Up Until Now
Hi, everyone. This is only my first full day here but I thought I'd get straight on with it and do as is suggested tell my story. It's split into three parts though as there's a 10,000 character limit.
Where I come from is not too different from this place. It was a quitting drinking forum that collapsed at the beginning of the year, a forum called WQD (We Quit Drinking) and I joined it back in the May of 2014 when I was very much still active, still ''performing'' as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, still very much caught in the cycle of drinking and drug taking, and couldn't see a way out. I joined that forum and did as they suggested, set up a journal, and committed to writing in it every day to document what it was like for me to stop drinking permanently. I write quite a lot and would put in excess of a thousand words onto the page, per post every day, pretty much every day, sometimes a few times a day, for my entire two and a half year stay there. It seems like a lot of writing, and for a simple forum it was, but it only really scraped the surface of what it's been like and all that's happened in the time I've been abstinent, and I notice from reading some of the other stories in this thread that writing large amounts of text is something done often in this thread when people first sign up here.
So here's a little background, in as few words as I can tell it:
I joined the WQD forum after making the statement that I would be quitting drinking. I told my family and was convinced that it was gonna happen. I was seeing an addictions counsellor once a week at the time and she would support me. My friend's father had died the month before while in his mid-fifties from smoking and drinking related causes and I was going nowhere fast. I was working, owned a window cleaning company with my brother actually, but I was rarely able to work and tended to just stay in the safety of the indoors while our employees went out and kept things ticking over, handing in the takings for the day at the end of the shift. My home (which I call a cave) hadn't seen a lick of paint despite me ''living'' there for over a year, and it had become so terribly dirty and cluttered that no one was allowed in. I spoke with my doctor about my plans and was detoxed off the booze starting on June 01st of 2014.
Over the weeks I came to realise what all of that drugging and drinking had left me with. I had two people I could call friends (which, to be fair, is more than some people can claim to have who have never drank to excess) and I call them English Sara and Gillon. My relationship with either of these guys was at an all time low however and I wasn't in the habit of visiting people very often. I still could count on them though. I also have a brother (who I already mentioned I ran a business with) and have two nieces both of them preschool at the time. My relationship with my mother was as poor as it's been and my father.....well......he wasn't around and hadn't been for a long time. I sobered up to try to change all of this but also, vitally, because I knew I had to. It was quit or die. Off the back of a terrible winter alone in my cave where I spent my first ever Christmas by myself, too ashamed of what I'd become to join in the festivities with my nieces and family, I started to seriously weigh up the pros and cons of suicide. It didn't happen but it left me a very scarred and bitter man going into another year. I was struggling to hold it together going into 2014. When Gillon's father died I knew it was coming. This wasn't a game anymore.
So I quit. My relationships were so poor that I often had nowhere to go and no one to talk to. I wasn't able to work despite my debts building all around me to the extent where I was always fighting to keep my home (which I'd gotten as a result of being through the homeless system in this country so wasn't sure if I'd have it to fall back on another time) and heating and lighting. I was incredibly isolated. My addiction counsellor referred me to a local organisation which helps to take those early in recovery out of their isolation and give them opportunities to meet new people in similar positions. I tried it but my anxiety would tell me I didn't belong there, didn't belong anywhere, and so I went once and decided it wasn't for me. This place was called Restoration and I was at their Annual General Meeting yesterday I am happy to say. Back in 2014 though it was more socialising than I was able to take.
In late August the inevitable happened and I went out and bought a drink. This started off a five/six month slide which saw me go back to my suicidal thinking of the year before. I dropped everything (not that I really had anything) except from my sessions with my addiction counsellor and writing on the WQD forum.
2015 began the same way the previous year had only this time I had experience of sobriety and didn't want it. Nope wasn't for me. At least when I am with drink I don't feel so alone. When sober I couldn't believe the intensity of the isolating feelings. But then it got out of hand. February came and I was with my friend English Sara. The house was busy and I had one of my ''moments'' when she decided to take my drink off me and pour it down the sink in front of me. She wanted me to snap out of my depression. Despite my warning to her down the sink it went. I then grabbed a kitchen knife from the kitchen worktop and threatened the household until they found me some booze. I then went home and kicked the shit out of my cave. I remember nothing about this evening.
