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Lunarer
October 31st, 2017, 01:45 AM
Tuesday, October 31st 2017 (Feedback)


Yesterday we were each called individually into one of the secret little rooms hidden down by the edit suites in the darkest part of the college campus. We were getting feedback on our settling in period. We've been at this for two months now (actually only five weeks since we just had a two week break and I was off for a week for the trip to Barcelona too) and so we were to check in. How do we feel we are doing and do we have any concerns? How do the lecturers feel we are doing as students? This is something that never happened once when we were doing the sound production last year and so it is most welcome, depending on what their feedback is, of course.

I am aware that, when placed in front of a computer with an editing software package and a bit of time and direction, that I can work away as the lone wolf and come up with some good work. Having the Abobe Creative Cloud at Lindsay's now means that I can do this kind of stuff in my own time as well. I am not surprised to discover that the lecturers feel that I am strong in this area. When it comes to audio and editing and so on there are no concerns whatsoever. They were expecting the four of us who came here from the sound production last year to be good at these parts of the course work.

What I was more concerned with was the actual presenting and radio show content element. For one hour each day we are in class (every Monday and Tuesday) each duo heads into the control room and takes control of the airwaves. We go out live on the college radio. Students can listen from any campus in Fife (although I don't know how many actually do) and lecturers listen in to see how we are getting on. This was the part of the course I have been freaking out about since we started. It brings me to thinking about that AA meeting a week past Friday when I was asked to share at the top table of a busy meeting I'd never been to before in front of people I had never met. I felt really nervous yet when getting feedback many people were saying that I didn't seem so.

Turns out that this is also the case while I'm on the radio. My partner and I are, apparently, if not one of the best duos in the class, then THE best.

Stevie – ''Really?''

Lecturers – ''Yeah!? We're really glad that you guys were paired up as you sound good together, you bounce off each other and neither of you takes control of the time, it's very 50-50 but without us having to tell you to be. It's really good. You're doing everything that you should be doing.''

This is a bit of a surprise to be totally honest. It's really helping with my confidence though and I feel better prepared not to go on and just get done and hand in these assignments I've been working on this week so far without being plagued with self-consciousness and self-awareness. I ask others if there feedback was positive and for the most part it was. They always tell me at the end though about what they were advised to work on and what they might be able to do to improve one aspect of their work. I got no such advice and direction. Pretty much a gold star student as things go.

I have to use this extra time I now have to make sure that I am on track with all of the assignments I mentioned in a post last week. I've handed in the fake advert and yesterday I did Assessed Show 1 so I'm waiting for feedback about them. I have made a good start on my pre-recorded show (Assessed Show 2) which will be based on music from the sixties and so this will not go out on air until one evening since it is not in keeping with the Boom Radio demographic and so is counted as a niche show and I plan to continue with this over the weekend while I have some time. I could do with getting started on the podcasts as they will be quite time-consuming given all the editing that will be required. I should make contact with the people I hope to involve at the earliest opportunity, which would technically be right now actually.

There. I should hear back from these guys soon enough. It's nice to have a plan in place and be following it. Tomorrow I will be back in working action and it would seem that it is once again up to me to run things window cleaning related as I still haven't heard anything from Barry the Bullet since his no-show at work last Thursday. Anyone would have thought he might be interested but evidently not. If this means that I am looking at a three day period of working on my own then I feel ready for it. There's a holiday needs paid now and I enjoy having things to look forward to. I have rescheduled the dentist appointment so that I am available to work as much as possible this week and don't have to take tomorrow off.

All of the work gear is in the cave at the moment and so I think I'll be staying there this evening so that I can get everything ready. I only have one more week until the keys have to be handed in and I still have one or two things to sort out between now and then. My claim for housing benefit for the period between me being on the sick and receiving student bursary and loan has been rejected and so I still have plenty debt from that place. I'll sort it out as things progress. From next Wednesday onwards there will be no base to have handy and available, no cave to drop my things off when I'm in the area. I'll be on my own. Quite where ladders and buckets and things will be kept after that is anyone's guess but I'll figure something out. I always do these days.

Right – time to get lunch made up and my flask filled. One more day of college before I have to start thinking about work.

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Stevie

A 'top of the class' kinda student.

1102

Lunarer
November 4th, 2017, 07:35 AM
Wednesday, November 01st 2017 (Solo Again)


When you say things like: ''Christmas is seven weeks on Monday!'' it makes me wonder what the fuck I'm gonna do to get ready for it but when I actually think about it there is nothing to worry about. I have made some great strides in sorting Christmas out this year before it becomes a hassle, before it becomes a thing, and I start worrying. I was actually going to go shopping the other day when we were at the travel agent for some more things for the nieces but don't want to ruin things. I like doing a bit of shopping for presents in December and so decided to leave it for now. You can spend so much time preparing for things that you ruin the event itself. Christmas is all about the build up. The day itself is never anything other than a huge disappointment but the two or three weeks beforehand I found out last year can be great. I'm hoping for the same again this year. That means no more shopping for presents until nearer the time – and no more talking about Christmas in these virtual pages. Moving on . . .

So my Assessed Show 2 went online live on the college radio last night at eight o'clock and Lindsay and I listened to it while we were working in the spare room, packing things up and unpacking other things, only to repack them again. We're making big progress though. There will come a time when it is ready for painting, just not yet.

I messaged mum yesterday morning. I had been thinking about what I might do for Assessed Show 4 in which we are asked to create three related interviews and I had thought about Barry the Bullet and Ian and asking if they wouldn't mind doing interviews about downhill biking which seems to be their newest hobby. I don't know about their reliability though and so I've spoken with Lindsay and mum about doing interviews on the NHS instead. I need three people and they must be recorded in three different environments. Mum will come into the studio next week and Lindsay will be doing the 'on site' one. I don't know exactly what would constitute being on site but I think that a coffee in the hospital canteen would probably count. Then there's just the telephone interview. I really am starting to bash through these assessments.

The feedback I got on my pre-recorded show was hot and cold. I could have done with having it less scripted and more natural and the volume of my voice could have done with being turned up a notch. The lecturer says that even taking these into consideration I am punching well above my weight at the moment. That this assessment would only need a few tweaks and changes here and there to pass at degree level. I'm doing well. To be honest I don't usually need this kind of feedback, I always know when I've done something right, it's just nice to have it confirmed by an expert.

In half an hour or so I will be heading out to make a start on the working week. Barry the Bullet hasn't answered his phone even though he promised on Facebook all week that he'd be coming out. I won't be letting it deter me and I'll be going out myself in a short while. It's colder, yes, but it's nowhere near the stage where we've got frost on the paths so I'll be safe on my travels for another few weeks. Where working is concerned I am in a strong position having got myself to the point where everything is in my possession for the first time in a long time. All the ladders are in my back garden at the cave while the gear is inside the cave itself. I have the work books with me as well and over time the work I do solo will overtake the work Barry and I did together and so things will update soon enough.

In terms of where I'm at on the actual window cleaning run, how I am doing in terms of getting around the cycle of work, things could admittedly be a lot better. Barry and I as a partnership haven't been around much of the work in a while, nothing much at all since I left for Spain almost a month ago, and so the pressure is on for me to get things done this week. No matter how much I might start to feel lazy come Friday I will have to get three days out of this week if I can. There is good motivation in knowing that a weekend is right around the corner and that I can pay some money towards next year's trip away for my birthday as well as starting to build Lindsay and my savings back up a little after hectic recent spending. I rescheduled my dentist appointment so that I could get the best out of today but I tomorrow afternoon my day will be cut short with an appointment with one certain Dr. Bacon, my clinical psychologist who I am to see in the early afternoon, half past two I believe it to be.

Right then! I had better get a move on. The day starts off with a tricky little carrying of the ladders and bucket of water to the place I finished off when I was out last week. This is the best part of a mile. I've walked many miles this year (well over a thousand actually, since I quit smoking) but carrying stuff, especially water, makes it all the tougher. I could leave the water and hope that the first customer I arrive at will give me some but you never know who is and who isn't going to be in and so I should do better by leaving prepared.

I'll leave you for now, will leave the cave in around ten to fifteen minutes, and will hopefully arrive on site around twenty to twenty five minutes after that. It's cold and grey out there.

But it's where I'll be spending my day.


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Stevie

Spending his day with the cold and grey, and his Higher Power, but that goes without saying.

1070

Lunarer
November 4th, 2017, 07:37 AM
Thursday, November 02nd 2017 (Earning His Meals)


Waking up in the cave hurts a little. There's no bed so I sleep on the floor with a sleeping bag Lindsay loaned me. There's not much at all in the cave at the moment. I hand my keys in on Wednesday next week and everything was moved out of here a few weekends ago when we rented a van. So my back creaks and groans a little when I wake and I can become disturbed through the night with poor circulation but the temperature is nice and within my control since the gas safety check was carried out a couple of weeks ago. I think I'll be staying here again this evening as I like being able to get up and get on with work with everything close at hand, just sitting in my garden, what is my garden for another week anyway.

I didn't bother contacting Barry the Bullet this morning. When debt collecting arrives tomorrow evening I want it to be a good one and I'm not interested this week in sharing my spoils with someone else. I'll do all the work so I'll get all the rewards. That is my attitude this week. The run is starting to shrink a little as well as I drop some properties I find it difficult to get money from or that give us other problems. It's going to become a ''one man'' run at this rate and when it does there will be no need for a second worker. The pressure is still on to get things done but I did okay yesterday on my solo mission.

Barry and I have been setting targets of around forty properties per day over the summer and yesterday I was pleased when I finished on twenty six. Fourteen short of what Barry and I would normally do combined. I'm getting started earlier this morning so that I can get as much done as possible before the day is cut short with an inconvenient Dr. Bacon appointment at half past two. By the time it's done I doubt I'll be able to get anything more done and so I will be finishing half day today. Friday is the big one. A full day with a debt-collecting mission in the evening.

I'm hoping to return to Lindsay's tomorrow evening with something to show for my efforts. I'd love to be able to put one hundred quid into our holiday fund and another hundred into the overdraft. Lindsay has an interest-free overdraft with the university and at the moment we are nearly five hundred pounds into the seven hundred and fifty allowance. Now Lindsay has gone into freak out mode and started up internet banking so she can keep tabs on what's been happening and where the money is going. I have to admit that this is a little inconvenient since around half of the five hundred bucks was me getting in some things for Christmas. Now she's going to be looking through transactions and receipts and so on. I don't know what will show up but I'll find a way of working around this. But I could do with paying something back into it this weekend. I don't like being in the red.

In order to curb my spending while being through in this town for the week and with the cave having nothing in the way of cooking appliances I got some rolls and Pot Noodles in. I'll buy my lunches when I'm on site but that's breakfast and dinner covered for the next two days and all on a discount too. It has been a long time since I bought a Pot Noodle and was amazed by the shrinking that's been going on since my last purchase. The little sachets of sauce have completely diminished. It makes me smile. How much money do they want? And for what do they want it for? What are they saving up for? I'll never understand it. Who could have thought that it was possible to pity those who appear to have everything? The truth is that I do pity these people.

The church told me on Sunday that you can worship God or money, but not both. I get it. I see it. Everywhere I see it. At the college it is particularly eye-opening as to how such a new and young generation, so promising and clever, are so mindless when it comes to their attitudes about both God and money, especially God. They think of God as being a great thing in the sky looking down on us all rather than a guide to living a healthy and fulfilling life. They see Him as something evil rather than something loving. They are the new generation and modern society has done a magnificent job in grooming them to become passive little consumers who look out for number one all the while sacrificing the togetherness that the church would suggest as an alternative.

After all – why do we need togetherness when we have social media? False Togetherness. I thought I would use Facebook a lot more than I have done. I was never on social media much although I've had a Twitter account for a number of years. When I started at the college they wanted us to get on Facebook if we were not already and so I signed up. I have barely used it since. It's been good for catching up with people like Lydia, who lives in London, and for spying on my nieces since I don't seem to be a part of their lives anymore, but I find it all so incredibly unfulfilling that I don't really bother with it. I sometimes wonder if my sessions with Dr. Bacon get in the way a little. I tend to have less time now for superficial relationships that I used to (and that wasn't very much, let me tell you) and with Facebook I find it to be as superficial as it could get. There's a tremendous feeling of sadness I feel that is an ever-present undercurrent to watching my college peers communicate with one and other on the group chat. I think it is loneliness that really bonds them. Or I'm full of shit and it's loneliness that keeps me from joining in.

Speaking of loneliness, I should be getting to work. It's not so bad really. I chop up the work into little batches of four houses and that takes up roughly an hour. If I manage four and a half, or even five, in this time then it's a bonus. I'll be working right up until an hour before my appointment so that I have time to grab some lunch and get there on time. Then I'll be walking back to collect the work gear and head back to the cave. I might do the whole 'English Sara and AA meeting' run this evening. I hope I do.

I think I will.

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Stevie

Earning his meals this week.

1170

Lunarer
November 4th, 2017, 07:41 AM
Friday, November 03rd 2017 (One Thousand Days Sober)


I've reached another milestone. This is my one thousandth day of continuous sobriety. I am impressed and don't feel like telling myself that it's only a day at a time and all that jazz. I'm not bringing it down, bringing myself down, in this way today. Maybe tomorrow, but for today I am loving the fact that this milestone has been reached. One thousand days. Try counting up to one thousand. Go on! Even try doing it really quickly. It's a big number, and each of those little digits represents a full day. It's a long time to be sober for.

What a day this could turn out to be. I'm up early enough for to get started working on my own again this morning at an decent time and the weather is looking good. I don't mean that it's sunny (it's actually pretty fucking chilly this morning) I just mean that it's dry. It's good working weather. Barry the Bullet got in touch with me last night to apologise for the last couple of mornings in not being ready and said that he was all set for work today.

Stevie – ''I think I'm just gonna go out myself again today. I've done pretty good this week so far and want to see how it plays out.''

Barry the Bullet – ''You know I won't slow you down.''

Stevie – ''It's not that. . . I've just been having a good week as it is and want to see what I can get done myself.''

I've got him a little concerned about his job. Do I really need him now? That's what he'll be thinking but it's also what I've been wondering at times over the past two days. I've said to him that if he answers his phone on Wednesday morning then he can come out with me then but that if he fails to answer that time then he can have another week off. Hopefully this will get him thinking that I'm not fucking around anymore. We both now know that I am capable of working by myself – something that we have likely both doubted for some time now and something that has kept the situation whereby it appeared as though I often needed Barry more than he needed me. Now things are changing. I've enjoyed this week. It's been surprising.

There was a third psychologist in Dr. Bacon's room yesterday. A trainee. There seems to be a lot of training required before one becomes a clinical psychologist. I agreed last week to allow this trainee to sit in on our session and I feel fine today and so don't mind him sitting in. Dr. Bacon wants us to do some more imagery work and this is something I'm still not altogether comfortable with. We look over my homework.

I have a few incidents noted from my Mode Diaries but the one we go with is the one I wrote about the sharing from the top table at the AA meeting that night I went with Robert to that meeting I'd never been to before. Bacon has me close my eyes and settles me into the session. Then I am asked to describe my surroundings. Always asked to speak in first person, as though I am currently still there, I set the scene. Then I am asked to describe how I feel inside. We know already that I am fearful and anxious, that I really don't like being up here at this AA top table where I am free to be judged, and I am asked to tell where these feelings of fear and anxiety can be felt within my body.

We did this one time before using me leaving Spain as an example and what ended up happening was that we spotted a pattern in which I go from being in trouble to the final solution. The middle part is missed out. This is the important part, the part where the connection takes place. The part where I express what it is exactly that I think I need. There seems to be this thing I have where people are to guess what it is that I am after and if they respond positively then I'm all for it. If they don't manage to somehow know what it is I need then I can tend to become resentful. Either way I am not good at actually asking for what it is I need or even putting the idea across. For other people it is often guesswork. Not ideal for healthy connections.

So this time we use the image of me at AA's top table a couple of Friday night's ago and we take the feelings I was experiencing then, those of fear and anxiety, and we use them to go back through my life to a time when I felt these before. The first thing that comes to mind we go with and I find myself back in primary school as a young boy. It's Father's Day soon and the class is making cards for their fathers. Only there's this one little boy who's father isn't with us. This is the nineteen eighties and we've only recently stopped striking children with canes and so we are living in the stone age with respects to education, as usual, and the done thing back then when a child is different is to remove them. I am led to a large cupboard, the same cupboard we are forced to stand in when we have misbehaved, and I am to write out a grandmother's day card instead.

I can't remember if I bothered to do it or not but this is the image we go with. It's Father's Day and I am isolated and placed somewhere normally reserved for misbehaviour to take part in a solo activity. Dr. Bacon comes into this image and reasons with the teacher. In the end another little boy who has also lost his father is allowed in to sit with me for a while as Dr. Bacon and Mrs. Shaw work out what best to do. We, myself and the other little boy, are both allowed back into the class and we join in with the activities just like the others. We are no different from the other children. I am now asked how this new scenario feels. Better, to say the least.

When I am asked to open my eyes I make a mistake in showing a little emotion. Just a little, but he's all over it. Bacon doesn't miss a trick. Within a few seconds my face has returned to its stony default setting but he thanks me at the end of the session for allowing myself to let a little emotion out, for trusting him enough to allow this to happen.

We have penned in our sessions from now until Christmas. I won't see him next week because Lindsay and I are heading to the Barrowlands in Glasgow to watch Swedish metal band Opeth so we're scheduled for the following Thursday. Then every fortnight after that. Thursday at half past three on the 23rd November; 7th December, and the 21st December. After that we'll work out what we're doing next.

Today is the important day though. It always is. I'll be working right up until half past four (it'll be starting to already get dark by then) and will then carry the gear back to the cave where they will spend their last weekend here. I'll then be heading to Wetherspoon (which is where I'll possibly post some of this shite I've been writing since I last posted on Tuesday morning) and then I'll be heading out for a solo debt-collecting mission.

I'm looking forward to it.

I'll let you know tomorrow how I got on.

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Stevie

One thousand days since he took a drink!

1330

Lunarer
November 5th, 2017, 04:17 AM
Saturday, November 04th 2017 (Working Statistics)


Right then – here are the statistics for the week just passed as far as work was concerned:

Wednesday:

Total work done: £126
Cash collected: £41

Thursday:

Total work done: £108
Cash collected: £71.5

Friday:

Total work done: £123
Cash collected: £123

Friday evening:

Cash collected: £105

Week total work done: £357
Week total cash collected: £340.5

That's pretty good going if you ask me, which of course you didn't, but if you check in here regularly then you must do so with at least a slight interest in how I go about trying to be sober and live my life, get out of this hole I am still to some extent caught in. Considering that I may have used Barry the Bullet's unavailability this week as an excuse not to have any faith in myself I have shown this week that I can be relied on and depended on to do the heavy lifting when it is needed. I've proved to myself this week that when I am motivated I have the tools to get the job done.

To pull in this close to the amount of work done is the good thing and that which shows that there was effort there on my part. Considering that Thursday was cut short for a Dr. Bacon appointment it is quite impressive that I still managed to topple the one hundred pounds every day over the three days. Imagine what a solid fortnight might have done. Even a full month, providing the Scottish weather could hold out that long, which it never does at any time of year. It makes me wonder though. I could have worked my way out of my financial difficulties a long time ago. All those times I had nothing to eat. All that debt building up. Going without internet in the cave now for nearly two years when the bill was ninety pounds. A day's work. There was a solution there all along, I just wasn't of the motivation or mental or physical strength to do it at the time. Now though.

So I wake this morning still in my cave. This is the longest time I've spent in this place for a while. Three nights and no less. When I first started dating Lindsay I was at her flat once every now and then. Over Christmas it increased significantly. In the time since I have seen the time I've spent in the cave deplete and it has been rare for me to spend more than one night in a row here. I have to admit that I've really enjoyed this week. Wednesday through Friday – a full three days of cleaning windows by myself and a debt-collecting mission at the end to boot. Now I wake and it's the weekend. No work today. Saturday – the day of rest.

Considering that I spent twenty nine bucks this week (it adds up, so it does) we are left with three hundred and ten quid so that's one hundred into the holiday and another hundred into Lindsay's overdraft. This leaves us with some to spare so we'll get some shopping in and put some more away. I like proper horror movies but Lindsay likes those of the Saw variety and so we're gonna be checking out that new Jigsaw movie at some point today, my treat, a belated Halloween present. The idea came to me when I saw it on the Restoration calendar for this week just passed. I had been on my lunch break and had nipped down the town centre when Jimmy sat next to me and asked what I was up to and if I was going to the church this afternoon. Since it was so bloody cold I decided that I'd pop into Restoration with him and take advantage of the free coffee. Warm the coggles, put a little heat into my bones.

I used to go to Restoration every week. I'm trying to recall when I was last there but when addiction services worker Louise comes in later on she refers to me as ''Stranger'' so I am guessing it's been a while. The room has changed, or rather the people who are in it have. The regulars have moved on. New blood has taken their place. I don't like it. Too much change, too much of a difference. Louise says that she'd wondered what had happened to me.

Louise – ''I thought that maybe you weren't coming back . . . ummm. . . for the same reasons that most people don't come back.''

She thought I'd been drinking? I thought I was past that. I figured myself now to be seen as one of those guys who had managed to make it and who was never now likely to go back. The only reason I haven't been there for so long is because I have had other things to be getting on with. In this way I am a good example. It's just that no one gets to know I am if they never see me. It makes me wonder what all of the guys who are not here and I am told no longer come are up to. Doesn't mean they are still all drinking. Surely one of them has got himself a job or something and moved on from this? There's no way of knowing. It's one of the more frustrating things about getting to know alkies and addicts.

There's a calender of events all planned out for the next two months with go-karting probably the highlight for November. Next month we have the Christmas dinner which will be on the fourteenth. I said I'd give them my money nearer the time if I was going since I don't know what things will be like on the working front by then. The dinner will take place on a Thursday afternoon and so work would be troubled and interrupted by it. It will be the week before Christmas though and so I do hope to go. I don't know what other Christmas celebrations I will be involved in. It's a good time of year to start with the festivities too, just eleven days before the event itself. When the idea of Christmas hasn't yet been overdone and become stale. I'll be with my old Restoration buddies, those of them that are left.

It's frustrating how often these guys toggle between life as a sober person and life as a drunk. There are some positive things about this though. The people at Restoration have more humility, a humbleness, that is sorely lacking in their AA counterparts.

Lindsay mentioned to me that she bumped into my old sponsor at the shop the other day. She was waiting to use the ATM while he was in front of her. When he turned around he looked straight at her for a moment, elected not to speak, turned, and walked off in the direction of his car. I don't know what to make of this. Stu really is displaying some strange behaviour. Perhaps Lindsay is missing out one or two details but I wouldn't put it past Stu to have acted this way. It seems that fatherhood has changed him in many ways. His ego is back. I think that he's wanted a family all his life but he was so poor with women that it never happened for him. In sobriety he found online a Russian bride in need of a visa and so tied the knot. Now that he is a father it lays to rest all of his inferiority from his past. Now he feels himself worthy. The world can now see clearly that he is, at the age of fifty three, finally successful and attractive enough for someone to want to mate with and provide offspring.

This is obviously a need of his that has been unmet for the whole of his life and now that he has it he is showing odd behaviour – the sort of behaviour that puts people off him, I just hadn't really seen it until recently. Good luck to him in the future. I look back and wonder what on earth I was thinking to be going through the program with him to be honest, like Madonna must feel when she looks back and watches the Material Girl video again after all these years. We do what we have to do to get to where we want to be but it doesn't mean we have to remain proud of it.

Anyway – it's time to get moving. I'll get a bus in am hour and will be at the town centre of Lindsay's town around fifty minutes after that. We're meeting at the Golden Bite cafe for some breakfast. From there we can decide what we are doing for the rest of the day.

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Stevie

Saturday not the day of rest after all.

1503

Lunarer
November 5th, 2017, 04:18 AM
Sunday, November 05th 2017 (Up Late This Morning)


Jigsaw is exactly what you'd expect from a modern movie studio: a rehash of material they've already done five or six times before (or is it seven? I gave up on the Saw series extremely early on but I'm sure I've seen 1, 2, and possibly 5) but in a way that deluded fans (like Lindsay) will gobble up and buy into. That's okay though. We're not really in Edinburgh to watch a movie – we're just here to get away from Fife for a while, and I thought it would be nice after a week of hard working at the college and on the window cleaning on my own to treat Lindsay to some dinner in the capital and a Halloween present in the form of a trip to see the latest film in a franchise she likes.

Next time we are in Edinburgh it will be very close to Christmas and we'll be here for the lights and the Christmas Market. There are already signs that it is all on its way with greedy little men and women with nothing better to do every minute of every day other than think about how they can add that little bit extra this year to their already enormous horde of money are sneaking festive themes in there more and more all the time. Thankfully where we stay it is not all that prominent unless you go down the high street. There will come a time to get into the Christmas spirit but it will not be when some sleazy store manager's bank account says that it should be.

Did you know that I've still never been to an AA meeting in Edinburgh? All the times I've been here and not once have I sought one out. I wonder if it would be worth my time. Not this time, it's coming up to a quarter to nine at night, but some other time. Lindsay and I are having a coffee while we wait on our bus home and I bring it up.

Lindsay – ''It's not much different through here. It's just as shit as it is where we stay.''

Stevie - ''…''

Lindsay - ''…''

Stevie – ''It is shit, isn't it?''

Lindsay – ''I'm glad it was there but now I think I'd only go for the sake of the newcomer.''

Stevie – ''I don't think I can help the newcomer.''

Lindsay – ''Why do you say that?''

Newcomers arrive and are surrounded by mixed messages from old timers. Before you know it they are of the impression that they don't need to work a Twelve Step program and that they should just have a laugh instead. They stick around for a few weeks, maybe even months, and then they go back out there and drink, or are just never seen or heard from again. The old timers then tell us that they could not get it because they were unwilling to listen. It's almost as if the old timers are not aware that listening to many of them will likely get you drunk, certainly won't help keep you sober. My journey isn't unique but the way I go about telling it in AA rooms is. I avoid jargon and lip service, telling them what I believe will make them like me more, and this is not perhaps the best way to help a newcomer.

When I go it is for myself. This is true of all of us. It's just that I am willing to be honest and just say it. I don't need people to like me that much that I have to lie to myself to get it.

We're back in college again tomorrow morning and so it's high time we started looking at that. Of the practical assessments, of which there are two (but one of them contains two parts) I have completed part one. What remains are the podcasts which I am leaving for the time being. It would help to perhaps begin planning how I might be structuring these shows so I will set aside some time for this through the week.

Of the four Assessed Shows that also make up the first semester of this, the Higher National Certificate in Radio, I have so far sat the first one but have yet to have it marked, and have passed the second one with flying colours and it aired on the college radio station last week. This leaves two: the live show while interacting with social media and the three interviews.

This week I would like to make significant progress with these interviews. I will be practice interacting with social media while we go about our live shows both tomorrow and on Tuesday with the plan of sitting the assessment the following Monday. All this planning makes it easier for me to know what I'm doing. What we have to do for these assessments is record our live broadcasts and then edit them to take out the music. This usually takes the hour show down to around a twelve minute clip which one of the lecturers then listens to and passes or fails us. They don't call it failing actually – they just say that remediation is required. I've heard others in class be given this but want to avoid it myself. I want to avoid it the whole semester if possible. Remediation. No thanks – not for me. So I have to ensure that my work is of a high enough standard.

This means making sure that my interviewing skills are up to the job when mum comes in this week to speak with me in the college studio. I plan on interviewing Lindsay over the weekend (although this can really be done at any time it is supposed to be done ''on site'' and so within an NHS environment and so we were going to be having a coffee in the hospital canteen and record it. I'd then take the best and most relevant parts and edit it) and then at some point the following week I'll arrange the phone interview although I'm thinking about just asking someone from class to step in and pretend to be an NHS worker. I'll get away with it if I choose carefully and script what they are to say well enough. It only has to be ninety seconds or so.

This should mean that this time next week I will be sitting here in one Sunday morning's time knowing that I only have one telephone interview to do; that I'm almost ready to record a live show while interacting with social media; and have made a start on the podcast ideas. If all goes to plan then this will leave me with five or six weeks to work on my podcasts. I can see me putting a lot of work into them as I love having something to work on at home and I have the software on this very laptop with which to complete these projects.

Right now though – breakfast!!

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Stevie

Off for breakfast.

1201

Lunarer
November 6th, 2017, 02:03 AM
Monday, November 06th 2017 (Working on Getting Out)


Just looking through the latest posts in the two alcohol and addiction related forums I use and I can't say that I'm surprised to hear that Sadhappy has quit suddenly as an admin member of the WQD on Ryver site. I'm amazed in many ways that it's still going. The layout so dreadful. I respect those who have kept working on it and continue to do so. It's just the layout that kills it for me. There were much better alternatives. We acted rashly, impulsively, at the time. So frightened were we that our little community might not survive, and, to some extent, it hasn't.

I came across posts in my my own journal, one of which contains something I really like:

''Remember that guy on Spiritual River all those years ago (before he sold out to big rehab)? His message seemed to be - and it paralleled my own - if you're really lucky you get into recovery. And if you're really, REALLY lucky, you get out.''

This is something that greatly appeals to me. Finding something that lies beyond the world of recovery. Beyond the Restoration rooms and the AA meetings; beyond SMART and addiction services. A place where rehab and recovery can't get to me. With psychology services and the work I am doing with Dr. Bacon not only are we building in many ways on what I learned while going through the Twelve Step program with Stu we are also undoing much of the work that was done, some of the damage that going through this program created.

Dr. Bacon said in our last session that there still might need to be, by the sounds of things, some work to be done before I am as ready and willing to forgive my father and put that to bed than I would like to admit.

I mentioned this to Lindsay to see what she thought.

Lindsay – 'Of course you're going to have problems in letting all that go if you've stored it up for thirty or more years.''

Stevie – ''But my amends?''

Lindsay – ''One little trip to a cemetery won't do it, as Dr. Bacon is trying to say.''

Stevie – ''But Stu. . .''

Lindsay - ''??? What the fuck does he know? He's all ego!''

Stu and Lindsay bumped into each other on the street through the week and he didn't seem to do much in the way of acknowledging her. It's clear that Lindsay has an underlying resentment with him and so anything I mention which casts him under some kind of light she will be quick to attempt to darken. When she thinks of Stu she thinks ''Asshole!!'' and so it's difficult to mention any of this to her. Where does Stu stand in terms of getting far enough into his recovery that he gets out?

He once told me that if he doesn't go to meetings once a week at least then he starts to feel it. In this way he is AA dependent, he would just never admit it. This was all said before he became a father and his attitude changed though. In saying that – he was there when I attended my old home group a few weekends ago so he will still be going there every week. Where else he goes I have no idea. I think in some ways he doesn't need AA for recovery and so he could be deemed as being ''out'' of it to some extent. I think he goes because he has a need to feel connected and I don't think he has any friends outside of the fellowship. He'll settle for AA friends. I have to try not to.

So if we are to look at people in AA who have what we want and try to do similar to what they did then I am going to have a hard time finding them if what I want is for it to get to the stage where I don't feel a part of the recovery network enough to even consider myself in recovery any more. All of these types of people are already long gone. They are nowhere to be seen. They are out living their lives and they blend so well into society that it is impossible to spot them among the ''normal'' people out there.

So what do I do to continue trying to achieve this? Especially since those who are doing it cannot be found in the rooms of a self-help group or anywhere similar? I think I just have to keep doing what I'm doing. Main Man says I am foolish to put my college and my relationship with Lindsay before my AA but I don't think I'm doing that. The fact that I did not go to a meeting while in Spain did not mean that I was being foolish either, as it has been suggested, it just meant that there was too much else to be doing to be bothered. I think that it is things like having the college to focus on and Lindsay beside me that help cement my recovery, help hold it together. While it is true that AA participation helps provide strong roots we must grow outwards from this. It goes back to the old ''Petals of a Flower'' thing I used to talk about all the time when tying to convince me how shit my life was and how perfect everyone else's was.

I think one thing I have to keep doing is my work with Dr. Bacon. It was always going to be psychology that would give me a better chance at becoming ''normal'' and less mode-driven and after almost a year in therapy I am starting to notice little differences. Margaret (my old addiction counsellor) used to say that what created positive thinking and life experiences was just getting out there and having positive life experiences. When we are drinking and life is shit then it's no wonder our outlooks appear negative. The same thing applies backwards. In saying that – I know that there are such things as personalities and that some people are more predisposed to thinking a certain way – but I am also aware that people can change. It's just that not many of them do and they don't very often. By working with Dr. Bacon for another year I might be one of the lucky ones that does get to see a significant change in themselves.

It's something to aim for.

Right now though – I have to aim to catch a bus to college.

We're at the beginning of a new week again already.

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Stevie

Trying to get out.

1137

Lunarer
November 7th, 2017, 01:42 AM
Tuesday, November 07th (The Morning Note)


So it's now been thirty three months since I last took a drink; twenty one months since I last took any drugs (of the illegal kind); and nine months since I last smoked a cigarette or took any drugs of the legal kind (since I quit taking my antidepressants on the same day I stopped smoking). These are some good month totals now. It's starting to feel as though I am finally making a good start on a life without the self-abuse, a life away from drink and drugs. It would be impossible to imagine going back so far now that I was where I once was but if I've learned anything by listening to hundreds of AA shares over the years is that I am not special. If they go 'back out there' and drink again, sometimes after years of sobriety, then I can too. I don't buy into this philosophy of always being vigilant and getting to three or four AA meetings a week so that I can be reminded of what could happen should I suddenly just decide out of the blue to lift a drink and put it to my lips but once every now and then it is nice to be able to check in.

I was supposed to be leaving my cave tomorrow morning, handing the keys in first thing, but I contacted my housing officer with some excuse about me having problems getting the last of my stuff out of there and so could I please hand the keys in on Friday instead of Wednesday, which he has approved, and so I'll be staying there for another few nights. Tonight, tomorrow night, and again on Thursday night. That will mean that in the last ten nights I will have slept seven of them in the cave and three at Lindsay's. It's very interesting that I should be trying to cling onto every last day I can get out of this former home of mine now that the time has come to be leaving.

It will really help with work though. The next scheme I am to be working on is the one the cave is situated right in the middle of and so I can get out of bed on Thursday morning and actually already be on site. Last week I had to carry the ladder and bucket some hefty distances and it was a real pain in the ass. This week, now that I have secured the cave for the rest of the week, I will be on the work for the week's doorstep.

What else is going on here though? Why is it that I am willing to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor when I have the option of a comfy bed sleeping next to Lindsay? I'm clinging onto old ways. I'm preferring the easier, softer way. I'm struggling with the transition phase between staying in the cave and staying with Lindsay. I can already feel the inevitable changes starting. My driver's license has Lindsay's address on it (had to get that sorted for the hire van the other weekend) and all of my stuff is at her place. If I cough in the cave it causes, as is the case in any cave, an echo as the sound waves have nothing, no furnishings whatsoever, to suck them up and so they bounce around and back at me. The place is almost empty.

In the kitchen I have only a kettle and things to make a cup of coffee with. The sitting room is bare with the exception of some bad memories from my time here, good ones too, I guess. The bedroom has a sleeping bag and bag I use as a pillow for the final nights I will be spending here. There is nothing in any of the wardrobes or cupboards and the bathroom is empty but for a toothbrush and one or two different soaps and things to help keep me clean on my final days here.

When Friday night comes I will be finishing up my debt-collecting mission at work and then boarding the bus to the next town, Lindsay's town, knowing that I have nowhere I can sleep in this town anymore, no cave to lay my hat.

When I get up this morning I make way for the kettle and find that while I was sleeping last night Lindsay has written a little note for me this morning. It's just a few words to say that she gets it that I am a little worried about the coming move (I say ''move'' but all of my stuff is already here – it's just me we need to move in permanently) and that we will manage to work through any problems that crop up; that we will be able to find that balance of time together and time apart; that we have come a tremendous distance so far and will continue to do so. It's true. And to think that Stu (my AA sponsor) tried to encourage me away from this relationship as he didn't think that it was the right thing for me at the time. He figured that I needed to work on the Twelve Steps to bring about personal growth. Now just look at him! Fatherhood has changed him more than his program ever did. He just didn't have that insight yet.

So this is it once again. With no internet in the cave I will have no way of communicating with you guys for the next few days, unless I decide to eat out somewhere that provides a connection at some point, but I'll be back on Saturday morning to tell you how the week went. I'll have had another day at college and hopefully three more productive days at work (last week really was a little special where work was concerned) and there will also be that small matter of me having just moved out of one house and into another.

I'll see you at the weekend if not before.

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Stevie

Off to the cave for one last time.

1036

Lunarer
November 10th, 2017, 07:57 AM
Wednesday, November 08th 2017 (Answering the Phone in Record Time)


I can lose track of the days sometimes. I hadn't even remembered about my daughter's birthday over the weekend. It's not as if there was ever a likelihood of me seeing her or in any way being in contact with her but I think it's nice just to think about her, acknowledge her and another year reached. She's fifteen now. She was five, going on six, when I last saw her. Family is the one thing I have noticed no improvement in since I got sober. It's actually got a lot worse. I rarely see any of my family now. Even my nieces who I once upon a time saw multiple times a week I now haven't seen since August when I went with them and mum to the market at St. Andrews back in early August. It's been more than three months again already – something which would have seemed ludicrous any year apart from this one but now seems normal. The next chance I have of seeing them will be Christmas day. Six weeks or so is not long to wait when you've been waiting all year.

For a few days I've been thinking about Paul's admission of being diagnosed as diabetic on the Ryver site. When I was at my home group the other week Stu said that he had been warned that there was a risk of this to himself and had been urged by the doctors to make some changes in his diet. I wish both of these guys, and everyone else, the best, but in keeping with this journal's tendency to look at little else other than Stevie and what he is doing/thinking/etcetera, becoming lost in a sea of self-infatuation and so on, I must comment on what this means for me.

My mum and her partner are both Type 2. When I reach three years sober I am to be quitting refined sugar. This doesn't mean doing what Stu is doing in taking the unrefined stuff in its place. No. It means abstaining from sugar in almost all cases (we're talking about no eating bread here) and getting any sugars I might need from more natural sources. Some people I have spoken to have said that they think I'm going mad with all the quitting but I know it's for the best. The reason I am leaving it until my third anniversary from quitting the booze is that this date has worked for me in the time since, me quitting drugs on my one year anniversary and cigarettes and antidepressants on my second. So for the third it will be this latest destructive habit. This date has worked for me three times now – it will work again.

Just doing these three things alone – quitting drinking, drugs, and smoking – has worked wonders for me looking after myself these last three years and so taking care of myself, being good to Stevie, is not something I am completely new to. The walking I have been doing this year must be kept up as well. It is something that others feel is unnecessary (I'm sure that some even think it a little weird actually) but is something I want to continue with into the new year and beyond. November hasn't been the best month for exercise so far but there's time.

