from now and it will be gone. The council closing it to save, apparently, eleven thousand pounds per month. Less than the cost of one staff member's salary.

      I've had some good times here, in this room, beside the other regulars who come in here to privately go about doing whatever it is that each of them might be doing.

      I think I'm feeling gratitude. For those who don't know me very well this might sound ''normal'', why would someone not feel grateful at being two years off the booze, one year away from the drugs, and six weeks (tomorrow) smoke free?

      But I was for a long time seemingly incapable of the finer traits and emotions of the human condition. Empathy, love, humility, and gratitude – none of these seemed possible, they just never came to me. Perhaps I was trying to hard to feel them, trying to create them, rather than just letting them come to me in their own time.

      I was told once by a member in AA that she felt the slower recovery to be the best recovery. That there's no rush for this. She said that these things will come to me if I only have faith.

      I'm staying in my own town this evening so am going to go visit my good friends English Sara and Dennis. Lindsay will be at her Children's Panel meeting just now and so I'll likely speak to her about that at some point over the course of the evening. I miss her. I always do my best to block people off from getting to know me. My psychologist calls it my ''detached protector mode'' and we'll be looking a little more at it on Thursday at our session. I'm good at blocking people off but I'm equally as talented at blocking off any attachment from my end. Don't care. At least try not to. This way any future loss won't hurt too much.

      I look out of the library window though and into the sunshine that still beats down on us despite it now officially being evening time. I think it would be hard to deny that I have fallen for Lindsay in many ways. I don't think that if we stopped seeing each other from tonight that I'd be able to completely detach from my feelings about it. I think I'd be hurt. It's scary, but healthy.

      I'll pack up the computer and walk out that door into the spring sunshine. Hopefully that warmth of spring will be there to greet me and to accompany me on the walk to Sara's.

      It's a little reminder to me that the winter no longer exists as I used to know it.

      A little reminder of what was then but is not now.


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      Stevie

      Entering spring.

      1045
      Prayin' for sober sleep......

    4. #4
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Tuesday, March 21st 2017 (Dying Petals)



      I'm sitting with English Sara and Dennis last night and I'm looking around the room. There isn't a seat free so I take to the floor. They are struggling, these two. For some reason I had no issues with myself letting my cave get into a complete state but it hurts to watch it happen to others I know and care about. The place is getting worse each time I come around. Sara fell and broke her ankle at the end of last month so she's been immobile. Dennis has recently turned seventy but could still be capable of tidying up should the inclination come to him, it's just that he's choosing not to.

      Stevie – ''I thought I'd pop round because the trip to Montrose is in six weeks now. Time is ticking away.''

      Sara – ''I'm not sure if we'll be able to afford it. We're hoping to go see my daughter in London in the summer.''

      It's unlikely that they'll be able to afford both (between you and me it's unlikely that they'll go on either trip) and so we agree to work out our funds and then I'll pay them a visit a week on Friday (same day that the library closes) and we'll either drop the idea of the trip or commit to going and book our rooms. I wonder what state the place will be in when I next come to visit in eleven days from now.

      So I'm walking back to my own little sess-pool of a cave and wondering about yesterday's post. I'm thinking that I spoke a little prematurely about all of that ''gratitude'' and ''things going well with the petals of my life's flower'' – and all that jazz. I'm feeling a little less than I was earlier on. I'm not getting down on myself (although I am very prone to bouts of this type of behaviour), rather I'm just allowing myself to become a little concerned about my petals.

      It might not all be as wonderful as I was writing about yesterday. Imagine if Lindsay decides to finish with me at any random given moment. It's not likely to happen but it would leave me in a much worse position than I currently am. The college only has twelve weeks to go and then I'll be really struggling for mental stimulation. Things might not be all that great after all if they could be toppled by just a couple of small events. My new and sober world could come crashing down at any time and it wouldn't actually take all that much for it to happen.

      When I feel like cheering myself up the booze doesn't work. I don't mean drinking it – that NEVER worked, not really. I mean that reminding myself that I have managed to somehow stay away from it for more than two years has long since lost its importance. It doesn't even help to remind myself that I have not taken any drugs for more than a year either. Nope – what motivates me right now is the reminding that I have been smoke free for six weeks. And it is a full six weeks to the day now. It, for some reason, works better at motivating and resuscitating the more optimistic parts of my brain into trying to feel some gratitude,

      So today I have been busy at the college. I tried a couple of courses before but had always dropped out by this time. This year I am in it to win it and have been doing really well, even though it is not exactly the most difficult course or highest level I could have imagined. But this college course ws never about me trying to gain the qualification (although that is a big part of the plan) – it was about commitment and self-care. Could I commit to doing something I set my mind to? Could I find myself to be dependable? Can I rely on myself in my sobriety? These were questions I was interested to find answers for this year. So far, so good. It would mean that I would have to ditch some of my negative and highly destructive self-hatred and find a way of showing compassion and care towards this Stevie guy who I seem to be stuck with for this lifetime. I'm pleased to find out that things have gone really well in everything college related throughout the past few months and I'm in a very strong position going into the final trimester, which we just started yesterday.