It proved to be the turning point though. I don't fancy jail, nor did I at all like the person I had become, someone capable of behaving in such a way. Someone asked me of that evening if I could believe having acted like that when it was explained to me what I'd done the following week and I had to say that I actually could believe it. Each and every time I had a good drink I was becoming more and more out of control, more unpredictable, dangerous, desperate. A caged animal angry at the world because it couldn't find a way out of its hellish cage. A member of my forum had suggested to me a few times Alcoholics Anonymous and I had actually been a couple of times but had decided it wasn't going to work. There were no other options left though. I had been seeing my counsellor for some time; had been relying on the forum; had tried all of the local agencies nothing was working. I allowed myself a couple of days to sober up lying on my bed trying to sleep off my hangover, jumped into the work van, and made way for a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous one Tuesday evening way back on the 10th February 2015. It was my third day sober.
This was the difference. AA. It took me out of my isolation this time around. It gave me something to do every day and somewhere to go. My days consisted of getting up and going to an afternoon meeting. By the time I got back to the cave and posted on my forum it was about time to get heading to the evening meeting. Then the day was done. My head hit the pillow sober for another day. I went to AA quite a lot in the early days 235 meetings in my first 218 days of membership. Gradually I managed to get myself back out to work a couple of times a week. Because my debts were now so high I had enormous problems in coping financially. I went to the local job centre and explained to them that I was out of work. I doctored the business accounts so that it looked like we had ceased trading the previous December. I went onto benefits for a few months while I tried to get myself better while a couple of my employees kept the company running illegally in the background.
When in AA I tried to do everything as it was suggested. I was advised to get a home group a meeting I could get involved with every week and be a part of and I did so. It was also suggested that I find a sponsor and try to work through the Twelve Step program of recovery to the best of my ability. I did this as well. I found a guy of ten years sober and asked him. For the next few months he took me through the first five Steps and it gave me something to work on, something to be doing in my early recovery. There were complications though. I met a girl in AA who became my special friend and I spent a lot of time with her in those early months. She wasn't new to AA by any means. She'd been going for around six years but had never followed any of the suggestions and so had never managed to get any further than three or four months of continuous sobriety. We became close and it looked for a while like we would officially begin dating at any moment. This never actually happened but it alerted me to how immature I was in this regard. It had been a long time since I was intimate with a woman and, to be honest, I hadn't really had a proper relationship at all (although I do have a son and a daughter neither of who I actually have seen for years) so became incredibly confused and it led to problems.
There was an old ''friend'' of mine who was to be coming to help me out with something in the cave and as payment I had got for him a gram of cannabis. We had to reschedule a couple of times and one evening I came back from a meeting of AA feeling a little dejected. I wasn't getting into this sober way of living at all. I rolled a spliff and ''enjoyed'' a night of toking. In the end, as you can imagine, this led to me smoking the rest of the gram, heading back to my dealer the following day to buy more, and then getting into the habit of smoking weed daily once again. I went to AA to speak about this but they didn't have much to say about it. ''We are hear to talk about alcohol!!'' they would say, ''Not drugs!!'' And so there was little support for me.
Prayin' for sober sleep......
Post Thanks / Like - 1 Thanks, 4 Likes
Re: Up Until Now
My sponsor, whom I called Stu, was very into his AA way of life. He seemed to live and breathe it. I figured at the time that this was for me. A new way to live. A calmer way. A sober way. Over time, however, I started to form resentments with him. He seemed to have an unrealistic expectation of what these twelve steps could do for us. He advised against many things I wanted to do with my life in my early recovery. For a start – I wanted to date that girl I had met in the fellowship. He said that I should break off contact with her. In the end I did break off and we drifted apart. I wanted to go to college. I thought that study might give me something to do, give me some sort of direction in my life. I applied for, and was accepted onto, a sound production diploma. My sponsor seemed not to be too keen on me doing this. He kept saying to me that it was too soon yet. That when I have a Twelve Step program behind me and I'm working it in my life on a daily basis then I can do whatever I want to do, but that I should calm down in the meantime. If I get a good idea I should phone him; if I get a great idea – I should go visit him! That was the philosophy.