There will be other quits once this sugar one is as established as the smoking one currently is and I can see red meat being the next. I would like to add coffee to the list of things I no longer do. After that each February 07th I will be making a point in starting something new, something healthy, since there won't be many things left I need to quit. The red meat will require a quite drastic change of diet but not as much as the coming sugar one will. As soon as 2017 comes to a close and 2018 dawns I will be starting to prepare for this coming change. I'll be ditching sugar in certain places and dropping my intake gradually. Last January I changed up my tobacco brand to a quite nasty cheap one I didn't like and while I got used to it eventually I never did view smoking as something enjoyable again, not that ''enjoyable'' could ever really be used to describe the habit of inhaling toxic smoke down my throat and into my lungs.

It was a change though. A different brand and smoked left handed where possible. Change up the routine. Make smoking awkward. I have no idea if any of that stuff helped or not but I've stopped smoking for a while now without ever having thoughts of a relapse and without using any nicotine replacement at all.

Quitting sugar will help but it is not all that is to be considered when trying to avoid diabetes and other similar health problems. I'll be forty in. . . let me see . . . 169 days, and that day will instantly put me into a whole bunch of danger zones I'll never have been in before. Suddenly all manner of health problems start to blip on the radar. All this starting to care about myself is coming at the right time.

Of course, the fact that my mother is diabetic puts me six times more likely to have it at some point in the future than if no one in my family did, and so I do realise that it doesn't really matter what we do – sometimes luck just comes in and dictates. Having spoken with Lindsay about this she does point out that the things I've just mentioned (keeping weight healthy; eating well; keeping fit) is all I can really do. I guess it's up to me to do them then.

So this is to be my second last full day in the cave before I pack up and leave on Friday. I have work first and so I'll be out for most of the day and when I return there won't be much happening. I would say that tomorrow evening will be different as I could make way for English Sara's and then to the AA meeting just a couple of hundred yards from her house but I won't. That meeting is at the wrong time. Half past nine is too late a finishing time on cold nights like these if you don't have transport. So I may go visit English Sara and Dennis this evening. Dennis will be seventy years old next week. I'll pop in this evening to wish them well.

Things will be different from now on but I'll still be able to pop in and pay my respects to English Sara and Dennis, and Gillon too. It's just that I'll be getting the bus back to another town after this week and there won't be this little haven of mine to escape to just down the road. It's good for me to keep visiting with friends though, people who were there for me when I was struggling the most, and I know that Sara likes me coming round.

I just need to reconnect with my brother somehow. It's terrible what's happened there. Now that I am leaving for another town it makes things like future baby-sitting of the nieces more difficult because I can't just walk home afterwards (actually I could because I've been getting used to walking between this town and the next, but it's less practical at late times of night).

Christmas is on its way, slowly but surely, and so we'll see if there are any family connections built around then, fake as they may be.

Fro now it is work. Barry the Bullet answered his phone in record time this morning and so I have no doubts he will be at the meeting point.

I'd do well to get myself there too.

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Stevie

Off to work.

1341

Lunarer
November 10th, 2017, 07:58 AM
Thursday, November 09th 2017 (One Final Night)


One week from tonight I'll be in Glasgow at the Barrowlands to watch Opeth blitzing through a set list. It'll be awesome. It'll be one of the last trips out of Fife of the year, not counting trips to Christmas markets and so on next month – I think we're planning on going to Dundee and (of course) Edinburgh in the weeks before Christmas. Next year there are already a bunch of trips planned and many of them to shows. We have Strictly Come Dancing in February, Russell Brand in April, and Wicked in May, not to mention a week in Fuerteventura for my fortieth birthday from the 20th to the 27th of April.

It's all money, of course, but I've done really well in saving this year. Quitting smoking has definitely helped. It's at the stage where I wonder why the fuck I even did it to begin with. I have also kept up taking lunches into college and a flask of coffee so as to not have to pay rip-off prices at the Starbucks on campus. This all leaves me with a few extra quid at the end of each week, providing that I put some effort into working. Lindsay transferred money from her Paypal account and into her bank so we have money coming in from all angles at the moment. She sold a few things online recently and has greatly helped her cause. I think that with her not being at placement for a long time now and me juggling college and work she has felt a little guilty at not bringing in something to the household. I like that. She wants to contribute.

That's not what I want to talk about this evening though. I usually write in the mornings these days but I wanted to leave it until now to write today's entry, although it won't find you until tomorrow evening, since I hand my keys into the council office tomorrow at some point and it's that which has been dominating my thoughts all day. Regrets? You betcha! Doubt about giving up this cave, what has essentially been my home for around four years now? Of course - in the same we we always wonder what else might have been on the eve of whatever big life change we might be headed into. A big part of me keeps thinking that with the money I made last week I might be able to keep this place going for another while. I could use some of the cash to get a grow tent up and running and start selling weed from here to get Lindsay and I some money put away.

It's all possible. The keys haven't been handed in yet. It's not going to happen though. I'll be moving on from this place tonight. I will go without a struggle. I've arranged with Gillon to take the last of my things to his place tomorrow morning and then collect them once I'm finished at work. Finally, then, I will be off to start my new life.

There is another concern for me though. Lindsay's son currently lives with his grandmother. Much like myself, Lindsay was not one of those alcoholics who could keep a hold of a job, house, car, and family, and so part of her rebuilding process is trying to get these things back (besides the car – Lindsay has never driven), but you know what I'm saying? She's trying to get her son back staying with her. This is potentially a problem.

He'll be fifteen at the end of the month. His father was an alcoholic who died when the boy was seven. He witnessed another of Lindsay's partners beating her (a guy she met in AA, funnily enough). He left to stay with his grandmother after Lindsay had another of her dodgy drinking binges. This grandmother – the mother of the father who died from a drug-induced heart attack when he was twenty seven – has not been able to work with him in getting to school and last year his attendance dropped below fifty per cent. This term it is zero. Yep – his final school year and he hasn't been in at all. The school say that his chances of sitting exams are as low as his attendance. The only hope he has is salvaging some units and core skills but forget about exams.

Things have got much worse since he moved in with his grandmother. His behaviour has become appalling too. It's not uncommon for him to steal his grandmother's bank card and withdraw large sums of money or purchase online with it. There's a thing ongoing where he's been bullying online a younger kid (although I don't know what happened to the whole ''Sticks and Stones'' thing – it seems as though you only have to call someone a name on social media these days for it to be considered bullying whereas I remember the days when bullying involved physical injury and damage to ones belongings). Needless to say his grandmother does not in anyway discipline him and so he pretty much runs the show.

Due to the disaster that has been his time at his grandmother's the social workers are now pushing for him to be removed from her ''care'' and on the phone earlier Lindsay tells me that she was asked how it would feel to have him come back to stay with her. The next hearing is on December 15th. Residential schooling and foster care is one option but another is being asked to go stay with his mother again. I had thought that Lindsay would jump at the chance.

Something has changed though. She's managed to create for herself a stable ship. I am constantly looking at my own progress in two and a half years of being sober but Lindsay has made great progress too. And she knows it. She says that if her son is to finally meet me then it should be something we will have to talk about first, not something that can just be forced on us because the social work department and courts now acknowledge that they have aided in creating a boy with less chance of a normal life than before he moved out of Lindsay's care. When she talks about social work it is easy to hear resentment in her voice. I get it – my own experience of social work is poor. They are almost always made up of female workers who qualified back in the stone age and who come across as being motivated by some personal agenda and not for the greater good of the family involved.

Waves are being made. The option of him returning to live with his mother the day before I hand the keys to the cave into the council office and give up my tenancy is interesting. It'll just be another challenge when it does happen, which may not be any time soon. The thought of having a fifteen year old lazing around the house all day, not going to school or leaving the house, not bothering to look for work or anything for the next few years, is daunting. Someone who could potentially steal the bank card during the night as we sleep and spend all of our savings for the holiday? It's difficult to know how I would handle it. I've been there before but I don't know what sort of pressure it would put onto an otherwise calm environment.

But anyway. Tonight is my final night here. Tomorrow will be busy and will end with me boarding a bus through to the next town, the town that will from then on be considered home.

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One final night.

1310

Lunarer
November 10th, 2017, 08:01 AM
Friday, November 10th 2017 (Other Peoples' Shows)


I'm still in the cave. This will be my last post here. I wrote all of my posts here in the old journal until my internet was finally cut off and I was forced outside. It's got to the stage now where I am glad to be leaving. I'm looking forward to getting on with shaping my new life. I have lots to look forward to with Lindsay, so I do. When I think about what life in this cave has been like in the fifty months I've been here, especially that period between the winter of 2013/14 to the time I sobered up and stopped smoking weed, it really is a completely different world now, a completely different internal world, and so it is fitting that a completely different external world should accompany it. This is exactly what appears to be happening.

This week I have been joined by Barry the Bullet but he won't be out with me this morning for every second Friday is when he uses a government pen to sign his name on the dotted line at the job centre. I'll be out there on my own. This week we have not come close to hitting the heights I did while working solo last week. On Wednesday this week we started at half past ten after complications with Barry's bus and a fuck up. We ended up doing less properties than I managed on my own a week ago on Wednesday. Yesterday had a similar feel to it and we struggled to get going, especially in the afternoon. It's getting much colder now. The mornings are okay but after lunchtime it can get a little on the chilly side.

This morning I am going to get some work done but I also have one or two things to do today as well, things I'll have to finish work early for. One of them is obviously to go to the council office to hand these keys in and sign away my rights to live in this cave. The other is a trip to the college. I have to finish off and print off some interview questions for Lindsay that I thought I had taken a copy of but haven't. I'll need them for Saturday when we go to the hospital canteen to do our interview for my college project. I have to interview three people about a subject of my choice and I'm using the NHS as my common theme. Lindsay is doing the ''On Site'' interview and giving the student's perspective of NHS; mum is coming into the college on Monday morning to do the ''Studio'' interview and give the experienced employee perspective; and Gillon will be answering his phone when I call him from the college phone on Monday morning to do the ''Phone'' interview and give the patient's perspective of the NHS. These three interviews combined will make up my Assessed Show 3.

I managed Assessed Show 1 weeks ago and did Assessed Show 2 – the pre-recorded one I did with a 60's theme – the other week and it passed and aired on the radio last Tuesday, and I completed Assessed Show 4 (record a live show while interacting with social media) on Tuesday this week. These interviews mean that I will have completed the four Assessed Shows. Besides them there are two practical tasks which I've already done as well as three podcasts which will be the next things on the college To-Do list – the only things left to do in the first semester. I'm way ahead of the game and looking forward to what I can perhaps get up to once I've done all of this stuff to hone my skills. Some extra time in the studio would be nice. We'll have to wait and see how it plays out once I complete all of these tasks.

The lecturer carries around a large external hard-drive and once an assessed show or practical project has been passed and signed off her will being it round to us and have us copy our projects onto this drive, likely for use for the Scottish Qualifications Authority but also probably so that they can demonstrate our work to local radio stations when they come asking for samples of what the local new talent can do. The last time I was asked to put something onto this drive it took a while loading up and someone else needed the lecturer's attention. I find myself sitting with the drive hooked up to my workstation. When it loads up and I have uploaded y project into the relevant section I notice a large number of my peers' names sitting there. I sneakily copy onto my own little drive their work so that I can get a little listen in on the competition.

So the other night, while I'm lying on my sleeping bag on the floor, I am listening in on the other projects done by class members and I have to say that the quality is very mixed. I think that it's no surprise to find that those who mess around the most tend to do all of the things in their shows that we are told not to do and miss out many of the things we are supposed to. I have to continue to keep my own standards higher than this competition although I have yet to get copies of those I consider to be the better students. Then I will know what I'm up against. I have to say, though, that the competition is nothing too startling from what I've heard so far.

So today I have a few things planned. I will be heading out for a solo morning mission cleaning windows. I will then be heading to Gillon's with my bag to leave at his until I am ready to go to Lindsay's tonight. Then it's to the college to copy what I need for my interview over the weekend before heading to the council office to hand in the keys to the cave. Then a debt-collecting mission this evening, pick up the bag of tricks from Gillon's and catch the bus to my new home.

All in a day's work.

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Posted at the cafe in the town centre at lunchtime.

1062

Lunarer
November 11th, 2017, 04:13 AM
Saturday, November 11th 2017 (Six Weekends)


Ah, good morning! How nice of you to join me on this wonderful Saturday morning – the best morning of the week. I am now living with Lindsay officially. It was pretty hectic yesterday and I could feel the regret and fear and uncertainty and doubt when I was handing the keys over to the woman at the council office. It's done now though. I now live with Lindsay and have no independent cave in the other town the town I work in and attend college in.

We're getting rather short on weekends left of 2017. Christmas is looming now. Shops are beginning to really get in the mood for it and while I am still to hear a festive song on the radio I know that they will be on their way. To put it into perspective it will be the 23rd of December exactly six weeks from today.

Last weekend we were in Edinburgh watching that god (of my understanding) awful Jigsaw movie and having some dinner, looking around the shops, just getting out of Fife for a while. It was good. The weekend before that Lindsay and I booked our trip for my fortieth next year and went to the church closest to us on Sunday morning. THREE weekends ago I shared at the top table at a meeting I'd never been to before; went to Dundee with Lindsay, and went to church with Robert from AA. FOUR weekends ago we had the removal van booked and used it to get all of my stuff from the cave into the spare room. We went to an AA meeting where a huge argument broke out, went to St. Andrews on the Sunday, and I went to my old home group in the evening – the first time I'd been there for over a year. FIVE weekends ago I spent the Saturday with Lindsay in Barcelona and spent the Sunday lounging by the poolside as we enjoyed our last day in Spain. SIX weeks ago we were counting down the hours until our plane took off and I went to the local AA meeting where I bumped into someone I know outside of the rooms. SEVEN weekends ago. . .I can't really remember, plus – I named this post ''Six Weekends'' and so to add a seventh would be unnecessary. Moving on. . .

It makes it feel as though there is still a lot of time to get ready for this festive break but I know how these things can sneak up on us. Six weeks ago I was leaving for Spain – six weeks from now and it will be the 23rd of December. We'll be back in Edinburgh for the Christmas Market. It'll be fucking freezing!! (although it's getting there already.) I also know that the magic of Christmas is in the build up and so the fun actually starts in around three weeks from now and dies out around the time I'm speaking about, six weekends from now. What I will be doing for Christmas is as yet unknown. Will I be seeing my brother and the nieces? Who knows? Will I see my mother over this period? Again, I don't know.

The Metallica tickets fiasco was pretty telling. While it is true that getting our money back through selling tickets we had purchased was handy it was not as if we would have starved had it not happened. I know that one of the main motivators in me trying to get rid of them was that I still did not feel ready to speak with my brother. Not like that. Not just being forced together through some planned event. It would feel too awkward. For me anyway. When these tickets were purchased months ago I had no idea that I would not hear a peep from my brother or sister-in-law since March. I had figured that by the time this gig arrived we would be back on speaking terms. It's not as if we're not on speaking terms – no one has done or said anything ot upset the other, that I am aware of – it's just that we don't communicate any longer. I saw my nieces back in August but haven't spoken with Gary other than the odd meaningless Facebook communication since March, around eight months ago. Almost as long as I've been quit smoking for.

So is it fucked up that I got the four of us (Gary, Scottish Sarah, Lindsay, and myself) tickets to see Russell Brand for April 10th? I figured it would be a decent Christmas present but I wonder if I might be risking the same things happening again. Perhaps Christmas can show me once and for all that it really does have the power to unite family and bring about good will to all men and use it to find a way of communicating with this part of my family in plenty time for this event. Just a little over six weekends and we will know.

I have to admit that I am looking forward to Christmas already because of e greater likelihood of me spending some time with my nieces. Again – there are Facebook things galore to look at, Scottish Sarah seems to use social networking as some kind of platform to show them off as though they are little glittery toys that she has made, but it all seems so meaningless. I can see clearly now why some people feel that social media has alienated people rather than connect them. It does the opposite of what it says on the tin. It makes it easy to not bother connecting. I could quite easily try to convince myself that I do have a connection with my nieces by following them on Facebook. There would be no connection though, which is my big problem in life.

Lindsay and I will be heading to the hospital at some point over the weekend to record our interview for my college show so that should be fun. Mum is coming into the college on Monday so I'm looking forward to that too. It's the international break for the final round of world cup qualification and so there is a diminished football program this weekend but when it returns next Saturday we will be hitting that lovely congested festive fixture list.

By that time there will only be five weekends left.

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Stevie

Counting down the weekends till he sees his nieces.

1096

Lunarer
November 12th, 2017, 03:49 AM
Sunday, November 12th 2017 (Families)


It's often tough knowing how best to stop this journal from sounding too repetitive. There are only so many things I can really write about as there are only so many things a Stevie can get up to in a week. There's the newly established routine of going to college on Monday and Tuesday while working Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The weekends I like to keep routine based also.

This weekend has been good so far. Work through the week managed to afford me the privilege of being able to contribute another one hundred bucks into our holiday fund for next year's trip to the Canary Islands for my fortieth in April and so that leaves us with a little over four hundred to pay. I went for what has become my usual morning trip to the Golden Bite for a full Scottish breakfast and got a few supplies in. I am happy to say that the town centre does not yet reek of Christmas desperation with only a select few retailers having trees in their windows. I love the season but it's still far too early yet for it to be motivated by anything other than human greed and desperation at this stage. I did notice that on the 25th November – two weekends from now – there is a little something happening to help us get in the mood. Online it says this:

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Saturday 25th November. Collect your lanterns from 3.00pm. The parade starts at 4.30pm outside the Mercat’s main doors on the High Street – and finishes in the Town Square where there will be a special performance of Christmas song ‘Bringing The Light’ – followed by a magnificent firework display. The Christmas lights will also be switched on. Free glow sticks and LED tea lights will be handed out – but supplies will be limited so get there early!
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I think we are to be going to that. It will not be as advertised. It'll likely be quite tame, but I'm sure that there will be plenty of people there.

Lindsay and I last night went out to dinner with her brother and his wife. Oh – and their little boy who's gonna turn three soon. Although I've been with Lindsay now for way over a year I have yet to bond in any meaningful way with any of her family. I know – I attend sessions with a clinical psychologist for this very reason, I can't connect with people due to my defensive schema modes, but to be honest I just haven't seen all that much of them in the time I've had this connection to their family. Things went pretty well I thought and her brother plays ice hockey in the league on Saturday nights. I decided to fire along and watch.

This town I now live in is infinitely more interesting than the one I just left and especially when it comes to sports. Not only do we have here a professional football team but we also have Fife's premier ice hockey team as well. I arrive just after face-off, around quarter to eleven at night. The first thing I see is someone I know from Restoration going around and cleaning up after all of the fans who were here earlier to watch the pros in action. He started working at the Ice Arena a few weeks ago and admits that there are much worse things he could be doing on a Saturday night. I think it's great when anyone from Restoration finds work and sticks to it. Sitting around in ''recovery'' is never a viable long term solution for staying sober and clean. When I arrive the score is 2-1 to the guests. By the time I leave it is 14-2 to the guests. Lindsay's brother's team are destroyed. Maybe I am a jinx.

I haven't been getting rapid enough responses from the sound production students and so my ideas of involving them in my podcasts are waning. I think that instead I am going to record much longer interviews about the NHS and use some of the recordings for my Assessed Show 4 interviews and the rest for the podcasts. Killing two birds with one stone, as it were. In this way I can be finished all of the Semester One work by the end of this coming week, maybe next week at a push and if I want to put a lot of work into getting the best out of it as I can, which I do, so we'll go with habding in the podcats around Monday, November 27th at the latest. I'll have the first semester in the bag three weeks before everything is due in and eight weeks before the official end of that period.

Lindsay and I are at the hospital yesterday afternoon to conduct her interview and I notice my old sponsor sitting at one of the tables across from us. There are no indications he has seen us. Towards the end his partner arrives and they get up and head to the little shop inside the hospital grounds. They don't seem very close. When they head into the shop it is Stu who leads and he swans around the isles while she saunters behind. They are a strange couple indeed. I guess Lindsay and I are too.

In order to turn my interview ideas into a podcast mini-series to fit the college brief I will have to do a little more than just record a couple of interviews and so I am currently thinking of things to do to help create thirty minutes' worth of usable recorded output. After the ice rink I pop along to A & E, hoping to get into the thick of some juicy stories and get some atmosphere recorded. Alas – things have changed in Accident and Emergency. The place is dead, even though this is just before midnight on a Saturday night. There is a new structure in place that helps things run more smoothly.

I was on Facebook earlier and saw that my brother was online. I decided to ask him if he was free for an interview. He wants me to call him tomorrow afternoon. He finishes our mini ''conversation'' by asking what my year has been like.

Gary – ''My timetable is making mine suck. 6 classes first term but only 2 2nd. So badly organised. Would arrange a catch up. Feels like I've seen no one for many weeks.''

I don't know if this is what Dr. Bacon would perhaps consider to be the equivalent of my brother reaching out but I decide to jump on it. We'll speak more on the phone tomorrow when I call him from the college studio.

Things are looking good.

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Stevie

Enjoying his weekend thus far.

1150

Lunarer
November 13th, 2017, 01:34 AM
Monday, November 13th 2017 (Favourite Pastimes)


It's going to be an interesting day at college today. First thing I'll be handing in my Assessed Show 3 – the one I recorded last week where I had to do a live show while demonstrating that I could use social media and interact with it while presenting – and then at half past nine Gillon is expecting a call from me from the college studio to go about a little interview for my coming podcast and Assessed Show 4. Around half past ten my mum is coming into the college to do an interview as well and then in the afternoon I am speaking with my brother, also from the studio phone, about his experience of the NHS and the service it provides. After today I will be much further on with my assignments than I am at the moment. That is the plan anyway.

It's also going to be the first time I will have spoken with my mum in over three months and the first time with my brother (not counting superficial and relatively meaningless social media ''conversations'') since March time. I've also seen a lot more from Gillon in the last couple of weeks – largely due to the fact that me moving away from the area has filled me with concern about not seeing anyone – and so this has been good. I haven't seen English Sara and Dennis for a while either and so there is a good chance that I will do that once college finishes for the day. They stay pretty close to the college and will also have some things to say about the NHS so I will go armed with my little digital voice recorder and ask if there are any things they want to say.

The Assessed Show with the interviews will be easy. I'll have enough good footage after today given Lindsay's interview at the weekend and after speaking with Gary and mum. Gillon and English Sara and Dennis will go towards the podcast, as will extra footage from the others I don't use for the Assessed Show. Since I have the software at home and on this very laptop I can spend some serious time next weekend ensuring that I get the editing process to as high a standard as I can. By this time next week I hope to have several minutes of my podcast polished and sounding as they currently do in the confines of my head.

I have to make a couple of appointments actually. I could do with making one for the GP and one for an eyesight test at my local Specsavers. I plan on recording my interactions with both while making these appointments this week to use as potential footage for my podcast as they will go some way to talking about waiting times at the NHS – one of the big criticisms of it in the last few years. It will also show how friendly and helpful staff can be as well as give me the chance of getting a few questions in there in the hope of getting some good answers I can use for next week's editing session.

I've been away from my cave now for only three days but the thought of heading to the next town and not having anywhere to call home is still awkward. I feel a little naked in that town now. It'll take a bit of getting used to. Those days when the weather is bad and I'm feeling tired I will have no option but to grin and bear it and get on the bus back to Lindsay's rather than taking that once easy option of being able to take the short trip up the road to the comfort of the cave and lay my head for the night. I think this will prove to be a good thing though. I feel as though there was something about that cave that brought out the very worst in me. For whatever reason I could not find ways to care about myself as much when in there as I do now that I am out. I found it more difficult to do the simple self care practices that are essentially the cornerstone of any respectable sobriety.

I can imagine that after today I will be seeing my nieces again soon. Assuming that my brother answers his phone when I call him from the college studio, which I am sure he will, then we'll arrange something for the very near future and I'll be paying them a visit. That is something I can really look forward to. Lindsay and I don't spend enough time with our families. She sees her brother once every now and then and it's been pretty bad between my own brother and me for the best part of eight months now. The night I moved in with Lindsay (Friday just passed) she had bumped into someone she knows and had ended up going back to her house for coffee and chat. This is a good thing too as Lindsay doesn't spend enough time with friends. We met these guys at a wedding over the summer and had said that we'd visit them since finding out that they stay just around the corner but never got around to it. We have both been invited next Saturday night and so I'm up for that. Socialising. It's not my favourite pastime but I am beginning to see how doing it every now and then can have tremendous benefits for our mental health and wellbeing.

Our once good AA friend Ann has also been in touch with Lindsay. She acted as something of a matchmaker with us last year when we started dating and Lindsay and I used to visit Ann for dinner every so often. Ann is in the process of patching things up with her ex-husband and so that's where she's been hiding.

Apparently she has not been hiding at all though. She had been to AA meetings and is very active in SMART Recovery and so on and so forth for the last few months. I'm almost surprised that I haven't bumped into her but then I remember that it is actually I who has not been attending these things. I was at an AA meeting in Dundee (not a local meeting for Fifer's like myself) a few weekends ago but before that it has been a while, especially since I was at a meeting locally. I have also not been to a SMART meeting for several months, not that it's my thing.

I won't be going to the usual (or what used to be ''usual'' anyway) Saturday night AA meeting if Lindsay and I are to be visiting with friends next weekend.

But I promise the weekend after that.

If going to watch the Christmas lights get turned on doesn't get in the way.

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Stevie

Trying to get into socialising more often.

1177

Lunarer
November 14th, 2017, 01:30 AM
Tuesday, November 14th 2017 (Day of Interviews)


Speaking of socialising – which I was yesterday in this journal – it looks as though there are going to be two Christmas nights out. There will be the one with Restoration where we go for a buffet at a local restaurant, this will take place (or is at the moment scheduled to at least) on December 14th (four weeks on Thursday) in the afternoon meaning that I will miss work for a bit, which is fine for Christmas dinner. The other is a college night out which will be happening (as things stand but will likely change) on December 09th (three weeks on Saturday) and so there is lots to look forward to. Nights out socialising with fellow radio students and afternoon buffets bantering with fellow alcoholics. It's all good Christmassy fun.

I notice that the calendar is filling up a little. Having friends and a partner tend to make things a little more interesting. I remember Decembers gone by, and not too long ago actually, when there was nothing happening from the 01st right up until the 25th and even then there were a couple of years when I ''decided'' that I could not face the world. I'd been like a little drunken hamster and hoarded food and drink and cigarettes and weed for the month so that I need not leave the cave for the entire festive period. Then I would ride it out and hope that I came out at the other end with as little emotional scarring as possible. This way is much better. We have an Opeth gig in Glasgow on Thursday night and then a bunch of Christmas things happening next month including two nights out and a trip to take part in the turning on of the town's Christmas lights.

Yesterday I was connecting with people through face-to-face interactions and over the college studio telephone motivated by my college assignments which have seen me seek out people's opinions on the National Health Service and telling me about their experiences of it. I had mum come into the studio to do an interviews since she has been a nurse on the front line for more than thirty years and I spoke with my brother – actually exchanged words spoken and not written – for the first time in months. I also spoke with Gillon, English Sara and Old Dennis. It was a day of communication and connection. Dr. Bacon would have been proud. In fact – he will be when I meet with him for our next session a week on Thursday!

Mum knows her stuff. I'll happily concede that, and I got some really good comments and answers from her. Thirty years of working for the Health Board has given her some very interesting insights into the changes in nursing practices over the past three decades. Her experiences working in Al Ain – a little town not far from Dubai out in the United Arab Emirates – gave her insights into not just what we do differently here in terms of nursing, but also how different we are culturally. She reckons that people in the Emirates recover more quickly, or at least did back when she worked there in 2001 – 2003, due not just to the quality of nursing but also because of family participation. She says that in the UK we seem to be too busy to look after our families and our older generations grow old alone and isolated. That this is not the case in the UAE. They get involved. It's much more relaxed and they benefit from this approach.

I think Gary is struggling at university. This is the first of me getting to speak with my brother in months and this shows no sign of letting up over the next two weeks. He's swamped with work at the moment and feels like life has consisted of nothing but university work for the last three months. I'm two years below him in the educational hierarchy and couldn't imagine having an easier time. Shows what a jump in level the years will turn out to be. I had better get used to working as I am at the moment – keeping myself ahead of the game. He breaks off for the Christmas holidays on the 01st December so we're going to work something out for around that time. At the moment he seems to barely have enough time for his family. What was it that mum was saying earlier about the people of Dubai!? Short term effort for long term gain, I guess.

Today I will begin the editing process. Which parts of these interviews do I want to keep for my podcast series and which will I use as my Assessed Show 4 interviews? Assessed Show 4 will be completed this afternoon and submitted. That'll be all four of them done and dusted leaving only the podcast work to do. This I will put much work into over the coming weekend. I think that Lindsay and I are going to be taking it easy this weekend so as not to spend. We've been busy in recent weeks so a chilled out couple of days will do us good. I can work on the spare room, work on things that have been neglected this week. I haven't been on a decent walk for a while either. I haven't really walked much at all since returning from Spain last month. I should get out there and put the steps in this coming weekend, just to get back into it a little. Don't let's get complacent now.

I still feel as though I will need more for my podcast series. I need half an hour worth of material and much of what I already have will be edited and chopped up, shortened and culled. I'll need more. I think I'm going to go to Accident and Emergency and get as close to the front line as I can get my little digital recorder. There's only one real way of going about that. I'll have to go in as a patient. If it's not busy I will suddenly develop chest pains and go have them checked out. I won't be putting anyone at risk by doing this. I'll get a chest X-Ray and will get to know how my health is. It might be a little irresponsible to take up the time of a nurse and facilities that wouldn't be just sitting around idle – they'd still have plenty to be getting on with – but if it's quiet then I don't have a problem with getting a little once-over. I'll be forty in less than six months so a heart scan and blood pressure test would do nicely, thank you.

Anyway – back on with it. I had better get running for this bus.

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Stevie

Running for the bus.

1165

Lunarer
November 15th, 2017, 01:12 AM
Wednesday, November 15th 2017 (His Presence)


If it wasn't so damned cold then this idea of going out and cleaning windows wouldn't be too terrifying and quite so altogether undesirable. As it stands we've seen a rather large reduction in the number of good degrees in the air over the weekend and into this week and a huge increase in the number of bad degrees. It's getting colder on the hands now. This is the sixth last week before we break off for a fortnight of festive fun and frolics and I will have to man up and bear some pain if I want to feel as though I have earned them when they do arrive, which I do, so I am grateful that Barry the Bullet has answered the call and is willing to accompany me this crisp Wednesday morning.

There is still four hundred and forty quid to pay for next year's trip for my birthday and the last three weeks I have been paying one hundred quid off my earnings from window cleaning from the Wednesday to the Friday. This week is colder and I know that coming home with money on the Friday evening will become more and more difficult as the weeks pass by with darker nights stepping in and weather depreciating constantly but I hope to get through each week between now and the Christmas break. This is the start of the fifth last week of window cleaning and so I should be able to pay off the holiday by just doing as I'm doing. There should be a couple of weeks left over and this can go towards the Christmas fund. I think I'm doing okay in terms of Christmas planning. Much better than in previous years anyway.

We're not quite reaching freezing temperatures during the daytimes yet. Overnight, yes, it goes below zero, but during the day it is still kicking around three to seven degrees and so I am hoping that this year will be a little on the mild side. Last Thursday I could feel the pain in the hands when we were finishing up at around a quarter past four and it was starting to get dark. The pain is coming. It's not here yet though. The news is saying that we are to expect the worst winter since 2012 but this is likely just bullshit. It's to create a panic-buying mentality.

I've been looking through a couple of AA books recently, preferring them to the actual meetings these days (I do plan on getting myself to that Saturday night meeting again at some point very soon but it won't be this weekend or next, definitely the one after that), and the Daily Reflections book is this morning talking about meditation. It says this:

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Step Eleven doesn't have to overwhelm me. Conscious contact with God can be simple, and as profound, as conscious contact with another human being. I can smile. I can listen. I can forgive. Every encounter with another is an opportunity for prayer, for acknowledging God's presence within me.
Today I can being myself a little closer to my Higher Power. The more I choose to seek the beauty of God's work in other people, the more certain of His presence I will become.
''

What does this mean, exactly? They say all the time in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous that God speaks through people. I guess that this little reading is reminding me of this. How do I get on with my fellow men and women? Do I feel connected to them any more now than I ever have? I don't just mean in terms of Lindsay and that kind of connection. I mean in general. Do I feel more as though I am a part of my community? Like I have a place here? Like I fit in any better? Working with Dr. Bacon is supposed to be showing me all of the ways in which a healthy adult would get on in the world, and to some extent it is working, but I don't feel as though I am anywhere close to being fully there yet.

I am still drawn to the ideas of meditation. I always considered it to be AA practice for those a little more advanced than I was. Those who had a few years of sobriety behind them and who were in advanced stages of recovery chose to start meditation as a means of deepening their connection with their Higher Power. I have to also admit that while I used to think about my own Higher Power often and try to figure it out, get to know its essence, try to understand the concept, I don't give it my every thought now. There are days go by when I don't even think about the ideas of a Higher Power at all.

I do like the ideas though. In terms of keeping things calm I can think of no better way. It doesn't work just to use this as a tool for when I feel stressed and agitated – restless, irritable, and discontent – but it is more a case of if you practice these methods regularly then the odds of you ever getting agitated and angry are on the decrease. You can never stifle human nature but you can point it in the direction you wish for it to travel.

Rather than throw myself into hours of meditation I quite like the ideas of people acting as spiritual guidance. Every meeting with another human being is a chance for me to feel the work of a Higher Power. That's pretty cool. Rather than sit thinking about it here though, it would be better if I could pause for a moment to remind myself of this while I am in a social situation later on in the day. That is my mission for this cold but relatively sunny day: try to acknowledge His presence at some point throughout the day, especially when other people are present.

With that in mind I will go and prepare my lunch and flask for the day. I plan on getting started at a decent time and hope that Barry the Bullet can meet me there. It's getting to the stage where we can't really work after ten past four as it just gets too dark. The mornings are still light but even this will be changing very soon.

I don't know if darkness makes His presence more difficult to feel.

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Stevie

Searching for His presence.

1104

Lunarer
November 16th, 2017, 01:21 AM
Thursday, November 16th 2017 (Opeth Day)


Today should officially be known as Opeth Day. It is in my little world anyway. Only one more shift to work in the cold before we are off to watch this most special of bands at a world famous venue that for all of the acts I've seen over the years have yet to set foot in. 2017 keeps ticking off all the right boxes. Long may it continue but we are starting to run out of weeks now. For someone who has watched Pink Floyd perform Comfortably Numb live; Van Morrison singing Have I Told You Lately?; Michael Jackson performing Thriller; U2 playing One; R.E.M performing Losing my Religion; and Elton John singing Your Song – I think it's about time I added Ghost of Perdition performed by Opeth to the list. I know that some people might think that this is a silly little addition to an otherwise quite interesting list but that just shows what little they know about music. Opeth are as sophisticated as any of those mentioned above, and perhaps then some.

First things first I have to go and pick up a hire car. A2B Van Hire were great the last time when we rented the van for moving my stuff from the long forgotten cave (this is now the sixth day away from there) and so we'll go with them again. Dealing with alcoholics is never easy and I've had to make a few changes this time to ensure that renting a vehicle is possible. For a start – my driver's license had an out of date photograph and address on it. For some reason the company chose to overlook this and rented their van out to us anyway. This time everything is above board and legal. The only issue I can see is that it is not my own bank card that is paying for it and so Lindsay is coming with me so that she can sign off for it. We were fine the last time and I'm sure we'll be fine this. I'll be working for a few hours and then we'll be driving off to Glasgow for a night of metal fun. I'm getting a little long in the tooth for these kind of mad nights so I intend to soak this one up.

Lindsay has her placement in. She starts on Monday. This will be her last chance of getting the hours needed to graduate – to transition between being a student to actually being a nurse. She'll do four weeks and then will be off for two for the Christmas break. Then she'll return to complete the final (either eight or twelve) weeks until her time is made up. Rather than being on a ward where twelve hour shifts are the norm she is day shift, nine to five (or eight until four) which suits her much better. This feels like it's going to be the placement that carries her over the line. She'll qualify sometime in the first quarter of next year. It's been a long haul but the end is in sight. I'm proud of her. Our little trip abroad for my birthday will also be a celebration of this achievement.

I'm kicking the ass out of the college at the moment. Tomorrow morning I have my auntie coming into the college for an interview for my podcast before I go to work. I'll be late in starting anyway since I'll (hopefully) have a car to return to the A2B Van Hire headquarters. Barry the Bullet can either start without me or come through for work later on and meet me so that we can start together. Personally I would prefer the latter. Having all of the equipment in my sight keeps alive this feeling that I am in control of things work related. I can't get back into the trap of having to rely on Barry showing up so that I can go to work in the mornings. Those days have to be over. These new days see Stevie leading the way, being assertive, and getting things done.

Once this interview has been recorded I will have loads of good stuff to use for a podcast series. Once I get this working week over with I have to get on with editing and creating these things. I am way ahead of the crowd at the moment (and I mean WAY ahead) and will have the first semester completed the moment these three podcasts have been passed by the lecturer. The others will have until January 31st to do theirs (and all of the other assessed projects and shows) but I can't see anyone doing any work over the Christmas period and so before we know it this deadline will be upon us. It's no wonder that Gary is struggling with his university year if he has gone straight from college, where the work ethic is as my peers seem to feel it should be, and then he's thrust into a high demand, high focus environment and told to get on with it.

Assuming all goes well in renting the car we will be at the Barrowlands this evening and from what I can tell by looking through the band's recent set lists from gigs played over the last couple of months (you can easily find these things online) they are to be playing a mixed set but with the emphasis on newer, less growly stuff. It's a quieter set list than I might have wished for in an ideal world but I'll take what I can get at this stage of their career. I guess it's just a part of getting older. They're in their forties now and so the musical horizons are a-changin' for them, as they should be with the fans, but, as is the case with every metal band's fans, some people just don't grow up and want to hear the same stuff they were hearing them play twenty five years ago when they crept onto the scene. I am perhaps somewhat one such fan.

We'll be back late tonight but I'll be up in the morning for a long day of returning the hire car, meeting my auntie for an interview, working in the afternoon and then having a debt-collecting mission in the evening. It might be a couple of days before I speak with you next.

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Stevie

Opeth Day

1084

Lunarer
November 17th, 2017, 02:28 AM
**Friday, November 17th 2017 (The Barrowlands Ballroom)**


It was recently voted the second best small venue in Europe, which is pretty amazing actually, and the best in the UK. This was my first time setting foot in the Barrowlands. It's the most intimate gig I think I've been to that has involved a major band. I could practically see the fillings inside Akerfeldt's teeth. The venue holds just over two thousand standing but I would say that there were around fifteen hundred people there. Opeth are not very commercial (to say the least) and it's rare I ever meet someone who has heard of them, let alone knows any of their stuff. Think Yes, Rush Camel and King Crimson in terms of prog influences and then mash them up with metal influences such as Slayer, Iron Maiden, Celtic Frost and Death, and you kind of get the Opeth sound.

I was taken aback by the average age of the audience. Progressive stuff does tend to attract all of the weird and wonderful but I wasn't expecting so many of those in attendance to be much older than me. I was one of the younger fans there at thirty nine. I was beginning to fear that this might be one of my last of such gigs. You can't be rocking it out in your forties after all. Turns out that you most definitely can.