      Today we're looking at a lot of theory stuff in preparation for a coming assessment. Up until now we've been working through musical projects at the rate of one per four week period but for the next two weeks we're going to be prepping for this assessment and little more. Then we're off for two weeks while the Easter Bunny feeds us full of chocolate. When we return there will only be ten teaching weeks left and so I'm a little concerned that we won't be able to do another three projects and will only have two. That means that from last September when the course began until the end of this coming June when the course finishes we will only manage to squeeze in seven projects, eight if you include the Christmas Remix.

      Lindsay had a bad time of it at the court this afternoon. Like me, she has a son she doesn't have access to, but unlike me she does get to see him every fortnight. This contact is supervised though and children's panel meetings and court attendances are constant and ongoing. I think that I'm grateful that my children didn't see the worst of my drinking. That way they can't have been damaged by it. They knew me only when they were really small and had no real way of knowing what alcohol is. Lindsay's son has been damaged by her drinking but it continues even now, more than eighteen months after she quit. And not just the psychological stuff either.

      Her son has a school attendance record under forty five per cent for this year. He's rarely there. The courts have assigned his carer a crisis team who visit the house every day but still they cannot get him to school. One of the social workers has resorted to paying him for every class he attends but it's making little to no difference. He's had the perfect background for him to become an addict in the future. Now the courts and social work are teaching him that negative behaviour is to be rewarded and that it pays to play the victim.

      In the future, when he walks into his first AA meeting in a few years, they'll all say that he is an alkie because his mother is. That alcoholism is a ''family illness''. This does little to help matters. It just means that Lindsay continues to take the blame and responsibility for her son long into his adulthood and his old age.

      Like I said – I'm glad that my children never had to see the worst of my drinking.

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      Stevie

      It was actually snowing a blizzard this afternoon.
      Prayin' for sober sleep......

    5. #5
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Wednesday, March 22nd 2017 (Waiting For My Man)


      I have a couple of interesting things happening today. Normally I write my posts in the evening and then post them when I can. Sometimes recently I've struggles more than at other times during my online stay and telling of my story since I sobered up. When I was new to online recovery journaling I had internet access at home. When I lost that I had access to it at the local library (the one that is but a week from closing down) and on public transport but my laptop battery has died as of late and so I find that I have to be connected to a power supply in order to post. It's meant that there have been times in the last month where I've been posting a few days behind. I think last week I fell behind by five days was it not!? I'm enjoying this little spell where I'm managing to post every day and keep up to date with this journal.

      There's a guy coming to pick me up in a half hour or so. We're on our way to a SMART Recovery meeting. I've been to these things before but never one this early in the day. I haven't even been to an AA meeting at this time of morning. He's not a friend, I barely know him, but he's coming to take me away for a few hours. I met him at Restoration. Susan (project manager for most of these rehabilitation things) has been trying to get me to help organise and run a guitar music class for people in recovery for a couple of years but now that I am over the two years sober mark I have passed the magical time that means I can officially become a volunteer. This thing can finally get off the ground and running. She has okay'd all of my Disclosure Scotland stuff and everything.

      She's got this other guy who will run it with me. He's not sober enough to be considered an official volunteer so I'm likely to be top dog in this little project. He's picking me up (around twenty seven minutes from now) and we're going to SMART, doing a little ''get to know each other'' stuff (which will include I'm sure, but not be exclusively about I hope, recovery stories) and then we're off to meet Susan at her work. Her work that will hopefully soon become our playground for teaching music. With me currently being a sound production student at the college I am hopeful that one day – in the not too distant future – we might be able to get a newcomer alkie guitar player booked into the college studio for a little recording session. That's the plan anyway, but I know that these things are to be taken just one day at a time.

      We were advised when we started up at the college to get networking. Meet people. Get ourselves and our names out there. I am not naturally gifted at this at all. I am much more the introvert. So much so that it often scares me although I have to admit to making peace with it in my sobriety so far. But it's something I have to work on. I'm not sure if I'll be staying on and continuing with the sound production studies for another two years so that I could get my diploma but were I to decide that this is the best option for me then networking is something I'm going to have to try my hand at. This guy who is coming to pick me up in the car in what......twenty two minutes or so?......will be networking of sorts. Getting to know another person interested in the music industry.