There were many things I wanted to do but each of them was met with this same belief that I should wait until I have completed these Steps. I withdrew from the college and went back to the cave to smoke weed. I was without hope going into the winter – typically my worst time of the year by some distance. Weed had become my best friend, perhaps at that time my only friend. I stopped going to meetings as much and the darker thoughts started to come back. I had spent the two previous Christmas's alone (despite having an invitation to my brother's on both occasions) and so it was an improvement that I managed to get my sober (but stoned) ass there for the Christmas of 2015 but I was in a pretty bad place. I began to hibernate and moved everything I'd need into my tiny bedroom and barely left for the winter. When I reached my first sober birthday I decided to stop taking the weed and is still to this day the last time I smoked any – that new year being the last time I took any Class A drugs having taken a couple of ecstasy pills before the bells.
The first five Steps of AA's program were extremely handy. I had no problem in admitting my powerlessness over alcohol (a popular first stumbling block for newcomers) in that – if you put alcohol into my system how long could I stay in control for? Not long at all! That's how long! The second part where I am to admit that my life had become unmanageable was also not a problem. All my life I had struggled to live. Struggled with employment, with relationships, with family, with even keeping a clean house. I just struggled. Period. Completing this Step was not an issue.
Then I had to somehow get into my head the idea that there was a Higher Power out there, a God of my own understanding. Not God, as in the way that Christians might have me believe. No one's God but mine. This was a God of my understanding. Steps Two and Three were, for me at least, all about just accepting that I was going to try to connect with something – I was going to try to connect with something for so long that I started to believe in its ethereal existence. These are other stumbling blocks to people taking the program seriously. I was beat, or close to it, enough that I was going to just give it a go.
Steps Four and Five were connected. I had to think about my past. What were my resentments? My fears? What harm had I caused to others? I had to get into the habit of listing all of these, being extra careful not to leave anything out, and then be willing to discuss them all at length with my sponsor. This took a while. Stu and I were meeting up once a week, every Wednesday evening over the spring, summer, and autumn, and several of these sessions were dedicated to discussing my fears and resentments. It was a very valuable time for me in working through these Steps. There were certain things we talked about that threw a different light on some of the ways I looked at certain things that had happened to me in my life. I discovered how resentful a person I actually was. I was filled with hatred. From these lists of people, places and things I resented came a list of amends I would have to later make. I came to Steps Six and Seven in which I am to become entirely ready (not just a little bit ready but ENTIRELY ready) to have all of the defects I discovered I had removed by the Higher Power, the God of my understanding, who I had begun trying to communicate with, that calm part of me we find when we are meditating, but I wasn't ready yet. I had to go through a winter from hell before I would be ready enough to give it another go.
During this time I went through a few losses. I lost my internet access at home. Then I lost the business vehicle. Then I lost all of our staff. My brother went to university and to this day there is one worker who still goes out there and cleans windows on my behalf (although it's been a long time since I spoke with him so it's probably his business now). I also ran out of money on many an occasion (most of my cash was going on my daily cigarette and weed smoking habits and so I found myself without cash for food a few times, even shoplifting to make up for this, so anyone who says that weed isn't addictive or is harmless should really wake up). I had been declared unfit for work, was referred to the local psychiatric hospital, and started claiming sickness benefit. I started to wonder if my sponsor had made the right call. Would this have all happened had I been at college? Or was this all happening because there was nothing positive in my life? I will never know. The suicidal thoughts returned; the cave got to the stage where it became home for hundreds of flies who would buzz around; I would sleep on a shitty rug on the floor in the corner (when we become that frightened I think we shrink our worlds as much as possible to protect ourselves) and it took for a member of the WQD forum to make the trip from Glasgow to my town to assist me in cleaning it all up. Eventually the sun came back and the spring started.