We had no problems in renting the car (one of the new fiestas) and it did the job. I was a little nervous about driving us through to Glasgow but we managed it with just one or two little hiccups. The satellite navigation took us pretty much directly to the front door but coming back we went a little off course. I have to sometimes remind myself that I am essentially an isolated alcoholic but with a little life experience now and it is good to get thrown in at the deep end sometimes – get a little reminder that if I try to overdo it the world will remind me how big it is and how small I am. Lindsay and I managed to hold it together and we had a good night – something that seems to be happening quite a lot with us recently. Being a bit of a rock chic she has been to the Barrowlands a few times before but this was my first time. She knows her way around and with this being my Christmas present I was happy to let her take me by the hand and lead me into the crowd.

On Wednesday Barry the Bullet and I worked out that it was one hundred days since I had set foot in the Charity Shop Cafe. I used to work there (volunteering) every Friday morning but left after a change of chairperson and management saw the charity turn into a money-orientated business. It was getting further and further away from being a community based service and turning into a money-spinner. Barry and I wondered if I should bite the bullet on this one and go check it out, see if my friends were still working there. In the end we settled for the burger van. Today is day 102 since I set foot in that place.

I think what swung it for me was bumping into one of the other volunteers at the bus station that morning while I was looking for Barry's bus to come in to the stance. This guy is, as so many of the volunteers at the charity shop are, mentally challenged. He's on his way there just now for his shift but he is leaving too. He's hoping to get work at a charity shop down the town centre. The reason? The new management. He then lists people who have either left already or have started making plans to find something else. It seems as though I was the first of many out of the door. I hope it struggles to survive now.

It was English Sara who had got me into thinking about the cafe again when I visited her on Monday night. I don't ever know if Sara means some of the things she comes out with or if she's just spouting for the sake of it but having heard about the unrest from another source I am inclined to believe her. I have to say that I notice every time I visit with her now that English Sara seems a little poorer in health. A little more overweight, a little shorter of breath, a little older looking. I hope she quits smoking soon and takes initiative with her life but I can't really see it if I'm being brutally honest.

So rather than go to the Charity Shop Cafe, Barry and I go to the burger van. It's swarming with school children. I wonder about our future actually, given how some of them seem to be. Were we really this fucked up when we were kids? We probably were but then maybe not. I don't remember my friends ever making such a mess as these guys do – the litter once they have returned to school that has been left lying around is astonishing. We had some respect, even if just a little. Barry reckons it's because they are parented by internet search engines these days rather than real people.

My Critical Parent schema mode is always noticeable when I see schoolchildren together in their droves. This is one mode that Dr. Bacon and I have not spent any real time looking over and so I never know whether to trust it or how to react when it gets started. He did say that it would be quite a tough mode to conquer and so I imagine we'll get better into it at some point. My next session with him is this coming Thursday. It's fortnightly until Christmas after that. When we get into the new year I don't know what will be happening with our appointment schedule but I do think that we'll start doing a lot more of the work I signed up to do. At the moment we are still trying to build awareness and spot patterns. Soon we will be trying to stop these patterns.

This morning I will be returning the car and then my auntie is meeting me at the college for an interview for my podcast. I recorded my Assessed Show 4 on Tuesday afternoon so as long as that passes when I submit it on Monday morning then the podcast series is the only thing I have left to work on as far as college is concerned.

It's seeming awfully like an ''Onwards and Upwards'' type of scenario for our narrator these days.

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Stevie

Still on the ascent.

1147

Lunarer
November 18th, 2017, 02:01 AM
Saturday, November 18th 2017 (People-Watching the People-Watchers)


Thus begins a weekend of relatively little excitement and spending (I hope). I'm looking forward to it. Thank you for joining me.

That's been a week I've been out of the cave now, a week I've been living with Lindsay. It's been good but then one week isn't long enough really to miss the cave. I have to admit to it feeling a little strange not having somewhere to get away to if need be. It can feel a little claustrophobic if I think about it. Best not thinking about it then. Overall though there are no complaints at this earliest of stages. No regrets thus far.

I 'spoke' with AA friend Vanessa on the social media the other night and was asking her how the Tuesday night meeting was getting on. She says that there are a bunch of regulars that haven't been going recently but that this tends to happen a lot – people always come back. I wouldn't be too sure about that, Vanessa. While I often think about popping down to an AA meeting some time soon there always seems to be something more interesting happening when the time comes. She tells me that she had to apologise to Hamish after the meeting for having a go at him from the top table. I think that Vanessa was chairing the meeting and Hamish was doing his usual things where he spouts anger and she has called him on it from the top table. I wonder why, at twelve weeks sober and clean, she is even allowed up at the top table. Guess the meeting is not as 'professional' as I had once figured but I found that out a long time ago. With regards to Hamish – oh dear. I wonder if the term we use ''unfortunates'' might also refer to those of us already sober but just not finding a way to live outside of the rooms.

When on my way through here after collecting last night I was joined by Harry from Restoration who got on the bus with his dog at a stop just outside my former home. He sat next to me and we chatted a little. The Christmas night out will actually be a lunch and has been booked for the 14th December. I will get myself to the church soon to pay my ten pounds. As we are talking it dawns on me how out-of-his-face Harry actually is. I don't know what he's been doing with himself this afternoon but he's taken something. He's popped something to take the pain of living away. This is one of Restoration's volunteering staff I am speaking with. He's been refused his latest sickness benefit on account of failing his fitness for work assessment and so he's likely having a little relapse to not have to deal with that situation. I get it. It really does suck. Especially if you've been out of work as long as Harry has been.

But we've got to be stronger than that. A lot stronger. I guess that this is one of the things that AA taught me – we can go through shit in our lives and not have to drink and use. Harry hasn't had this advice at Restoration. He's learned nothing really about his condition. Just that it'd fine to have a relapse every now and then, that relapse is a part of recovery: a message I just do not understand. I have learned that when things get shit we find another way through it and don't regress to old habits. We no longer take a bad situation and turn it into a terrible one. We have to find new ways of dealing with disappointments and I don't think Harry is there yet. It's a shame that some people don't give Twelve Step programs the effort. They say that they can't buy into the ''God'' thing and don't go. I won't be found in a meeting very often these days but there was a time and a place when it was valuable. I wish him the best.

First thing I'll be doing this weekend is the first thing I like to do on most weekends and that's to fire down to the Golden Bite and get some breakfast down me. I also have one hundred bucks to pay into the travel agents for next year's trip and I could do with getting my hair cut. I'm starting to look and feel like some teenager – living up to my student status. I like sitting by myself at the Golden Bite on a Saturday morning. Last week one of the women who works there was stacking up dozens of plates to clear the tables for the next customers and there was one old woman sitting watching her. She was thinking the same thing as I was: is this girl going to actually be able to carry all of this stuff without dropping it all over the floor?

This old woman and I have something in common. We like to watch people. But then I notice something a little different about us. Once I know this about her I am more concerned with watching her. I'll watch the others too but she takes up most of my interest. She is a people-watcher but I am both a people-watcher and a watcher of people-watchers. I watch those who watch others, while I'm watching others. The people-watcher of people-watchers, so I am. She seems not to give me the same respect and concentrates only on either the women stacking up the plates or a really smelly old guy (stinks of piss, the poor sod) who is there just about every time I am.

I am hoping that sitting at the Golden Bite might be a sign of things to come for this weekend. I was shattered when I got back yesterday. It felt as though I had been trailing around all day, which I guess I had been. The college is certainly a lot easier than the window cleaning is. There was a nasty wind yesterday afternoon and it didn't help Barry the Bullet and I keep our hands warm. In fact – there won't really be anything to help us keep warm from here on in. It's getting to the business end in terms of the window cleaning seasons.

How could I not be grateful though? Beyond things like being able to pay for next year's holiday and so much more I find that having something to keep me busy during the week keeps me healthy. More than this I am finding myself even enjoying it – even despite the coming cold. Weird. I guess that the reason it hurt so much before is that this was all there was. I only had more window cleaning to look forward to.

Nowadays there is so much more. Which I guess makes the hard parts of working life seem like much less of a big deal.

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Stevie

Has so much more now.

1187

Lunarer
November 19th, 2017, 02:15 AM
Sunday, November 19th 2017 (Talks in the Hire Car)


Dr. Bacon says that me writing this journal could be an example of me sometimes stagnating and not getting things done. I disagree although there are certainly things I could be doing right now in place of typing here. Fair enough – I have all day – but I really would like to get on with my first podcast. I have lots of recorded audio to plough through and find out what I want to use and where and I can't do this while I'm typing this garbage. But type I do. . .

We did really well for cash last week, Barry the Bullet and I. One of the reasons for this I believe could be related to the idea of a Higher Power. At first Barry is not so convinced.

Stevie – ''It's because we stopped to help that guy on Wednesday afternoon.''

Barry the Bullet – ''You think?''

Stevie – ''There's no doubt about it.''

We helped a guy go up his roof to check on his solar panels. It was obvious when he asked us that he would not be able to pay anything and so this was a risk: just after lunchtime and we're trying to get back into the swing of things and we're stopping to do favours? When we were leaving he did give us something though: he wished us the best and hoped for us that we made enough money for ourselves this week.

Barry the Bullet – ''Yeah, he did say that.''

Stevie – ''And so we have.''

Barry doesn't get it but the way I see it things have worked out with that stoppage and if we had not stopped then the day would have been different. We would have been a little ahead in terms of where we were on the run at that time. Some people who paid us might have been out earlier and so we would have missed them. This would have an effect on our schedule on the Friday evening debt-collecting mission. It also had an effect on where we started on both the Thursday and Friday mornings. Had we not helped we would have been a little further ahead and so would have started at different properties. All this would have butterfly effected the result of the week.

Barry does not buy into the idea of their being a Power greater than ourselves at work here but this is perhaps an example of fate being altered. One of those billion crossroads we face in life that alter outcomes in such a seemingly insignificant way that we tend not to pay them any mind but in truth these could add up to the important decisions in life. We all like to think that we are in control of our lives and our big decisions but these ''big'' decisions only come about because of a billion little decisions that are made by our subconscious and our past experience. We are just passengers in this regard. We are not in full control. He is. Whoever He might really be.

Lindsay and I did a bit of chatting in the hire car on the way to see Opeth the other night and I wanted a little time to let some of it sink in before I started blathering my thoughts about them onto these virtual pages. One thing she was alerting me to was how well she is getting to know me now. I have always had problems with people knowing me, getting to see what is inside, but I have to admit that it is becoming difficult to hide certain parts of me from someone I spend so much time with. Living with someone is always going to do that – makes hiding much more difficult. She says that while I like to keep control of the level of my voice at all times she is now learning to pick up on other cues as to how I might be feeling. She tells me that I must remember that voice is only ten per cent of communication and that the rest is in our body language and so she is learning how to read my body better now that we know one and other that little bit more. I have to admit that my first instinct still is to up my efforts in hiding rather than being open and allowing myself to be seen. Dr. Bacon would understand this but he will be expecting more.

Another thing she was talking about was her trip to her pal's last weekend. She's pregnant and it's making Lindsay feel a little broody. In Lindsay's eyes she is getting close to reaching the end of her fertility and, at thirty four, must start thinking about whether or not she ever wants to have another child. I'm thinking that she does. I'm not sure where I stand on that. I have two already and look at how that has worked out. I haven't seen either my son or daughter in years. I have no idea who they are or what they like. Now I am asked to start thinking about how I might feel about having another one. I'm not sure still. She did mention this on the last day in Spain. We were sitting by the poolside at a table soaking up the last of the sun – or at least what would be the last of it for us – and she found a way of getting onto the subject. Sometimes I wonder if it's something she thinks about often but doesn't know how to bring it up. We were at that same pal's house last night for a game of darts and a banter. It was good.

Well – on with the day. I should get on with my podcast series – the only thing I have left to work on in this first college semester. I had a little listen to Shaun's podcast effort. He was one of the sound production students with me last year and he's doing the same now as he did back then: he's doing enough to pass while not actually putting any real effort into it. I think he could do a lot better but he's getting results and so why do more than you have to? I want my own effort to be as good as I can make it in the time allocated. That's not actually true – I want my own effort to be as good as I can make it in the time allocated by myself. I do want to hand these assignments in long before Christmas even though the deadline is the end of January but I am in a position where I can think like this. I won't get cocky but I will remain focused.

This focus has been absent these last few days with work and the Opeth gig taking up my brainpower.

This focus will return today.


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Stevie

Getting on with the first semester.

1186

Lunarer
November 20th, 2017, 01:30 AM
Monday, November 20th 2017 (Helping Others)


Lindsay begins her final placement this morning so she'll be awake in a minute or two. I had better get on with it.

How quickly the weekends flash past us. I remember when days were so long and slow that I could scarcely believe it, scarcely bear it. When I first got sober on the old WQD website I had a period of weeks before I relapsed and ended up drinking again for a few months. I found AA and things were a little easier – I had things to do on the weekends – but when I first sobered up using the WQD site there were weekends when I didn't see a soul and I remember them being long and punishing. Now they are so short I feel as though to blink I might miss one.

I was supposed to mention this over the weekend but it slipped my mind completely (and rightly so) but while I was driving the hire car to pick up Barry the Bullet for work on Friday morning after the Opeth gig at the Barrowlands the night before something terrible happened over the radio. Many terrible things happen over the radio all the time and studying it only helps me to see how silly an industry it actually is but on this occasion there was a phone in and it was a guy talking about how his daughter was getting really excited about the ''big fat guy in the red suit'' coming and asked if they could play a Christmas song. The presenter refused and then the caller's daughter came onto the phone to say that if he was a bad boy and didn't play the song then Santa wouldn't be coming to town for him. He declined once again and ended the call but then the co-presenter came in and Mariah Carey started singing. The first Christmas song I heard this year was on the 17th November.

That was not the biggest issue here though. I'll admit that it is a big issue though – let's wait until next weekend when the lights go up in all of the town centre's, eh? The biggest issue I had with this whole thing was how fake and staged it was. I get it – not everyone listens to radio the way a radio student will, and not everyone has my gift/curse of being able to smell bullshit from advanced distances, but this really was cringy. Staging something like a child on the radio asking for Christmas music is a little pathetic to say the least and this station will forever be known in my eyes for this which will have a drastic effect on my likelihood of ever listening to them again but I guess that from a radio station's perspective in trying to make money and get as many listeners as possible (and with most people so distracted these days that they can't smell bullshit even when it comes along and whacks them in the face like it has done here) then it is good business.

Later in the day Barry and I saw the first house to be covered in decorations.

I am usually on air with my radio partner Stephanie on both Monday and Tuesday afternoons and we normally divide the duties in half with her taking the presenting role one day while I am just a backup and then reversing these roles the next day. This week will be a little different though as I have completed the four assessed shows that require airtime to do. Well – the Assessed Show 2 Pre-recorded Show doesn't really need you to be on air but the others do: Assessed Show 1 was demonstrating that we can use the equipment; Assessed Show 3 was showing that we could present a show while interacting with social media; and Assessed Show 4 was proving that we had recorded our three interviews (studio, telephone, and on location) and that we could integrate them into a live show; and I have managed to do them all – I just need last week's Assessed Show 4 to be graded which will happen this morning in class.

My radio presenting partner has, unfortunately, not done any of her assessed shows and so we are going to be dedicating this week to her. Rather than having us swap duties she will just take up the presenting role on both days this week (and next if necessary) and I will simply act as a backup presenter while we try to get her through at least Assessed Shows 1 and 3 this week. The interviews will have to wait until she's actually recorded them but the other two shows can be done easily enough if she's put a little work into them over the weekend which, going by our communications on Facebook over the last couple of days, she seems to have done.

While I was doing my Assessed Show 4 on Tuesday last week a few of the other students came into the studio. Usually I lock the door but o this occasion we left it unlocked for some reason and so other students were walking in and out. Not ideal, but I turned them into part of the show and asked them about the NHS and their experiences since this show revolved around the interviews I carried out with mum, Lindsay, and Gillon last week. This gave me both content I could use for the show and extra interviews for my podcast series which will soon be the only thing this semester I have to work on.

I was surprised by some of the comments I received about my presenting style. They were very complimentary. One guy was saying how it never ceases to surprise him how some of the louder people in the class clam up and don't have much to say when the microphone goes live whereas quiet people in class come out of their shells and seem really upbeat and confident in front of the live microphone. I come out of my shell when in front of the radio desk, just like I used to when I had an electric guitar in my hands. General feedback from both lecturers and students this year has been really positive and this is one of the reasons I feel better able to work effectively while in the studio – even when there are other students walking in and out while I am recording an assessed show. I'd love to tell this to Hamish from AA, and a few others, and show to them that confidence grows faster and more genuinely when you are challenging yourself outside of the AA rooms.

This week will be all about trying to get my radio partner across the line where a couple of assessed shows are concerned.

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Stevie

Helping others.

1159

Lunarer
November 21st, 2017, 01:18 AM
Tuesday, November 21st 2017 (Somewhere Closer to Respectable)


Towards the end of the day I popped in to help someone else with their radio show. I was later joined by two others and so was involved in the first ever Fife College Radio four-man broadcast. The host was asking us questions to get us all involved and one of them, the final question of the day, was: ''What is it that makes us Scots so damn likeable?''

This comes off the back of him creating his podcasts about our country. Answers fly in thick and fast but I have to say that I completely disagree with everything these guys are saying. I remember when we had our independence referendum three years ago and all of the bullshit that it caused. I learned how such a huge decision could not be left to our people. We voted with only selfishness in our heads and hearts. We showed ourselves to be truly appalling people. Even though this all happened only three years ago these guys I am broadcasting with this afternoon are young (twenty six, twenty, and eighteen) and so I don't know if maybe they are too young still to have seen much of what Scotland's people are really like. They will vote with only how much money they can make in mind and screw the rest.

There have been many good things happen this month but if there could be one complaint (and let's face it there always is with me) then it would be my walking totals. They have not been up to scratch. Since I quit smoking this is how it has gone on the walking front:

February: 88.4 miles
March: 142 miles
April: 11 miles
May: 140 miles
June: 61.25 miles
July: 33.49 miles
August: 166 miles
September: 373 miles
October: 99.24 miles
November: 60 miles

You can see what I mean. It hasn't been good. I haven't really gone out of my way at any point to get some miles in. I went the long way to the Fife Ice Arena the other weekend to go watch Lindsay's brother in action in the league and then went back by the hospital but that's the only time I can really think of in the month of November where I actually made a conscious effort to get the miles up. Apart from that it has just been standard. Not even standard actually – given what standard has become this year. For a while there we were getting some really good monthly totals in. It doesn't help that it's cold and dark out there now either. We'll see if I can give it a good bash over the next two weeks, try to get the total for the month somewhere closer to what might be considered respectable. Even if I can get it to one hundred miles for the month then I would consider this adequate.

I was thinking a little about the Christmas decorations Barry the Bullet and I saw when we were working last week. I haven't seen too many more homes in this state (nor have I heard any more songs played on the radio but then I haven't been listening so who knows – November 17th???? Not impressed!!) but then I wonder if it is anything to do with what type of housing scheme this is. The scheme Barry and me were working in last week (and will be again this week) was the one that the BBC dedicated their first episode of The Council television documentary last year and this was because of the terrible employment rate in the area. I wonder if this is anything to do with the early decorations. Maybe Christmas is something to look forward to more for people who don't have all that much of anything else going on. I am lucky. I still have things going for me that must be done before Christmas burrows its way to the forefront of my mind. Others maybe don't have the same. Christmas offers them some hope, as it eventually does for us all.

Lindsay started her new placement yesterday. This will be the last one. After endless problems with placements in the past we are hopeful that this will be the one that finally gets her hours up to the level where she can pass the course and get her degree. Things have started off well, as I suppose you'd expect, and she won't be doing the twelve hour shifts at this one. It'll be nine until five (sometimes eight until four), five days per week. This week, however, she is only in four days and the same next week. Interestingly she also only has four weeks to go before they break off for the Christmas holidays when the rest of us have five, or at least I mean that this is the fifth to last week, there are four after this week and Lindsay has only three.

The rest of this week will go a little something like this:

Today: college.

I'll be getting on with my podcast as much as I can although there isn't all that much I can really be doing. I'll make sure that some others in the class know that I am available to help if they need something. I'll also be hoping that I can assist my broadcasting partner get through another assessed show this afternoon.

Tomorrow: A day off.

Barry the Bullet and I are almost up to date with work again already and so this week will be a slow one. This way we can make the others between now and the Christmas break relatively fast ones. I'll be working on things for my podcast that I can't do at the college including visits to the hospital and my GP surgery. I also have to visit the council with evidence I am staying here now and not in the cave.

Thursday: Work.

We'll be back on it in the morning but I have my next session with Dr. Bacon in the afternoon. We're getting places now and I feel that we are about to reach a turning point in my therapy. We're starting to climb out of the pit now.

Friday: Work.

The Bullet will be off signing his name on the government's dotted line and so I will be solo. That's okay. It is a bit colder now though. We might even be off again if we do well yesterday. We'll see.

Saturday: Christmas Lights.

The weekend will see the beginning of the Christmas celebrations this year with the lights in this town and its neighbouring one being turned on this afternoon. The market is already going strong in Edinburgh but we'll not be heading there until the weekend before Christmas again this year.

Let's stop thinking about the future though.

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Stevie

Thinking about the present.

1153

Lunarer
November 22nd, 2017, 02:06 AM
Wednesday, November 22nd 2017 (Tina and the Groove)


A day off! Not just that but Lindsay is actually working as well. I have the house to myself and can do whatever I please. It's like Christmas in November. There are a couple of things I have to do today though that take the idea of me being able to do whatever I want to and slap it but this isn't an issue. They are better done than not. I like being busy. I'll get to them in due course. I've also a survey thing to do for Dr. Bacon for tomorrow afternoon's session which we'll also hopefully cover in this post, tomorrow morning's if there isn't time.

I no longer have to go into the college on a Monday and Tuesday morning if I don't want to – the reward for getting all of the work done in that class two months early. Of course I'll be in though. I want to hone my skills and my craft and get as good at this as I possibly can. Quitting now and relaxing just because I've done a little bit of hard work would be like quitting drinking for a year and then celebrating by throwing a booze-filled party. Not quite, but they both have a similar feel to them, a similar essence. The lecturer yesterday used me as an example for the class as people were asking about, and even complaining about, the time left to carry out these assessments. If Stevie can have them all done by mid-November then the rest of you should be able to do them no problem by the middle of January. That was what was said. Stevie – still kicking ass as a student!

Much of what I have to do today is related to the college. Lindsay will be getting up in a while for her placement (she's loving it, I am thrilled to say. She's been told that this is her last chance and she seems rejuvenated and has reclaimed her love for the profession) and I'll be taking the bus trip with her to the hospital. We'll part company at the front door. She'll make way for her ward; I'll be heading to Accident and Emergency. I know that it might seem like I'm taking the piss a little in using this service for the benefit of my podcast when there's nothing actually wrong with me but at this time of morning I am hoping that it will be really quiet so that I am not wasting the time of any nurses or doctors.

After this I will be visiting two GP surgeries. One will be so that I can try to register with a new practice despite me knowing that this is not how it works anymore but again for the benefit of the podcast and the other is to make an appointment with my current surgery to see how far down the line we have to wait to be seen. On all occasions I will be armed with my little digital recorder which will be constantly picking up material and content for my podcast series.

Besides this I have one or two non-podcast things to do. I have to pay two hundred pounds towards our holiday fund for next year's trip to the Canaries as well as getting some shopping in. I also have to find a way of posting something for Lindsay, handing some evidence of my change of address into the council office in the next town, and picking up two deliveries from the Royal Mail depot. If I have time after all of this I would like to begin trawling through the content I have recorded and start shaping my podcast series. I want as much of it done by the time I am back in class on Monday morning as possible.

So that's my day off!!

I walked back from the college tomorrow. I have to get my stats up a little for the month of November. I can't see me walking much next month.

On Friday there is someone from Sunderland University coming into the college to talk about life at the university and city. Is is worth us shifting south to England to get our degrees? They are coming to talk to the second year students but we are allowed in if we want to come in on our day off. I am going to. I've already accepted that this is going to be a pretty lame week for work. It's fine though. We are up to date and so can afford to take a little time off. This way will also be keeping Barry the Bullet keen as I know he is feeling the Christmas pressure and wants to get out working as much as he can. This week we'll be out tomorrow and that will be our only day of work for the week.

I actually feel pretty busy still. Take away work and college and I would likely not have an awful lot to be getting on with but these two things mean that I am never short on something to be doing. This is the way I like it. Not that I have anything against it (even though I know it must always seem like I'm having a go at it) I do feel as though anything I can do to keep myself out of the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous is a good thing. If I am bored and with little to keep me occupied then I know that the temptation to visit arrives. This isn't really why I should be going. I notice big differences in those who go all the time and those who attend only their home group and maybe one or two others intermittently. I want to belong to the latter. The former like to make it out as though they are doing the fellowship a good turn, like they are doing it a favour, but the reality is that they have little else going on in their lives.

This is fine when we are newly sober, I get it, but I am no longer there. Into the fourth quarter of my third year off the drink it is for the benefit of everyone that I find other things to do. This is the way I become a better example when I do decide that I should get to a meeting.

There wouldn't be enough time today though even if I wanted to go.

So it begins: hospital, GP surgery, another GP surgery, post office depot, travel agents, shops, council office, eh. . . what else was there? I can't remember. I'll figure it all out though.

Oh yeah – the title of the post!

It refers to a band that has got in contact with me asking if I'd like to meet up to do a little playing. They are a covers band but they are currently doing the live circuit around local towns. I'll have a listen to the videos on their Facebook page at some point today and have a little think about that too.

For now I had better get moving.

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Stevie

Busy little bee.

1214

Lunarer
November 23rd, 2017, 12:53 AM
Thursday, November 23rd 2017 (Questions for Bacon)


My plant is doing well. I bought her in June last year (June 30th) and managed to keep her alive in accordance with a suggestion from Narcotics Anonymous. I was to try to keep a house plant alive for one full year to teach me about responsibility. I have now done so and she turned one in the summer. She now has a second home. She came with Kung Fu Pandis and me in the hire van the other weekend when we moved all of my stuff to Lindsay's flat. She now sits out on the balcony with Lindsay's plants and is enjoying her new home. I notice how much better I am at caring for things now that I am here, as opposed to when I was in that cave. This is now the twelfth day I have been out of that place (the 09th was my last night there and we've been putting down the 10th as my official moving date on all of the council paperwork). That feels about right. I haven't started to miss the place yet. Maybe I never will. My house plant certainly doesn't appear to be.

I'm still a little on the fence regarding Tina and the Groove. The are a local band in need of a guitar player and I would have jumped at the chance a year ago. I certainly would have jumped at the chance two years ago when I was playing with Rob the Drummer and friends at the Lot and Mr. Wilson's band. That was a time when my instrument still meant very much to me. Now I don't know if I can be arsed with it. The hassle of meeting up with the guys and practising all of the music and so on and so forth. I don't think I'll be meeting up with them. We'll see. It would be a lot of work.

Yesterday I had a busy day which started with a trip to Accident and Emergency. This was not because I will ill – it was so that I could get information for my podcast. It was not busy and I was seen within ten minutes of entering the building. Less than three hours later I am out into the rain and knowing that I am in completely wonderful health. My pulse beats at around fifty six when I am still. I have no issues with my blood and my blood pressure is fine. I also got to speak with a couple of students and so grilled them for information. They tell me that it has been a busy night. I was quite lucky. A couple of hours earlier and I would have been in for much longer. This isn't strictly true as I would not have bothered had it been so busy. I only wanted some tasty content for my podcast series – not to help bring the hospital to a standstill!

As I'm heading back up the road the rain starts to get a little heavier and I notice my mind trying to put me into a pissed off kind of state. I used to spend a lot of my time pissed off. For a long time, most of my life actually, being pissed off seemed to be my default setting. It's different now though, at least it takes much more to get me into a pissed off state and to keep me there. When I was learning to be sober I had to often stop what I was doing when my mood was threatened and work through what I'd learned, what would help calm me down. It was a very conscious thing. I was fully aware of the process I was going through in a bid to help settle my mood. I still go through the same process these days but it's not as conscious an effort. I don't have to stop myself and go through the tools, the mental hammer and nails to repair my mood, but rather it just seems to happen. The process is becoming more automatic, like a sort of second nature. Not freaking out is becoming the norm.

I'll be meeting with Dr. Bacon this afternoon at half past three. He's asked me to fill out a form that contains one hundred and fifty questions. I did one of these when I joined this forum (My Way Out – I've been on Ryver since it started) and feel that these forms and questionnaires are asked of me when we are getting ready to move onto another phase of my therapy. Here are some of the questions, as well as some of the answers I put down for each, one from each section. Answers are given on a scale: 1 = Completely untrue of me, to 6 = Describes me perfectly. Here we go!

7) For much of my life, I haven't that I am special to someone.
For this I answered the maximum of six points, that this scenario fits me perfectly, which is a shame.

19) I become upset when someone leaves me alone, even for a short period of time.

I answered the complete opposite for this one and gave the lowest score possible. I don't get enough time on my own. At college I would love some more time away from the class where I could work undisturbed and get things done. At home I know that soon I will start to miss those little one and two night breaks I used to like taking from Lindsay.

32) Most people only think about themselves.

Most of my answers are between three and five but this is another one I gave an extreme score and gave it the maximum – it sums me up to a tee. This question pretty much sums up one of my life's most firmly held beliefs.

49) I always feel on the outside of groups.

This one gets a five. I am aware that I am doing okay at the college though. I feel as though I've found a place in that group, like it wouldn't be the same without me in the same way that it would lose something no matter who was to leave. You can feel it when someone doesn't come in one day. It has an effect on the whole group dynamic.

64) I have inner defects that I don't want people close to me finding out.

This is a strange one as I'm sure most people could say that this is true. I talked about some of mine during my revealing of the Sex Conduct Inventory I wrote on the old WQD forum. I didn't mind telling a bunch of strangers online about some of that stuff but I wouldn't want ''real'' people finding out. I answered with the highest score of six.

76) I often compare my accomplishments with others and feel that they are more successful.

I answered just a three for this. Had you asked me back when I was drinking it would have been very different. Now I accept that I have done well considering my lifestyle and life events.

87) I lack common sense.

Sometimes I still feel the Dexter Morgan syndrome popping into my head. I do lack some common sense. I ranked this four.

104) I feel that the world is a dangerous place.

I gave this one a score of four. It is pretty dangerous. Anywhere humans are always will be.

113) I have trouble separating my point of view from that of my partner or parents.

I scored just one here. I think that I am pretty aware of who I am and what my opinions are about most things in life.

138) I'm more comfortable giving a present than receiving one.

I gave this almost the top score of five. I hate my own birthdays because I hate the idea of having fuss made over me. I've always been that way.

143) It is important to be liked by almost everyone I know.

This only received a score of one. My sense of self and well-being has, thankfully, never been dependant upon everyone else thinking highly of me. I can see why others might score those questions in this final section much higher but for me having others like me, those I have no interest in, is not something I can be arsed wasting my time on.

And that concludes the questions.

And the post.

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Stevie

Concluding the post.

1432

Lunarer
November 24th, 2017, 01:42 AM
Friday, November 24th 2017 (Booking Bridges)


When will there be an AA weekend between now and Christmas? I was at the Saturday night meeting every Saturday in December (and most of them in October and November as well) last year but this time I'm struggling to find ways of making it there. This weekend we have the Christmas lights thingy; in two weeks we have the college night out; in three weeks I am going to watch the Fife Flyers ice hockey team with Lindsay's brother and his wife; in four weeks Lindsay and I are going to Edinburgh for the Christmas Market. That leaves next weekend as the only available Saturday night where I could get to that meeting. I am aware that there are other meetings, sure, but this has become my unofficial home group. It's the place I feel most comfortable.

Tina and the Groove are holding auditions the week after next. I don't know how many guys are going for the part but I don't think I'm going to be one of them. They want to know which of the guitarists they've contacted would be interested in turning up and trying out. I don't think I can see myself playing the live circuit in a couple of months and I know the band have gigs in the pipeline over the festive period. It's another pop/pup classic cover band situation – continuing to water down the musical tastes and talents in the local area – and so not really my thing. There will be other bands! Somehow I don't believe myself quite so much anymore when I say things like that.

Turns out that the guy from Sunderland University comes to speak to us next Friday and not this one as I had been led to believe and so I will have to get my skates on and decide what it is I am going to do today. I would like to hand in my money to Restoration for my Christmas lunch that they are going for on the. . . 14th I think it is. . . and today would be the ideal time to do that. It's ironic how I gave a high score to that question on Dr. Bacon's questionnaire the other night – whether or not I feel constantly on the outside of groups – yet I have never felt more on the outside of the Restoration group. I guess it's because I no longer really attend. How many times have I written about Restoration this year? It's just not something I do much anymore. I think that's the way it is for me at the moment. I don't really take part in recovery activities much now.

I saw that there were tickets to see Scottish comedian Kevin Bridges in stand-up at the Edinburgh Playhouse next year. I fancy it but thought I'd run it past Lindsay first. I would have just got them and thrown them in with her Christmas but if they arrived when I was out she might open them. Also it would show up on her bank statements. Fuck it – I just asked her, and the minute she said it was cool to go ahead and book them I did so. We're now going to see Kevin. We already have a couple of trips to the Playhouse next year in Russell Brand and Wicked. There are already a bunch of things to look forward to in 2018. This is the kind of stuff I am more interested in doing now. Rather than spend a lot of time going to meetings and Restoration activities I am trying to do all those things that ''normal'' people do. I'm in a way trying to make up for lost time.

I contacted Relationships Scotland the other day and have received an email back from them. I was getting a little worried that we might have been dropped from the list somehow, or forgotten about entirely, or maybe we received a letter through the post but it somehow found its way to the paper recycling without actually being read, but I am told that we are still on the waiting list and not to worry. The wait for this service is often a little longer than usual since there are only two workers involved. We are currently second from top so it shouldn't be too much longer. It's a sex therapy service that they run. I can't remember what it's proper name is but they work with couples having problems in the bedroom. Lindsay and I definitely qualify as one such couple.

Reasons for this are largely down to me. It's been such a long time for me and only the God of my Understanding knows why I've shrivelled up so often in all circumstances since I've been sober. I think that drinking just beat me. Those last ten years, my thirties basically, saw a massive gradual decline in all things Stevie. Dr. Bacon and I are working all the time on building my confidence and I feel as though I am starting to make big progress. I have to get rid of things that are holding me back though. One of these is my ''sickness'' that I used to talk about in the old forum. I've decided that on February 07th, the day I celebrate three years off the booze, two years off the drugs, one year off the cigarettes and antidepressants, and start my sugar quit – I will also be cleaning my laptop of everything that relates to this problem as well as trying my hardest to change my ways in this respect.

Today I am heading to my old town (that's two weeks now since I gave up my house there, or cave, as it were) but not for work. We're just going to leave it until next week now, give it a good bash then, we're up to date just about anyway. I'm going to pop into the college and sort out all things podcasty before heading to Restoration to pay my money for the Christmas meal which takes place on December 14th – three weeks from yesterday. I don't know if there will be any need to go on a debt-collecting mission this evening so I might just jump aboard the Loser's Bus once I'm done at Restoration and have a nice night in with Lindsay, the cat, and the heating. That sounds quite nice actually.

I'll talk about the Dr. Bacon session from yesterday when I write tomorrow morning.

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Stevie

Going to see Kevin Bridges (happy face).

But it's not until September next year (sad face).

1118

Lunarer
November 25th, 2017, 12:50 AM
Saturday, November 25th 2017 (Year of Risks)


I want to get into the Dr. Bacon session from Thursday afternoon this morning. There are things to be happening today a little later on. I will be paying the last of the money to the holiday fund so we don't have to worry about that and I will also be getting my haircut at a little barber's I found down the town – the town we'll be at this afternoon for the switching on of the Christmas lights. After today I have no problem in hearing Christmas music or seeing trees and decorations although I still think we should be slowly weaning into it over the next fortnight rather than overdoing it now before we even get into December. I walked back from my session with Dr. Bacon on Thursday – all twelve miles of it – and I noticed a few extra decorations here and there. Scottish Sarah's work was filled with decorations and a tree and one or two houses are into the festive spirit a little on the early side as well. I'm glad it's not us. From this afternoon there will be no denying it has started though. I'll get into it eventually.

So I was correct with my assumption that the questionnaire Dr. Bacon gave me the last session signalled a shift in our therapy. We are starting to move away from me trying to identify and spot patterns of behaviour and more into challenging them and beginning to do something about them. We're moving onto trying to build up the Healthy Adult part of me. This is the part that Little Stevie must go to now for guidance rather than bringing out the Detached Protector, Bully and Attack, or any other destructive coping modes. We're getting into the part of the process where I start to work on getting better. The impatient parts of me were starting to wonder if this might ever happen but I know now that we cannot move onto the solution based phases until I have become confident and comfortable in spotting my defective patterns of behaviour. I am better at this now. Not perfect, you understand, but good enough at it that we can work on improving my Healthy Adult. It's an exciting time now.

From now on we are going to be looking at improving my life and we'll be doing this, according to Dr. Bacon, in three ways. We'll be continuing to do some of the imagery and chair work we've been doing on and off for a few months now; we'll be continuing to spot behaviour patterns and talking about them; and we'll be looking at the way I think about things and trying to alter that somewhat. One of the things we did on Thursday was more chair work. When we do this there are chairs set out and one is allocated to each part of me that we feel will be relevant to the session. In this case we had Little Stevie (who is always present as it is he we are always trying to get these messages through to); my Detached Protector defensive mode (who is also mostly around since I use him as a way of coping with any threatening and difficult situations, I can split off from my feelings and responsibilities by putting him in charge; and the Healthy Adult part of me – the part I've always denied existed.

The idea is that Bacon leads and I am to try my best to stay in the mode that fits the chair I am sitting in. This it fine when I am sitting in the Detached Protector chair as I can just avoid everything that we are talking about. It's the most comfortable chair to sit in for sure, which does in itself perhaps tell us something. The other chairs are a little more difficult. The Little Stevie chair is the toughest of them all. This is the chair that when I am sitting in Dr. Bacon will try to connect with that vulnerable part of me. The part of me that was hurt all those years ago and has created these coping modes in the time since. The part of me that we have to communicate with if we want me to get better at connecting with people.

One of the things we discuss is the roles we play in social situations. My role is often very passive. The more people there are in the group the more passive my role will become. In certain social situations where I am stuck with other people – like the college or AA, where we are thrust together and have little option but to get to know one and other – I notice that I can, eventually, find a place within the group. It's almost as if I wait on everyone else to determine their own roles first so that I can make sense of my own. Like they set the scene and I adapt accordingly. I guess this makes it feel a little safer for me.

In AA the roles are very much determined by the old-timers. They run the show and the old fashioned and closed-minded approach to recovery that they have means that the dynamic is fixed. It's a power struggle between old men. Still, though, I have found myself at times trying to stand up against this, most notably when it came to last year's run-in with an old-timer who has essentially been grooming women under his sponsorship care into feeling something sexual towards him. My role is often confused in the rooms and this is perhaps one of the reasons I don't participate much these days. In college my role is becoming more evident as the weeks go by. First finished his work for the semester in the morning classes I now have free reign to go and do as I please, in and out of the college, on a Monday and Tuesday morning. This coming Tuesday I am taking my free sight test with Specsavers. It's great to be able to miss a bit of college knowing that it will not affect my attendance.