      I also know (because he told me when we met last Friday) that his son (yep – he's a bit older than me, I'd say mid-fifties) is in the other group in my year at the college. He's a sound production student also and I could have been in his class had things been only slightly different at the induction last summer. I wasn't sure who he was talking about but could recognise the guy no bother from photographs on his phone. Yep – I've seen the guy around the college from time to time. I know who he is. This could turn out to be a really healthy networking exercise actually. I could meet two musical contacts out of this. Not to mention those I could meet along the way should this class take off. Things could be looking up. More petals for my flower?


      Then I'm back here, to Lindsay's town, where I'll be attending the Slimming World class. I'll go over this quickly as I only have nineteen minutes or so before my ride arrives. At my first weigh-in four weeks ago I was twelve stone; three pounds, around seventy eight kilograms. This is what I count my starting weight to be – my quit smoking weight. Not much at all, but still the heaviest I've ever been. Some of the women (and there are some guys go as well) have managed to get themselves into some incredibly large dress sizes – the eating equivalent of my alcoholism – and I often feel out of place, but they want my membership fee and so they help me feel comfortable. The uneasiness is all in my head. I didn't join to lose lots of weight. At under six foot tall I am well within my healthy guidelines although we have set a target weight of eleven stone; seven pounds, and I hope to reach this before I return to Alcoholics Anonymous after my ninety day holiday – around mid May. People always told me that when I quit smoking I'd put on weight. Already I have seen this to be nothing more than a delusional scare tactic and something people tell themselves so that they can continue to smoke.

      Week 1 (Mon 20/02): 12 st; 3 p

      Week 2 (Mon 27/02): 12 st; 4 p (up 1 – the new heaviest I've ever been)

      Week 3 (Mon 06/03): 12 st; 1 p (down 3)

      Week 4 (Wed 15/03): 12 st; 2 p (up 1)

      Week 5 (Wed 22/03): ??????????


      If I put on a pound again this week I'll be back at my starting weight, my quit smoking weight. It's all about not putting on.

      Anyway – I'd better get going.

      My ride will be here in fourteen minutes.

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      Stevie

      A busy day ahead.

      1110
      Prayin' for sober sleep......

    6. #6
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Thursday, March 23rd 2017 (Striking The Crossbar)


      One of the advantages of attending the Slimming World classes for a month now is that I am learning to eat a little better. When I was drinking I was, as I'm sure you can imagine, not too fussy with what I was eating. It was a case of ''when I have to'' and money was super tight. Now I am at least beginning to think about eating more healthfully even if I am not implementing the ideas I am getting from their books and suggested dishes. Maybe I should start doing so, however, as I step into the scales at last night's class to find myself weighing in at twelve stone on the dot. I've lost two pounds somehow. There's no rhyme nor reason for how it works. I thought I did okay last week and gained a pound. This week I thought I'd done really poorly and lost two. Oh well.......

      There were other positive things happen yesterday too – my good fortune not ending there. I seem to be writing behind at the moment. I have just been to my psychologist session and there is much I'd like to discuss from that meeting but I can feel yesterday still pulling on my sleeve. Perhaps I'll squeeze the psychology talk into the later parts of this post but more likely is it that I save it for tomorrow. Yesterday I had my first little wobble with Alcoholics Anonymous.

      I've explained to myself over and over why it is that I am staying away from the fellowship's rooms and it is to do with dependency, the lacking of being able to step back and see how I am actually doing while I'm still in the rooms. It's very easy to assume that you are getting along quite grandly when you are have an AA meeting to look forward to, something to do in the evening, but the reality........we can't know for sure unless we take a little time away and see how we get on. For as long as I've been in recovery I've been active in AA. This is by far the longest period I have gone without a meeting (I'm currently on ''day thirty nine'') and I am starting to get used to being without it. This is both good and bad.

      For a start it is good because I have shown myself that I can live without it in my life daily, even weekly, and so I have shown that the dependency is not necessarily there. It's good to be responsible for my days without having the safe haven of an AA meeting to go to in the evening to offload. I've had to find other ways of decompressing and letting go of any concerns I may have been having from one AA-less day to the next. There have been tough times too (well – not really ''tough'' but there was that argument with Lindsay at the hotel last week and college has produced some stressful moments in the last month as I bombed the latest project) and so I've found myself reaching out to my Higher Power a little more often, the God of my understanding, than I had been doing so while active in the meetings every few days or so. I know that some people in AA actually cite their Higher Power as being the meetings, or the fellowship itself, but this is a very silly scenario to create for yourself in my view. It commits us to the meetings all the time, bolsters our sickness.