I went back to my sponsor with my tail between my legs and we started again, picking up where we left off. I got through the Steps I was stuck on and got onto the Steps where we are to make amends to those we harmed throughout our drinking. This meant doing a lot of things I didn't want to do. I would have to make amends to the companies I was due money to. This would mean a serious financial commitment. If I believed AA, wanted to stay sober and get better, then I was going to have to do it. I contacted all of the companies and made the commitment. I wouldn't be able to keep up with these payments as the months went by but this was a good start to clearing my debts. I got them all down a little bit.
As the summer of 2016 got as warm as it can get here in central Scotland (not too warm) I noticed that much of the drinking fog had subsided. I had put a little time between myself between myself and my last toke of a joint as well. Things were getting a little better. While working through my amends Steps of the AA program I started up a few other little challenges for myself. I couldn't manage to complete the ''One Hundred Push Up Plan'' which trains us to complete one hundred consecutive good form push ups but I'm hoping to start it back up again soon and give it another go.
I heard that when we first get clean and sober we are so irresponsible that we should buy ourselves a little house plant and try to keep it alive for a full year. Last year I bought two. They both died over that terrible winter in the cave. Neglected and haunted. On June 30th last year I bought the same two plants – a Leopard Lily and a Dragon Tree – and only the Lily died this winter. Just three months to go and the Dragon Tree will make it. It's something I'm looking forward to.
I also started college in the summer there. My sponsor wasn't too happy about it but if I didn't start back in September then that would be my chance over for another year. I couldn't face another winter and so started the course, albeit at a lower level than the one I'd previously been accepted on. It's given me the chance to practice good self-care values that were completely absent during all those years of drinking and it has given me some kind of direction that was missing in my recovery after that AA honeymoon had subsided.
In July I started volunteering at a local charity shop in the cafe section. I like this role as it is so far out of my comfort zone it isn't even funny. Given my extremely poor working history I am hoping that giving up some of my free time each and every Friday morning I will end up with a reference. I like doing things now that test me and that I don't necessarily like doing. If that make any sense.
Prayin' for sober sleep......
Post Thanks / Like - 1 Thanks, 3 Likes
Re: Up Until Now
There is a third and final part to this - I think I've just to wait until a moderator says okay to it before it can be posted.
Prayin' for sober sleep......
is appreciating all the benefits
@Lunarer, one thing you'll find out is that MWO is very lightly moderated, if at all. The admins seem to think we police ourselves pretty good, which is okay mostly. As long as you follow the site rules, your posts will be fine. If someone objects, they just bring it to Admin's attention with the "report post" button.
Last edited by abcowboy; 03-18-2017 at 01:28 PM.
Quitting and staying quit isnt easy, its learning a whole new way of thinking. Its accepting a new way of life, and not just accepting it, embracing it...
Post Thanks / Like - 1 Thanks, 0 Likes
Re: Up Until Now
At the same time as the college started my brother married his girlfriend of nine years (whom I call Scottish Sarah) and I was Best Man. I had to give a speech at the wedding while staying sober and I had to organise a night out for all the boys and stay sober for that too. We went to Edinburgh for the night and I did well to stick to the tap water.
Also at this time I started dating who has been my girlfriend since. Lindsay, I like to call her. It's the first time I've been in a relationship since leaving my children's mother over ten years ago. It's going well although it does throw up some really big challenges at times. The biggest of these is sex. Even though we've been dating now for nearly seven months, and I stay over at her flat at least three or four nights a week, we still have never had sex.
A lot of my challenges came outside of the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Someone very close to me, or used to be, in AA who has been there for years but hasn't managed to get and stay sober, once asked me how I managed to do it. How did I come into the fellowship and get sober first time? I don't bother putting myself down by saying that this is not strictly true in that I smoked weed for a few months while I was pretending to be sober. But the main thing I said to her was that the AA Twelve Step program was not the be all and end all of my self-investigation. I had to do a lot of work to find out about myself.
My sponsor wasn't keen on any of this and so I called an end to it for a second time, this time giving up at the midway point of the Ninth Step. I may or may not go back to it at a later date. We'll see.