But when I am in situations where there is not this huge amount of time for people to get to know me, and me them, then I tend to close up and some people might view this as me being disinterested and aloof. They could be right. My social awkwardness kicks in, my Detached Protector, and this creates my Dexter Morgan Syndrome, which doesn't help anyone, least of all Little Stevie. What we're now trying to do, or will be once a few more sessions go by and we get into the thick of it, is to turn to my Healthy Adult more when these situations arise. For a start – it's great that these situations arise at all for this means that I am out there, putting myself out there and this means that I am not hiding in my cave, not daring to reveal myself to the scary world so that it can not hurt me.

It's important to remember how far I've already come. Dr. Bacon says that I should be trying to, the Healthy Adult part of me, I mean, trying to let Little Stevie know that it is great that he takes these risks, that he risks being vulnerable, which for him seems to be synonymous with being ''stupid'', and that he is rewarded emotionally for taking such risks. 2017 could be seen as being the year of taking risks. It's good.

Lindsay and I will be going to watch the turning on of the Christmas lights down the town centre later on. The Christmas mood will be rising after that. I can't really get into yet. I feel that it is still a week or two early and so do my best to avoid places where there may be premature reminders of what is on its way. Despite having done most of my shopping already I still don't feel the need to get into the festive spirit. I'm not a retailer so I guess there's little to gain from getting there too early.

Anyway – on with the day. It looks really cold out there.

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Stevie

Taking risks.

1395

Lunarer
November 26th, 2017, 02:55 AM
Sunday, November 26th 2017 (Watching the Christmas Lights)


Ten days already since the Opeth gig. One full month since the Metallica gig we sold our tickets of. Wow. We're gliding through the year now.

Last night Lindsay and I were down the high street to watch the Christmas lights get turned on and all that palaver. It was actually a shit-load more successful than I had ever imagined it might be. The pictures on the internet which showed the same event from last year made it look as though a couple of thousand people turned up and that there was a decent little firework show. I know how these things can be made to look much bigger than they are using simple, basic editing, but it was pretty much as advertised. There actually were a couple of thousand people joined in the parade and there was a pretty decent firework display. It's been enough to get Lindsay into the Christmas spirit as she's now talking about putting up our tree and decorations next weekend. I would rather wait until the following weekend but it makes little difference to me really.

With four weeks to do until what is ultimately always the most disappointing day of any year I would prefer one week of very mild Christmas mood and spirit before ramping it up a little for a week. Then we could have two weeks of build up where I don't mind hearing Christmas music all day and seeing decorations wherever I go.

This morning I think that Lindsay and I will be trying out another church. We've been to different ones in recent weeks, just testing the waters, to see if there might be one we'd consider taking regular part in. Five weeks ago I went with Robert from AA to a church in the town I used to live and it was good. Three weekends ago Lindsay and I went to our local church. It was not so good. It was a little too serious for me. Last week we tried out something a little different still and went to a church almost as close to our front door as that last time but in another direction. If there's one thing we are spoiled for in this community it is churches to choose from. I just hope it isn't like AA where you have dozens of options but very little quality. We shall see. So far it has been an indifferent experience. And why am I comparing churches to Alcoholics Anonymous? They share little in common.

So I've continued to work on the podcast series that I have to do for the college and I've been finding it quite fun. What I have noticed though, and I'm not too happy about it if I'm bring totally honest, is that I have found myself a little restless and have been trying to rush through the process. It's as if I want to just have this all done so that I can tick it off the list of things I need to do and be done with it. This may have come at a slight reduction in quality. I could probably have done a better job than I have done. It's not that it's just been lazily thrown together, not at all, but I also don't think that this podcast series will be as good as I could have made it had I been trying my best.

Possible reasons for this – and I don't want to over-think it – could be that I am aware we are approaching the end of the year and a little break, a sort of hibernation over the winter, where we get to stay indoors with the heating on and all wrapped up warm (and outside there is now some serious cold and frost to contend with), and not worry about what is going on either at college or with work. This could be seen as a concern though. This is what I used to do when I was drinking. I would look forward to this time of year, not so that I could spend it with my loved ones, but so that I could spend it alone and with only drink and maybe a few grams of weed to keep me company. In essence the holiday season could be seen as an opportunity to avoid responsibilities that are present throughout the rest of the year. When all of the college work is done then I can feel as though the holidays are starting early. It's possible that I could be thinking along those lines but, like I said, I don't want to go over-thinking it too much.

Aside from all of this I can't think of anything else I could be updating you with. There are four weeks left until Christmas now and so that's four weeks I'll be trying to make the most of – especially at work. We've had our week off now and I'm glad that Barry the Bullet contacted me during this time to ask what was going on. He's keen. Time off is now making him restless. This (hopefully) means that he'll be up for getting back on it come Wednesday morning. There is still time for us to get around the whole run again one more time.

I noticed a letter from me yesterday morning. This is rare. Most aren't aware of my change of address yet. The council do obviously know though and so my first debt letter has arrived. Three thousand pounds due in unpaid council tax from my time in the cave. I made a dent in some of my debts but recently there hasn't been much activity. If this letter has found its way to me then there could well be others winging there way here soon. I'll have to come to some sort of payment plan to pay back this three grand or this could end up becoming a problem.

And I'm trying to keep problems away from the door these days.

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Surprised by how busy the Christmas lights parade and fireworks display was.

1030

Lunarer
November 27th, 2017, 01:03 AM
Monday, November 27th 2017 (Healthy Adult Coaching)


Going in to class this morning has become optional for me. I have done all of the work for the first semester already for these morning classes and so going in this morning and tomorrow morning is completely up to me. Striving to be a student who is ready for the next level when it comes I will of course be in class both this morning and tomorrow morning (but tomorrow morning only once I have been for my eyesight test – it's great to not have to book these appointments on mornings when I am to be window cleaning with Barry the Bullet).

On Friday I was in the college and managed to get one podcast done. Locked away in the vocal booth at the bottom of the corridor I worked for around three hours making sure that I got something constructive done. I hadn't expected to finish one of the series but I left thinking that this course is actually pretty easy. We still have two months of this first semester to go which is quite incredible. Over the weekend I continued to work on the other two parts of the series and when I go in this morning to the college I am confident that I will be able to finish off what needs to be done and that this will also be ticked off the list of things to do in the first semester. I'll only have the Monday afternoon class to actually attend, which is a theory class that is taught to us week by week and so there is no chance really in getting finished early. Tomorrow afternoon we have a podcast theory assignment. Boxes are being ticked off though. There can't be much still to do.

Dr. Bacon and I were working on some things during our session on Thursday and one of them was in making sure that the Healthy Adult part of me congratulates Little Stevie when he takes a risk and allows himself to be vulnerable. It makes sense. For most of his life Little Stevie has clammed up during times when risks must be made and tends not to ''risk'' making them. This has largely been his problem while growing up – a total lack of willingness to appear to be vulnerable in any way at the risk of appearing aloof instead – and so it is now up to the Healthy Adult part of me to do the parenting in this way, teach Little Stevie some things about life. This is where the challenge lies and the importance of having someone like Dr. Bacon with me while I go about these types of changes. When my Healthy Adult is as limited in knowledge and experience as mine is then it can be difficult to know what to say. Dr. Bacon acts as a healthy adult when need be and so he is coaching me on what is healthy adult behaviour and then I am to act accordingly with Little Stevie, the part of me that often needs encouraging not to activate his defensive modes to protect himself.

One of the things I could congratulate myself on this week would be, assuming I get it handed in and that it passes (which I just know that it will) would be getting through the coursework for the first semester at college. This is not exactly what Dr. Bacon was asking of me though. He was asking me, or at least my Healthy Adult, to congratulate Little Stevie when he takes risks that leave him exposed and vulnerable and so I don't know if this would qualify. It's a good thing that I have done this, yes, but there was little risk involved. It was more just my personality at work, preferring to get the head down and work on my tasks than to get involved with what is mostly just idle chit-chat in class time.

I think that there could actually be risks involved now that I have finished though. The lecturer had said that I don't have to come in for the Monday and Tuesday morning classes if I don't want to but that if I want something to do he will find something for me no problems. I'm thinking that I should ask him about this tomorrow morning and then it will be up to me to come good on whatever it is I am asked to do. It could be anything really. Anything that asks of me practice in Healthy Adult coaching is worthwhile.

This was another things that Dr. Bacon was pretty specific on as well though: making sure that I know exactly why it is that I am doing something. By that I mean knowing what my own motivations are. For a while now, especially since I've been sober and all of this living has appeared so new to me, I have been doing things for little reason other than because they tested me, because they were hard, because they were things I was frightened to do. I am told that this is perhaps not the best way of going about things. That I am doing hard things just for the sake of it essentially. This is perhaps not very good parenting. There needs to be a clear outline of why it is I decide to do certain things when I decide to do them. I don't know yet where I stand with this. Sometimes something will just feel right. Sometimes I just know that I should be doing something without actually knowing the reasons for it. This must be a healthy adult technique I am still at novice level with.

It's just about time to get going. It's looking pretty cold out there again this morning. We've been getting frost over the weekend and so this is time to get the hat and gloves on and get ready to grin and bear it. I'll be fine today and tomorrow but I'll have to do more on Wednesday morning when it's time to go meet Barry the Bullet for a shift out there on the window cleaning. It'll be a little on the chilly side. We'll have each other, I guess.

Lindsay will be starting her second week of the new placement in a couple of hours and that has started well. She only has to do four weeks before breaking off for the Christmas period so she'll finish up on the 15th December. I'll finish college on the 19th – when we finish work will be up to us but if the chance is there we should probably work all the way up to the Friday, the 22nd. Then we'll both have two weeks off.

So I'd better get out there and earn it.

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Learning how to be a Healthy Adult.

1153

Lunarer
November 28th, 2017, 12:59 AM
Tuesday, November 28th 2017 (The Town Centre Apocalypse)


I'm walking through the town centre yesterday afternoon and notice a couple of things. For one: it's getting busier. Since the Christmas lights got switched on in my town on Saturday and my old town on Sunday people have now got into the mood. Either that or this extended Black Friday has them out for what they see as deals, savings. People have been so incredibly brainwashed that there is almost a zombie quality about them.

The other thing I notice is something I often think about. It's just more apparent when there are greater numbers of us walking around. People seem to have some kind of spring in their steps these days. There's a definite arrogance about us. We are constantly competing for power over one and other. Not just in the way each of us thinks that we must dress to survive or in other status tools that we wield, although this is a very popular way of people trying to compete with one and other, but also in the way that each of us will refuse to give the other any room. When walking down the same stretch of path we tend not to want to give each other the courtesy. It reminds me of those high school American trash movies when the rebel teen bloke, usually the footballer type, is trying to show his masculinity off to his passengers and refuses to turn the wheel and steer his vehicle out of the way of the oncoming lorry but waits until the last minute.

People seem to have this idea in their heads all the time now. That they should remain on a collision course with the next guy – it's up to them to move for I will not. Women are as bad at this as the men. It's some sort of power trip each of us seems to be on these days. We won't give the other guy an inch. If we move out of their way then we are somehow inferior? I get it, but I don't like it. It's almost as though people have forgotten how weak they actually are, how fragile. Like they seem painfully unaware that just even the sound of a single gunshot or explosion would send everyone in this place into a state of total fear and panic and have them cowering, huddled in the corners and crevices of the town like the cowards that each of us is.

It's almost as though we've all forgotten that it is only together that we can come good and all feel that connection we each strive for. We are here a town centre of individuals and where there are a bunch of individuals there can never be a team. I would say that Everton Football Club were right now playing like a bunch of individuals, neither player knowing quite what the bigger picture is nor fighting for the greater good, and you can see what has happened to them in recent weeks (if you happen to be either British or a fan of the soccer) whereas Manchester City are possibly the best example right now of a team. Individual personalities of course, but there's a togetherness, a unity about them, that is working to a tee and they are comfortable at the top of the league and unbeaten this season so far. It's quite telling.

With only greed from Black Friday to guide us we are bustling around the town centre each day hoping to get to the deal we want before the next guy. Everyone is an enemy at this time of year. We've totally marketed Christmas in the wrong way. We promote selfishness disguised as love. This is the time when retailers should be thanking us for supporting them over the last year and going out of their way to offer us the best deals possible. Some of these ''huge savings'' I have seen have been pretty poor but I can see how someone, if they were constantly distracted throughout their lives, could fall for the advertising and marketing strategies that are behind these ''savings'' and ''offers.''

I think what is really happening as people just about walk into each other for refusal to give the other what they see as the power in their own little high school car/lorry collisions (and some of the people do seem as big as lorries, let me tell you) is that people are genuinely terrified. We seem frightened of everything these days. Frightened of each other, that the other guy might be better than us in some way and so frightened that we might have to look at and think about our shortcomings. We're frightened of walking down the high street. Frightened of Christmas. I'm with Spider Jerusalem when he says that he doesn't think that people are stupid. Distracted, yes. Frightened and weak, yes. But not stupid. Each of us probably knows what is going on better than we let on, it's just that we're too weak and frightened to either admit it or do anything about it.

I've been in ''recovery'' (although, to be completely honest, I don't like referring to myself in this way at all these days. I don't feel as though I am in recovery from anything these days – I'm just a normal person now with a few issues he's working through with his therapist) now for almost three years and in this time I have learned one sad but sure truth about people. We don't change. Not really. In extreme situations like when we are trying to give up drinking alcohol or taking drugs we can often be forced into having to make some big changes we can change slightly, sometimes possibly even greatly – it's just that I've never witnessed it – but out there, ''out there'', where the non-addicts and alkies dwell. . .there isn't much in the way of change, individual change, and so collective change – the change that we are all hoping for I think and, in some way, just waiting around and hoping that someone will come along and lead us into, do all the change for us – is the one that is really needed.

Anyway – that's quite enough rambling and social commentary from me for one morning. I have to go and ''see'' what my eyesight is like these days with an eye test before sauntering into the college an hour late. I'm running out of things to be doing when I get there though. I'd rather be bypassing college and getting straight to tomorrow morning when I can get out to work.

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Stevie

Thinking of work. . .

1131

Lunarer
November 29th, 2017, 12:47 AM
Wednesday, November 29th 2017 (Confronting the Sugar Monster)


It seems like there's a lot to happen between now and then but there are only actually ten weeks to go until I reach my third year of being alcohol free. This will also tie in with a couple of other things. It'll be the end of my second year being free from illegal substances of any kind and it will also be one full year I'll have been off the antidepressants and the cigarettes (which of those two are actually worse for your health I have no idea). This will also be the day that I am set to embark on my next little quest and perhaps my toughest yet – quitting sugar!

It's probably time I started thinking about planing for this. Like smoking I think that the biggest planning for it has already been done, is being done every time I mention it or even think about it. I am constantly telling myself, reminding myself, that this quit will be happening. This is why it was so easy, I think, for me to quit smoking when it seems so difficult for so many others. People tend to tell themselves that their quit date is something that should be feared and delayed, as I have done so many times in the past, whereas I looked forward to it, mentally got myself into the position, the mindset, of a non-smoker. This sugar quit will be approached in the same way.

I'm not saying that quitting sugar will be the most difficult thing I've had to quit in terms of setting the ball rolling. That was drinking. I found just getting some days in a row without the alcohol very difficult indeed and it wasn't until I reached the ninety days that I felt as though the likelihood of me having a relapse had passed. This feeling has only strengthened as time has gone by. With the sugar there isn't nearly as much at stake. My weight and general health is pretty good. My teeth are starting to give me problems (I'll find out more about this on Friday when I go for my first dentist check up in a year or so) but there is no serious health risks like there was with the boozing. While drinking, particularly towards the end, I felt as though my health was always at a tremendous risk, especially my mental health, and my brain and body were under constant stress and pressure. I wasn't very well. To go back to daily drinking would be to ask to have all of that back.

I don't have a real problem with sugar until you actually analyse it. Then you can easily see how we all have a problem with it. With the smoking quit I did exactly that – I analysed it. I monitored how much I was smoking. Thirty roll ups without any filters every day, a little more than this when I was smoking weed. It didn't seem like a crazy amount until I look at the number of cigarettes I now haven't smoked, which is, from today, which is day 294, meaning that I have not smoked 8850 cigarettes, give or take, which is a tremendous amount! This has, going by the cost of them at the time of my quit (£5.05 for 12.5 grams of Amber Leaf) saved me £1484.7 – which would actually be more than this total given the price rises since. To be honest though it is the total cigs not smoked that keeps me from going back and not the money saved. This will be the same with the sugar – it'll be the grams I haven't consumed over time that does it.

Something else I did close to my quit date was change brand. I ''liked'' Amber Leaf tobacco but swapped it in my final month for a brand I did not like. I may have to consider doing this soon too. Swap sugar for sweeteners in the morning coffees before removing them when the quit date arrives. It's likely to be the most difficult quit in terms of chances of a relapse. Not just will it be more likely I cave at the temptation, telling myself that I don't really need to quit this one, but also I am quite aware of which products contain nicotine and alcohol. Sugars a much more subtle. As a result I will have to be more vigilant. It's amazing how many products and foodstuffs contain the sugar. It's bewildering actually. I'll really have to change up my diet. Most of the things I eat and drink at the moment will have to go.

Ten weeks might seem like an awfully long time away but we are about to hit the holiday season and so there will be plenty to occupy my mind. It'll feel as though things are moving quickly since my mind will be concentrating on many different things. This will, if I'm not careful, throw me off my stride where sugar quitting is concerned. I should enjoy this one. Christmas is the time for overeating and binging on sugar and, assuming all goes well (and I now trust myself enough to feel as though it will) this will be my last festive sugar binge. I should make the most of it.

Whatever happens I am hoping today that the weather won't be making a meal of Barry the Bullet and me. Four weeks ago today I went on my solo mission for three days and did fantastically well at work – the best I've done since starting the business nearly ten years ago. That week was one of those times when you realise that I'm actually getting better with all this not drinking and not drugging as I could never have managed to do that earlier in my journey. I always needed someone with me for some reason. Now I know that if need be I can march on myself. To be honest though I don't know if the time for this is now coming to an end. It would be really difficult to get motivated to get myself out there on mornings like this one. It is cold and a mixture of dark from the sky and white from the pavements and roads. Winter is fast approaching and bringing with it a blanket of frost. I am glad that Barry the Bullet will be joining me on my travels this morning.

Just three days to go and then I get to stay in with the heating on.

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Stevie

Thinking about the sugar monster.

1113

Lunarer
November 30th, 2017, 01:35 AM
Thursday, November 30th 2017 (Knowing Our Stuff)


With just one month to go I have to say that I think I'm closing in on the end of the best year of my life. It's not that it's been amazing constantly, I don't know why I think and feel so highly of it, I just think that when I look back next year I will find this one extremely tough to beat. It's had almost everything.

I've learned to live a little (or perhaps even a lot?) outside of Alcoholics Anonymous (which some people in the fellowship never get the balls to go and try) which all came about after I decided to try ninety days without a meeting. I haven't looked back. I finished a college course at Level Six and started another one at Level Seven. I moved in with my girlfriend making this now the first time I've lived with a woman in eight years. I got back into working on the old window cleaning. I swapped AA sponsorship with psychology services and have enjoyed this change of direction. On top of all that I managed to get myself a passport and went on my first ever trip with a partner out of the British Isles. In terms of achievement it has been pretty good.

It's also calmed me down a lot. I'm still not as calm as I would like to be but I do notice a significant reduction in stress levels now that I have a little bit more sober time under my belt. I'm less quick to anger and eager to get my point across. I'm a little more relaxed. I can definitely say that I notice improvements in my life now, internally and externally, and that everyone was right: life can be worth living without drinking and there is an alternative! I wouldn't listen before, in the same way that someone in their own version of my circumstances then wouldn't listen were I to tell them the same thing now, but I guess we each of us have to find our own way out and for what it's worth I seem to have found mine.

If you want to see how totally dependent we've become on technology then you should have been in college on Monday. The systems were down for the first couple of hours and so nothing could get done. There is an assessment that we'll be doing at some point between now and Christmas and we need to be taught some of the theory for it but this couldn't be done either. Lecturers are not what they used to be. By that I mean that I don't think that they actually know their stuff like teachers of the past had to. In order to take the class and teach us this theory we need to be able to access the Student Portal so that the lecturer can get a look at what must be taught. I don't think he'd be able to teach us without these tools – days like Monday, when we have no teaching materials whatsoever because we cannot log onto computers.

Imagine a maths teacher having this issue. From my experience they are the one breed of teacher that always knows their stuff. I've never met a math teacher who I haven't been in awe of. English too. Every other subject and I don't feel there to be the same level of knowledge. Creative Industries – probably the worst level of knowledge given what I've seen in the last two years. It's quite frightening how we've managed to regress in this way yet fool ourselves into somehow thinking that we are more advanced and knowledgeable than we were in the days before all of this technology. Actually I don't know if frightening is the right word I'd use to describe it. It's more disturbing than anything else.

Barry the Bullet and I will be working again this morning (which requires little in the way of technology and so should actually go ahead no problems) and I have to say that it has become something of the negative experience. It might not seem incredibly cold out there if you're just passing through, going from front door to car, and suchlike, but when you are out in it and know that you will be out in it for the whole day, it can be quite a difficult thing to accept. We get on with it though, and, I have to admit, it does actually get a little easier as the day goes on. It's like you realise that there's nothing you can actually do about it and so you switch the cold off somehow. It's strange, but I'm glad it happens. Then it gets to around three in the afternoon and the last hour gets pretty difficult again, just as the first ten minutes or so after the cosy lunch stop does. This will continue to get worse for the next couple of weeks as the temperature slowly decreases.

I don't have to look too far to see just how worthwhile it all is though. The money I've brought in from cleaning windows this summer and into the winter has come in handy for Lindsay and I. We saved up money for the trip to Spain and we've only one hundred bucks to pay for next year's trip. This will be getting paid on Saturday from the wages brought in from tomorrow night's debt-collecting mission. I've also noticed it come in handy for Christmas preparations and have never in my life been ready for the festive period like I am this year. I have most of my shopping in and time and money to spare.

I guess that when it comes to Christmas I still feel as though it's just too early to get into the mood. I notice myself trying to avoid places that would attempt to spread its ''cheer'' onto me and plan on doing this for another few days yet. I do worry that I might not get into the spirit of things at all, the way things are going, but I am sure it's just because it's too soon still, November still. Against my better judgement we are to be putting up the tree and decorations this weekend and so we'll take it from there.

The draw for next summer's world cup will take place tomorrow so when I get home from work I'll know who's playing who in the group stage. I don't know why that's worth pointing out.

Maybe it's word count related.

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Stevie

Depends upon technology to post this.

1115

Lunarer
December 1st, 2017, 01:33 AM
Friday, December 01st 2017 (World Cup Draw)


So there was supposed to be some guy from the University of Sunderland come to the college last Friday to give us all a little talk on what life is like studying broadcasting media and radio down south. This didn't happen. This is because he actually comes today. With me working I have had to give it some thought. It's scheduled for ''sometime around midday'' – whenever that is – which is fine when you are working on things in the college, but with this being a day off and with me having little to be doing these days I fear that there may be much standing around while we wait for this to all get started. I am told that it is really worthwhile attending and so I had said to Barry the Bullet that we'll leave it for the day but that I'd meet up with him this evening for the debt-collecting session. I have the dentist this morning anyway so to go out would just be a frustration trying to get anything done. He kept at it though, kept pushing me, and so we are meeting after I've been to the dentist and I'll just nip away for a while to do my thing at the college and then meet back up with him. It'll all be fine.

Four weeks ago I was out on my own for the week cleaning windows. It turned out to be my most successful week of solo work ever and something I was proud of for a while. This is what we are competing with this week and so with two men you would expect us to move through the work a bit quicker and so in this way we are doing fine for work just now but couldn't support ourselves were we out too much more, if you know what I mean!? We have limited working possibilities and while we are doing well at the moment we would run out of work were we to blitz through it this week and next. In this way I am cool to take today off. It means that we likely have a good little run to see us through the final three weeks of the working year without having to worry about running out of work. I hope I'm making myself clear, but it makes no odds if I'm not.

We went to the Charity Shop Cafe for lunch yesterday. It was freezing and we were looking for shelter. It was our only option. The 'feels like' temperature for the morning had been -5 degrees and so the ladder and the constant ringing out of a cloth full of cold water had taken its toll on both Barry and me come lunchtime. The fingertips become so cold that it is actually impossible to move them. I think back to wintertimes when I was a drinker. Is it any wonder I just about gave up with life when all I really had was the drinking and the hopelessness and this was the way I had to go about getting it? It all seems like such a long time ago now. I'm supposed to be trying all the time to connect with Little Stevie and I think that a part of him might be hiding in the recent winters of my past.

So we sought refuge in the cafe where I once volunteered in a bid to give a little back to the community and to raise my confidence a little. I left a few months ago when new staff came in and tore it to shreds and went about trying to turn it into a profit-making machine. It's been nearly four months since I set foot in there. Barry took one look at the slice of haggis on his plate and said that he's had thicker slices of ham. While I think that he is sprinkling his description with a pinch from the hyperbole cannister I can see what he is trying to say. The place stinks of business and rip off. Poor Elsa. She spent years trying to build this cafe into something that serves the community, and she did manage this as project manager for fourteen years, but now someone wants a profit, someone who thinks about little else other than money, someone who has killed this cafe. It used to be quick and cheerful yet it took more than half an hour to get out plates on the table. Over and over I had to try to get clean knives and forks. They looked as though they hadn't been washed properly. I won't ever be back.

So what's to look forward to in this world cup draw?

As a Scot I am supposed to share this sort of racist view where I want England to get the toughest draw possible and so have the smallest chance of progressing beyond the group. While I don't want England to win the world cup, nor do I believe there is any chance of that, I wouldn't wish for them to go out at the earliest possible stage. I think that when there are no British teams in the competition then it tends to lose its feel a little, makes it seem more distant, like it really is being played miles away in Russia and not through our television screens and into our homes. I'd like to see them get out of the group and I'm sure that whoever they draw they will have a good chance of doing this.

Remember that this is the last ''proper'' world cup we will ever see as in 2022 we will be going to Qatar and having the first ever winter world cup and then after that the tournament extends to an unnecessary forty teams and so the group stage is altered to be much like the women's world cup which is a much poorer format. After that only the God of my Understanding knows what FIFA will think up next. Whatever makes them the most money, I suppose. They love money, so they do.

Four years ago England had a particularly terrible world cup after being beaten by both Italy and Uruguay and playing out a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica and I can see the same thing happening if they get drawn in a group with. . . say. . . Brazil from Pot 1, Denmark from Pot 3, and Australia from Pot 4. They'd also likely struggle if they draw this same group but with Morocco from Pot 4. Or what about Sweden from Pot 3? Germany, Sweden, and Morocco. That would be tough.

Whatever happens there will be a lot of deadweight. Many of the groups will be predictable from the moment they are drawn. It's the way it goes when there are so many teams and so many of the bigger nations missing. The world cup is essentially just a corporate event and no one can deny that since the 1990's there has been a slow but steady decline in the overall quality and delivery of these tournaments.

It'll be better than not having one though.

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Stevie

Looking forward to seeing who England get.

1216

Lunarer
December 2nd, 2017, 02:44 AM
Saturday, December 02nd 2017 (Two on the Borderline)


I managed to somewhat salvage November and in the end walked one hundred and eleven miles over the course of the month, which is nothing at all impressive, but makes it my fifth best month of the ten since I quit smoking and started putting the miles in. It takes my total of the year to a little over thirteen hundred. It's okay, I guess. With the cold and dark out there these days I can't see December being much better. I'll get out of it what I can though. . .

So England ended up with a very favourable draw for next summer's world cup in Tunisia (easy 2-0 win), Panama in their first world cup, and the overrated Belgians. I can't see them not making it out of that group but then I've said that before. In the next round they would avoid all of the Spains and the Germanys and the Brazils and wouldn't start playing against other potential favourites until the quarter finals or later. It's set up nicely for them to do well. I wonder how they will fuck it up. The WILL fuck it up though, they always manage to find a way.

I seemed to have been paced in charge of booking the college Christmas night out and so went with what was the top selection and booked two rooms at Styx. Hopefully everyone from the class will turn up, plus partners. Lindsay is to be working that day but the good thing for us is that the night out will be happening in our town. Because the campus local to us is where all of the creative industry classes are it tends to pull in students from all surrounding areas and so where we live is actually really central for the course I'm doing. It means that there are no issues for us getting home afterwards and if everyone wants to go on clubbing into the night then we can sneak away early and be done with it. This will be happening on December 09th – a week today.

Browsing through a post from this day one year ago on the old WQD site I read about how I have just completed a week at work with Barry the Bullet for the first time in a year and how I'll be starting my Christmas shopping this coming weekend. In comparison I have much of my shopping already done and have worked a lot more than just the one week recently. Last year on this day I was debating whether I should take out a small loan of two hundred and fifty quid from the Credit Union, which I eventually did, but there is nothing like that needed this time around. There is evidence of progress to be found in these pages.

I notice some similarities about last year's post and what I've been writing about this winter though, and they make for slightly concerning reading. There always seems to be, even when I am in humorous mood and writing lightly, a dark undercurrent of cynicism and, dare I say, hatred, for humankind, and it isn't difficult to spot in any post of mine chosen at random. It's something that is always there. It's one of those where I think about the Serenity Prayer and wonder. Is this something that I can change or something I need to accept? I can only keep working on it with Dr. Bacon and see but may have to accept that it will always be there to some degree.

Last year at this time I was also still on the lookout a little for signs of Lindsay's Borderline Personality Disorder. She is supposed to have this and a year ago I had done a little research and was taken aback by what I had found. Should I run a mile? I decided to give it time and take it slow. In the end I have been shown little bits here and there but there have certainly been no psychotic episodes. Given my track record she is the mildest, calmest, least psychopathic woman I've even been with. Borderline Personality Disorder indeed. . .

She does see a psychologist though and on Thursday had been for an appointment. I was brought up for some reason and the conversation went something like this:

Lindsay – ''He gets Schema Therapy.''

Psychologist – ''Ah, so he's been given a diagnosis!?''

Lindsay - ''. . .''

Psychologist – ''Schema Therapy is usually for the Borderline patient. . .''

I had discovered this during my research as well actually but when I brought it up with Dr. Bacon he said that he didn't feel as though giving people labels in any way helped them and that it was much more worthwhile looking instead at methods of treatment, ways of correcting behaviours that don't work for the patient rather than concentrating on what isn't working, which is pretty much a way of saying that I meet the requirements to join the Borderline Club but that he doesn't want me going home and consulting Dr. Google, which I get. And he's right. The AA members that concentrate on the problem all the time are the weakest in any group; the strongest are those who talk about what they've done to conquer problems faced in sobriety (there just aren't very many of the latter group, unfortunately).

So it's quite possible that, according to psychology, both Lindsay and I are ''Borderlines''. I am totally cool with that. The main difference between us is that she has a record of this on her medical file and I don't meaning that she received £50 per week as part of the Personal Independence Payments scheme and I don't. She is also pretty sure of getting her bus pass renewed every year for the foreseeable whereas I will have to see Dr. Bacon about it again closer to the time. It doesn't run out until March but it'll be quick in coming.

So this is the fourth last weekend before Christmas. The others are spoken for but this one seems like it might be quite busy also. Errands to run this morning(including paying off the last one hundred bucks of next year's holiday) before meeting Lindsay's dad for lunch (he's buying, which is decent). Then there is the usual football in the afternoon and then tonight I am going to the AA meeting. It's been over a month since I was at a meeting and I don't know where I'll get the time to go to another one between now and Christmas. Lindsay isn't going. She's going to her pal Kerry's instead. Living a little.

I'll be living too as after the meeting I'll pop in to see them and have a game of darts with Kerry's partner.

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Stevie

The Borderline that throws darts. . .

1162

Lunarer
December 3rd, 2017, 02:18 AM
Sunday, December 03rd 2017 (Twenty Years From Now)


On Friday there was a guy came from Sunderland University to speak to us students about life after the college. What do we want to be doing one year from now? It's an interesting question but I have to admit that when I was making my course choices over the summer the chance of going to study at university down south was one of the factors involved. Restless, irritable, and discontent in my cave at the time I sought something different, a way of getting out of this part of the world and to somewhere different. Some might think that moving from here to Sunderland, even if temporarily, would be like jumping from a chip pan and into a fire (Stu would perhaps even say that it was self-seeking as I was looking for something external to make me feel better about myself, which is not the recovery way – we look inwards) but I was always going to nip along to this meeting to listen to what the professor there has to say.

I quite like the fact that the Level Eight group (the level above my group in studying terms according to the UK's educational hierarchy) seemed to have a much higher average age than those I study with on a Monday and Tuesday when I'm not working with Barry the Bullet. I hear that the year after that – the Level Nine we are talking about, third year university – has a more mature student body generally. Perhaps not in terms of chronological age as such but more in the way that students have to quickly learn to be independent learners and so the ones who drop the bullshit and get on with it tend to be around a lot more whereas those who fuck around usually find themselves falling behind very quickly and move back home.

One thing that was slightly concerning was the advice given about staying in student accommodation. Even at my crazy age of thirty nine (will be forty one by the time this takes place, if it does) they would not recommend anything other than staying in student digs. One of the reasons being that your only alternative is private landlords and we all know that many of them are real scum and there's nothing the university can do to support you. He rattles off some horror stories including students going all winter without a working boiler and some having a rat problem to contend with while they are trying to study.

If we stay in student accommodation then the university can help us with any of our housing needs the duration of the year. It does make sense. I learned a lot about how the university works and how it is run, as well as one or two things about the city of Sunderland itself but it's a long way off. There were only two of us from my year bothered to show up for it. I guess it doesn't really apply to us much. This is mainly for second years but it certainly didn't hurt turning up and if nothing else it shows I am keen.

I think that we are supposed to be putting up the decorations around the house this afternoon. Getting into the spirit of things. It's perhaps a week too soon for me but there were times not long ago when I wouldn't have wallpaper on the walls at this time of year, let alone the luxury of decorating these walls with tinsel. I think I'll put a little tinsel on my house plant. She is doing well and will be eighteen months old come the end of the month. She'll be coming from her new home on the balcony inside the flat and sitting beside the Christmas tree soon.

Last night I met with Lindsay at her friend's house after I had been to the AA meeting, my first meeting in over a month and probably my last one until after Christmas although it would be nice to try to get another one in before then. Or would it? I arrive not long before we get started but the meeting is nowhere near ready. I am asked to share but point blank refuse. I don't even give it any thought. I just say no, such is my right. Turns out that someone else has already been asked and they have refused too. It takes another to refuse before we find our fourth choice and he takes to the top table with Hamish as the chairperson.

The sharer starts off as though he has something on his mind and wants to share it with us but then he notices and brings to our attention something written on a little card on the table that is telling us that will we please keep what we share here related to our problems with alcohol. Then he starts to struggle. Why would he not? He's been here a million times or more. Sitting in a meeting at the top table and talking about his past. Once he gets going he switches into AA mode and pays lip service and throws in every cliché he can think of, anything and everything that he feels is what an AA share is supposed to be about.

The meeting goes on in the same way in the second half. It turns out to be really boring. As I am listening to the same people talk the same stuff they always do whenever I have heard them I wonder where the new guys are. There were one or two had come in recently and one of them had managed even to get to four months. Neither he nor his newcomer fellows are here tonight. They won't be drinking, won't be ''back out there!'', or they might be, but it's more likely that they have just become bored. They've realised quickly that there is a set routine to what happens in this room and nothing ever changes.

Then I look around at my fellows and realise that AA will most definitely change. Twenty years from now almost all of these guys will be dead. One or two of them will still be going but they will not be of sound health. Then there will be just the two of us who will be in our fifties, assuming we make it. Where will the newcomers be? Will anyone still be around who has come in since I came in two and a half years ago?

Both from the top table say the same thing. They say that they don't give any thought as to why they come to meetings anymore, they just come. Dr. Bacon has me thinking differently. He has me questioning my motives and asking myself why I am doing something like this. What is it I need from it? What is the psychological need not being met that has me feeling as though I need a meeting? What else might I be doing in its place?

I was wondering all of that myself for ninety minutes last night.
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Stevie

Wondering where the newcomers are.

1205

Lunarer
December 4th, 2017, 02:05 AM
Monday, December 04th 2017 (Preparing a Sports' Show)


This is it. From now on the time is going to pass by quite quickly and so I had better be ready for it. If Christmas Day was tomorrow then everyone would have gifts to receive of some sort. None of them would be wrapped, fair enough, but everyone would be in receipt of something again this year. I don't know what Lindsay and I would be eating as we've certainly no plans as of yet but Christmas is not tomorrow and so let's get back to today.

On this fine winter's morning I am to be taking to the airwaves earlier than I usually do. I am normally one air from two until three but this morning myself and three other students are going to be trying something different. Rather than keeping going with the same repetitive tasks we are going to try to do a sports' show live this morning. This will be a challenge but something we would like to give a try. If all fails we can simply resort to playing music. The thing is – to make demos to hand into radio stations is all good and well but given the limited material we are faced with using in the college (quick links between songs, mainly) it is a struggle to find anything we have recorded that makes for anything good enough to send to anyone other than your main commercial stations and everyone will be sending their stuff to them. This morning's show will give us something a little different to be editing for demo purposes, potentially.

So I'll be presenting and we have three other guys who will be coming in with their thoughts and opinions on a range of topics, mainly football (actually – exclusively football!!) from this weekend. The lecturer has shown faith in us that we can be left to go and do this but I have no doubt that he will be slightly concerned and so will be listening in at points throughout the hour. That is fine with me. I don't have any issues with that. At least then there might be the chance of feedback. He had said to us that we need to be careful with this kind of thing as it might sound straightforward enough to just go into the studio and talk for an hour but the reality is very different. Even getting ten minutes out of live conversation is trickier than it might seem. What we should plan to do is have longer links between songs. Play music but chat for five minutes in between rather than the thirty seconds or so we are doing in our shows at the moment.

I think that this has come at the right time. I've finished all of my class work and so this is something a little different to get me buzzing about coming into class on a Monday morning where it is completely optional for me. I don't have to attend from now until the end of the first semester at the end of January if I don't want to. If I plan on taking myself to the University of Sunderland then I should be trying to push things along a little quicker, hone my skills and try new things. One of the things that the guy from the university said to us during the talk on Friday afternoon was that we have to quickly learn to be independent learners. Things won't be handed to us at university so we had better learn to take the initiative. This is one area I feel that I have an advantage being an adult and with personal development being high on my list of priorities.

So the initiative is being taken and I have been planning what we might talk about this morning when we go live on air. Since it will be football related the big talking point will be Friday's world cup draw. I am happy for us to largely free associate, and there are one or two students joining me who are very knowledgable regarding the sport of football and so I have no doubt we will be able to chalk up some serious air miles, but I have with me a plan for presenting. This plan will act as a guide for the show. We'll be using this to stick to the time allocated for each subject. It's a way of gauging how well we are doing in terms of keeping to a schedule – something hugely important for a presenter of a show.