      My musician friend picked me up shortly after I posted yesterday's ramblings and we made way for the SMART meeting. A very interesting SMART meeting too, so it was. Interesting because of the way I listened to everything being said. The room was filled. I am used to SMART meetings having six, maybe seven at a push, in attendance, but here we have a meeting where every seat has an ass on it. The facilitator has to go grab a few extra chairs for the latecomers to squeeze in. Then we are off. It's check in time. The thing that surprises me most at this meeting is the length of sobriety. Usually at SMART I am by far the longest sober member at two years (and almost by two years as well) but at this one I am the longest sober by around only eighteen months. There is some recovery here, rare for SMART.

      As the meeting progresses I take a back seat. It's interesting how some people see those with longer term sobriety as having nothing to offer, like they should almost be excluded, rather than having something that others might be able to learn from. AA comes up quite a few times with many of the men and women here saying that they could not get into it or that it did not work for them. Given the number of relapses they seem to have had in the two years they've been coming here I wouldn't mind knowing exactly which part of SMART they feel to be working for them. I don't chip in much at all other than the check in and check out we are always asked to do. It never ceases to amaze me how people in recovery say what they have to say but then keep going, either so desperate to be heard are they or their ego is egging them on.

      The thing is – these guys are just about getting it. All the things are mentioned that Alcoholics Anonymous would teach if they would just swallow their prejudices and go. We discuss the parts we ourselves play in our resentments with others; looking towards more positive futures; tools for aiding the calming of our racing heads. All the things that AA tries to teach us. Only there's no guidance here. It's all kind of hit or miss. There's a serious lack of structure. When discussing tools to help with sleep someone from the room suggests mindfulness but it is completely overlooked and instead we go down the route of rewarding ourselves for stopping a racing thought. I mean: ???? Mindfulness could be seen as the first step in connecting with a Higher Power.

      I hate to say it but AA has all of this stuff already covered. There's no reason for any of these guys to be struggling like they are, wandering in the recovery wilderness – there's a meeting tonight just five minutes down the road from where we're sitting where all of this stuff and more can be learned!! I've compared my absence from the rooms to a football match (I'm British so by ''football'' I actually mean ''soccer'') with each day representing a minute of a ninety minute match: me against the pull of Alcoholics Anonymous. We last checked in a few days ago and the match was fizzling out – nothing was really happening, either side just trying to suss each other out. Here we are now in the thirty ninth minute and I think that I have let myself slip for a bit, a concentration lapse. Not long enough for them to slip past my last defender and into my penalty box to get a shot on target, but they've opened me up long enough so that they've tried a shot from distance and it's thundered off the crossbar above my goal. Nasty. The ball is cleared out of play for a throw.

      We were not only at this building, my driver and me, to attend a SMART meeting. We were also here to discuss starting up the guitar based music course for people in recovery. There are some ID issues I'll have to clear up for next time and we have a few things to work out before we can officially begin. My friend has been clean and sober for seven months so not quite long enough to volunteer. He'll be my number two. I can apply to become an official volunteer now as I have passed my eighteenth month of sobriety and have been away from the agency's services for over one full year. The two of us will have to meet up and discuss how exactly we wish to run this class.

      Shit! Is that the time!?

      Guess I'll be talking about the psychologist session tomorrow then.....

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      Stevie

      Writing a day behind.

      1414
      Prayin' for sober sleep......

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Friday, March 24th 2017 (Little Stevie and the Detached Protector)



      I almost slept in for my voluntary shift at the Charity Shop Cafe this morning. It was one of those mornings when the alarm goes off and I realise I've set it to my midweek alarm and so it sounds at quarter to six, thinking that I am going to be making way for the hospital to catch the bus into college, failing to see that I am in my cave this morning – but a stone's throw from the cafe and I don't start until ten. There is very little to do in my cave and so I opt to drift back to sleep. Then I wake at quarter to ten. Fuck, double fuck, and triple fuck. But it's okay – I like working at the charity shop and it remains out of my comfort zone so I am still slightly afraid of it. This is good in that it still gives me that feeling of having accomplished something once it is done. We don't get that so much when we know that we're good at stuff. I don't anyway.

      After this it was a case of walking to Restoration to meet up with the alkies and addicts I have known and come to (grudgingly) love (in some cases) in the time I've been sober. There is one in particular who was there last week and is here again this and it's getting to the stage where I feel that he'll feature enough in this journal in the near future that it best I be giving him a name. He's going to be helping me run a guitar tuition class for people in recovery (or still actively drinking – I'm not fussed as long as they don't turn up to class drunk or wasted) and so it makes sense that I give him a music related name. I thought about Hendrix for a while but decided against it. Then I thought about Leo as it's short and so quick to type and easy to remember (it's also named after the guy who brought us Fender) but again I ditched it and am going with ''Marshall'' instead. That's a cool name in its own right and fits in quite well considering what we're going to be doing together.