I did a lot of reading. I looked into psychology books to find out what becomes of people like me. The biggest thing that ever happened in my life was losing my father when I was five years old. This led to me being very distrustful and negative. It also led to my poor attainment at school. Recently I have started sessions with a clinical psychologist (I like to call him Dr. Bacon) – which has come at the end of an enormous eighteen month waiting list, and we've started to look into my Detached Protector Mode – something which I have formed and perfected over the years, ever since that fateful day way back when I was five, in order to protect me from the world and all the many parts of it I believe want to hurt me. It's something that we are about to start working on using something called Schema Therapy when I see him at our next session in a few days.
I turned two years sober last month and was very happy about it. I shared at an AA Step meeting on the day and received my birthday cake. All went well. This was also my first birthday free from all drugs. I decided to make it the day I quit smoking and so today signifies the fifth full week of me being an ex-smoker. On the same day I cut out the cigarettes I also came off my antidepressant medication. Now I feel like I'm entering recovery.
I decided a little while ago that I wanted to take a break from the rooms of AA. I'm all for it, really I am, and it did help me sober up and stay sober. I would likely never have managed to get this far without it. AA also taught me much about how to become a (slightly) better person and it introduced me to the idea of a Higher Power – something I still practice believing in to this very moment. There are, however, some extremely disturbing elements to the fellowship. There's a lot of ''Thirteenth Stepping'' goes on. Old men who are trying to hit on women when taking them through the Twelve Steps. A large percentage of members there are still very much living in the problem. They haven't really changed much at all. There's a sense that many members who come into the rooms unemployed wish to remain unemployed forevermore – staying on benefits until they are old enough to claim their state pension seems the way of life for many in the rooms. It's a poor message to show to newcomers.
More than this though – I think there's a huge sense of dependency there. These guys NEED to go to meetings all the time in order to stay sober and they don't mind telling you that. I decided I needed a little time away from the rooms to test out this philosophy. Do I NEED to go there every day, week, even month, to stay sober? Besides this – I began to feel that my sponsor was having too big an influence on my life. It was getting to the stage where I couldn't make up my mind on decisions which would affect my life. I'd been told, like I mentioned, that – ''If you have a good idea, phone me; if you have a great idea – come and see me!!'' and I think that I'd taken this as being the way forward.
When Lindsay and I started seeing each other regularly I decided to run it past Stu, see what he thought about it. I figured that he would not approve and would advise against it. Break off communication – that is what I feared he might say. I met him and we discussed it for all of five minutes. Don't do it! Break off communication. This is what he said.
I felt as though enough was enough. It was not by any means the first time he'd told me that he did not think I was about to make the right choice on my life and future. Nearly seven months down the line I have to say that things have turned out quite well. I made the right choice. At the time of speaking to Stu I came to realise that he was, in effect, stopping me from becoming responsible. He was taking away my God (of my understanding's) given right to make my own mistakes in life. I ended things with him so that I could try to learn to be independent and responsible. Every time I felt a fart brewing inside I was thinking, ''Fuck – I wonder if this is the right time and place to release it. I'd better call Stu and run it by him!!''
So I felt I should also tone down my meetings for a while and today is the fifth week of thirteen where I am not attending meetings. I choose thirteen weeks because they have this thing in AA when you first join (as some of you may well know) that you should attend ninety meetings in ninety days so I decided to put my own little spin on that and stay away for a full ninety days.
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.
Prayin' for sober sleep......
Post Thanks / Like - 2 Thanks, 3 Likes
is commited that my target is to
be able to make my own choice
between a glass of wine and a
glass of water
Re: Up Until Now
That is quite a read
Congratulations on your drink and drugs sober time. Sounds like quite a journey.
Your writing reminds me of @StuckinLA , different subject but equal in quality and interest.
AF since 2nd January 2016
Whatever words I say I will always love you - I will always love you - So fly me to the moon - R Smith
Post Thanks / Like - 0 Thanks, 2 Likes
Re: Up Until Now
Thanks for sharing your story Lunarer! We're glad you are here.