The first half will be completely taken up by the world cup draw. We'll look at England's group and some of the other key groups. We'll also talk a little about the teams that didn't make it and the USA and its sour grapes looking to start up a secondary tournament for teams who didn't make the cut, which seems to be money orientated to me.

The second half will have topics gradually decreasing in importance. These include the results of the local teams. There are a bunch of teams from Fife (Raith Rovers, Dunfermline, East Fife, Cowdenbeath) and so we shall be looking at each of them. We'll then be expanding to the rest of Scottish football and looking at champions Celtic, who have played Motherwell three times over the last week (once in the cup final last weekend and twice since in the league), and these matches resulted in two wins for Celtic and a controversial draw midweek which looked like Motherwell might win but a debatable late penalty saw Celtic salvage a draw. We'll be looking at that. We'll look ahead to the last fixtures of the Champion's League group stage matches which take place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week as well as Thursday's Europa League games. Finally we'll touch on women's football and how, if they are supposed to be gearing us up to get into this version of the sport, why have they been so poor at scheduling and promoting it? Last weekend saw the women's FA Cup final, in which Hibs beat Glasgow City 3-0, kicking off while the men's League Cup final was being played. Is this poor promotion of the women's game? Does anyone really care about women's football?

If I have planned this well, and I feel as though I have, there will be enough material for us to get the whole hour out of and keep things engaging. If at any time I feel as though we are struggling there will be the usual playlist of tracks on the screen in front of me that will be available at the touch of a button and we will go straight to the music. Hopefully we will not need to do this though. Nine in the morning is the only slot that we can get to do this kind of thing as after that the station gears up to cater for what it believes to be its key demographic (17-24 year old students) and so reverts to music-driven shows throughout the day, returning to niche shows in the evenings if any of us want to take part in one of them, which I do.

I want to do a three hour niche show on progressive rock and metal.

That's another post's worth though.

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Stevie

Presenting a sporting debate show on a Monday morning.

1247

Lunarer
December 5th, 2017, 01:55 AM
Tuesday, December 05th 2017 (Positive Self Care Values)


I'm not going into the college today. Barry the Bullet and I are going to work instead. This is one of the advantages of being a conscientious student. I get to have a little time off if I need it. I've given my studio time – my ''on air'' time – to another student who has yet to do some of her assessed shows and I don't have to go in for the mornings of either Monday or Tuesday as the work has been done. Tuesday afternoons were podcast afternoons and with me having passed all that now too then there is nothing to keep me in college for this day. So work it is.

Let me tell you, honestly, the thought of lazing around in a cosy college is tempting. Anything to avoid what will surely be another really cold morning. The only way I can think of getting the same effect as those first couple of hours in the mornings before the sun really sets in the sky and offers some solace is to run a cold water tap and then hold your hands under them until they are so cold that you cannot feel your fingertips and that your hands lose some of their usefulness. They work sometimes but there are times they won't respond adequately to your brain's demands of them. Sure, we use hot water in our window cleaning buckets, and it's so cold out there that I can't even feel the heat when I dip the hands in there, but the water is very quick in cooling and then it becomes just another enemy. It's tough going out there.

I have positive self-care in place though. When we were at the Charity Shop Cafe last week (the straw that broke this particular camel's back) I did manage to pick up a waterproof jacket for only £3.50 and we ordered some Sealskin gloves online and they arrived over the weekend. I am hoping that these might help me get through what will this week be a four day week. It's going to be tough, especially if Barry the Bullet lets me down at any point. Going out there on my own in this cold. It's something I may have to face over the next three weeks until we break off on holiday but for now I am confident he will be at the meeting point this morning.

I'm going to have to get used to working in the cold this winter. I need cash. The dentist gave me the bad news on Friday and I have received the email with details of the treatment needed. My next appointment will be a fifty minute one leaving room for root-canal treatment which will come at a cost of two hundred pounds. For one tooth. This is the tooth that has been of concern to me for a couple of years and that my last dentist in my former town was to be looking into repairing if only I would keep from rescheduling appointments for months on end. It's always the price. Two hundred for one tooth. When I factor in the rest of the treatment it seems ludicrous. I can moan all I want but this is just another example of me having to repair damage done while going through a long spell of not caring about myself.

There's money in the Credit Union. With Lindsay and I now living together it seems unfair that my teeth and my reluctance to look after myself properly for a couple of decades should come at any cost to her. It's be my Credit Union account that takes the hit on this work that needs to be done. I can slowly try to build some of it back up every now and then when I have good weeks at work. The two hundred bucks is the biggest bill. If I can get around that then the other appointments can be staggered over a few months. It's doable. I have to find ways of turning little setbacks into positives if I am to continue challenging my negative old self when problems arise and he starts moaning in the back of my mind, telling me to get all defeatist about things.

It's nothing if not further motivation to continue with my plans for a total sugar abstinence when February 07th comes around. Diabetes, poor teeth, the list goes on (although, to be honest, I can't actually think of any other reasons off the top of my head. Maybe weight? As I get a little older it'll be easier to keep it under control if I don't take any sugar whatsoever). The dentist says that the trick is to only take sugar at mealtimes. I've already made my mind up though. There will be no sugar. And if there's one thing I am learning about the sober Stevie it's that he's getting pretty good at quitting things that are bad for him. Enjoy the Christmas binges this year because next year the teeth will be repaired and there will be a diet consisting of absolutely no sugar. Things will be different indeed. Just like they were in 2015 when I had no drink on Christmas day, and in 2016 when there was nothing to get ''outta ma face'' and I had to approach the festivities with a clear head for the first time. And like this year will be when I don't wake up on Christmas morning and spark up a cigarette.

I think that when I find myself stressing a little it is good to sit and think about these problems in the proper context. These are effectively luxury problems I have. Work can be a motherfucker when it gets really cold on the fingers but when I think about the amount of people who don't work and are trying then it puts it into perspective. I do okay in this regard. Even people who don't want to work don't know the benefits of having work and so I think about them too and how lucky I am. I was in the Credit Union a few days ago checking my balance and the place was filled with people taking out loans for Christmas. Funny how this year, the year I am working, is the year I don't have to take out a loan of any kind. Working may be the more difficult way of getting this money (it is doing what I am doing anyway) but when the festive period is all said and done and in the past there will still be money coming in.

The dentist will be getting her fair share of it in the new year.

Better than giving it to booze and tobacco manufacturers.


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Stevie

1147

Lunarer
December 6th, 2017, 01:28 AM
Wednesday, December 06th 2017 (Cold Disconnection)


Yikes! It ain't getting any warmer out there!

That's actually not true. Wait a couple of hours and it'll not be too bad out there at all. Perfect for cleaning windows. Last week at this time it was into the minus temperatures but it's back above now, even if just a little. It's cold enough to be keeping the rain away though, which is one of the main things for me at this stage of the year.

I have my penultimate session of the year with Dr. Bacon tomorrow afternoon and I wanted something positive to say to him. I had taken the chance to ask my brother about putting his address down as a mailing port for online purchases and he said it was cool and so there are a couple of deliveries, Christmas presents for Lindsay I don't want her stumbling across, that have arrived at his. I said that I would swing round and collect them one night this week. I've actually written a bit about that but have taken it out of this post and will make it tomorrow's post instead as it would make this one far too long. It gives me tomorrow off posting in the morning. I wonder however shall I cope!?

We didn't put up the Christmas tree over the weekend. This suits me. It's not that I'm a Scrooge type character (debatable. Actually one could probably say that I am very much like a Scrooge when it comes to most things in life. I struggle to connect with anything – I'm even in therapy for it, it's one of the symptoms of what I am now accepting as Borderline Personality Disorder – and I am pretty negative and more than a little cynical) it's just that I don't want to overdo it and get into the mood for celebrating prematurely. There is still much work to be done between now and the arrival of Santa and I don't want to start getting complacent now because my brain starts thinking that we are off on holiday already. There are more than two weeks of work to be done before that happens.

Another thing I didn't do that I had set out to was Monday's sports talk show at the college. I was there at quarter past eight as usual to get everything set up. I just had to wait until the others turned up and I was good to go. Nine o'clock came and went. No one around. I let the studio slot go to another student who wanted to do an Assessed Show and still no one showed up. They were not getting back to me on social media either so I left the college. Fifteen minutes after I got back to my town they started to ask where I was and if we were going to be doing it at eleven o'clock instead. If this is the competition then I should be fine when it comes to the workplace. I spent around an hour and a half on Sunday preparing that plan for the show though. It was good practice, I guess. It's a shame that because a show is first thing on a Monday morning it can't happen because students can't get into class on time. It won't be like this at university though, I am sure.

I saw English Sara the other day but only from a distance, not close enough to speak with, or even wave to, and I wonder if I might see her again this year. I visited the week I moved from her town to my new one, or early the following week, I can't remember, and I think it's unfortunate that she's never been able to find for herself a pleasant home life. Staying with Dennis now offers her a little more quiet than she had when she was living in the block of flats next to the cave for all those years but it's getting to be more and more chaotic living where she is. Neither her nor Dennis seem to care much about their surroundings and with the addition of two cats I worry about them a little.

When I walked out the last time I noticed for perhaps the first time the smell of smoke on my clothes. It was pretty strong. This must have been what it was like walking out of my own cave for so long but I never noticed it. Now it gets to my throat and chest when I visit places where much smoking takes place. Both Sarah and Dennis are kind of 'smoke them if you've got 'em' types of people, much like I was when I smoked my little heart out back in the day. It can make for an uncomfortable visit. I don't mind being with people who are drinking but when they are smoking in a confined space it can come with drawbacks. I don't know when I'll next see them. Maybe I should make a point of popping in at some point in the week before Christmas.

Since it's been a little milder out there I am enjoying my work a little more. There's still a part of me that thinks Barry the Bullet is going to fuck up again very soon and that I'm going to turn up at the bus station and he's not going to show. The same rules as before will apply: if this happens then he can have the rest of the week off. I want to show him that this business can run fine without him but if it gets any colder then I know it will take a whole new level of motivation to get me working on my own. I showed myself last month that I can do it but it was a pretty easy week to be fair, things won't always be that easy. In some ways I do need him to meet me in the mornings but if he doesn't at any point over the coming winter I will reach a very tough bridge to cross but one that I will have to nevertheless find a way to cross. It'll happen one day for sure.

Tomorrow I have my second to last session of the year with Dr Bacon and we're getting ready to move into phase two of our work: the part where we start to look at ways of solving my problems. This is what I've been waiting for and I've no doubt that 2018 will be an interesting year where my psychology sessions are concerned. At the moment I do feel a little disconnected though. AA at the weekend made me realise how distant I am from them and on Monday morning I felt this at the college too, disconnection.

If I'm honest I've been feeling it a little at home too. In the time I've been living at Lindsay's now we have both gotten a little busier. She started her placement last week and this.

I'll talk tomorrow about what happened when I visited my brother and his family for the first time since March.

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Stevie

Connecting and disconnected.

1205

Lunarer
December 7th, 2017, 01:52 AM
Thursday, December 07th 2017 (The Penultimate Rasher)


As in a rasher of bacon, as in Dr. Bacon, my clinical psychologist. I'll be seeing him again this afternoon, finishing work a little earlier than I might be wanting to in order to make this happen. It'll be worth it in the end for sure. Just one more session after this one, in two weeks' time, and that will be a wrap for 2017 – the year where things started getting better for our once very much so but now only slightly disturbed narrator.

I know that for about a week now children all over the world will have been opening, and I'm sure that plenty of adults will be joining them, advent calendars and finding the little surprises that may be found behind every window of them, usually chocolate although I am aware that there are many different types of these things nowadays and so some might be getting little toys or even perfumes instead. I hope to the God of my Understanding that you, loyal and trusted reader, have such a calendar to be opening and that clicking onto the little icon for this journal's daily post is not the only festive treasure you receive every morning throughout the rest of the month.

Today is a bit more special than the other days of the week in that it is my anniversary day. Today I am now ten months off the cigarettes and going really strong. That also means I am ten months off the antidepressant medication (something also to be celebrated). This also means I am one year and ten months away from the illegal drugs and two years and ten months away from my last alcoholic beverage of any sort. I'm starting to build up some serious time now. I know that some people say that since it is a day at a time in recovery the day counts don't matter, and they don't, but when we reach these little milestones they do, so today it does, to me even if not for you.

Working day to day this week is saving up some cash to take with me to Edinburgh this coming Saturday morning where I will get in the last of my Christmas shopping. That's the plan anyway. I still need to get some things for Lindsay as well as maybe something else for my brother and nieces. Over all I have done well this year. The benefits of being prepared and starting early. The benefits also of working hard to afford the luxury of being able to start early. This week has been mild in terms of weather and so Barry the Bullet and I have done well again, despite some heavy rain yesterday, the first rain we've seen in December so far, but this morning the forecast is proving to be accurate and the temperatures have started to drop again. They are to continue to do so tomorrow and on Saturday. Saturday is fine. I can tolerate traipsing around Edinburgh in the cold (cities tend not to be all that cold anyway – all those people bunched up together keep each other warm) but minus temperatures for work during the week is a little tougher on the hands, on the soul, and so I had better get ready to hand some of my frustrations with this over to a God of my Understanding.

I was supposed to be talking about how things went when I paid my brother and his family a visit this week but it hasn't happened yet. I was so hoping that it would have happened before this afternoon's session with Dr. Bacon as it would be a good talking point – something to really set up the session in a positive way. It would allow my Healthy Adult to come out and be the most present and potent force within me during the session. Alas it has yet to happen. I go into today's session still not having spoken with my brother face-to-face for around nine months, by far the longest time this has happened in the time we've been born. I go into this session saying that I will be attempting to knock on that door at some point soon, which is a position I've been in many times in this room. It's not progress.

I did see one of my nieces though. The youngest one. She's four. Barry the Bullet and I were walking through the town centre and we bumped into her walking in the other direction with her grandmother. The conversation was short and sweet. She tells me that they have their Christmas tree up and that I should come and see it. I will as I have presents being delivered to their address. Their gran says that I sometimes still come up in conversation, whatever that means. It's different though. Since it has been so long I do feel a little. . . dare I say, disconnected. . . from my niece!? I don't feel as though I know her or her sister very well anymore. This sucks considering how close we once were but it's the way things are at the moment. I find it slightly irritating that sobriety should being with it poor relationships to those I was once so close to. It's my one big grumble with being sober.

Barry and I will be braving the elements this morning. There are weather warnings for wind and so I'll have to be careful while I'm up that ladder. Not just is it windy but the temperatures are down to the minus' and so things will be pretty tricky, pretty wintry, but we'll get through it. We'll be finishing up a little earlier so that I can make way for the appointment which is at half past three. After that I will be heading straight to my brother's to take up my youngest niece on her offer of letting me see their Christmas tree.

Hopefully I'll get to speak with her mum and dad to find out what it is that they are into these days which will give me some good ideas for shopping when I'm in Edinburgh. I don't want to go crazy for the Christmas shopping this year and I've already spent a lot of money. I'll get the very last of it on Saturday when I'm in Edinburgh. I like the idea of shopping online and have done a fair bit of it this year again but I feel as though while doing Christmas this way takes much of the stress out of the shopping it also takes the emotional connection out of it.

Emotional connections are what Dr. Bacon and I are working on each and every session.

I'll take them even where Christmas shopping is concerned.

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Stevie

Connecting with shopping.

1151

Lunarer
December 8th, 2017, 02:27 AM
Friday, December 08th 2017 (Over the Tipping Point)


So today marks four full weeks since I moved out of my cave. It was actually eight weeks tomorrow that we rented the van and Kung Fu Pandis and me moved all of my crap from the cave to this here flat, my new home. Then I discovered that I had to give four weeks notice to the council before they would permit me to move and so I had to cling on for a while longer. I actually rather enjoyed the final four weeks I spent there. For a couple of nights a week, usually midweek when I was working so as to cut down on the travelling, I would stay there. There was no bed so I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag and it was not the most comfortable I've even been, but it was my last few nights of bachelorhood and I wasn't going to give it up without and song and dance. Four weeks ago this morning I woke up on the floor, made myself a hot chocolate, and then went out to work myself in the morning before Gillon drove me to the council office to hand in my keys. The very last of my things travelled with me on the bus that night.

This is not the longest time I have spent away from this cave. I spent six weeks away one time. That was around the time the council were receiving anonymous calls about the property possibly being abandoned and so I had people coming out to visit me in the cave and all the rest of it. Six weeks and I didn't set foot in the building. That was at some point around last Christmas and again over the summer. It was always nice to know that it was there as an option though. There were a few times when I had planned to go back to Lindsay's after work and so on but felt tired by the time it was over and needed a little solo time. This was when it was much more convenient to simply make the shorter trip back to the cave and lock the door. I don't have this luxury now.

So if I can make it until Christmas Eve I will have spent the longest time away from the cave since I moved in there back on September 01st 2013, eight months before I even began writing the original Sobriety Experiment journal on the old WQD website. Seems like a long time ago now. That was before the days of Dr. Bacon and when I was seeing two counsellors in John and Margaret. They were not nearly as effective. Counsellors are poor in my experience. Psychologists are good. That's what my experience has taught me anyway. Counsellors know little bits here and there but they just don't have the training or experience to really make a difference when people have long term problems. They are like entry level psychologists. You see one to get you through while you're waiting on your referral to come through. This was the longest time I'd spent 'living' in one place since walking out on my family.

Enough of this reflecting on the past, if that's what I'm even doing, and more thinking and planning for today.

Yesterday Barry the Bullet was thinking about acting as an anchorman for me doing a dodgy window (standing at the bottom of the ladder to support it in case of me falling) and he said he'd better do it as I was over the tipping point. I thought that this has often been the best way of describing my life actually. Possibly not now that I have calmed down a lot in recent years but definitely over the whole thirty nine years. It would have made a brilliant title for this journal actually. I may start another in the new year just so that I can change it. Over the Tipping Point. I love it!

Right then – yesterday I had my second-to-last Dr. Bacon session of the year and then went to visit my brother and nieces. What happened there?

One of the things I was told by Bacon was that in the last three years it seems as though I have made some really positive changes and a lot of progress in all areas of my life. He would even go as far as to say that I have come as far as I likely could have without doing any of the hard stuff. That's a bit of a backhanded compliment. As far as I could have progressed without actually doing any of the difficult stuff. He's right. Whenever I am in a position where a risk is possible, something that will put me out there emotionally and risk Little Stevie becoming hurt or embarrassed, I tend not to take it. I tell myself how far I've come and then bottle it. In this respect I am not any different from your average punter in Alcoholics Anonymous. I should be disappointed with myself but Dr. Bacon says that this is not the time for my Critical Parent to be running things, telling me that the way I am doing things is silly or that connecting as I am attempting to is unnecessary or doesn't matter.

In terms of visiting my brother things could have gone a lot more smoothly. I thought I would message him to ask if it would be fine to come around and pick up my deliveries and he gets back to me before long saying that there will be no one in tonight as they are going out but if I want to he'll leave the deliveries in the back garden where I can get them. He then messages back saying that Youngest Niece had said that I was going to be coming round last night and that she was gutted when I didn't show up. I don't know if this was intended for me to go on some guilt trip but it has certainly had this effect.

Dr. Bacon then assigns me some homework. He says that while it is not his job to be my Critical Parent mode but that it is time he started to push me. That I need to be pushed. He suggests I contact my brother and explain that while it is okay for me to swing round and pick up my deliveries I would also like to see the nieces at some point. I have to start asking for whatever it is that I want. There are needs that are not being met and the main reason is that I don't ask for them to be. This has to change if I want anything else to change and the time to start doing this is now. Whe I get home I notice that Gary has messaged me to ask if I got the bag okay. I reply that I have but that I will have to pop in some time soon after letting Youngest Niece down last the other night.

I am waiting to hear back still.

I like the idea of being pushed to do the things I find difficult and I also like the idea of the most difficult parts of my recovery still having to be done.

It means that all of the biggest improvements and changes are yet to come.


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Stevie

Waiting by the phone.

1257

Lunarer
December 9th, 2017, 01:43 AM
Saturday, December 09th 2017 (College Christmas Night Out)


Lindsay is working this Saturday as well as next. This gives me the football feast that it Saturday afternoon without a vagina anywhere closeby – which is something that every man dreams about from time to time whether he admits it or not. Next weekend I will have a sporting bonanza with my student discounts as both my local football and ice hokey teams are playing at home (also with Lindsay absent through work) and so there's that to look forward to as well. Tonight we have the college Christmas night out but until then I have the house to myself. So I'm making the most of it and travelling to Edinburgh in a while to do some Christmas shopping. If I leave early enough I can make it back in time for the football starting at three o'clock. This is the plan. I like having plans.

On Wednesday night I had plans to visit my nieces but they fell through and moved to the following day where they fell through again. It's dragging on and on. Dr. Bacon and I are hoping that this can all be resolved soon so that I might move on to the next phase of the connection building process. It's okay reconnecting with family but I am not to be putting all of my eggs constantly in their baskets. Same with Lindsay. I have to get out into the world and meet new people, not exactly something I am filled with enthusiasm about. I find people to be generally boring and selfish.

Current places I am involved in which offer chances for connections are not working for me. AA and Restoration are both places which claim to offer this but we, Dr. Bacon and I, find these connections too safe. These are places where I am all but ensured I will be accepted. It's scary but true. I guess I am really lucky in this regard. To have a psychologist to help me with this. I could have been one of those people who get caught up in believing that those people I meet in recovery are the best people, that they ''get me'' while others out there never will, and that the best connections are the AA connections. I could have been one of those poor sods who ends up taking years, sometimes decades, to realise that this is not at all true. It's the connections we build outside of the rooms, where things are not so safe, they are the connections that establish the strength of our sobriety.

College peers are too young to really connect with in the way Dr. Bacon and I are really looking at. I get on with the class but they seem so immature being half my age. I was on the Facebook group chat last night for a little look, see what was being said about tomorrow's night out for Christmas, and there were a few talking about the Assessed Shows as we hit the mad rush period to try to submit all of this stuff in on time by the end of the semester. I didn't break a sweat but managed to finish all that off a couple of weeks ago. I'll be taking next Tuesday off so that I can work since I'll be taking Thursday off work to go to the Restoration Christmas lunch. College has become the bottom of my priorities at the moment but when semester two begins it will leap back to the top, after being sober of course.

I don't know quite what Dr. Bacon has in mind for me next year but it would appear that I will be getting much homework and that I will have to go out into the big bad world and attempt to connect with strangers in an unsafe environment, places where risks must take place, and go out there and be vulnerable. This is starting to sound awfully like what I had hoped and prayed that AA sponsorship would be like but never came close – someone that can show me how to live without not just booze but also trying to challenge some of the lifelong behaviours that I've picked up along the way that were reasons for me feeling that there was no option for me but a life of drinking and drug taking.

Dr. Bacon says it's important to remember that while I often feel as though just manning up will be the best way to go about things when I feel nervous and worried this is the worst thing to be doing, that I should remember that these are lifelong patterns of behaviour and thinking for me that started long ago with the unexpected and sudden death of one of my parents when I was but a boy. Manning up just isn't going to cut it. He also says that he is aware that we haven't even talked about my children yet. Does this mean that we will be doing so over the next few sessions?

We were doing some chair therapy at the last session. This is when we designate a chair to each part of myself we are working with at any given time. He wants to try to get to know Little Stevie more and so I spend most of the time in the Little Stevie chair. This is when I am to think and talk only in that mode. Try not to let any others come in and speak for him. I close my eyes and try to do the work as best as I can. Dr. Bacon brings up the fact that I have my eyes closed and wonders why. The truth is it is very difficult to look someone in the eye when I am taking this role. It feels ridiculous and embarrassing. I know that this does not bode well for me but when in that mode I feel unable to connect with my psychologist. I'm in trouble.

It's Saturday morning meaning that it has been thirty six hours since I contacted my brother and his wife separately – Gary to ask about coming around to see the nieces and Scottish Sarah, just as an ice-breaker, to give me some Christmas present suggestions for them – as I promised Dr. Bacon I would but there has been no response from either as of yet. One of the things I wondered was how we would just move on from this. How would we go about just explaining to Little Stevie that these relationships are dead and buried, if this is the way it ends up going down, and then how would he go about getting over that and trying some other things?

The time for this is not necessarily yet but the lack of response has put me into the thinking that when the next session comes around in a fortnight I want to start to put my brother and his family behind me.

With nowhere to go for Christmas dinner I should also start looking into finding out if there are any tables free at any of the nearby restaurants.

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Stevie

Lacking any kind of family.

1215

Lunarer
December 10th, 2017, 02:37 AM
Sunday, December 10th 2017 (Back to Church/A Suicide)


Edinburgh was pretty darn cold yesterday morning but I made it back for three o'clock was a nice little bonus. They were having a little something last night they called Sleep in the Park which was aimed at raising awareness of homelessness in the country. They managed to get together eight thousand people to all sleep together out in the cold of December in the hope that people might begin to understand something of what it might be like to sleep out there all year round. This will, of course, suffer from the same plight all charity work tends to in that only those who have an interest in the first place will jump on the bandwagon. I also feel that sleeping out in the cold, for me, was most distressing because of the loneliness associated with it. I felt like I was the only person in the world and that no one cared. I would imagine this is how most people feel when they are in similar and worse situations and so I don't really think that eight thousand people sleeping together helps to drill home that point. It's still great what they are doing though.

As I walk the Edinburgh streets I get to see how the other half live and it is disgusting. So much excess, so much having, and taking, and wanting, the true human cattle that we are, we're all but walking over one and other like the insects as we go about our business on a cold and frosty December. There's a lot going on in my head that makes me not really arsed with this place at the moment. My brother and Scottish Sarah have not send as much as a simple text message in response to my homework assignment for Dr. Bacon and so that is playing on my mind this morning. Add to that the homelessness in our country and the sickening difference between what some people have and what others do not and how little these worlds ever band together in common good and harmony, especially at this time of year, the time of greed and more excess.

More than all of this there is something else hampering my chances of enjoying a little shopping experience this morning. Lindsay and I were at a wedding back in May. Seven months ago. One of her friends was marrying a guy she's only just met four or five months earlier. No one seemed very sure about the whole scenario but I didn't know anyone so didn't really have a judgement to offer other than that Lindsay and I could never have imagined jumping into something that quickly. This friend, people suspected, was marrying this guy as a rebound from her husband killing himself a few months before.

So you have a suicide in August last year. Then there's a wedding in May of this year. There will be another funeral as I am told yesterday morning that this friend of Lindsay's had a fall out with her husband yet again this week and he has now gone and killed himself. So she's had two men commit suicide on her in the last sixteen months. This is bad. Lindsay was away gossiping with the girls over this last night while I stayed in and didn't bother going to the college Christmas night out. It's not much of a place for me to be connecting with people. I suppose it's better than sitting in on my own but I miss being able to do this from time to time and have done almost since the moment I moved here. It's not the cave I miss as such, it's just being able to relax by myself every now and then.

I don't know how he did it. Killed himself, I mean. You might not think it matters but I would want to know if it happened to someone I know. Did he really mean it or was it an attempt at gaining attention that went too far? There may be no way of knowing but there are certain ways that leave no room for wondering. Things like sticking a gun in your mouth and pulling the trigger or jumping off a bridge. The former isn't likely as it's difficult in Britain for the average guy to get his hands casually on a loaded gun and there aren't many bridges within walking distance either. I'll maybe find out soon enough but to be honest it doesn't really feel like my business. I don't know any of the people involved beyond facial and voice recognition really.

Suicide is something I never talk about anymore but that did take up some of my thinking time in years gone by. I feel as though every year, around this time actually, I was getting more and more geared up for it. I resented everyone and so in a way this would be a way of punishing them. It likely would have worked too. It was more than just that though. I really didn't and couldn't see any other way of living other than that which I was living at that time. I now know how premature my thinking was, how narrow my scope, how limited my insight, and it's very easy for me to forget how it was back then. I feel like I'm trying to remember what feeling suicidal feels like but I can't do it. Makes me wonder if I was serious about those thoughts. I remember thinking that I was serious about them at the time but right now I just can't recapture it, can't connect with it. Right now I am seeing and hearing all about how those who it leaves behind connect with it. Not nice.

I'll be leaving soon to go to church. This time I'll be going on my own. That's okay. I have the choice of three now that are close by (four actually, if I wanted to try one I haven't been to – there are shit loads of them in this town when you start looking) but I'm going to go to the one we went to when we last went to church two or three weekends ago. It was adequate although I prefer the one in my old town the most. I'm not in the mood for walking all that distance this morning, don't have time now anyway, and the bus times kinda suck around here on Sundays.

After that I will be returning here for to do some housework and then to help put up the Christmas tree and decorations. We'll be getting into the festive spirit for the coming two weeks. Then there's the Manchester derby. It'll be the new week before I know it.

So we're getting into the spirit of things at last, eight thousand people slept out on the streets last night and suicide continues to be the main killer of young men in Scotland.

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Stevie

Lives on. . .

1183

Lunarer
December 11th, 2017, 02:52 AM
Monday, December 11th 2017 (Accidental Death)


Morning. I hope you're well. I'm heading into college today but I don't exactly know what for. Everything has been done. Last week I had a little look ahead to the second semester which will begin in late January and end in June when the study year ends. It looks like it's going to be a piece of piss (a pretty straightforward affair) and it's nothing I'll be worrying about. Keeping things a day at a time should mean that I'm not supposed to be thinking about it either at the moment but there is literally nothing for me to be doing regarding college work at the moment and so as a way of keeping me interested and motivated I am looking, even just peeking, at what will be coming next and seeing if there is anything I can be doing to prepare for it but as things appear there isn't much to prepare for. I'll just do as I've been doing so far in this little educational journey and I'll be more than fine. I'll be taking another day off to go and work with Barry the Bullet tomorrow so I have only one day to get through. I'll get to find out how the Christmas college night out went, which is at least something.

Turns out that he fell out with her after a blazing row and then beat her pretty badly. This caused him to go and score some heroin (which I understand he had not taken in some time) and then was found the next morning having had an overdose. I certainly wouldn't class that as a suicide. I think words need to be chosen more carefully. This was an accidental death, am overdose having not taken the drug in a long time. Either way it is a tremendous strain on everyone involved at this time of year – the time of year we pretend we have a happy family. For them there will be no such delusions this year. Or maybe the surviving members will band round and show one and other a strength they never knew they had.

There seems to be no such strength shown from my own family and we are struggling to communicate with one and other which has been the story of this family since at least my birth. If there's one thing I am learning from therapy with Dr. Bacon it's how healthy adults deal with certain situations and it is now staring me in the face how obvious it was going to be that I was going to grow up exactly as I have done – with a king-sized Detached Protector mode! My mum and brother and sister-in-law suck at communication every bit as much as I do. It's just that I am the one with a psychologist behind me trying to push me in the right direction and so it would appear that I am the one making all the effort to change my ways.

Mum is to be having a boxing day dinner as usual but whether or not I show up will depend entirely on whether or not I see my nieces between now and then. I'm not begging to see them but my brother and Scottish Sarah know that I am keen. Dr. Bacon was specific about this – I have to be better at communicating what it is that I want. Now the ball is in their court although I have yet to hear back from either of them.

This Christmas is potentially an enormous turning point in my family dynamic. I'm going all in this year. I know how much stress this has caused me in 2017, how much of my time with Dr. Bacon has been taken up with my mother and brother and nieces and how much we've talked about it and looked at it and thought about it, now we're acting on it, and it's causing me stress I don't feel is worth it any longer. There is a whole raft of psychological expertise within Dr. Bacon and it's waiting on this family situation to blow over so that we can move on to the next phase of my recovery from my dysfunctional family life and upbringing.

This next phase has been outlined. He wants me to start taking risks in the new year by going out and actually being a member of society. This means trying to connect with other human beings. This will be very difficult and I don't think it can happen when so many of my eggs are in my direct family's basket. The sooner all is resolved with them then the sooner I'll be able to go on and try to build these new connections. In this regard Christmas and the New Year will be coming at exactly the right times. I get to (maybe) see my family members one time all the while being able to acknowledge and accept that I may not see them again until next Christmas. Having this knowledge and insight now makes everything seem a little easier.

In many ways I feel more disconnected with the world than when I was drinking. I didn't go to the college night out. That sucked now that I think about it. I've been disconnected from my family for a long time now too but I am realising that these people are damaged too and don't really have the means of trying to connect that I used to give them credit for. Still doesn't help me feel connected though.

I'm off from the college again tomorrow so that Barry the Bullet and I can get back on with all things window cleaning. This week and next week is all we have left of the working year. Let's make the very best of it. There are big differences between him and me this time around. I would be comfortable this year even if we were snowed in from tonight and never got out to clean another window or collect another door until mid-January. I know that Barry is not living like this at the moment. He's very much on the breadline still. He's talking about his stash of cash that he's hoarding for over the Christmas period which reminds me of my own stashes I used to keep and may very well return to keeping (you really never know what is around the corner in this life) and he's not nearly ready for what will be coming in two weeks.

He's where I used to be every year. Everything left until the last days then a mad rush to get everything done. At least he knows that he'll be with him mother and sister on Christmas morning. All I know is that I'll be waking up here for breakfast and present exchanges.

I don't know what the hell we'll be doing for the rest of the day.

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Stevie

There's still much ambiguity regarding Christmas day.

1175

Lunarer
December 12th, 2017, 01:26 AM
Tuesday, December 12th 2017 (Absent Families)


There are two little towns that the Loser's Bus journeys through on its way from the town I used to live in and where the cave may be found (the town where my work and college course is) to the town I wake up in every morning now and they have lovely Christmas decorations lighting up the streets. With it being dark from around four o'clock these days I will be getting to see them every time I travel between towns after work or college from now until our last working day which is scheduled for the Friday next week. It would be nice if one time they would put on a double-decker bus as these decorations would look really nice from the top deck of a bus. They help put me in a happy mood from the lower deck just the same though.

I mentioned yesterday that I had been in touch with my mother and we ''spoke'' (Facebook) again last night. With two weeks to go until Christmas one might think that I am overreacting in my panic about not knowing where I will be going but in previous years it has been clear. This year it is in no way so. The more time passes and we get closer to the day the less time Lindsay and I have to go about booking somewhere to eat should we find ourselves without family to go to. It's already likely too late to get a table most places. Lindsay's family is slightly less absent than my own since we see her father around once a month but he's already explained that he is going out to get steaming drunk with his friend on Christmas day and is not bothering having a dinner or anything like that. Her brother and his wife do things turn about – this year it is their turn to go to her parents' for dinner. That leaves my family. My dysfunctional family.

For years it was a case of: I do Christmas day and then mum does boxing day. In recent times it has been my brother who does Christmas day but mum has continued to do the boxing day thing. She tells me that she is planning on doing it again this year but has left it this late because she's been busy. Busy? Too busy to text or throw a quick message up on Facebook? She must really be busy. She hopes I'll be there. It's not boxing day I'm worried about. I would be happy not to bother going if I'm honest but I have to ask how badly do I want to see my nieces this Christmas!?

I am struck by a disturbing new thought pattern. I don't know if I am all that bothered. My nieces used to be so important to me. Things are changing. I am beginning to realise that this battle for the love of my family can never be won and am seriously thinking about this Christmas being the last involvement I have with them. This would mean not knowing when I would next see either niece. There is always social networking and Scottish Sarah uses it as a platform, a little stage to show off her creations.

I feel as though this is one area of life that has really seen me stagnate this year. I've wasted so much time trying to find ways of connecting with a family that was never going to be there no matter what was said or done. Mum says that I am welcome at her house on boxing day and that she is aware that I do not get along with her partner. I find that a really strange comment. We don't speak. That's all that really happens. He speaks to Gary while I sit and listen. The last time I spoke with him was when I, as the only sober person at Gary's wedding, drove him home drunk and left him lying on the floor. I don't particularly love the guy but I wouldn't say that I don't get along with him.

She says that he and I are very similar in that we are both very difficult to get along with and so she understands why we might clash. Again – I don't get what she is saying. We don't clash. We just don't speak. When mum tells me – or rather, when she tells Little Stevie – that he is very difficult to get along with, he hears that same thing he has heard all of his life from this woman. He's fundamentally unlovable. She is basically saying that it is my fault that she has been absent all this time which is what I've always thought anyway. Little Stevie has always known that there was nothing he could ever do to make her feel the same way about him as she does about his younger brother.

Growing up knowing all of this is the main reasons I am in therapy to begin with. This is great stuff to be talking about with Dr. Bacon when I see him next week but in terms of connecting with my mother I have realised that it is pointless. No connection can ever be made. It's time I looked at things within my family not as I'd like them to be but as they actually are. It's about time I faced up to the future without them. Mum says that she doesn't have a great relationship with my brother either and that they are ''hopeless at returning text messages and phone calls'' and that she only hears from them when they want a babysitter.

I wonder if mum ever looks at this and wonders why she has very poor relationships with both of her sons, her only children. Does that not tell her something? It tells me something. It tells me that the Detached Protector in me is so strong because I had some truly gifted teachers. My mother and brother are fucking experts at detaching from things and just hoping for the best. They act a good part, they may even have convinced the world that they are not detached in any way, as I probably have to some extent, but the truth is becoming clear. We don't connect because us three are so alike in terms of being cut off from our feelings and desires. If I was allowed to say so I would comment that it is pathetic but Dr. Bacon doesn't see how any good can ever come of being critical like that.

In the next year there will be many changes in my life once again as I take therapy to the next level. We are going to be looking at other places I can go to find people I can try to connect with. My efforts with my family have been incredible failures but that is because it took me so long to see that there was no interest there. Things will be different from now on. I won't be wasting time this year with people who don't want to be a part of my life.

I still don't know if I'll be seeing any of my family over the Christmas period but next year, whatever happens over the next two weeks, I think I'm ready to say goodbye to my brother and mother. I'll keep my distance.

It's time for a completely new start.

Roll on 2018.

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Stevie

Looking forward to the new year.

1266

Lunarer
December 13th, 2017, 02:07 AM
Wednesday, December 13th 2017 (Parenting Little Stevie Adequately/Twenty-Four Hours a Day)


Perhaps those in AA could say that the ultimate goal for them in attending meetings in the frequency that some of them do would be connection. They call it ''Fellowship'' but what I think they are really meaning is connection. They are attending the meeting because they strive connection at that moment in time. This would be good parenting for their young and vulnerable inner children, I think, although I still get very confused about all this at times. This would at least be them setting it out clearly what they are getting from the meeting. They are outlining clearly what the psychological need is that is not being met before the meeting that can be fulfilled by going. To say that you are going to a meeting to stay sober even though you are years into recovery does not seem to be good practice in being honest.

I wonder why it is then that I don't go to meetings more often. AA appears full of lonely people who have struggled their whole lives to connect with others in a meaningful way, just like me, and so I guess that for many of them to at least have some kind of connections with people, even if it means to sit around a table eating chocolate and drinking caffeine while talking about the past, is something of an improvement. I could say that I am not doing my homework with Dr. Bacon very well as I am giving up the opportunity of practising connecting with people but I like to think that I am doing my homework well: I don't go to many meetings because the connections offered there are weak, insignificant, unfulfilling. They don't meet my need for connection. So I have to continue to look elsewhere.