      I actually managed this afternoon to get evidence of him playing. I don't know what it's like where you come from but here in the small towns and villages that make up the Kingdom of Fife, here in central Scotland, the average musician of any quality is hard to find. Marshall, I'm happy to say, is of a high enough quality that running this course isn't going to be the embarrassment it might otherwise have been. He's not as good as my good self (and this is in no way me being big-headed – it's just a truth I've picked up since I got sober, and it's actually good for my confidence that I remind myself that I do actually have some skills) but he's good enough to help run this class. He's coming from a social work background as well so has typed up a Risk Assessment for the class as well as an Aims and Objectives and we look over this stuff while sipping on a coffee and being among others who belong here, our society's weak!

      But it's not this stuff I wanted to talk with you guys about this afternoon. No – I wanted to talk about the session I had with Dr. Bacon yesterday afternoon, my clinical psychologist. Remember that questionnaire I wrote about the other day? Well, he starts looking over that from the get-go and before I know it we are more than thirty years in the past. He does this somehow – gets me out of the moment and where he wants me to be – without me even knowing until it's too late.

      In order to look at my issues, using the Scheme Therapy that is the plan here, we have to look at the biggest trauma I faced in my life. My father dying suddenly in a car crash when I had only been in school for a month. Dad would have celebrated his sixtieth birthday a couple of Sundays ago. Instead he only made it to twenty six. The aspects of this that I am being forced to look at this afternoon are not directly related to the accident itself but more the aftermath. Why did my carers not tell me at the time? Why did they let me find out in another way?

      Stevie – ''My grandmother said on her deathbed to me that her one regret was not telling me that my dad had died and letting me find out at school.''

      Dr. Bacon – ''I'm trying to figure out what young Stevie might have made of all this. The little boy who's trying to make sense of the world, that's what we're always trying to do as human beings and especially at that age, who now has to also try to make sense of hearing about this.''

      Stevie – ''For years I thought about this – that they should have told me – but more recently I've been looking at my nieces and thinking differently. My oldest niece is now five, same age I was when all of this happened, and her little sister is about to turn four – the same age my little brother was back then. If something happened to my brother then what would I tell them?! They are tiny. They wouldn't understand. How could I tell them that daddy was never coming home, that they would never see him again, ever!?''

      Dr. Bacon – ''Yes, but I'm wondering what it must have been like for you, for young Stevie.''

      I know what he's doing. He's honing in on something and he's not letting me do what I always do – deflect! I've been asked a question, indirectly, and, rather than answering it I have done what I always do and taken the scenic route in the hope that my having to answer him will become lost in the forests, the mountains and streams of the pathways I'm leading him down. This works on most people, has worked against them all for years, decades, but this guy is not going to let me away easily. I can't deny it either, now that I'm aware of how often I do it. He's always going to bring it back to the question. It's about me. In these sessions I am running out of hiding places, and fast, it's only been a few sessions. It was this kind of insight and awareness of humankind and its collective nuances that made me want to study psychology in the first place. Sometimes I still feel like a mistake is being made in trading it to continue with sound production, but that's for another post.

      Dr. Bacon says that one of the main reasons people like myself can have a tendency to ''overthink'' and ''intellectualise'' things so frequently is so that we don't have to be emotionally present. When things become complicated – overthink!! When thoughts or feelings get so close to me that they threaten to show me as vulnerable – intellectualise!!! This way I can distract people, and this includes me, sufficiently that my front remains intact. I guess this is why things often become so claustrophobic with Lindsay at the moment: it's getting to the stage where it's being expected of me to open up more. I'm expected to offer more, and it's not normal, not in my world. The Detached Protector within me is quick to rise to the challenge and protect young Stevie from what he sees as an imminent emotional onslaught, an attack on his confidence and masculinity.
      Prayin' for sober sleep......

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Friday, March 24th 2017 (Little Stevie and the Detached Protector - Part Two)


      I'm expected to offer more, and it's not normal, not in my world. The Detached Protector within me is quick to rise to the challenge and protect young Stevie from what he sees as an imminent emotional onslaught, an attack on his confidence and masculinity.

      Dr. Bacon – ''I'm wondering what all this made young Stevie feel like.''

      Stevie – ''I did speak with mum recently, when I was going through my Step Nine amends with my AA sponsor, and she had said that we, my brother and I, never asked any questions about dad and so the older we got without asking then the more she just figured that we weren't interested.''

      Dr. Bacon – ''That's quite tough to get the head around, isn't it!? Do you think that young Stevie, that any young child for that matter, would have the capacity within them to actually seek out answers to this?''

