03-19-2017, 11:24 AM #1This user has no status.I am:----
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.
Lunarer.....Prayin' for sober sleep......
03-19-2017, 11:25 AM #2This user has no status.I am:----
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.
RIP Chuck Berry
1334Prayin' for sober sleep......
03-20-2017, 01:29 PM #3This user has no status.I am:----
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 naïve 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.
1045Prayin' for sober sleep......
Yesterday, 03:18 PM #4This user has no status.I am:----
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.
It was actually snowing a blizzard this afternoon.Prayin' for sober sleep......
Today, 04:04 AM #5This user has no status.I am:----
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.
A busy day ahead.
1110Prayin' for sober sleep......