I do like some of the ideas that can sometimes be found in some (very few) of the meetings and so the literature is my only real way of doing this. I say ''literature' but I mean just that one book: the Twenty-Four Hours a Day book. This past couple of weeks there have been a couple of interesting things said in there. It's just a little book where there is an entry for each day of the year. You get the page for each day split into three sections:

1) Thought for the day
2) Meditation for the day
3) Prayer for the day

It's the first part that interests me (the other two seem a little patronising and are designed to keep you locked into the fellowship) and after each day's paragraph it is summed up in a question. I have to say that I can never answer these questions with a direct and instant answer either way, which is often slightly worrying, but it is proof enough and reminder that I am not 'sane' yet, I am not 'well', just because I no longer feel the need to go to meetings on a regular basis. I am still very much a work in progress and need daily reminders of where it is I am and where it is I want to be.

Some of the questions I've been asked this last couple of weeks or so that have got me thinking are:

Do I look for the good in people?

Am I less sensitive?

Have I gotten rid of inner conflicts?

Am I making good use of my money?

Am I on guard against wrong thinking?

Am I keeping my thoughts constructive?

At first I can read these questions and give an instant 'yes' or 'no' but then within a fraction of a second there is doubt. Do I look for the good in people? It would be easy just to assume that I don't but I think that I am always on the lookout for signs of people acting in selfless ways and that much of my pain and distaste of all things human is because I so seldom find it. Much of my sense of disconnection stems from me not actually liking the fact that there are humans on this earth – let alone the fact that I am one! It's a big concern. The other animals may not have this problem. They don't care what they are. They just get on with it.

I think I am making better use of my money but if I have some to spare, which I usually do these days, why am I not putting more into my debts? Would clearing them as quickly as possible not be the best for my future? I think so. Yet I am fine with my debts being as they are for the time being.

I know that wrong thinking hurts and so I am vigilant but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't still sometimes 'enjoy' being negative. It's a part of my personality that I may have to work on accepting more of and trying to change and tweak less of. We'll see.

Over all things are definitely better and I'm looking forward to a third sober Christmas although this will be only the second one I can honestly say that I've enjoyed as 2015 totally sucked. This Christmas is still a big unknown. Lindsay and I have shown ourselves to be poor in communicating what we want to do and so we are looking at spending Christmas day in the flat our two selves as a very real possibility. I'll be ready for it if it is going to happen. I always say that the fun of Christmas is in the two weeks' build up and that the fun ends on the night of Christmas Eve. I think this could definitely be the way it turns out this year as well.

At some point on Christmas morning Lindsay's dad will be picking her up and they will be going to see her son. He stays with his grandmother in another part of town. During this time I will be in the flat on my own. Some Christmas. What I'd really like to do at this point would be take the walk to the next town and visit the AA meeting that I am told will be open at midday. The guy who runs it also doesn't have a family and so has promised to open the meeting. I would like to be able to say that I attended an AA meeting on Christmas day but the lack of transport would mean a five hour walking round-trip. I don't think that Lindsay will be away for anywhere near that length of time. I don't know.

Whatever happens I have been better enjoying these last couple of days. It's back to work today and then the Restoration Christmas lunch is tomorrow. I've looked out my Santa hat for the occasion.

I'm slowly getting into the spirit of things.


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Stevie

Getting into the spirit of things.

1169

Lunarer
December 14th, 2017, 02:09 AM
Thursday, December 14th 2017 (The Restoration Christmas Lunch)


On Monday I learned that I was wrong not to attend the Christmas night out with the college crew. I have a place within the group I may not have been aware of until I walked in late on Monday afternoon for the only class I have to still attend in this first semester. Not going was a mistake, an opportunity to bond and connect with those who, assuming I take my studies all the way, could be spending the next two and a half years with missed. I'll know for sure for next time.

Today I have the chance to connect with people from addiction social group and peer support service Restoration. I am the longest running member of the current group although I barely attend these days. I think I've been once in the second half of 2017. This makes me wonder why I am bothering to go this year. I don't know the people who attend now and many of them are without their main drug of choice but are still pissing around with drink or other drugs they consider to be lighter. I don't know if my involvement in this place will be coming to an end this afternoon. With Barry the Bullet and I not getting out to work yesterday due to the first rain and sleet of the year I could perhaps do with bumping this thing today and going out instead. It's not that I'm desperate for cash or anything, it's just. . .

Lindsay seems to be getting on much better with her placement now. Today marks the end of her fourth week of sixteen of her sign-off and so in three months or so she will have finally graduated at last. She should be working by the time we fly off for my fortieth birthday holiday.

We've booked dinner for Christmas day at a local restaurant. Tired of waiting for confirmation that something will be happening with my family Lindsay and I decided just to book a table before we ran out of time and there was nothing left. We have dinner at four. Eighty quid. Not long after this I received a message from Scottish Sarah asking me to stop having parcels delivered to her address. I had asked my brother (over the phone of course – I haven't seen him in person for nine months) and he said it was fine, his wife has issues with it though. It was all very timely. I had just booked dinned for Christmas day when I get this message. I took from it that their door was now firmly closed.

After a brief exchange of texts and me promising I would not have any more delivered there but that I am still expecting one more thing to arrive in a few days, and asking if there was anything that my nieces might want as presents ( I asked this of her a couple of times last week and this and never got so much as a text message in response), I received this very telling message, which starts with her talking about whether she had thought of anything yet that the nieces might want:

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I've not thought about it no. If I was ask them they'd probably say you since you've disappeared from their lives this year. I'm pretty pissed off about how you went about dropping out of Gary's birthday and letting my kids, your nieces down a few times this year, saying you'll be somewhere and then didn't bother. Pretty brutal if you ask me. I've never contacted as I was angry and didn't want to speak to you whilst feeling like that. If you want to buy them something they're needing. . . ''

and so on. . .

So what I am learning about my family this year, and it would seem that this extends now to people who have recently joined from other families through marriage, is that we DO NOT COMMUNICATE AT ALL!!!!! How many families are like this I wonder? Scottish Sarah's method for communicating after being hurt by me is to ignore me for an entire year and then have an outburst two weeks before Christmas. My brother's method is to just ignore me for an entire year. My method is to talk with my psychologist about it and only through his help and guidance make attempts at communication.

Gary and me learned not to talk about this when we were very young. Things just get boxed up and put away, never to be talked about. Now it would seem that this is Scottish Sarah's method also. Lindsay says that her family is exactly the same. Yesterday would have been Lindsay's mothers' birthday. She died three years ago as a chain-smoker and active heavy drinker. It's a real shame. Her father seems to try, I think, in his own way, to get to know his daughter and to help connect with her and keep a relationship open. I think he struggles. He lost his father when he was a little boy too and so communication was perhaps the same from his parents regarding this. You don't talk about it and it will all just work out itself by magic. Magic doesn't exist though. There is only communication.

I wonder about Sarah's comments. I had no idea at the time but I am assuming that the Metallica gig was Gary's birthday thing that we pulled out of. I wonder about some of the other things though. When were these times when I said I would be there and then didn't show? If anything it has felt more and more like I have been excluded from their lives as each month has passed. It's all down to a lack of communication skills from anyone in our family.

My mother is as bad as any of us. I have learned this through working with Dr. Bacon as well. When I wanted to speak with mum about dad for the first time in our lives she guided me to her house. She lets out a house to a family and in the locked attic are dad's things. Mum said that if I went to this door and asked her tenants if we could arrange a time to get into the attic and collect these things then we would talk. Now I am thinking that this is her following her own pattern of a lifetime. Rather than contact these people herself she asks me to knock on the door of her let house and ask people I've never known to arrange something. It's the sort of behaviour a Detached Protector would demand.

Today I have to put all of this to one side though. I have to don a Santa hat and go sit with a bunch of recovering alkies and addicts and eat some Christmas dinner. I've no intention of eating breakfast and will be walking to the restaurant (eight miles) and then walking home again (eh. . . another eight miles) and so will have earned a bath when I get back.

Then I think Lindsay and I had agreed to watch The Wolf of Wall Street tonight.

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Stevie

Starting to realise that communication is KING!

1226

Lunarer
December 15th, 2017, 01:53 AM
Friday, December 15th 2017 (A Lunch For Eight)


I've brought my plant indoors. They say that we are so useless when we sober up and come off drugs that we should attempt to keep a house plant alive for a period of one full year, This will teach us about responsibility and so on. I managed to kill off two plants when I first tried this but last June I gave it another go and bought a Dragon Tree which lived with me in the cave for the first part of its life. Having made it successfully past its first birthday (I even bought it a Peppa Pig ''You Are 1'' birthday card, believe it if you will) and then it made the move with me to Lindsay's a couple of months ago when we rented the removal van where it has lived out on the balcony. It's getting a little colder at nights now and so it has been moved indoors to a much warmer and plant-friendly environment. This plant that was a challenge to keep alive for twelve months will be eighteen months come the 31st of December. I don't know what that means her age is in plant years. . .

So yesterday I went to the Restoration Christmas lunch and it was fun. I walked there and back. I've been trying to get the miles in this month after a pretty lame October and November. I wanted to get to fifteen hundred miles for the year and today's efforts put me just over fourteen hundred. Ninety nine miles over the next two and a bit weeks and I'll reach that goal. It takes me to seventy five miles for the month which is as good as I might have expected to manage given the decrease in temperatures and the early sundown. Going out after the sun goes down is getting to be more and more difficult. I arrive at the meal just on time.

Turns out that I am not the only one in attendance who will be spending Christmas day with just one other person. Turns out that two of the eight of us at the lunch will be spending it on their own. I'm lucky to have one other person as far as things go from a drinker and drug-taker's perspective. It's pretty sad. For some of us this today is effectively our Christmas day dinner. Eight is a very small number for a Restoration Christmas night/lunch. Last year there were three tables booked at the Serenity Cafe in Edinburgh for our group and there were around eight at each table. Things have definitely downsized in the last twelve months.

It's a good thing that it's still running. It's in its sixth year and I remember when I first started going back in 2014 it was held once a week in a little room in the DAPL office in my former town. Since then it has moved into the church and for a while was held in their room, eventually moving into the main hall, and has expanded to other towns now too. It is getting bigger, spreading wider, but for some reason there are nowhere near as many of us celebrating Christmas together this year. It has also shrunk a little in terms of the events held each week with us scrapping the Thursday evening gatherings some time last year. I think the funding has been cut again and I know that Nikki was struggling to find sponsorship and was being rejected by most places she was trying. Raith Rovers used to give us free tickets to home league games as well but that all stopped at the beginning of last season.

On Wednesday they are going to the Edinburgh Christmas Market but I won't be going. I think that Lindsay and I are to be heading there a week tomorrow and I'll be working with Barry the Bullet next Wednesday hopefully. The weather is supposed to pick back up again by the middle of next week actually and we're looking at perhaps temperatures in the early teens which is unbelievable when I think about it. Well, okay, maybe not unbelievable, but pretty good news for us window cleaners.

So yeah – loneliness. I wonder if it is even that. There's no doubt that Christmas expects you to feel sad if you are alone on the day itself, I know I did a little on the two Christmas's I spent on my own, but I don't believe that any of these people I am sharing an all-you-can-eat buffet with this afternoon will feel anywhere close to suicidal during this whole coming festive period. I think there will be a sort of quiet perverse and bitter joy at spending the day of stress alone. Their thoughts will turn to family that had passed on and is perhaps no longer with us but in general I think that it will be just another day for some of them. I know it was for me. That last Christmas day I spent on my own I woke up in the early afternoon, watched the queen giving her annual speech, put on Toy Story 3, which I had never seen before, and by the time it had finished I was passed out drunk. I still haven't seen the end of it to this day. People will keep themselves busy and so loneliness will be kept at bay.

It's the loneliness that comes from being alone for many consecutive days that is the real killer. This is when things like Restoration and this Christmas lunch come into play and can be seen for what they really are. Restoration is, and hopefully always will be, a way of stopping people in recovery from isolating by giving them a safe environment to interact with. It may not be there to help anyone come Christmas day but it will be running right up until a week today and so it helps people throughout the course of what can feel like a very long year. I'm glad it's still there.

We are talking a little about what happens over Christmas in the jail since some of us have spent time over the festive period in there. You get a turkey dinner. It's not all the trimmings or anything like that but you do get a different dinner from the rest of the year and you also get five pounds as a present. One woman says that it's shocking that prisoners can access this yet the elderly are currently struggling at this time of year to pay heating, let alone afford a decent Christmas dinner. I have a lot to say on the matter actually, she makes some really good points, but that's for another post.

Lindsay has the big court date this morning regarding her son. Every now and then there is a hearing to determine the next steps and tomorrow is one such meeting, a children's hearing. My name will be starting to get introduced into the fray now that the mother in question and I live together. It won't be long before my criminal record gets brought into it if it hasn't already. It shouldn't have a dramatic influence on things, I hope.

Right – I had better get moving since I'm well over my word count again.

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Stevie

Smashing his word counts.

1240

Lunarer
December 16th, 2017, 03:56 AM
Saturday December 16th 2017 (The Day of Sports)


Barry the Bullet and I had a decent week again this week. A couple of days off during – Wednesday because of weather and Thursday due to the awkward timing of the Restoration Christmas lunch – but we made the best of the time we had and I took Tuesday off from college again to give us the chance of getting the most done we possibly could. I won't likely be able to take time off the college next week like I have these last two and so there are probably only three shifts between now and Christmas: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. That'll be it until the week of the 8th January.

Both my local football (soccer – we don't have American football here, not at local level anyway) and ice hockey teams are playing at home today and so I am going to watch them. I'm treating myself to a Christmas present in the form of two sporting events on the same day. Lindsay was supposed to be working today but has the day off and I had feared she might want to come with me but thankfully she says that it is too cold and so it's just me, the way I like it.

I can walk to Stark's Park from here in around half an hour (I walk past it many times on my weekly walks) and from there the ice rink is less than an hour away so I'll be getting exercise in today too. I've been to watch my football team loads of times over the course of my time living down this neck of the woods and used to go quite a bit when Restoration were providing the free tickets but I haven't been at all this season or last so it's been a while. I haven't been to watch the Fife Flyers ice hockey team play ever and have only been to the ice rink three times in my life – twice to try to ice skate (once with Restoration actually) and once to watch Lindsay's brother's amateur team get their asses handed to them 14-2 the other weekend.

With my student concession I can get into the football for around a tenner and the ice hockey for around the same. I'll be taking my flask with me and will eat at Wetherspoon in between matches so food will only cost me a fiver. The day will probably cost me around thirty bucks all in which is damn impressive when you think about me getting two live sporting events thrown in there. I'll be taking with me some essentials including a flask of hot coffee, my hat, and gloves. It's not going to be the cosiest stadium to be sitting in.

Lindsay's friend has had a shitty time of it recently. What a Christmas she's having. Her recent timeline goes something like this:

August 2016: Husband kills himself.
February 2017: Meets new fella.
May 2017: Wedding between her and new fella after knowing each other only a few months.
December 07th, 2017: New husband beats her and then leaves to buy heroin.
December 08th, 2017: New husband found dead from overdose.

That's what they say, innit!? When we go ''back out there'' we do so in style. We forget, or don't give a fuck about the fact, that we haven't kept our tolerance levels going for the period we've been abstinent from our drug of ''choice'', and so when we go all-in for a rage-fuelled relapse our bodies can't cope. This is apparently quite a common way for ex-drinkers and users to go.

Now this poor woman has returned to her old ways in order to cope with what is happening in her life and she's moved in with her mum (also a former heroin addict) and now both of them are getting charged together. Mother and daughter chasing the dragon together. I would say that I hope it doesn't end in disaster but it's already there. I hope it doesn't get any worse. I would say that it couldn't but I learned from WQD member Twiggy from the old forum that every situation has the potential to get better, and worse. There are plenty of ways that story could unfold. Watch this space.

Lindsay had the children's hearing yesterday morning about her son, who's now fifteen, and it turned out to be a success. From now on Lindsay does not have to have supervised visits and can see him any time she wants to. This includes on Christmas day. They are going shopping tomorrow afternoon. I will have to keep my distance though as we have not met yet and it isn't something anyone wants to rush. It has to be planned. It'll happen. He won't be coming to live with us anytime soon but that is the plan for the long term. It's going to be a bit of a challenge but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

It'll be interesting to see what happens now that they are to begin forming some kind of bond again. I don't know if Lindsay realises how lucky she actually is to be getting this chance. Her drinking has caused this problem in the first place but in the end, and after a relatively short time, it can start working itself out now. I don't know what my own children are up to these days as it's been so long. I tend not to follow their activities on social media although I know that it would be possible. I don't really know it I'm interested in what they are up to in their lives.

This journal is about me though, not everyone else's lives, and there isn't really much happening in my life that is so filled with drama that would make for exciting reading. That's not true actually. There's the drama within my own family. My sister-in-law and her recent text message to me that told me just how pissed off she's been with me this year for supposedly vanishing off the face of the earth and abandoning her and her family. It's not been as straightforward as this and anyone who's been reading this journal, even intermittently, over the course of 2017 will know how much stress the whole situation has caused me. I've mentioned not seeing my brother for the longest period since we've been on this planet and not seeing my nieces for months at a time. Dr. Bacon knows all about this too.

It's not him, or indeed you guys, that need to know about this though. It's them, and as things stand I have yet to get back to her.

It feels very much as though the ball is in my court at the moment but for some reason I'm not able to play.

Hopefully my local football and ice hockey teams don't suffer from this same problem this afternoon and evening.
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Stevie

Not playing ball.

1178

Lunarer
December 17th, 2017, 04:31 AM
Sunday, December 17th 2017 (Another Sunday Service)


I'm going to church again this morning. I've been around since I sobered up and have been to close to a dozen churches when I was doing my Step Two in AA and trying to connect with a Higher Power and more recently as I've been trying out churches in this town (for an as yet unknown reason actually) and I think I've found one I like. I've been there twice already – the most recent being last week – and feel as though I want to be there again this morning. That's when you know you've found something, isn't it!? When you begin to feel the pull towards it? I'm not saying that I'm gonna become a lifelong member of this little community or anything like that, or even that I'll go to this church, or any other for that matter, when the new year comes, but certainly on this fine, crisp winter morning I will be travelling there and I'm looking forward to it.

Yesterday turned out not so much to be a day if sport as I had hoped and had advertised. At eleven o'clock, four hours or so after I had posted yesterday morning, there was a pitch inspection at the football ground and they decided to call the game off. A frozen pitch. According to their website the grass had been under protective covering for several days and nights but with the lowly temperatures we've been having this week they had to make a call and cancellation was what was decided. We're two games behind the other teams in the division now after an away day at Stranraer was also cancelled last month – actually, it was abandoned midway through with the score tied at one goal each – due to a waterlogged pitch. Football in Scotland.

I seemed to be the only person not to read about this though and it wasn't until I was walking up the road to the stadium wondering where everyone was that made me wonder whether or not the game was on. Good exercise though, which is something I'll need over the next two weeks to keep the weight stable as we head into the thick of the festivities. I'm hoping not to have a repeat of last year which saw me hit twelve stone and four pounds – the heaviest I've ever been! - and then get myself into Slimming World weight loss experts for four months to get myself back down to eleven and a half where I feel comfortable.

I walked back up the road and then watched the football results come in on the telly. Later I was to be going to the Fife Ice Arena to watch my local ice hockey team but after the events of the day and the freezing temperatures out there when the sun goes down I decided to stay in and watch the Strictly Come Dancing final on the television. Some day of sport then. Ended up a day in front of the telly. Not like me and not a habit I have any interest in forming. Was fun at the time though.

We've been watching a couple of shows later on in the evenings actually. One of them British and one of them American. Peaky Blinders and Stranger Things. I'm much more into Peaky Blinders while Lindsay is more into Stranger Things. They are both a little daft but at least with Peaky Blinders you have a really interesting and well done protagonist. Stranger Things offers very little of genuine interest. I watch it though mainly so that I can snuggle up on the couch and have some intimate time in the bubble with my babes.

When I come back from church it won't be long before Lindsay's dad comes to whisk her away for some lunch and Christmas shopping. He'll be swinging round to pick up her son on the way though. Lindsay is now allowed to spend time with her son without it having to be under social work supervision. This is a major breakthrough. So the three of them are going out this afternoon. I still haven't met this lad yet and it won't be happening today either. It needs to be thought through and looked at first. Personally I don't think it's all that much of a big deal but I understand that we shouldn't just spring this kind of thing on him. Here's the new guy that lives with you mum. I do get it.

It's also great that this has all happened in the build up to Christmas as now her family are all meeting up and sharing time together. I am really hoping that this can come at a time that gives me the opportunity to nip off to the next town and get to that AA meeting. There's a meeting being held on Christmas day in my old town and I would like to be able to say that I did it, that I was at a meeting on that day, but I don't know what'll be happening yet. Had I been living in the cave still then this would have been my closest local meeting, it having just opened up six months or so ago, but as a result of me moving through here is is a four and a half hour round trip on foot. No public transport on Christmas day. I'm not sure on the time it starts (and as usual AA websites are shockingly sparse when it comes to being updated and informative) but I do know that there is to be a meeting at that venue on Christmas day.

Lindsay and I have our dinner booked in at a restaurant in the afternoon and in the morning she'll be spending time with her father, brother and his family (which includes her two year old nephew) and her son. I'll not be seeing my own family until we can arrange something. At the moment my family members are still being dominated by their own (and our collective) Detached Protector modes and it's ending (as it always will when those modes are running the show) in an uneventful stalemate. I don't have a Dr. Bacon session until Thursday which is leaving it quite late in the day and so perhaps I will have to act beforehand.

Trusting myself to find the Healthy Adult from within when I need him.

Not something I'm particularly hopeful of. . .
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Stevie

Still wonders about Christmas.

1105

Lunarer
December 18th, 2017, 02:27 AM
Monday, December 18th 2017 (Forcing the Festive Feelings)


Just one week to go. One of everything and then we are off for a break. One Monday afternoon media law class at college; one more week of cleaning windows; one more Friday evening debt-collecting mission; one more session with Dr. Bacon; one more weekend. Then it's all over for a brief period. I always say that Christmas begins two weeks before the day itself and ends effectively at five to midnight on Christmas Eve. After that the magic is gone and things seem to be overwhelmingly anticlimactic. The day itself can be a right pain in the ass and the two weeks that follow can be some of the more boring of the year. They should help to make me better appreciate my college course and work. But why the hell am I thinking this far into the future? 'Tis very much still the season to be jolly. . .

Over the weekend I popped onto the Facebook group chat that we have at the college just to see if there has been anything happening. One of the students has taken it upon himself to start up a booking schedule of sorts for the spare studio. The idea is that people contact him and let him know which time-slot they would like and then he adds them onto a little system he has going and then sends it to the lecturer for approval. At the moment the maximum length of booking time is at two hours so that everyone has a chance to get in there in the final week. Special priority will be given to those who are really far behind. It's a good idea. I especially like having the maximum booking time. As things stand there is nothing actually stopping people from getting into the studio early and pissing around in there for hours without doing much. Last year during the sound production you had to email the lecturer to let them know when you wanted the studio, what you planned to do while you were in there, which microphones you would need, everything! It seemed a much better way of running things.

Reading over comments going back to the start of the week I can see that everyone besides Shaun and one or two others are regularly asking for times in the studio. They'll be alright, those students. They'll have the option of going to Sunderland in a couple of years to finish the degree. These other guys who are currently miles behind and frantically trying to get as much studio time as possible will also, of course, have the same opportunities, but you can't help but feel as though they will come to a crossroads in their education soon where they will either have to really pull their socks up and completely change their attitudes towards their studies or drop out. The choice will be theirs.

To be honest I can't see how anyone can be behind at this stage. I've not been in class much at all over the last three weeks but will be going in this week. We have the Secret Santa thing so I have my gift all wrapped up and ready to come with me to class this morning. I think we are to be getting an assessment at some point too, something the lecturer emailed me about last week when I was asking if I could take that week off to go working with Barry the Bullet, unless he's moved this to next year to give people the chance of catching up with classwork. There may be little reasons for me being in class this week actually, now that I come to think of it.

One thing I did do was respond to the Facebook group chat and offer my services. If anyone wants me to work on any of the production elements of their projects for them I am more than happy to and it's something I am getting good at. It would save them a lot of time if they had someone else doing the clipping and the editing. While I am doing that they could be working on something else. Anyone interested should just ask me when we are in class this morning. It gives me more practice too. So far there have been two responses so I guess when I go in this morning I might have something to be doing after all. I could do with the practice. It feels like more than three weeks I've been away.

I am glad now that I put the effort in. I was in the same situation as everyone else at the end of October and then I wrote out all of what would be needed for each of the Practical Assignments and Assessed Shows in this journal. This helped me to lay out exactly what was required for each. I then went about them systematically and by the end of November I was done. I essentially managed to do three months' work in four weeks. This left me in the position where I no longer needed to be in classes other than the Monday afternoon one (it's a theory class not related to the other classes) and so I have had the luxury of time off. It just took a little planning and then a commitment to myself to go and do the work. Four Assessed Shows, a three-part podcast series on a topic of my choice (I went with NHS in Scotland) and create a fake radio advert. It isn't much work to be honest.

Other than that it's been a decent little weekend and I'm all focused now on the final week before we break off for our little two week holiday for the darkest part of the year. The shortest day will be later on this week so after that it will start getting lighter again in the evenings, if only by two minutes per night.

It's taken a little longer than I might have expected for me to start getting into the festive spirit of things. I guess this is more to do with my strained family relations than anything else. People say that the older we get the more we realise it as just being another day. I disagree. Like I've said a few time: I think the day itself sucks but the build up should be enjoyed. It's the build up that makes it a special time of year.

I just wish I could start feeling it a bit more. I am wearing my Santa hat to college today to try and force festive feelings a bit.

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Stevie

Forcing the Festive Feelings.

1126

Lunarer
December 19th, 2017, 02:26 AM
Tuesday, December 19th 2017 (Filler)


You ever read some of these entries and think of them as nothing more than filler? It's like I don't have the content now to be posting every single day. It's usually around the middle of the week, isn't it!? That's when I sit down to type and feel the writer's block coming on. It's quite good what I've done to be able to write like this for so long now on a daily basis, shows pretty incredible commitment really. It's something I've just not seen on a forum such as this before. Today may be one of those filler episodes because I don't feel any burning desire to say anything, as is sometimes the case, so you'll just have to bear with me. Still I must get my one thousand words in for the day though and so I had better get my thinking cap on and come up with something. . .

I guess that the upcoming Dr. Bacon session has got me thinking. It's looking into the future, this I know, but in thinking about what might be the content of this weeks' session is a good way of looking at how things are in my life at this moment, as well as what I might realistically be able to do to better my situation between now and then. I still have two days to give him good news in place of what is currently bad, and so on. The main issues we have at the moment relate to my immediate family and my constant lack of contact with them. This is something that we have made little progress with in the year that I have been having these sessions.

On Sunday I messaged my brother to explain what I saw the problem to be. I mentioned that I felt as though it would appear to be a case of some kind of. . . Let me scrap that as it is exactly my problem just now: mincing words and taking forever to get to my point. I need to be tactful here but also not shy in putting across what it is that I want over the coming Christmas period.

The response came and was much as I would have expected it to be. My brother says that he's just been super-busy with university being a little tougher than he had bargained it would be and that as ''pissed off as'' Scottish Sarah is – this method of not communicating with anyone is not his preferred method. I wonder. He says that meeting up would be a good way of getting all of this ''back up and running.'' I think that his wife has some other issues and I am being used as an outlet for her anger, a way of providing a target for her hatred. It will have been something else she was pissed off with last month. This month it's me.

I've been there. I remember waking up every morning and hating something, anything, anyone. Something had to be hated as soon as I woke. If nothing could be found instantly then I would focus my energy on hating myself. I thought it was just a part of the alcoholic condition. That we found our own lives to be so disturbing and unsatisfying that we had no option but to concentrate all of that ill-feeling onto some external source so as to divert it from ourselves. I can remember this going on for some time. I hated it (but I also find myself missing it a little, in the same way I miss most things about the drinking and drug-taking life. It's not that I want to go back there – don't be silly – it's just I think I miss that whole abandonment of expectation and responsibility, that ''nothing to lose'' mentality) but don't get it as much anymore. I can't really recall exactly where or when this subsided.

I'm not saying that my sister-in-law has this problem. I'm just saying that she sometimes gives off the impression that she isn't a complete stranger to it. I would do well not to take anything personally here. There is still much opportunity to salvage this and then work on improving my relationships with the people within this household over the course of the next few weeks. Oldest Niece will have a birthday in early February (actually the day before I celebrate my third sober birthday – not that I actually ever celebrate my sober birthdays). Dr. Bacon will be happy about all of this when I tell him about it on Thursday afternoon.

In ''other news'' Lindsay bumped into my old AA sponsor in the shops over the weekend. She has done so several times over the last couple of months. He's changed jobs and works fairly close to where we live. Our local shopping centre would be his local one too since the little dump of a village he lives doesn't have any shops, not really. So they keep meeting, only he never acknowledges her. This time I am told that they practically walked into one and other as they were turning around the corner of an isle at the supermarket. He looked straight to the ground. I don't know why he does this. He was with his wife so I guess he could say that he was protecting Lindsay's anonymity by not saying anything.

It's at the stage now though where I can't actually believe that I went along with this guy for as long as I did. That I could, even for a moment, believe that this guy has, or had, anything that I want, or wanted, out of sobriety and the rest of my life, is mind-boggling and a true reflection on how much better I am doing these days (or how sick I have become but just don't realise it). I remember defending him when an AA Elder said to me that he was all ego but now I can see that the real Stu is actually really difficult to find – his ego protects him and is as masterful at it as my Detached Protector is at defending and protecting me. He is all ego. That the God of my Understanding that I got out when I did.

Off to college now and this will be the last day until January 08th. I wasn't going to bother going in today but it'll be fun, it being the last day and all, and we have our class Secret Santa as well so I had better go.

Think I'll leave it at that for this morning.

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Stevie

Not so much ''filler'' after all.

1129

Lunarer
December 20th, 2017, 01:40 PM
Wednesday, December 20th 2017 (Posting in the Evening???)


A post in the evening? I've started having problems getting to sleep at night and getting up in the morning and so I didn't have time this morning to be typing anything out. For around a week now it has been going on and while I am not very pleased about it I am not going to freak out about it either. I had tremendous trouble in getting into a sleeping routine when I first got sober (easily the first big challenge in my recovery) and it took a lot of patience to stick with it for eighteen months until I managed to get myself settled. I'm just going to pop this online this evening and then hope that I can get back to posting in the mornings again from tomorrow.

Barry the Bullet and I were working today in the part of town I used to live. The place where the cave can be located. It is still empty. This is quite shocking actually. The amount of times we come across empty council properties on our travels is scary but this case is the most revealing as I know there is nothing wrong with the place. It was left empty and in need of no repairs that might have delayed someone moving in. The annual gas safety check has only just been carried out also. There can be little to stop them getting someone from the housing list in there but still it remains empty. Come this Friday that will be six weeks since I moved out of there and into Lindsay's own cave and so it is starting to become very obvious where much of this criticised wastes of council money goes, if it wasn't obvious before (which it really was!).

When this Friday comes I will have reached the longest time I've spent away from the cave in terms of consecutive nights. I went a six week spell last year. Now I have reached six weeks again but this time I have nowhere else to go. I have to admit that I probably would have stayed in the cave a couple of nights over the last six weeks had it still been available to me. My Detached Protector was kind of asking it of me a few days ago. Things are better the way they are at the moment though.

I went round to my brother's last night. I kind of had to if I wanted to go to my friend English Sara's tomorrow after work like I'd said I would as the gifts for her Christmas had been delivered to my brother's, along with some for Lindsay, last week (or perhaps even longer ago than that). This was my way in. I am coming to pick up gifts and get them out of your way. That's what we like to do sometimes, isn't it!? To make it out as though we are doing them a favour.

What is kind of fucked up is that it was another case of me going round to my brother's to pick up a bag from the back garden. No one was in and so when I contacted him during the day to say that I would like to come round at some point in the evening he explained that he wouldn't be able to meet me but could leave the stuff for me to collect. It's another disappointment really. I was hoping to tell Dr. Bacon all about this recent reconnection with my family but it isn't working out like that. He'll be happy about the effort though. It's about me reaching out and pushing myself, taking risks, and I guess I've been a little bit better at doing this with regards to family stuff in the month of December when compared with other months of 2017.

My next session with clinical psychologist Dr. Bacon is tomorrow afternoon at half past three. I'll have to cut work with Barry the Bullet short maybe around twelve tomorrow afternoon. Today was a full day but tomorrow just a half. Before I head to meet Dr. Bacon I am taking a little trip to the college to meet with one of my fellow students to record a mini podcast. This is some extra work which is what we've been advised to try to get into the habit of doing from the start of next year. I'm glad to be getting started on a new semester when we get back to class in January as I will find my diary fully booked again. Class work and extra projects.

I did find out one of the reasons why some people are still working on these Assessed Shows that I finished off last month and how most students are now going to come in after the Christmas break and still have some of this work to do. Resits and remediation. Shaun was letting the lecturer hear one of his assessments and at the end of it he passed it. Shaun sits down next to me.

Shaun – ''At last!''

Stevie – ''Was that your second attempt?''

Shaun – ''Third.''

I managed to pass all of mine on the first attempt and had never really considered that some might have had to record their live shows multiple times before getting the green light and passing them. Must be frustrating.

Sometimes recently I've been wondering what I might actually do over the next two weeks while I don't have college or work to keep me busy. I do rely heavily on both of these things each week to keep me occupied. A life without them seems quite difficult to imagine. It'll be my reality for a couple of weeks in a few days' time. My last day of work will be this coming Friday and then I don't start back at the college until January 08th , not getting back out to work until the Wednesday of that week (January 10th) so I had better try to think of something to do.

I would like to have thought that I might have picked up the guitar again after what is fast becoming the longest spell I have been without it. Now they sit in the spare room and pretty much gather dust. I did say when I was drinking that I wanted a life completely different from that which I at the time had, I just didn't think that it would be THIS different, a life in which I don't see my nieces and doesn't in any way feature playing music. I can't see me picking it up anytime soon but never say never.

We had our Secret Santa yesterday and things went well. I was working today and that went well.

Tomorrow I have some work in the morning before a podcast session with the Shaman at the college and then a session with Dr. Bacon – my clinical psychologist.

All of which I think will go well.

We're closing in on the Christmas break now.

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Stevie

Closing in on that Christmas break.

1193

Lunarer
December 21st, 2017, 02:14 AM
Thursday, December 21st 2017 (Thinking of the New Year)



I've enjoyed this week leading up to Christmas. It hasn't felt altogether festive or anything like that but it's been good. Being in the college on both Monday and Tuesday for the first time in a few weeks was decent. I still can't believe that there are so many people in the class still with so much to do to stay afloat. Makes me feel really pleased with myself for doing the work and making sure that there is no stress, or at least as little as possible, going into the Christmas holiday. I can come back in two weeks knowing that we start Semester Two in a couple of weeks and that I have nothing outlying before that. I can look forward to the second half of the first year of my studies in radio and broadcast media.

Things could be hotting up at college next year. The lecturers say that those who come to class and do the work will by the end of the degree program be the average students in the pile. There will be nothing separating each and every one of them. It's those students that go out there and put in the extra work that will be the ones that benefit from the course long term. We've got to start doing more. I've pretty much raced ahead, done all of the coursework, and then put my feet up where the college is concerned and just went out to work with Barry the Bullet and forgotten all about my studies. Next semester I have to be putting work in on the days I am not in college. Not just work into assignments given to us by the lecturers but extra work too.

This extra stuff is where the college will be hotting up this coming year, I think. Today I will be leaving work at lunchtime to go and make a podcast with the Shaman and I'm looking forward to that but in the new year there are four of us, the four sports fans, who are looking into possibly taking technology into local football grounds and attempting to broadcast live. We are told that this has been done at university but never before from college students doing their Level Seven. We are looking at changing the rules of the game here. What an idea though. Streaming, probably through the college radio's Facebook page, live football matches with the possibility of player and manager interviews afterwards. It's quite exciting to think about. Work on this will begin as soon as we return from the Christmas break.

We were given our new partners for the second semester – those we'll be broadcasting with every week. I was given a girl I've not spent much time with in this first semester so I'm not sure how that will go. There is a Monday morning group as well which will be a sport show and my name is down for that. There will be four of us doing that one. This means that I am the only student who will be helping out with two shows and so the only student who will be presenting on both days we are in the class. College will start becoming interesting again in the new year. It's been good.

Aside from that I have been working and this has been helped along quite nicely by incredibly mild weather and temperatures for this time of year. It always makes things go a little more smoothly when the sun is out. It's not warm, not by a distance, but it isn't terribly cold. It's acceptable, pleasant, workable. It's been pretty good since I haven't felt the pain in the hands more than a couple of days at the start of the month when it was really painful. This week has been easy so far. We just have today and tomorrow to go, plus a debt-collecting mission tomorrow evening (which will be cold, there's no getting away from it) and that will be another year ticked off. Next year the business turns ten years old, not that it's actually officially still a business or anything . . .

Lindsay had said that it was entirely my choice whether or not we went to my mum's on boxing day again this year and I'm still undecided although I have to say it would probably be the healthy adult thing to be doing. On Christmas morning her family are coming to the house and her dad will be picking up her son first to bring him here. Things are such that I have not met Lindsay's only child yet and so I am to be vanishing out of sight for a while in the morning while they have their little get-together for an hour or so. I'll likely just head out for one of my walks and then return when I get the text message or phone call telling me that the coast is clear. It's not an ideal situation but it won't always be like this. The situation is just as it happens to be for this Christmas. Next Christmas things will be better.

I still have a way to go if I want to reach my total of fifteen hundred miles walked for the year, or since I started back when I quit smoking in early February but if I keep going as I am there is more than enough time. I only need to walk around five miles per day for every day for the rest of December and I'll reach this goal. Unfortunately the way I keep track of it requires me to log in the routes I've walked afterwards and so nowhere close to every step I make throughout the day is logged. Only the God of my Understanding might know how many steps I've walked this year and so what my total distance walked might be closer to but I am happy with being able to log it the way I do.

My final Dr. Bacon session of the year will take place this afternoon in the usual room in the usual hospital and there will be plenty for us to be talking about. We're moving away from the diagnosis phase, away from pattern spotting and behaviour analysis, and more into helpful methods, behaviour changing tools and tactics to get me out there taking more risks and trying a little harder to build my life into what I would like it to be. In 2018 I have quite high hopes for the work that we might be doing. I think that there could be some really significant changes made in the next twelve months. He said that I had done really well in making the changes I have so far, that I had likely come as far as I possibly could have without doing any of the difficult stuff. Now the time is drawing nearer to be trying my hand at this difficult stuff.

Just another thing to look forward to next year.

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Stevie

Thinking about the new year with optimism.