      Stevie – ''How would they tell? The goldfish dies and you flush it down the toilet, salute and mourn it, then go get another one. A toy breaks and you are told not to be so hashy with them next time. A parent dies? There's not much they can say to make these kinds of things any better.''

      Dr. Bacon – ''There's certainly nothing that can be said to make things better, but there's a responsibility, a duty of care....''

      There was one time during this session that I felt something unsavoury toward my psychologist. I wondered for a few moments what on earth gave him the right to begin to question the decisions of both my mother and grandmother (my late father's mother) and make it out to me, at least this is the way I was perceiving it, and possibly suggesting that they did the wrong thing. In fact, in retrospect – how could what they did ever been considered the right thing? He's right. My mother had a duty of care, regardless of whether she had her own grief to deal with, and so did my grandmother – but mainly my mother – had a duty of care as my primary caregiver – to tell me, to tell young Stevie (the Stevie who created this Detached Protector in the first place) that his father was gone and was never coming back. To put all of this on me, to expect me to go to her when I wanted information on this, it seems insane now.

      There was a massive cover up in my past. I was taught from the very beginning (not through the lessons where we are sat down and are shown, which would have been fine, but the other lessons, the lessons in which most of our teachings are drilled into us – watching and learning) that we don't talk about these things. We bottle them up. The Detached Protector and excessive use of drink and drugs are incredibly similar methods of building up a wall around ourselves so that no one else can get to us.

      Self-pity. I've been accused of possessing it in great droves many times. My sponsor and the Big Book liked to tell me this often. Self-pity is so dangerous. I was also told this by the people of WQD, the forum I began my online journal into recovery. At what point, though, does self-pity become something else?

      Stevie – ''I have noticed myself threatening to........show vulnerability...as this session has progressed and I have had to ask myself to stop. Don't show it. This is just self-pity. That sort of thing.''

      Dr. Bacon – ''That's really honest of you to say that, and fantastic that you've noticed it.''

      I makes me question the way I was groomed into my recovery. It was quite a militant way of doing things. AA taught me that self-pity is one of my biggest sins – perhaps my daddy of character defects – and that I should always be very cautious when entertaining it for more than a second, a fraction of a second, yet here we have someone trying to coax from me some of this ''self-pity'' – actually telling me that dwelling in this personal shortcoming of mine might be absolutely necessary if I ever wish to recover properly. I am sometimes very harsh on others in recovery from addictions in that they always seem to me as though they are weak, like they are doing things the easy way, like they can't see or won't accept that there is a rite of passage to getting sober and it is hard, hard, hard. Blood and sweat must be produced, but not tears, never tears, that is just self-pity, but dues must be paid. How can you expect to get sober and stay sober if you will not stand naked and be counted? The God of my understanding loves me, is a God of love, will love me unconditionally, there is no question, but also He expects results.

      Like Dr. Bacon! He wants this room to be a safe place for young Stevie to come out of hiding, to ditch the Detached Protector and come out into the open to see that it, this world he is a part of, is actually, sometimes, a safe place.

      Dr. Bacon – ''People get around it, you know!? The Detached Protector.''

      Stevie – ''Everyone?''

      Dr. Bacon – ''Nine out of every ten. But all of the motivated people manage to.''

      That includes me then.

      Dr. Bacon – ''Sometimes with young people I notice that some of their habits are less ingrained and so are easier to change but in the more mature I often see higher levels of motivation.''

      Being seen as vulnerable was never my thing. But he wants to see me break down this thing, this Detached Protector, and he wants it to happen in his company, as he sits there. This isn't like going through the Twelve Steps with my sponsor where I can go home and do any of the more embarrassing things while on my own. I'm not sure if we personify this thing, this Detached Protector, which has become the latest foe I must find a way of defeating, make it into some sort of evil man or perhaps even monster, or whether it's more like a tool that young Stevie wields when he feels frightened, like a massive shield or forcefield, his own Ozone Layer, or something.

      But he, this little Stevie, is going to have to learn to step out from underneath this shield he has created and out into the night, or the day, on his own for a little while, to hopefully learn that it is not a rain-filled and flooded post apocalyptic world out here where the rest of us play, full of things that would, given a moment's chance, do whatever it took to hurt and humiliate him, but is instead actually a warm and sunny spring day.

      I should find a way to communicate with him, to tell him that winter is now over, and that every winter is followed by a spring.

      The time when every cycle begins anew and darker parts of nature have died off to be replaced by the light.

      A time for the dying of the old and the rebirth of the new.

      '
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      Stevie

      The battle has begun.
      Prayin' for sober sleep......

    9. #9
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Saturday, March 25th 2017 (Walking Out Of The Smoke)



      It's nice to have a dry night. That what I was thinking. Sounds like I'm a little child who's been recently wetting the bed but that's not at all what I mean, or it might be – I have been spending a lot of the last few days thinking about younger Stevie, but then he was never a bed wetter. Drunk Stevie had a few moments with the mattress though. Moving on.

      What I was actually meaning when I said I was thinking about dry nights was that I was glad last night to have a rain-free walk to the next town to see Lindsay. I was at it again this morning/afternoon and managed to walk, between last night and today, a total of twenty seven miles. It's not bad going. Takes my total miles walked since I quit smoking just over six weeks ago to two hundred miles. If someone was to ask me how I managed to quit smoking (and there have been one or two people I know recently try to quit but then start again after a few short days or even hours) so easily I could tell them that I literally walked myself out of the habit. I have been looking after myself a little better though, over all I mean. The whole idea of watching what I eat and attending Slimming World once per week is all good smoke-free behaviour.


      Last week I tried to contact my mum. Her birthday was on Wednesday and with Mother's Day coming up tomorrow I had thought it best to try to reach her. More than this – I want to reach her!! I haven't been the best son in terms of getting the birthday cards and presents in over the last few (lots of) years (or brother, or brother-in-law, or uncle, or or or...) but this time I'm a little better prepared. I have her something. I was speaking with my auntie last week and she told me that mum was going to be out of the country from the day before her birthday, right through Mother's Day, and would be back at some point afterwards. It's right that she should do what makes her happy but once again the young Stevie within me – he was has created and masterfully crafted and perfected my Detached Protector over the last three decades or more – feels let down, abandoned. It's not her problem though, I accept this, and she shouldn't have to worry about having one son who is getting on with his life in the way that she might have always liked while also having a son who can't move on seemingly because he can't let go of some things that happened waaaaaaayyyyyyyy back in the past, but ever since my last session with Dr. Bacon I've been questioning everything I know about my mother, or thought I knew.

      We spoke when I was making my amends with her in accordance with AA's Ninth Step that we were both going to try harder to make contact but so far things have stayed almost exactly as they always have been. I guess that I missed my big chance last weekend when I didn't go to my oldest niece's dancing show in the next village. Once again I made myself an outsider. Again – it's not her responsibility to change her life for my sake. I have to accept that she has a life and I'm not really a part of it. I can't resent her for that, or at least – I can't afford to resent her for that.

      I wrote yesterday about how sometimes we can overthink things or intellectualise them so as to avoid claiming any emotional attachment to them. Today I've been out on one of my walks and I've been doing a lot of thinking, I guess this happens while we go through therapy of this kind, but I have to say that I don't feel as though I am in any way doing it so that I can avoid feeling anything. Rather I feel it is the complete opposite. I'm trying to connect with young Stevie. He's in there somewhere only he often holds up the Detached Protector even to me, or, maybe it's me who puts it up, the current Stevie, so that I cannot connect with my younger counterpart. Whatever the case I have done a lot of searching and reaching inwards over the course of my walk, trying to tell young Stevie that it's okay to feel the way he does, but that we'll need to work together if we want to get past this.

      Lindsay was out last night with the girls from her university class. They just finished their last essay so it was party time. There was a little pressure put on her to drink from what she told me afterwards and I'm proud of her for making it through the night clean and sober with all the stress she's been under this week with her son. The other students are aware of her brain haemorrhage sustained during a fall one night when she was completely drunk a couple of summers ago, but they aren't privy to her status as an ''alcoholic.'' Lindsay and I both prefer to cultivate the idea that others don't come out and tell us all about their bad habits, past and present (do they pick their noses, cheat on their partners, indulge in a little cross-dressing at the weekend, wank off to midgets?) so why do they need to know anything about us? The haemorrhage is enough of a reason for them to back off after a while.

      We chatted into the night about what's happening in our lives individually and collectively. I decide to share a little on what I was talking about with Dr. Bacon, the clinical psychologist, who has me in the middle of a Dexter moment when I've just found out that one of my parents isn't at all, perhaps, who I thought they were. That they weren't infallible. Rather they are accountable. We discuss a little of my stalling tactics, this.......Detached Protector. I decide to read out some of the post to her that I wrote last night. When it is over she reaches over and we hug. She thanks me for telling her all about it, saying that she knows how personal my ''online blog'' is and the trouble I've gone to in the past to prevent others in the real world from getting to its content. She says that it's great that I can accept it as being there and be capable of writing about it with such insight and ''detachment'' from it. I think so too. I also think that it's great that Lindsay herself can offer her own insights into this Detached Protector in me and how it has affected her in the seven months we've been dating. I'll maybe post a couple of those insights in tomorrow's post but to be fair I don't want to bog this journal down with just that one topic.

      So that's two hundred miles walked in the time since I last smoked. As things stand just now I reckon the Slimming World scales will be loving me next week, assuming I keep it up. I also received a phone call from Jack the Lad but that's for tomorrow.