1200

Lunarer
December 22nd, 2017, 03:22 AM
Friday, December 22nd 2017 (Session Twenty)


It's not yet. Friday, I mean. It's actually still Thursday, December 21st, around half past ten at night. Since I have been having some issues in rising in recent mornings I have decided to write this evening so that there can be a tomorrow's post. If I don't do it now, and I have a late morning when it comes, then I'll be struggling to get a post written in time for tomorrow night since I'll be out working all day and not getting home until late. I would then have it carrying on to Saturday morning which will likely be another busy one and so tonight it is. Keep it simple. One might ask why the fuck I feel the need to post every single day and I wouldn't really know how to answer that one. I just do. I've written in this journal every day of 2017, even when I was in Spain, and so it would be a shame to stop now just because I couldn't be arsed or because I felt like letting a return to poor sleeping patterns win over me.

There were many things happen today but the most notable two were the Dr. Bacon session and visiting English Sara to hand in her Christmas present. English Sara has been living at a different address this past eleven months than she was the rest of the time she's been involved in my story. She used to live in a block of flats directly next to the cave when I stayed in the next town. I used to pop in most days, often going through spells where I would nip in every day, and things are not like this anymore. I probably won't see her again now until we're well into January. It's a bit of a shame.

One of the scary things about having an addictive past, a past in which I acted and used so compulsively for so long that it became very habitual, is that it takes so long to find other ways of coping. As I sit with Old Dennis and English Sara I can't help but think about what things were like back when I ''lived'' in the cave and she stayed next door. It makes me think positively about things such as drinking and smoking and being by myself. I couldn't say things like that in Alcoholics Anonymous, they would moan that I was trying to convince myself to drink this Christmas, but I can tell you guys for you guys know that this is not what I am doing at all. I am merely missing something that I don't have anymore, pining for something that no longer exists. I am grieving for something that was just fantasy. I always say that it is like the battered wife finally breaking free from the abusive husband but then finding she misses that life because they were married for so long.

I don't want to smoke either. It was just easier to. It's in my nature to seek solitude at times. It's the Detached Protector part of me. It's part of my Borderline Personality Disorder. I guess that to say it is my nature is inaccurate then. It's just something practised until it is the norm. It's something Little Stevie learned to defend himself and then used to the extreme. This little bit of nostalgia regarding it is not a desire to drink but is more just a little reminder that I am not all that far into this journey just yet. I am still a sober baby.

Bacon tells me that it is time for a review since this is our twentieth session. That's quite surprising actually. It seems like there are sometimes great distances and gaps between our time but by the time we reach the one year mark we will have twenty one sessions under our belt. Last time he said something to me that stuck and I've mentioned it a couple of times over the last fortnight, thought about it even more so. He said that I had done well in the time I have been sober. That I have probably come as far as I likely could have without doing any of the difficult stuff.

For someone who has thought that some of the ''easy'' stuff I've already done was quite difficult this wasn't easy to hear. Then I think about it for a while. The biggest thing I find in the rooms of Restoration and AA that people have that I don't want is exactly this. No one really does the hard stuff. From what I've seen on my travels they don't even do it in ACA, the Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families. If I don't want to end up like that then this is the way I'm going to have to go. I'm going to have to do the difficult stuff.

What Dr. Bacon means by the difficult stuff is me allowing myself to be vulnerable. This is indeed tough. We always struggle when we are trying to do work around this. To Little Stevie – vulnerability and stupidity are bedfellows, totally synonymous and inseparable, and Dr. Bacon feels that getting around this type of thinking is important for me. He has me doing things that make me feel stupid. They make me feel stupid because they make me feel vulnerable. They being out the Critical Parent in me. It's like that episode in Friends when Chandler makes that deal where he can't say anything sarcastic. That is what this is like. My Critical Parent mode feels like Chandler Bing must have at that point. Unable to get off the leash.

This is what we're doing here. We're trying to bypass the Detached Protector and Bully and Attack modes, and sneak past the Critical Parent, so that it is my Healthy Adult and Little Stevie who are the main two parts of me conscious in the room at any one time. This is when it can feel silly though. We often have to picture an imaginary Little Stevie, a young boy version of myself, sitting in a chair that Dr. Bacon places in the room beside us. I am then to take up the role of the Healthy Adult and speak only from that perspective. This afternoon he wants me to encourage this imaginary little boy and gently support him, tell him that the work we are doing here is necessary both in helping him to learn how to relax and refrain from activating any of the more destructive defensive modes and me to learn how to better be able to parent him and offer him the support he never had growing up.

It's up to me to mature his emotional state. I get it, and it's going to be revolutionary for me if we can pull it off, but it doesn't half feel stupid talking to an imaginary younger version of me sitting in a chair.

As long as I remember that it feels stupid because it makes me feel vulnerable.

Tomorrow will be the last working day for many of us and myself and Barry the Bullet are included in that. It'll be a tough day but after tomorrow I get two weeks off to recharge the batteries.

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Stevie

One last big push to go.

1239

Lunarer
December 23rd, 2017, 04:17 AM
Saturday, December 23rd 2017 (The Edinburgh Christmas Market)


Good morning. How incredibly mild the weather is still. Last night's debt-collecting mission was like a summer's night, albeit one in which dark replaced the light evenings we get during the warmer months. It was crazy how mild it has been this December. I'd say it's the second warmest December I can remember although I know how fragile our memories are and how they can play tricks on us, and do play tricks on us, all the time.

This is as prepared as I've ever been over a Christmas period. Again, memory could be fucking with me, but I don't recall having been as prepared as this, at least since I was with my partner and children all those years ago. Dr. Bacon says that this is something we may, and he did say ''may'' – he didn't say ''definitely'' – talk about when our sessions resume in the new year. We may talk about the situation with my children and how I haven't seen them in years. Do I want to have any kind of relationship with any of them in the future? I don't know quite how that conversation will go, if it does at all, and if there's one thing I find interesting about talks with him it's how they never seem to go how I think they'll go beforehand.

Maybe it's this lack of involvement in my children's lives that makes Christmas so difficult for me to get into. Perhaps it's not obvious but is working away somewhere deep below the surface. It's the time for families, after all. It's possible but I don't think it's that. It's not that I'm not enjoying this festive period at all – it's just. . . I don't know, I just can't get into it for some reason. It feels forced. Lindsay and I went to the firework display and the official start of Christmas with the parade and the turning on of the Christmas lights at the town centre a few weeks ago and it seems like a long, long time ago now. Like it was far too early. The Christmas Creep perhaps ruining the celebrations a little too much now.

Last year things were a little different and I was loving Christmas. I don't know what was all that different. I guess that Lindsay and I had only been going out for four months and so that was our first Christmas together and things were exciting. Also I seemed to have more involvement with the college. This term I've been up to date with the work for so long that I've had loads of days off. Last year we all seemed to be working together and so I was in all the time. We had a festive project to do in the two weeks leading up to Christmas. This year there have been no such festive projects.

I don't know if it's any of this either though. Maybe it's more to do with social politics. Maybe it's because I can see how much this time of year highlights the differences between the rich and the poor, and by rich I don't mean those with billions in the bank, I mean your average family who has more money than they need. The people who don't think that they are rich. Alain de Botton once said to me in a documentary that wealth is not an absolute, that it's relative to desire. When we are content with what we have then we could be considered rich, regardless of how little we may have; whenever we are found in constant want we may be considered poor, no matter how much we may actually possess. It's a shame that so many people fit into the latter category but I appreciate that they have been groomed this way since birth and continue to be through television and things like Facebook.

This is probably the biggest reason I don't feel very Christmassy at the moment. The inequality shines through more than at any other time of year. Not just the inequality, I guess it shines through at any time of year, but what is most evident over the Christmas period is how little people give a fuck about equality. In fact – I don't really care so much about it anymore. I understand that there is one per cent of us that has the same amount of wealth as the other ninety nine per cent but the same ninety nine per cent that moan about this constantly are the exact same ninety nine per cent that go and give so much of their money directly to that one per cent by buying into what they sell. The same people that moan are those who keep it happening. It's time I stopped caring too. Just let it happen until the bubble bursts. If I can help speed it up just that little bit then I am doing my bit for the humans of the future, even though they will just start over and create the same scenario all over again. Because we're dumb like that.

So this afternoon Lindsay and I are heading to Edinburgh – the City of Selfishness. This will be my second trip there in December. We're going to the famous AA meeting to check it out. Lindsay has been in AA for years so she's been to this meeting many times but never at this new venue. I am optimistic but am also aware that it is an AA meeting and so is incredibly limited in its insights about alcoholism. A bunch of amateurs trying to pass off as experts. I don't sound very optimistic, do I?

After this we will head out for something to eat, probably within a quarter mile of some guy out on the street begging who hasn't eaten all day, and then we'll make way for the Christmas Market itself. This will perhaps be my final chance to get into the mood before all is lost. Tomorrow I will be heading to church in the morning before trying to enjoy the last of the time before the actual day itself is upon us.

I was speaking with English Sara and Old Dennis the other night about what they were up to this year and they are going to her son's for the day. She hardly sees her son these days so at least there's that, I guess. She'll be getting to see her son. I might even get to see my mum. I guess Christmas is good for something then. It creates guilt within families that aren't very close about not seeing each other all year.

It's a shame it only does it for one day though.

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Stevie

Still searching for the festive spirit.

1148

Lunarer
December 24th, 2017, 02:26 AM
Sunday, December 24th 2017 (Disaster on the Christmas Weekend)


Yesterday was a bit of a disaster. Lindsay and I were supposed to be getting up and going to Edinburgh for the Christmas Market, grabbing something to eat, and generally having a good old slice of festive fun. Before all of that we were going to be catching an AA meeting in the early afternoon. I was more into this idea than was Lindsay. It was the cause of the disaster that was to come. Yep – an AA meeting causes a problem!!

We had figured the night before that in order to make the meeting's start at two o'clock we would have to leave our town at around eleven and, even though I have been struggling to rise from bed a little more this last week than has been typical for the rest of the year, I manage to get myself up for before eight. Lindsay, on the other hand, doesn't get up until twenty past ten. We end up getting a bus to the station at twenty five past but the time all of the fucking around has been done and we miss the bus to Edinburgh by five minutes. Lindsay doesn't care. She wasn't fussed for the AA meeting. As long as we got through there for the Christmas market then all would be good and well.

This whole way of thinking left a sour taste in my mouth. I decided to try out some of Dr. Bacon's suggestions. I decided to put my point across. Decided to try to be rational as opposed to detach from this or get angry about it. Tried to summon the Healthy Adult Mode rather than the Detached Protector or Bully and Attack.

Stevie – ''Looks like the next bus isn't for forty more minutes so we'll miss the meeting. I just want to say before we go any further that I'll get over it but at the moment I'm pretty pissed off with you for not being ready and us missing this bus.''

There. I figured that was the best way of handling it. It put my point across. It claimed responsibility for the way I was feeling and an acknowledgement of the fact I was trying to change this. It wasn't aimed towards causing offence. I thought I'd done an okay job. Had this not been such a regular thing (we miss planned buses quite a lot and every now and again it results in something like this happening, only usually I decide to keep my frustrations inside, go into Detached Protector mode and stay there until it goes away) then it might not have been as bad.

I did not get the reaction I was hoping for, whatever that may have been. Instead it became quite confrontational and Lindsay ended up walking away from me and we didn't go to Edinburgh after all. I went to the local greasy spoon to give this some thought. What was it I said? I thought that I had done pretty well. I didn't moan, I tried not to be too harsh, it was in keeping with the facts. I couldn't immediately see where it was that I had gone so wrong.

Then I wondered about something. I know that in AA we are asked to look only at our own parts of any situations, and I can see why they say this, but to do only this is to pass up the chance of learning to empathise with another person as well as we might be able to. I don't know exactly what Lindsay does with her psychologist but it doesn't seem to be along the lines of what Dr. Bacon and I are doing. I appreciate that things very much depend upon luck in these cases. Lindsay was given someone who was finishing off their training at the time so has only this year qualified whereas I was paired with a veteran, someone who is mentoring others, who has years of experience in the field, (but not too much, if you know what I mean), and so I think that, in comparison, I have a much better outline of exactly what it is we are doing in our therapy sessions, individually from week to week and as a long-term thing too.

Maybe I'd do better to look at things from Lindsay's point of view. I have not been directly diagnosed as being a Borderline patient (Borderline Personality Disorder) – although it has been hinted – but I do understand many of the symptoms and how they come about and where they originate. I get that we, as ''Borderlines'', tend to react very poorly to criticism and sometimes believe that small situations, especially with those with whom we are close, can resuscitate those feelings of abandonment that we are constantly plagued with. Perhaps there was a little of that going on here. It's possible that I am beginning to learn about healthy adult responses in therapy whereas Lindsay is not, given the different approaches that her therapy seems to be taking.

I don't know. Maybe I'm still just as emotionally immature and underdeveloped as I've always been. It's done now. A continuation of the same old patterns. It's not as if I can pick up the phone any time I want to and ask Dr. Bacon what the ideal thing to do or say would be in any situation that crops up in my day-to-day personal life. I guess it's better when these things happen with those who know me but I guess I am seeing the causes of me ending up where I am and things turning out for me as they have. People who don't know me will no doubt find me a little too much when I have one of my moments.

I have tried hard this year to get into the festive spirit but for some reason it has been much more difficult than I would have expected. I have no doubt that the situation with my family has something to do with it whether I will consciously allow myself to think this way or not. I don't yet know if I'll see any of them over the Christmas period and that does suck. Lindsay will be seeing all of her family tomorrow. They, including her son, will be coming here tomorrow morning for a spell. Because I have never met her son before, and given how complicated that whole situation is, we have decided that I should make myself scarce. Since we don't have our own transport I will just have to get out there and wander the empty streets. At least for ninety minutes or so.

I don't mind walking, and I don't think that it'll be particularly cold tomorrow either. I just wonder how Little Stevie might feel about this. It is he Dr. Bacon would want me to think about. My adult self can take it. Little Stevie might feel a little like he's been shunned again, like this is a little too close to spending Christmas day on his own again. I am hoping I can help him to see that this is not the case at all.

Whatever happens I know I'll come out the other end fine. I don't know what's happened to Christmas for me. I know that it isn't, in theory at least, just another day. When I go out walking tomorrow morning there will not be a soul on the street. It will be very different from other Mondays. It's a shame the meeting in the next town wasn't a little earlier or I would have just walked the eight miles through.

It's not though.

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Stevie

Merry Christmas

1298

Lunarer
December 25th, 2017, 01:31 PM
Monday, December 25th 2017 (Stevie's Third Sober Christmas)


So here we are again. Another Christmas. It's been really difficult to get into again this year. Very soon people all over the world will be waking to find out which colour of the new iPhone Santa has brought them. Being young seems to be really boring these days. I think that I spent so long this year trying not to let shops and television adverts tell me that I should be into Christmas early that I maybe left it too late. Now that it is here the bubble always quickly bursts and it all seems anticlimactic again. This is why the build up is so important I think. The build up IS Christmas. Without a good build up in the two weeks beforehand it can be quite a difficult thing to get into.

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty good little day and I was at church three times in one day for probably the first time in my life. I went to church at eleven o'clock (seems to be becoming a regular thing on a Sunday now) and then in the evening I was at the AA meeting before Lindsay and I went to the same church I had been to in the morning for a midnight service. It was all pretty good fun. The eleven o'clock service featured a makeshift nativity play and ended up being pretty cool, as well as being perhaps the catalyst for my Christmas cheer, at long last.

The AA meeting was good too. There were twelve of us made the effort to get ourselves there on Christmas Eve and this again helped me to get into the mood, even though Christmas was not mentioned much at all during the meeting. The same thing came to me as did when I went to the Restoration Christmas lunch a couple of weeks ago. I was alerted to the fact that not everyone will be having a great time just because it's Christmas. For some of us it is a pretty lonely time and you don't have to go digging too far to get this feeling from people in the church room tonight.

Another thing I notice now when I am in AA meetings is this certainty from people who share about their lives that they have done all of the hard parts and got sober. I feel really lucky by having Dr. Bacon to work with. Because the sharer mentions a little about his sponsor and life in the AA Twelve Step program the others in the meeting share a little on their own experiences. I feel as though much of what they say totally contradicts what Dr. Bacon is trying to work through with me. This is one of the problems AA will always have, I guess: we come in pretty useless at knowing how to live life and then expect to learn how to do so by taking lessons from someone who has never really learned to. I don't feel better or superior to anyone in this room but I am incredibly grateful that I have taken the route I have and that I have found psychology.

This way I can go about doing the hard stuff, which is what will be happening in 2018. Everyone else in this room has convinced themselves that the hard stuff has been done. I don't think so. I think, like me, they have only continued to do all of the easy stuff and it feels a lot better so we'll talk about that and that's that. It's up to me to just put the work in this year in getting through the hard stuff and share about that at times when I am in the rooms. I am really glad that I have Dr. Bacon and really have him to thank for me not being contented with where I have managed to get to now and just being happy for staying there, for letting me know that there are harder parts to come. It was a good meeting though. I felt connected to the fellowship this Christmas.

Something else I did to help get into the mood rather late in the day was to watch a few Christmas movies. This was an experience. I had never actually seen the movie Elf before. Nor had I ever watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Another I had never watched was The Santa Clause. Only the God of my Understanding knows exactly what I have been watching over Christmas periods past but whatever it was I know that I was the only person I knew who hadn't seen many Christmas movies. The old ones, yes (but in saying that I have still not to this moment ever watched
Miracle on 34th Street or It's a Wonderful Life) but nothing too new and up to date. I don't know what I used to watch when I lived with my children over the Christmas period but it was none of those films I've just mentioned.

I think if there was one thing I felt in watching these movies it was a connection with childhood. I guess that this is one of the things Dr. Bacon is trying to get me to do in therapy – trying to connect with childhood. My own childhood and childhood in general. I won't be adding any of these Christmas movies onto my list of films to take to a desert island (well, you never know actually) but when next year comes and all of these movies are advertised as coming on the television again I will think back to this year.

In a little while I will have to make myself scarce and head out for a walk while Lindsay's family comes to visit. It's not that I've done anything wrong. It's just that I haven't yet met her fifteen year old son and we don't want to spring this on him and certainly not today of all days. The time will no doubt come but he will be in this flat in less than two hours from now and so at that time I shall not be. It's a shame we don't have our own transport as I would have just made my way to the next town. It's actually been raining quite a lot yesterday and it is still raining yet so I am going to be much like a little drowned rat by the time twelve o'clock comes and I can get back here into the warmth and dry. It's getting the miles up while we are so close to the end of the year though.

Now I can't connect to the internet and so will have to post this once all of the Christmas cafuffle is over and done with.

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Stevie

Will post this later on. . .

1155

Lunarer
December 26th, 2017, 04:45 AM
Tuesday, December 26th 2017 (Boxing Day Dinners)


Now that I think about it – it has been a pretty good Christmas. I haven't seen any of my family yet, not that there are many members of it, but mum is hosting a dinner this afternoon as she always does on Boxing Day and I know she would like for both Lindsay and I to be there. It's just that it doesn't look like it'll be happening. Maybe next year. When we moved my things from the cave in the next town into this flat we rented a van for the long weekend. Again, last month, we rented a car to take a trip to Glasgow to watch Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth. On both occasions I think Lindsay warmed to the idea of having our own transport. Now that we are living together and seem to be moving forward as a couple we are thinking more along the lines of having things like a car. Lindsay finishes her nursing training as soon as this current placement is done, which should be the second week in March at this rate, and then she'll be in full time work. I'll still have a way to go with my own studies but will hopefully still be cleaning windows with Barry the Bullet. Together a car is not an impossible thought. If this turns out to be the case then next year we should be able to drive to my mother's for Boxing Day dinner.

As things stand at the moment, however, this is the one thing preventing us from attending. I say that, but I think that there is definitely something a little more sinister at work and it's something I should be careful of. Part of me wants to not go just so that I can keep the distance between us as it is. That I know that my mother wants us all there under one roof and that she is going to all the effort to make dinner (and she does always put a lot of effort into it) fuels my fire further. If I could manage to get out of attending this dinner then it might go a way to teaching her what it would be like in the future to not have me in her life. In many ways this feels like a desperate last stand for attention against my mother – she who has been so absent for so long in my life. Always there but never really ''there''.

I am wondering if this is what a healthy adult would do. This is one of the ways in which I enjoy not having an AA sponsor. The sharer at the Christmas Eve meeting mentioned many times how he would face a problem in his life, call his sponsor, and then he would get the answer. It was supposed to come across as evidence of the power of an all-seeing; all-knowing sponsor and the importance of fellowship with the secret society that makes up the rooms but all it showed me was that this guy is, and probably always will be, completely dependent on another person. With Dr. Bacon we do things differently. We try to teach me what healthy adults would do and I go about it. I make mistakes, loads of them (I was never shown how to be a healthy adult when I was a child and so how could there not be problems and mistakes when I go about trying to become one now?), but it all comes back to the same thing: I am doing the learning! There is no sponsor waiting to tell me how to do everything. There is only a psychologist waiting to hear about my experiences and then figure out with me which parts of me were most active and what I might have done differently.

When you say ''psychologist'' in an AA meeting people tend not to like it. Or they think instantly of ''CBT'' (need I point out that this refers to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy? I doubt it but I just did so there you go, maybe it's word count related when I do things like that) which shows the limit of knowledge in the rooms. I feel as though I have to mention Dr. Bacon at times as it's a big part of my journey. I don't go into what we go into. I certainly won't be telling the rooms about the different modes that make up my personality – they'd think me mad, and it's got nothing to do with sobering up – but I feel it's my responsibility to mention to the newcomer that AA does not have all the answers it says it has. It's a short term solution.

Just look at what was said here the other day (on the Ryver site, if you're reading this on My Way Out then you won't have read it). One of our forum members had an episode with his sponsor who has now gone back out drinking. He had six years of sobriety. Nothing really. I get that any one of us can potentially go back out and drink and that if we do it could begin a really turbulent episode for us where we struggle to get back into a sober way of life but it was something our forum member said that chilled me to the bone. He said that he was now looking for a new sponsor.

Nothing wrong with that, I guess, but is it not a little like the person who has just had a romantic breakdown and instantly goes on the search for a replacement? Perhaps it's a little worse actually. Maybe it's a feeling of not having someone to tell us what to do when things get tough and us having become dependent on that in the rooms of AA. Members of the fellowship say that there is nowhere else you can have someone at the end of the phone waiting to give you guidance – and this is true – but this is one of the reasons I feel better about having a psychologist rather than a sponsor. I have to wait until the 18th January before I can next discuss what is happening in my life. It teaches me to be self reliant. To be independent. To be sober.

So how I approach this situation with my family this Boxing Day will be interesting, as will my motivations for doing so. It won't be someone out there who advises me on what I should and could be doing, it'll be something inside of me. A mode. Which mode is entirely up to me at the end of the day although I do have the security of knowing that it couldn't possibly be expected of us to travel all that way by taxi and there is no public transport today so we are kind of rooting.

But then that's just my Detached Protector talking.

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Stevie

Talking shit.

1179

Lunarer
December 27th, 2017, 05:06 AM
Wednesday, December 27th 2017 (Reflecting on a Boxing Day Dinner)

I would have liked to have still been in bed at the moment but that damn cat wouldn't let me sleep any longer, jumping on me like excited children may have been on their parents a couple of mornings ago. This is not for presents but breakfast. She is now sitting in the usual spot on top of the digital television receiver not giving a shit that she has just disturbed me from a most enjoyable and welcome slumber. Add to that the toothache I have been experiencing and I am now up and fully awake, although in good spirits.

Yesterday we weren't sure if it would be possible to go to my mum's for our dinner. It would be possible, of course, she only lives a few miles away, but to taxi it there and back would be the better part of eighty quid and that was just too much. If I really wanted to see my family over the festive period like I constantly claim to then this amount of money would not be a problem but in the end my auntie picked us up and dropped us back home again and refused to take anything for it despite my attempts. It ended up being a really good afternoon/evening.

I was trying to work out how often I'd seen everyone this year. My mother I saw just last month when she came into the college to be interviewed for one of my Assessed Shows for the radio. Before that I saw her in August when she picked me up to head to St. Andrews to go to the annual market with my nieces. Prior to that I think it would have been Oldest Niece's birthday back in early February and before that it would have been Christmas. There was one other time during the summer as we met up and she gave me sponsorship money for the Walk the Walk marathons for breast cancer. A total of around four or five times from one Christmas to the next. It's not too bad when I think about it.

With regards to me nieces I saw them back in August at the market in St. Andrews and before then it was back in March, once in February, and then Christmas. There were two occasions throughout the year when I bumped into Youngest Niece with her grandmother when down the town and we stopped for the briefest of chats but there hasn't been much in the way of contact at all over the course of 2017. It has been the same, even worse actually, with my brother and Scottish Sarah. I saw them yesterday but then haven't seen them since March, February, and then last December for this very day last year.

So we arrive at dinner not really knowing what to expect. I think that everything would probably have been a little worse had we been the last to arrive but we managed to beat most people there and so only my mum and her partner were there when we got there. I am happy to say that things were not in any way awkward. Until my brother and his family arrived twenty minutes or so later.

Absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder but in this case it has made the heart pretty unsure of what to say or even how best to make eye contact. I didn't send or receive as much as a text message of Christmas wishes over the period and so I definitely did sense some uneasiness in the air and at the table, uneasiness that seemed to subside gradually as the dinner progressed but didn't at any point completely leave the room.

What is awkward for adults is water off a duck's back for children and the nieces acted as if they had seen me only yesterday rather than four and a half months ago. I ended up eating most of my dinner with a girl on each lap, just as it has always been at Christmas or at any time over any dinner I've had in the same room as them since they've been born. I was tired by the end of it.

It worked out really well. I did find things a little awkward with my brother and sister-in-law and we left things without having a definitive plan as to what's happening next as I might have liked and they left early to go to an Aladdin pantomime. This was a little distressing but left the rest of us with some time without two little girls jumping around and getting all the attention. It also gave Lindsay and little bit of time to get to better know my family which is something that hasn't really happened before. She met them all when they were mostly steaming drunk at Gary's wedding in September last year and then again last Christmas and then hasn't really seen any of them since. It's a really slow process, getting to know my family. It's a shame but I'll take it over nothing.

In the end things went really well. The conditions weren't absolutely perfect but they were certainly very good. Mum is planting trees in the garden over the next couple of weeks and I don't start back at college and work until the week of the 08th January so I'll be sure to give her a call and go help her with that. As far as things go with my nieces and brother I will likely have to push that one myself although having had this little nudge that is Christmas will probably make this a little easier providing I don't leave it a long time.

Dr. Bacon has been proved right in most of the things we've talked about regarding my family. It does seem to very much be just a case of a bunch of people who don't really know how to communicate with each other and don't know how best to ask for what they want, from themselves and each other. A collection of people for which intimacy and emotional availability are alien and unknown concepts, or at least perhaps more underdeveloped than we'd all prefer. It doesn't matter whether or not I believe other people to suffer from this also, or even if I believe that it is becoming more commonplace through the generations, as we only ever look at me. Since I am the guy in therapy I guess that I'll be the guy who has to do the reaching out from now on. That's fine. Anything that gives me practice in being more adult can only be a good thing.

So Christmas is turning out to be pretty magical again. Things seem better than they did a week ago. I haven't stepped on the bathroom scales yet as that will surely spell the end of the good times. I can feel myself kicking around the twelve stone mark and I'm very seldom wrong about my weight. It'll be fun losing half a stone in the new year though. I'll get my walking miles back up as well. Try to beat this year's total.

Today Lindsay and I are having a lazy day to recover from all the excitement and then tomorrow we are going to Edinburgh like we should have done on Saturday but were too busy falling out.

There will be no more of that this week.

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Stevie

Having a happy Christmas.

1267

Lunarer
December 28th, 2017, 06:14 AM
Thursday, December 28th 2017 (Watching All the Christmas Movies)


Doesn't it feel weird to log on this morning and read about how people had a great Christmas because they didn't do all of the shit they used to do when they were drinking? Had a great Christmas because I didn't wake with a hangover. Had a great Christmas because I didn't fall out with the husband. Had a great Christmas because I didn't puke all over the kids' new toys. That's a pretty negative way of looking at something. It doesn't really mean anything. It also makes journals and indeed entire forums like these seem genuinely tired now. We need an influx of newcomers this year. People to take the emphasis off of us. People to allow us to take a deep breath and to start again. To start thinking about what we are actually posting. To stop us from writing the same old stuff year after year after year. . .

I don't know exactly what I have been watching on the television over previous Christmases as every time I saw adverts for Christmas movies I had never seen any of them but I have made up for that this year. On Saturday I started it all off when I watched Elf and then saw that The Santa Clause was on and so watched that too. Hadn't seen either of them before somehow. On Christmas Eve I searched through online lists of ''Greatest Ever Christmas Movies'' and so on and saw the same old ones cropping up time and time again so downloaded the Jim Carrey How the Grinch Stole Christmas. After dinner on Christmas day Lindsay said she had recorded Miracle on 34th Street (1994 remake) and asked if I wanted to watch that, which I did as I had never seen it before either. Then on Boxing Day, before Lindsay was up and long before we found out that we were to be going to my mum's after all, I streamed a copy of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation – which I'd also never seen before.

Yesterday Lindsay and I had a lazy day and watched another couple of Christmas movies. She's seen them all before but they were all new to me. The Muppet's Christmas Carol which I, again, am amazed I had never seen before now. Bad Santa 2? Let's just say that if they ever release a Bad Santa 3 I won't be watching that. Some Christmas movies are better left unseen. I have never seen It's a Wonderful Life either but I think that now the chance has gone this year. It feels like a pre-Christmas film and so I will have to simply pray to the God of my Understanding to allow me another year on this earth before I can see that one.

Like I said – I don't know exactly what I have been watching over the Christmases gone by as that is a lot of festive movies that I had only heard of before but never seen. Especially when you consider I lived with my children for the first five years of their lives. I suppose I'd already seen all of the children's Christmas movies, most of the animated ones, and of course I watched Home Alone many times as a kid, and I watched Love Actually with Lindsay last year which was my first time watching that as well, but next year when all of these movies start coming on television again I will think back to this Christmas as being the one when I finally caught up with the rest of the world and watched some Christmas movies. Should be fun. Christmas is fun.

Today we are taking a trip to Edinburgh to have some dinner and visit the Christmas market. I would say that time is running out for us with this holiday period but the fact is that we are not even halfway through. I don't go back to college until a week on Monday and Lindsay is the same with her placement. I really am going to start pulling my hair out if I can't find things to do. There aren't many Christmas movies left and the time for them has now passed until next year anyway. I think when the start of the year arrives I will try to walk ten miles or more each day until I start back at the college. It will kill a bit of time but will also get the first hundred miles of the new year started as well as working off some of the pounds I've gained sitting around for a couple of weeks now. And I know I have gained.

It's not something I like at all. Carrying excess weight. As an alkie and drug user I spent most of my time borderline malnourished and constantly light. There wasn't much of me. This is the case with most drinkers/druggers I know/have known. They hardly eat and so get most of what their body needs from what they drink. It leaves us looking and feeling rather unwell, only we don't really notice because it has for so long been our reality. Now that I have sobered up and stayed sober for a sustained period I have gone through three Christmases and (barring the first one in which I was still drugging, still smoking heavily, and still living in squalor where flies were buzzing around my bedroom having hatched from the filth that was lying around in my cave and I had to constantly squash them to stop them from buzzing around in front of the laptop screen) on both of the last two occasions I have noticed my weight increase dramatically.

Last year I went all the way up to twelve stone and four pounds (78 kg) and ended up going to Slimming World to get back down to around eleven and a half which took around six to eight weeks or so. The perfect weight for my height is set at, apparently, 157 pounds which would require me to be around a stone lighter than I was at this point last year and probably am close to again this year. We'll see what happens but I quite like losing weight. There's something about the deprivation I enjoy. Something about finding something so easy that so many find so difficult.

With a sugar quit coming in a few weeks this will be the last Christmas in which I can eat Christmas pudding and trifle and so on and so I don't really care what happens too much between now and the end of the year. I certainly won't let it stop me from having a pudding in Edinburgh if the fancy should take me. I don't know what we'll be doing when we get back home tonight.

It won't be watching a Christmas movie though.

I've had enough of them until next year, thank you very much.

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Stevie

Has now seen all of the Christmas movies.

1179

Lunarer
December 29th, 2017, 04:35 AM
Friday, December 29th 2017 (Losing Track of the Days)


Have to admit to losing track of the days at the moment. Couldn't have told you it was Friday today, or even December 29th, when I initially woke this morning. Would have got the year right though. I think. There's the usual lack of structure in life at this time of year and it's always worst when you wake up and can't even say what the date is. I find that this is something that used to bother me even when I was drinking. Maybe it is some way I had developed to feel safe somehow. Know what day and date it was. I feel really disorganised when I don't know either of these things. Even though I write it at the top of every journal post I write, and have done ever since day one, I still sometimes have to remind myself. Just a thought. . .

Tomorrow I will start to better remember since there are things starting to happen again. We have the Old Firm tomorrow afternoon (actually kicks off at noon – Old Firm being Celtic and Rangers playing each other, Scotland's two most famous football teams) and this is followed by a full card of league games in both Scotland and England which will help cement within me the fact that it is a weekend. Almost a normal Saturday. I may head to the pub to watch the Celtic and Rangers game. Don't worry, for goodness' sake – I won't drink! I went to the pub to watch this fixture back in September and didn't drink then either so why would I go and spoil it all now?

After this we concentrate on some ice hockey. I still haven't ever been to a game. I was supposed to go a few weeks ago, the sixteenth of December it was, after going to watch my local football team in action in the afternoon but it was called off due to a frozen pitch and then the idleness bug caught me (as well as not fancying going back out into the freezing temperature that was about at that time) and so I did not go to the ice hockey after all. This Hogmanay Lindsay and I are to be going with her brother (huge ice hockey fan) to Edinburgh to watch them compete in the annual league game that takes place on this date and against this opposition. It's a little Christmas present from them to us although I believe it is only happening since the people that usually go with them have backed out and can't go for whatever reason. No matter. My first ice hockey game will be in Edinburgh and will be during this December after all. Fun fun fun. . .

Then I'll probably forget all about which day and date it is for another few days as we enter the new year and things start slowly to take shape. Since I don't go back to college and work until a week on Monday I will probably begin to count down the days in my head. I am enjoying my holiday at the moment but almost as soon as those bells signal the end of this year and the beginning of the new one I will start to become restless and be on the lookout for things to do. Work is good for this but college will be even better as we begin the new semester in late January. This will no longer mean that I am ahead with the workload and will have to begin all over again. There will be loads of things to be getting on with for another few months. Lovely.

There will also be a countdown in my head (it's actually started already if I'm being honest) until the beginning of February since I have my new quit starting on the Seventh. This will be the day I celebrate my collective anniversaries from my other quits: three years off the booze; two off the drugs, and one off the cigarettes and antidepressants. It will also spell the beginning of the next quit I have in the pipeline: refined sugar. It'll be interesting to see what I reach for in times of stress next. It can't be drink, drugs, cigarettes, or food. What else is there? I guess we'll find out. The idea is that the healthy adult in me will start to take the hits when I am stressed and parry them away with his adult tools and mature mentality. That is perhaps the theory anyway.

Around about this time my oldest niece will have her sixth birthday and so I hope to be there. I was there last year (well – her fifth birthday, not her sixth, you know what I mean!?) though and it ended up being a year of not seeing family at all. I have accepted, and will have to continue to do so, that people get used to certain situations and stick to them. My brother and sister-in-law were used to me getting in contact with them all of the time and not having to make any effort and I learned this year that when the effort on my part ends then so does all communication. I have to just suck it up and continue to make the effort if I want to see more of my nieces next year than I did this. Which I do. I'll just have to start making the effort again. That's fine though.

Not long after that we have my mum's sixtieth birthday and if I want to see her between now and then (March 22nd) then I will also have to make all the effort there too. Lindsay and I are talking at the moment about getting ourselves a little car. It'd be nice to be able to visit people like mum, who lives out in the sticks and not very close to any major bus routes, whenever we felt like it and it not having to be something that is planned out in detail in advance, which can often lead to us abandoning the idea.

Around this time Lindsay will be finishing her placement and so will begin working; I'll be close to turning forty and so we'll be flying off on my second sober trip abroad; the college will be getting into Graded Unit territory; everything will be a little more action packed than it is at the moment, not to mention a certain little football tournament that will be starting around the middle of June.

I like the holidays, and Christmas has indeed been one of the most wonderful times of the year, but I'll be glad when things start to get back to normal as well.

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Stevie

Keeping track of the days.

1151

Lunarer
December 30th, 2017, 04:53 AM
Saturday, December 30th 2017 (Meetings in the Kingdom)


I'm going to go to the AA meeting tonight. I still like to keep my foot in the door. Sometimes I think this journal must read as though it is written by someone who just cannot make up his mind regarding the fellowship and is constantly in a to and fro, a tug-o-war about whether or not to attend and maintain his membership within the group. Someone who doesn't know if he's an AA member or not, despite being to hundreds of meetings over the last three years or thereabouts. I try not to think about it too much. Just go when I feel like it. I don't worry about seeming silly either if I go tonight and find it to my displeasure to the extent where I feel the need afterwards to come back to these pages and write unfavourably about my experience, only to return to a meeting in a couple of weeks. I guess

I am still unsure about it. Sometimes I walk out of meetings so disappointed that I all but swear to myself that I will never go back, that I have learned everything that there is to be learned from those places. Then I'll cast my mind to another part of the country. A city. Maybe things will be different in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee. The thing is – those city meetings have been some of the most disappointing of them all. Then I fall back in love with the local meetings, the meetings in my own little county, or ''Kingdom'' as we call it.

I think of the future. When might I need AA in the future? I might not ever need it in the way that some within the fellowship say that we need it. That it – need it so that I don't pick up a drink, but then I still have to face the fact that while there have been some difficult times during my sobriety no one I am close to has died. There have been no tragedies. What about a string of tragedies? I can never know what is around the corner. I do have to be honest when I say that my recovery has been a breeze in the last year or so. There were some really difficult spells in the first year and a half as I fought with trying to sleep and get back into a healthy eating schedule, as well as my moods being really unpredictable from one moment to the next, but the second half of these three years, the last eighteen months or so, have not provided anything that I would consider to be incredibly challenging.

I may need to call upon the fellowship as I age though. Or if I move to another area where I have no friends of family. These are times when I notice people leaning on it. The rooms are filled with old people and we have many visitors. Just on Christmas Eve we were visited by a woman from Latvia who was in town for Christmas to spend time with her family. One day I will be old and, possibly, lonely and so may need the rooms as a place to go during times like Christmas just to remind me that people do exist beyond the television screen. So I shall try not to be too harsh on tonight's meeting if I should choose to write about it tomorrow morning if it happens to be one of those meetings where you actually have to be in the room listening to it to actually believe it.

Fingers crossed.

Still a long time until we return to normal a week on Monday and already I am finding the days to be getting a little longer. It's from the Second until the Seventh that I think will be the most difficult days to fill. I had already mentioned earlier in the week that I plan to return to a walking schedule in a bid to get the miles up this year and will begin on the First. I'll be trying to get off to the best start possible knowing that although it has been very mild so far this winter the bad weather will begin at some point soon. January is always a cold month. Walking on ice is very frustrating.