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      Stevie

      Walking not smoking.

      1253
      Prayin' for sober sleep......

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Sunday, March 26th 2017 (Conflicting Emotions)


      Sometimes I wonder what people who live in warm countries ever have to moan about, and what those from cold ones ever have to cheer about, but this is likely because I'm one of the many people who lives in a country where we get a big mix of weather. Last night signalled the start of daylight saving time and the clocks were all put forward for one hour and as if right on cue the weather has picked up and has been beautiful for two days now. I'd hoped that it wouldn't have any kind of negative effect on me but already it feels as though my brain and body are ''confused'' about the exact time and so I worry about sleeping tonight, but not to the extent where I'm catastrophising it.

      My brother managed to win his court case against the castle that provided for his wedding to Scottish Sarah last September and so they have pictures of their new car up on Facebook. I'm not a member of that kind of social networking, refuse to do it and have no interest, but Lindsay is a member and she's ''friends'' with both Gary and Scottish Sarah, even though they've barely exchanged words when I haven't been there. They didn't get all of their money back for what must have been a contender for Most Fucked Up Wedding Of 2016 but they got back the money for the catering, which was the main issue I felt at the time.

      It's Mother's Day today and this poses interesting conflicts of emotions for both Lindsay and myself. Her mother died back in 2014 (drink and smoking related heart failure at fifty four years old) and so has little to celebrate, while I have a mother alive and well but that is currently, as is always the case these days seemingly, in another country – a country I couldn't even tell you. She's ''abroad'' and that's as far as I know. Lindsay is also ''friends'' with my mother on Facebook so knows a little about this holiday she is currently on but the country hasn't yet been mentioned. Lindsay does have a father though who is alive and he's set to come visit early this afternoon. I decide to make myself scarce and head out on one of my walks. It leaves the two of them to mourn, whether they know they're doing it or not. Around half an hour ago Lindsay took a walk to the shop to pick up some discounted flowers to place in her memory on the windowsill.

      I bumped into one of the guys from Restoration while I was out and about. The weather was lovely, as I've already mentioned but it's worth mentioning again, and so I stopped into the Wetherspoon's across from the Tuesday evening AA Step meeting which I used to attend every week and ordered a latte. I used to sit in here all the time and write posts on WQD but my laptop battery is currently without a working replacement. This visit has reminded me of how much I miss a working battery. Something else to sort out this week. The price of a latte has increased, I might add, only by five pence, but it's an unwelcome increase. The product hasn't changed.

      So I met a guy from Restoration. He's been out the last two evenings. Watching a live band on both occasions.

      Stevie – ''Did you manage to stay on your best behaviour both times?''

      Jimmy – ''Yeah – I only had four pints on Friday night.''

      Stevie – ''Did they leave you feeling rough the next morning?''

      Jimmy – ''They did actually. I had a little hangover.''

      It makes me wonder exactly what he bothers with Restoration for. It's certainly not to quit drinking. I'm not sure if I could risk one drink but I call say with a degree of certainty that was I to head out to a pub and drink as many as four pints then the floodgates would be opened and it would likely leave me with more than a ''little hangover'' come morning time, and in a state where there would be little chance of my claiming to have behaved myself. Maybe it is just a social club, like so many ''recovery'' ''services'' actually seem to be.

      I mentioned yesterday that Jack the Lad had called. He's called a bunch of times in the last few weeks but I haven't been able to catch him until last night. He was one of many people I met with around this time last year to collaborate with in various musical projects, none of which came to anything. I got one gig out of it all – a gig that happened to be on the eve of my first sober birthday, which at the time I thought was really crazy. This guy though, this ''Jack the Lad'' was one of the more interesting of those I met with.

      He's seventy or thereabouts. He's a retired lawyer and he owns a minor record label. I think he used to be a drinker as he was requiring a liver transplant and now his kidneys are failing him to the extent that he has to go to the hospital three times a week for dialysis. I wouldn't have known what it meant to have dialysis were it not for Lindsay's essay back in January on renal failure which I helped her to research. Now I know that it's a pretty brutal process. There is a chance that he wasn't a big drinker in the past but from the stories he's told me.......

      We met up and looked at working together around this time last year and then one day he said to me that he would not see me for a few weeks as he was off travelling for a while. He called me from Portsmouth and then from Barcelona and then I didn't hear a thing from him until three or four weeks ago. We'll see what, if anything, happens.

      It's more stuff happening though, whatever way I look at it. Which is a good thing.

      Nothing much at all was happening in my life two years ago.

      '
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      Stevie

      Eight in the evening but still not dark.

      1061
      Prayin' for sober sleep......

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