I haven't set foot on the bathroom scales yet but suspect I will be fairly close to last year's total weight and this is something that I'll be working on getting back down to where it should be. I'll be forty in a little under four months and so will be entering a new phase of body weakening when it struggles to keep weight off a little more than it does when we're thirty. I'll have to look after myself much better these next ten years than I have been doing the last ten, which shouldn't be difficult. I mean that I'll have to look after myself better these next ten years than I have been doing the last year. That still won't be too difficult. Self care has always been a bit of a problem.

One thing that will be happening in the new year is the trip to the dentist. I have the two hundred pounds sitting aside for exactly this. Anyone who had read this journal a couple of years ago but then hadn't been around for the last two years and chose this post as their post to return to would likely wonder how on earth I managed to get from not having enough money for food and having to go on late-night debt-collecting missions for money for cigarettes from one day to the next, to managing to keep aside two hundred pounds for something as non-essential as getting my teeth fixed and I have to admit that sometimes I have to pinch myself that it is happening too. It just all happened so gradually that I couldn't really say when or what it was that acted as the catalyst.

Anyway. Tomorrow is the last day of the year and so for tomorrow's post I'll probably write something reflective about the year gone by. It'll probably be a rather long-winded affair and will cover most of the stuff I've talked about this month already. I'll try to also cover some things I was talking about earlier in the year but seem to have forgotten about recently, or have elected not to talk about.

I'll probably moan a little about tonight's AA meeting as well.

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Stevie

Heading to a meeting in his own Kingdom.

1116

Lunarer
December 31st, 2017, 05:10 AM
Sunday, December 31st 2017 (Feeding the Homeless)


You're not getting away with a long-winded and self-indulgent post reflecting on the year that has been 2017 but when I sat down to start writing this morning there were other topics I began to cover. What began as an introductory paragraph ended up taking so many words from me that I decided it best to reflect on the year just passed tomorrow instead. So you are spared for another day.

The season to be jolly is about over with for another year. It's been good although I find it unrealistic to think that a simple festive holiday season could help reshape and restructure mankind's thinking in such a way that we will actually ever find goodwill to all men and a real life Scrooge Christmas Carol story. It takes more than a couple of feel-good movies for that to happen. Actually – we never really see any changes at this time of year. Whenever I have been out and about in the days between Christmas day and now I have been amazed at how many people have been out shopping. What exactly could they possibly need to be buying? Bargains, as they see it? Discounts and sales, as they see it? Is this what it is?

The lasting image from my head of the time between Christmas Day and New Year this year will be a beggar in Edinburgh when Lindsay and I were at the Christmas Market indulging ourselves and wasting money counting his takings for the day. As I waited on Lindsay to finish at the stall I watched from the distance as this man counted out his coppers, one pences and two pences, maybe a couple of fives and tens – it was difficult to see in the dark – but I can't see how he can have earned much. I didn't give him anything but became just another one of the myriad of people who walked by that evening and every other evening.

One woman from my college class put a post up on Facebook the other day about how she had approached a homeless man and bought him something for dinner. The ''whole works'' apparently. She'd brought him a burger with chips and some chocolate for dessert, with a drink in the form of a latte to wash it all down. It was, in her eyes, a beggar's paradise. After all they don't ever eat, do they? So they should be joyous and grateful whenever someone presents to them something like this – the simple gift of human kindness!?

Let's just establish first that this woman would never do this. I can't be one hundred per cent sure, of course, but it is completely out of character for her in the time I've known her if she did. What would be completely in character for her would be to go out into the world one day looking for stories to stick onto her enormous Facebook homepage and this is what I fear has happened here. She's been out and saw a homeless person and then decided to fabricate a story about him. I may be out of line but I just can't see her doing this, buying all this stuff for a stranger. I've seen how hard it is for students at college to tap a cigarette off her.

In our AA Twelve Step program (and I'm going to try not to talk about last night's meeting too much but will just say that both of the meetings I have been to over the festive period have been good) we have this thing where we plan to go out – I think it's in the Just For Today (so it isn't really an AA thing at all then – and do someone a good turn. The key is to not have anyone else know about it. If someone else finds out about it then it does not count as being a good turn. The idea is that we learn to be genuinely altruistic (if such a thing can ever exist) by carrying out acts of kindness without others praising us for it. What this student peer of mine is doing with her Facebook thing is the exact opposite of this, and so the exact opposite of altruism. She's making a story up – but this still counts even if her story was true – and then telling the world about it in a Facebook post. She's only doing the deed so that people may know that she did it. This is not altruism. This is ego.

Apparently the guy never thanked her but ate half of the burger and then said he didn't want it or the chocolates. She said to him that he could take them home with him and he snapped back by asking if she was stupid – he doesn't have a home!! I don't know. I still don't think that this fits in with her personality but it might be a true story. Either way it is not in fitting with the Just For Today card we read out at some AA meetings as so begs the question of the motivation for doing the act in the first place. It seems as though the homeless only exist in our minds now as opportunities to show the world how nice people we are when we need a pick-me-up. It's a waste of human potential in my opinion.

It also ties in nicely with another thing that we try to teach in AA. We have already established that we should not be found out for doing kind things for strangers but it is equally important to remember that if we want to be altruistic and to love our fellow man and woman then also it does not count to do acts of kindness for those directly involved in our lives. For me to do something nice and kind for Lindsay is not altruism. It serves me. I get something out of it. This is a message that AA should emphasise more at this time of year.

You see, I think this gets completely lost at Christmas. The whole message has been twisted to now mean that you have to be nice to your family. Ideally we should be doing that every day throughout the year but I accept that it is completely realistic to expect us to forget to do it to out fellow man and woman, the stranger in the passing, the guy on the street. This is the part about the goodwill to all men. People seem to have forgotten that and think that it is goodwill to all members of my family, which really acts only to serve me.

If I want to get back into volunteering this year then it is working with homeless people I should consider. Forget the bullshit and greed that was the Charity Shop Cafe and try my hand at something else. Don't let that one experience deter me from giving up some of my time.

Just don't go posting on Facebook that I'm doing it.

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Stevie

Wonders how much that guy's takings for the day were and how far they stretched.

1216

Lunarer
January 1st, 2018, 04:29 AM
Monday, January 01st 2018 (Twenty Seventeen)


A year ago today was when we were supposed to lose the old WQD forum, the forum which may or may not have played a pivotal role in me getting sober, but it dragged on for a few more days before coughing and spluttering over its last breath. I moved over to the Ryver WQD site like most of the others but found it to be very. . . I don't know actually, very sucky!? Kind of. The layout was poor and has managed to somehow get even worse since and the members stayed exactly the same. Those who were serial slippers continued to be so and, even worse, those who had managed to get sober continued to stay the same, posting the exact same as they had done for years on the old forum. Those with insights and knowledge no addictions seemed not to take part much in the new forum and it truly did become just another Facebook. There was little hope but enough to get me through to March before I decided to expand my search, joining every addiction forum out there before settling on My Way Out, a small forum but one I've felt most at home writing in since mid-March of last year.

Something else that happened between this day a year ago and mid-March when I joined the My Way Out forum was that my appointments with Dr. Bacon started up. I had been referred to psychology services back in the summer (May) of 2015 when I was but three months sober and eventually managed to get a response from them on the January of 2016. After a quick assessment we agreed that the chances of me slipping back into my addictions were very slim and so I was re-referred to another part of psychology services. Almost a further year down the line and I found myself sitting in a chair opposite Dr. Bacon, my own clinical psychologist.

This was the guy I was to be spilling my guts to? He looks ordinary, I thought. He doesn't even seem that much older than me, I observed. One thing I was also not sure about was his gender. I felt far more open to discussing my personal life and failures in front of woman than I did another bloke. This is something that has completely changed in the past twelve months. Now I know that I don't know better. I trust the person to do their job. I do accept that I landed a prize in Dr. Bacon though as I feel him to be quite high on the psychological food chain around these parts. He mentors students long-term and expertly moves me away from my bullshit when I start it – something that John, Margaret and other counsellor types I have known would get caught up by and stuck with. Dr. Bacon very quickly taught me that he will get unstuck.

At this time I was studying a Level Six (National Certificate) in sound production at the college. In January we did a podcast (of which mine was apparently the best podcast handed in by an NC level student) before working with sampling and sound synthesis, inside the studios, digital djing, and remixing techniques before the course ended in June. We also has an additional radio unit and this is when I met my current lecturer. I was in two minds at the start of the year. Psychology was something I really wanted to learn about and had done for some time. I had considered applying to university and was looking to perhaps even move to Dundee (Scottish city not far from where I live just now) but was now beginning to enjoy my studies in the creative industries.

It looked like being a choice between either the psychology at Dundee, or continue studying in the creative industries. Of interest to me were sound production and practical journalism but after doing the unit in radio I had found something else. It would be a simple case of speaking to people. I felt that the radio course offered the best of all worlds. The lecturer made the most effort to sell the course to me. There were journalistic aspects to it as we learned interviewing techniques and were required to get out there and make ourselves known. There was studio work and we would be creating audio in the form of music and advertisements. There was also the allure of Sunderland University. Pass the two years at college and you are given an unconditional offer to study broadcast media at Sunderland, an English city a couple of hundred miles south of where I am. This seemed interesting too. In the end the radio had the biggest pull although I do have to say that I still feel regret about the psychology. It's something to think about further down the line. There would be nothing to stop me trying my hand at that once I am working and settled, besides perhaps an early death. That would certainly hamper my chances.

So I knew what I would be studying after the summer – I just had to survive ten weeks with nothing to do. I had, for almost a year, been giving up some of my time to a local charity shop and planned to continue to do this until further notice. Then came the changes. Staff left and new ones came in. Management was changed and the place started to get very business-like. The prices went up and the quality went down. This was all very disappointing but the worst of it came when I found out that our volunteers were actually coming from the dole queue. People on benefits were being forced to work there in order to keep their benefits. This was not something I could allow myself to be involved in. Sure – encourage people into work, but a charity shop of all places should not be supporting this, I don't feel. The ''volunteers'' there are nothing of the sort. It's modern slave labour. I left and will not eat from there again.

I had to find something else to do and so I contacted Barry the Bullet. He was a former employee of my window cleaning business but since it broke down and everyone left he continued to work it part-time himself. I went back out working with him and together we built some of it back up again over the summer. I phoned him many times over a couple of months and finally got through to him on the morning of the Walk the Walk charity marathon I was taking part in – an annual walk through Edinburgh for breast cancer. Walking was something I had started to do regularly ever since quitting smoking and worrying about the supposed weight gain that was inevitable after giving up the cigarettes.

After weighing myself on my day of quitting smoking (Feb. 07th – the same day I had previously quit drinking and taking drugs and the same date I will this year be quitting refined sugar) I was amazed to find that I had allowed myself to reach my heaviest ever weight of 12 st. 4 lb. This called me into action and I joined local healthy eating organisation Slimming World to help shed it. Within a couple of months I was at my target weight of 11 st. 7 lb and feeling all the better for it. I remained a member until I stopped attending a few months ago and won't pay the membership fee to rejoin so I am on my own this time if I weight myself in a little while and find that I am over my target weight again – and I AM over it, that I can tell you without the need for scales!!

Something else I did around this time was quit taking my antidepressant medication I had been getting from the GP for some time. I wanted to know if I was better and the only way to be sure would be to stop taking the Sertraline that I was prescribed. The GP was against me coming off these things and I was a little worried about the brain zaps myself so I started to wean myself off them carefully from January 01st until my smoking quit date five weeks later. I wanted to know if I could manage without them.

Lunarer
January 1st, 2018, 04:30 AM
Another thing I wanted to know if I could managed without was Alcoholics Anonymous. The only way to do this would be to stop going to meetings for a while and so I set myself a little mission: stop going to AA meetings for ninety days. This started in February, the weekend after I shared from the top table at the Tuesday night Step meeting for my second sober birthday. This was an interesting experience. Good and bad. What it did do for me though was teach me that I didn't need the fellowship. I could survive without it. This was an important step for me. I started going to meetings not when I was told I needed to, or made to feel as though I had to, but when I wanted to. My meetings per month ratio has never been high since, me not getting to more than three meetings in any month since then. I speak to people all the time who are still afraid not to go to at least three meetings a WEEK, and some of them have been sober around as long as me, and so I think it was quite a grown up thing for me to try, despite what members of AA would tell me.

During my time away from meetings I tried ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families) but found it to be full of people with no answers as to how to get better and start recovering from what they suffered from, no insight whatsoever into their conditions, and found that working with Dr. Bacon on schema therapy was far and away the most likely to help me get to where I wanted to be. People say in all of these fellowships that it takes one to know one. That you can't know what it's like to be an alcoholic unless you've been one; that you can't know what it's like to have a dysfunctional family unless you have one; but I feel as though Dr. Bacon knows more about any of this stuff and how to recover from it than anyone I've met in any fellowship I've been to. The way we go about spotting patterns in my dysfunctional behaviour is far superior to the methods used by my former sponsor.

In the summer Lindsay and I decided that it would be possible to book a holiday. I'd never been on a trip with a girlfriend before and so was keen, but worried, about the prospect. I was working every week by this point though and so we booked a little all-inclusive trip and I got me a passport. Then we headed to Spain for a day in Barcelona and a stay in a resort. It was pretty attitude changing and I came back determined to get on with my college work and get it all done as well and as quickly as possible.

I wrote down all of what was required to finish the first semester. Four Assessed Shows, a couple of practical projects, and a three-part podcast series. I then told myself that this could be done in the month of November and went out and did it. There were three weeks towards the end of the year where I didn't have to even go into college for most classes as I was finished all of the work. A semester in a month. No one else has reached this stage yet. Some people still have it all to do when we return to college in a week. They have three weeks until we start the new semester.

With me receiving a student loan for this term and having to pay full rent Lindsay and I wondered if it might be better if I moved in with her and so this happened on November 10th. I had finally left the cave. That hellhole of a place that seemed to suck the life out of me for more than four years. I thought I might miss it when it was gone but I haven't really. I've missed not having somewhere I can go and hide from time to time but I think this is just my Detached Protector talking.

All in all it has been a very successful year. If there has been one thing I've regretted it has been the fact that my family haven't been around much at all to share it with me. My brother and sister-in-law I hadn't seen from sometime in March until Boxing Day and my mother I also barely saw. It's my nieces I missed the most though. I've learned this year that my family do care – it's just that they are poor communicators. I mean REALLY poor communicators! If I want to see more of them this year then I will have to make the effort. It's not that they don't want to make an effort back – it's just that they might not know how to. In this way I am solely responsible for how much or how little of them I see this coming year.

Right then, on with the day. I have yet to step on the bathroom scales but am going for a little walk first. I think I'll be somewhere around last year's heady heights but I hope not. Better care has to be taken this year.

And that was 2017 in 2000 words or less. . .

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Stevie

Looking forward to 2018

2329

Lunarer
January 2nd, 2018, 04:10 AM
Tuesday, January 02nd 2018 (Waiting On Trains)


This is the start of the reduction in sugar in preparation for my big quit next month and so yesterday I began taking only one sugar in my coffees. I am no longer allowed any chocolates or sweets or anything like that – I'll get enough sugar from my meals. The biggest issue will be mints. The brand I use is made up of mostly sugar and so I will switch to sugar-free mints although I tend not to like them. Then again – I'm not a big fan of only one sugar in a cup of coffee and I'll get used to that soon enough. I don't think about cigarettes anymore and so in a few weeks I won't be thinking about sugar in coffee either. It's just another sacrifice in getting well, or trying to. . .

I had my big weigh-in yesterday morning after reading that people in Britain tend to gain around five pounds over the Christmas period. I think that feels about right. I knew I was a little heavier as I could feel it all over my body. Just little bits here and there. Twelve stones and two pounds. That's two pounds less than I was when I quit smoking in February – the heaviest I've ever been. On the old BMI scales and suchlike it means that I am either 23.7 (if I am five feet and eleven inches tall) or 24.3 (if I am five feet ten inches tall). I should really get an accurate height measurement done. Either way I am in the ''healthy weight'' area but I am as things stand a whopping nine pounds (four kilograms) over my Slimming World target. December has been fun but I'm glad it's over.

Scottish Sarah, my sister-in-law, wife of my only brother, would appear to have deleted both Lindsay and me from her Facebook friends' list following Boxing Day dinner at my mum's. I did feel throughout the meal that there was an atmosphere around the table. I can only assume that this is a case of hurt pride. She had made it perfectly clear in the running to Christmas that she was pissed off with me for not being as active an uncle as I have been in previous years and so I guess that this is an extension of this. My nieces are perhaps supposed to have had the same feelings as her and avoid me at dinner, or at least make things feel a little awkward (which if I'm honest I was actually expecting) but they don't seem to have the same grudges and everything went well. I think this has annoyed my sister-in-law. I also noticed that she was not too chuffed when we were talking about our trip to Barcelona and how we have planned to go away again for my birthday and so perhaps there is a little envy in there somewhere as well. She's possibly been too used to being the one with all the news while I've played the part of the family disappointment for so long now but the tide is turning? Maybe this is the way things work in her mind.

Rather than let things sit and fester I decided to contact my brother and ask him what was going on. Not a long and winding road, just the direct route to the problem. What's happening? He gets back to me asking me not to worry about that and that he will be making more of an effort in 2018 to see his friends and family, admitting that it was kind of all about university this year. It's almost like he's had a Scrooge moment this Christmas – realising that he's been spending all his time thinking about the money he might make in the future rather than his family. I'll bet he's not the only one.

I spent the last day of the year with Lindsay and her brother and his wife. I had been planning to get myself to an ice hockey game for a while but it had never happened. Every year our local team plays an away fixture in Edinburgh at the Murrayfield Ice Rink and so the four of us took a little drive across the bridge, stopping at a pub for something to eat first.

Football matches have one break of fifteen minutes and that is bad enough. Ice hockey games have two breaks and each of them lasts fifteen minutes. That's half an hour of sitting around. It's quite a break from the action. I notice during these breaks a couple of things. I notice that there are two types of people when there are breaks at ice hockey matches, and I learned which type I belong to. I forgot my phone. Left it on the sitting room table. It's an old thing anyway and so there is nothing to look at when I find myself with time to kill. Most people have new phones and so do have something to look at. The two types of people I feel there to be are: those who struggle with their own thoughts and so need constant stimulation, and those who can handle their own thoughts and company without feeling awkward.

I definitely belong to the latter group. I think I got so used to my own company when I was drinking that I don't mind it so much now, actually quite like it sometimes. At church the other week they were talking about this sort of thing. They used the example of waiting on a train. When we find the train to be running a little late we tend to do one of several things. Usually we begin by checking our watches and then shaking our heads, even though we are perfectly aware of the time and as though shaking our heads will make the train arrive any quicker. We then mention to someone else our irritation so as to have it confirmed and validated, okayed. None of this really helps. According to the story that the church was telling us one woman was asked why she is so calm when waiting on a train that is clearly not running on time. Why is she not annoyed.

Her reply is that this wait on this train is the only time during the day when she is actually left alone to think. It's the only time she gets by herself. I like this idea. The idea that every time we are found in a position whereby we must spend alone time waiting on something that is not under our control as being an opportunity to think about something. To reflect on something. It is a practice I have recently taken up and so when everyone goes to their phones at the break so that they can avoid thinking and reflecting I get the chance to do exactly that. There is something I want to write this year and I take a little time to start planning it out in my head. One or two ideas come to me. I shall have to get them down on paper at the earliest opportunity. Perhaps I should start taking a little notepad with me wherever I go.

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Stevie

Gonna get a little notepad.

1226

Lunarer
January 3rd, 2018, 07:15 AM
Wednesday, January 03rd 2018 (Have Your Say)


I'm up a little later again this morning which is okay still – I'm not about to start worrying about that. So many bad habits can be started up in December and continue into the new year. I broke off from work and college on December 22nd for two weeks and so I don't start back up at college until this coming Monday and work the following Wednesday. It feels like a long time. Long enough for bad habits to start up but hopefully not long enough for them to stick. Thankfully I am still in the position where I am motivated to try to continue learning good self-care practises. Looking around at my fellow countrymen it would appear that eventually something of indifference overcomes us and we let ourselves slide, stop caring about our personal development and physical and mental welfare. I have to try to avoid this as I get into my forties. It has happened to so many of them so it can happen to me.

That was the quietest New Year I have ever known. Normally I would be out and about. From 2007 – 2010 I was out in pubs or clubs with friends to celebrate the coming of the new year. After that it tended to be in people's houses. Even in 2015 when I had been sober since the February but smoking weed on and off since the July, getting back into a daily habit around August, I purchased a couple of ecstasy pills for that night, it's New Year after all, and went out to a small gathering in a house. Last year I was off all drugs and went with Lindsay to the AA gathering. This year we went to Edinburgh for the ice hockey match with Lindsay's brother and his wife and got home about seven in the evening and never left the house for the rest of the night.

Is this what getting older is all about? Barry the Bullet said to me just before we broke off for the holidays that he always says that Christmas is for the kids while New Year is for the adults. I don't really know if I agree with this. I think that Christmas feels as though it is for everyone whereas New Year is for the kids. Children are obsessed with the ''getting'' part of Christmas. Hey – I don't blame them. I blame us for worshipping the television set for the last sixty years and now replacing it for the phone. This has allowed advertisers into our young minds. But I also found that the child in me enjoyed Christmas this year. Little Stevie enjoyed being allowed to watch Christmas movies and get into the whole interest and excitement of it all, albeit not until close to the last minute. The adult part of me enjoyed reconnecting with my nieces for the first time in months. It felt this year as though Christmas was a time that had something to offer every part of me.

New Year seemed a little different. Without the booze there doesn't seem to be anything left. In England they have been going mad with the Drunk Tanks for a few years now but for some reason we aren't getting them in Scotland. These are mobile hospital units designed to keep drunks out of Accident and Emergency. If they are badly hurt (and I am sure that a great many people last night were) then they are sent to A & E. If they are only drunk and require sleeping it off then they are kept in the mobile drunk tanks and sent home when they recover. It's all about trying to keep people out of the hospitals when they are steaming drunk. I also believe that part of it is to try to keep them out of the police cells as well. Fuck working for the NHS or British police last night.

BBC has a Have Your Say series on its website on the subject of drunk tanks and British drinking culture nowadays. These are just columns that are open for members to comment on. I have been browsing some of these comments and, as always when such a thing is done, my faith in humanity for the coming year has taken a battering.

One guy is saying that these problems with drink are down to a very small minority who the media hype up. I don't know about that. I'd love to think so but I see loads of people with drinking problems these days. Maybe it's just the company I keep. I think that there are more people who don't drink at all, or at least drink very sensibly at in moderation, than there are those who drink to excess but I don't think I'd go as far as to dismiss it as being a ''very small minority.''

Others are blaming football (I've always said that football, and any national sport for that matter, reflects the attitudes of the country it is in. Racism and bigotry does not begin and end in the football grounds – it comes into them from the streets.) while others are saying that children now can see easily past the outdated drug deterring strategies deployed in schools these days and are making their own choices based on education about drugs that they can get elsewhere. Drinking may go down as drug-taking goes up. Young people now know how dangerous drinking alcohol can be. There are much safer drugs out there. We all know it. There's a huge cultural shift happening. We are in the middle of an enormous cultural revolution at the moment.

''Send them all a bill!''

''Anyone who lands up in a drunk tank should be charged for the privilege. Enough to make them think before they indulge next time.''

''Simple – fine irresponsible idiots for being over a certain limit in public and/or charge them for the public services time they are costing taxpayers.''

''I don't mind the NHS treating drunks but I don't see why the sober majority should pay for it.''

It always comes down to this, doesn't it!? Start fining people on an individual basis. We're always moaning. Always trying our hardest to create and ''us and them'' mentality. Anything to create a divide. The thought of looking towards a solution of any kind does not crop up in any of the hundreds of comments I browsed through. It's just mostly people demanding that those responsible should pay for the treatment. If that should be the case then we should abolish taxes and everyone should just pay for everything only when they themselves need to. We'd be just like America then. The ultimate in ''every man for himself''.

It's the way we seem to be heading.

On one section of the Have Your Say there are several people commenting about how much healthier young people are today because they are all at the gym and don't drink as much and one guy put up this, which I quite liked, and so gave it a thumbs up.

''Yeah, kids today are so much healthier than we ever were, now it's all meths, skunk and synthetic drugs, Ipads and Facebook.

Progress, isn't it great''

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Stevie

Can't see much progress.

1230

Lunarer
January 4th, 2018, 04:24 AM
Thursday, January 04th 2018 (Hey, Baaaaaaaby!!)


Gonna try and reign in these word counts a little. There hasn't been a post so far this year under twelve hundred words. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just that there's no need to go rambling all the time. . .

After my weight-in on Monday morning and finding that I was twelve stones and two pounds (giving me a BMI of between 23.7 and 24.4 depending on how tall I am – something I really should try to determine quickly) I decided that I should also reign in my consumption of anything that could be considered ''junk'' food. Of course – with me beginning to wean off sugar in preparation for my big quit in a month's time I have already been doing things like not snacking and only having one sugar in my coffee but the eating part of it is only one part. There is another part to consider: exercise.

My preferred method of getting exercise in 2017 was walking. Lots of it. This year I wanted to do even more and have made a good little start to the new year. I'll be heading out again in a little while for another little stroll. Rain has been the biggest problem of the year where walking is concerned. Torrential rain on new year's day stopped me from leaving the house at all. Weather warnings were then put out on the met office weather website for rain on Tuesday and Wednesday. After that it said that we would get a spell of dry weather with it getting a little colder. I don't mind the cold too much when I'm walking but the rain, especially when it gets heavy, is a completely different story. It's been true to the forecast though. It has been wet but looks to be dry out there, perfect walking weather.

I'll be heading out in a little while to add to my total miles walked for the year and then will be coming back to empty the spare room to ready it for some painting. Originally this room was decided to become a sort of mini studio/college room where I could go every now and again to work on assessed shows and suchlike, put in some extra hours for the college. As things have turned out this has been unnecessary thus far, I've been able to complete the first semester with a bare minimum of fuss and with only a few hours at home here and there, and most of that was done in the cave when I was still living there. No – it is not needed for that.

Lindsay is keen to get it painted though. I also have my carpet from my old flat and she's keen to get that down too. Why all the sudden desire to prep a room? The colours she wishes for it to be painted would suggest that we are going to be moving from our current room and into this one. I think I know what she's thinking but there is only one way to find out and sitting back and trying to guess is not it. I'll have to ask. We like being able to communicate with one and other. I'm not naturally great at it, nor do I believe is she, but it's something we struggled with early in the relationship and went to couple's counselling to try to help with and ever since then we have been a little better with it, barring that episode the Saturday before Christmas.

That was all sorted out quickly though. Her brother wanted to go out last Sunday night to celebrate the coming of 2018 and so they decided that they would go to a friend's house. They had been talking about doing this while we were dining prior to the hockey fixture earlier that evening. She ended up stalling and saying that she was tired but said that he could go without her anyway, which he did, and it turns out that this was the wrong thing to do and now he is getting the silent treatment. He tells Lindsay that this is how it is with them: she'll not speak to him for around a week and then they'll just start talking again. Nothing will really get resolved. They just go from speaking to not speaking one moment and then back to speaking again a week later. I notice how often people seem to be in dysfunctional relationships, or at least relationships with dysfunctional element, and it's quite alarming. Kung fu Pandis admitting to me earlier in the year that he is having a baby with his partner to guarantee that they remain together and looking at how Scottish Sarah has so much power over my brother in that relationship that he just submits to her every time about everything. I want Lindsay and I to avoid all of that shit if we can, or at least be aware of it.

So I ask her, and, it would turn out that my thinking is spot on. Ever since getting word from the courts that she can begin seeing her son whenever she wants to and without social work supervision she has started to think along long-term lines. One day she feels that he will be staying with us in this place and so her thinking is that we should perhaps be looking to prepare the place for that. It's not something I am overwhelmed with gladness about. He's not the model son. He hasn't been to school at all this term and had only a sixty per cent attendance last year. He'll be sixteen at the end of the year and has been known for spending a lot of money from his grandmother's bank card while she's been sleeping. I couldn't imagine waking to find that the same had happened with our money so that he could top up his X-Box account.

Lindsay has also mentioned the word ''baby'' twice over the festive period, the most recent time being yesterday while we are talking about what we might do with the room. We're looking at the lack of wardrobe space in this spare room in case we do move in there.

Stevie – ''We could always buy one. You know – one of those big fuck off ones are only a couple of hundred bucks.''

Lindsay – ''I don't want to go buying lots of furniture if we're not going to be staying here for too long. We don't know what's happening with my son, and there's the Sunderland thing to think about. Also, if we ever get to the stage where we do decide that we want a baby then we'll need to move to another place.''

She first mentioned it in the rental car on the way to the Opeth gig in November. Then again when her friend Kerry fell pregnant. Then again a couple of days after Christmas. Now we are only a handful of days into the new year and it's getting brought up again.

Anyway – I had better go or I'll top twelve hundred words again.

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Stevie

So much for reigning the word counts in.

1215

Lunarer
January 5th, 2018, 03:34 AM
Friday, January 05th 2018 (Tree Comes Down)


I feel a little hangover from Christmas still. The tree has been packed up and the decorations gone for another year (or eleven months, when you think about it). While out on my walks I have noticed the gradual lessening of trees and general festive décor in the house I've passed since the turn of the year. It's bringing about a sense of loss within me. I got this same feeling after coming back from a week in Spain back in October. I felt it as well after that week in early November when I worked myself and knew that my time in the cave was coming to an end, making the most of my final nights as a bachelor. That's the sign of having had a good time perhaps? You feel a little down afterwards? That's the way I am thinking about it at the moment. That's the way I feel about it. Maybe it's not that at all. Maybe it's just boredom setting in. Two weeks is perhaps too long to be without college, work and routine.

I think that next year I'll start getting into the mood a little earlier. By that I don't mean I'll do more shopping and spend more money and allow myself to get carried away, and it's not really as though I can completely control how much or how little I can get into the spirit, but I won't delay so much doing Christmassy things. Besides eating – that's one thing I won't be able to do in the same way next time.

Already I am getting used to not taking as much sugar in my morning coffees. I have a little jar sitting on top of the microwave and each time I make a coffee I pour one teaspoon into my cup and the other into this jar. It builds up over time and is supposed to be showing me how much I am not taking into my body, as well as showing me how much I am actually taking in. I don't know what's worse actually. Lindsay rolls her eyes when she sees me doing this. I think that to her the whole idea of trying to quit sugar seems ludicrous. It'll make things like going out to eat extremely difficult and pernickity. It is alarming the amount of sugar that is sitting in that jar at the moment. Not even a week gone and it is almost full of sugar. That's the amount I'm no longer taking and just in coffee. The thing is – I am still taking in that same amount by having one teaspoon in every coffee. And that's not counting the sugar that's in the milk.

I have to admit to wondering how sustainable a sugar quit might be long term. How practical is it really? Will I be freaking out if and when I slip? What about when I am sitting in a restaurant? Will I have to Google the contents and ingredients while the staff stand by the side of the table, notepad in hand, waiting for me to order? Might I be best just accepting that sugar is a part of life and that a reduction is more of what's required? No added sugars? Where I don't have to take it I don't? That sort of thing rather than a complete quit? Davina McCall wrote a couple of books on the subject and so I'm going to try to illegally download them after I post this. If not then I'll hunt for them on ebay. It's better if I know exactly what it is I'm up against when embarking on this next challenge.

I have the dentist next week and have my whopping one hundred and ninety five bucks already sitting awaiting this appointment. I am hopeful that this enormous reduction in sugar will spell the end of things like this – root canal treatment to save a tooth at thirty nine years old. It's not cool. I'm not surprised when I think about it. For a long time, especially the days of living in the cave, I would be drunk at night and so would not even consider brushing my teeth before bed. Most days I would brush in the mornings but there was a long period in my life there when I would be drunk in the evenings and would just bounce off all the walls on the way to bed, if I made it to bed at all. Brushing my teeth was not a thought most of the time. Now I am paying the price. The amount of sugar in cider is pretty scary. Lots of cider and no brushing of teeth is a pretty disastrous combination.

Then I think of things like diabetes, my mum and partner being two people I know (and a whole load of AA members as well). It is becoming so popular nowadays that it's almost a fad. I'm not paranoid about it. I'm just starting to think more long term. Dr. Bacon says that setting goals is all good and well but can often be counter-productive. People who decide to quit smoking tend to start back up again after a short spell; people who decide to live smoke free tend to stay off it. People who go on a diet to lose weight will often find that they put it back on once they get to the desired weight. He says that it is far better to make lifestyle changes. This is why I think Slimming World is better than all of those weight-watcher type programs where you are encouraged to make the huge changes to eating habits.

It's also why AA's Twelve Step program has Steps Ten, Eleven and Twelve. Without them we would have simply set goals. We'd have set out to look at our behaviour and clear the wreckage of our pasts and then that would be it. Nothing would follow. The final three Steps ensure that we continue to practice what we have learned. They make sure that we keep to the lifestyle changes we set out to. I never managed to get past Step Nine so perhaps that is why I don't seem very program-orientated these days. As things stand I can't really see me ever going back and going through those Steps. Shame.

Whatever I decide I plan on sticking with it. This won't be a little plan to be tested but will instead be another big lifestyle commitment. I'm slowly becoming healthier in every way. I don't drink, take drugs or smoke, and I get plenty of exercise. Now my eating habits are about to change for the better as well.

Things feel right at the moment.


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Stevie

Feeling the benefits.

1142

Lunarer
January 6th, 2018, 05:07 AM
Saturday, January 06th 2018 (A Good Influence)


Lindsay told me last night that my mother and her partner had said this about her when we visited them for Boxing Day dinner. They said that they felt Lindsay has been a good influence on me. Talk about trying to hand over the credit to someone else for my staying sober. Nah – I don't think that they meant it like that. I think they are right. I don't know how they would know though – they haven't seen anything of me in 2017 to really be able to pass judgement! Maybe they look at Facebook pictures and make their minds up that way.

I guess that I've noticed a lot about relationships since being with Lindsay. Sure – the really tough parts in my sober period so far came at the beginning. The endless sleepless nights, the constant anger and uncertainty. My total dependence on AA every day to get me through from one morning until the next. Getting through the first twelve months was not always pretty and I deserve a lot of credit for passing them without taking a drink (although AA and some members of the old WQD forum deserve a mention for this too) but being in a relationship certainly has shown me a new side to life. I guess that this new side is bringing about certain changes and differences in me that others are picking up on. Barry the Bullet has mentioned things to me about this too. Lindsay says that it works both ways and that while her family are not the sort to go saying such things to me they will likely be thinking that they don't have to worry so much about their Lindsay now that she seems settled with Stevie. In this way I am a good influence on her too – something I never thought I'd be able to consider myself as being to anyone. We've both been sober for more than two years and everything seems rather settled. No turbulence to see here.

I weighed myself on Monday morning to find that the festive period had been most unkind. I was twelve stone and two pounds (just over 77 kg) and not too happy about it (but could have guessed it – I'm getting good at sensing my body and listening to it. I wouldn't go as far as to day that my body and I are ''as one'' or anything corny like that, but we're definitely starting to listen to one and other) and so I figured I would try stepping on the scales again this morning. I've been a good boy this first week. I've been eating in accordance with the Slimming World guide book I used to use when I first joined last year when I quit smoking (besides the sugar in the coffee, even if it is just one teaspoon instead of my usual two – that was never permitted) and I've been out walking every day since Tuesday and so I knew I had lost a few pounds. I'm quite good at losing weight actually.

So this morning I weigh in at eleven stone and twelve pounds (around 75.2 kg) so I've lost four pounds – almost two kilos – in the last five days. That's pretty good going. Like I said – I'm quite good at shedding the pounds when I have to. Now I'm only two pounds over and above my maximum Slimming World target weight. Turns out that not only is Lindsay perhaps a good influence on me but that Slimming World was as well – even though it has been months since I attended. AA too. And the old WQD forum, this My Way Out forum, Dr. Bacon, the college – good influences everywhere!! With my new-found determination to do well and continue to try to do change my bad habits you could say that I am becoming a good influence on myself too.

I've been giving a lot more thought towards following the Slimming World eating plan rather than completely abstaining from sugar. I just don't believe that a complete sugar quit is doable over the long term. Lindsay and I did a big shopping yesterday and since we have a huge freezer that we keep in the cupboard out in the stairwell that we got for Christmas from Lindsay's dad we got a lot of frozen stuff in. It's a good idea to plan ahead and now that we have this freezer we can budget from now on when buying food, knowing that we can save a little here and there by just resorting to the freezer if we're finding things a bit tight anytime. I browse through our selections and notice that even frozen vegetables contain medium quantities of sugar and other carbohydrates. It's impossible to know for sure what is in fresh vegetables but I think in this global, profit-obsessed, world we live in there will be sugar in there too.

Keeping to the Slimming World plan every single week would ensure that sugars and fats and all other nasty contents are measured and accounted for and as long as I keep within my boundaries and the guidelines then my diet will be carefully monitored and should be successful. The dentist said that the trick is to not have any sugar in between mealtimes. This means having very limited sugar at mealtimes and then drink water in between rather than coffee with one sugar as I am known to take. The mints will have to be swapped for sugar-free ones too and I am looking at alternatives at the moment. Nothing is quite as good as the strong-mints I've been 'taking' this last year or so since the big smoke quit.

So. We now face a weekend as normal before things return well and truly back into the routine. I'll be at college on Monday and Tuesday again and then working with Barry the Bullet from Wednesday through to the end of the week. I'm actually looking forward to getting back out there and getting on with seeing what 2018 has to offer and what I have to give to it. I'm optimistic, it must be said. I have much to be looking forward to already and will need to be earning some cash if I want to do more. This means getting out to work.

All in all a good festive period has come to an end. Only ten and a half months until we start thinking about the next one. I had a fun time, ate well, saw my family – including my nieces – and also found out that my mum and Johnny Bravo think that Lindsay has been a good influence on me. She, in turn, says the same about me.

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Stevie

A good influence.

1152

Lunarer
January 7th, 2018, 04:13 AM
Sunday, January 07th 2018 (Turning a Solo Tenancy into a Joint Tenancy)


Before we get started please allow me my monthly basking in the glory of my quitting achievements. Today marks thirty five months since I quit drinking; twenty three months since I stopped taking any form of drugs; and eleven months since I embarked on my mission to stay smoke-free for life (and also quit my antidepressant medication on that same day). It's also just one month to go then until my next quit. I don't want to get into that at the moment though (probably because I'll ramble on and on about it loads over the next few weeks as we get closer to February 07th) and there are other things to talk about.

I moved from my cave in the next town to Lindsay's flat on November 10th last year, some eight weeks ago now, but my name isn't on any official document at the council office. I was down there on Thursday and again on Friday since we can't seem to pay our rent arrears – rent arrears which have built up since this moving day a couple of months ago. There has been, according to them, a 'change in circumstances' and so things were under review for a while, or were supposed to be, and the number that we usually quote to pay our rent is now not accepted. It will all be sorted out soon enough, I am told. That's fine. We have the money to pay it no problem.

While the woman is looking up the details of the flat she notes that only one person is living there. The council only keep track of addresses and not actual tenants (which would explain why it was so difficult getting a total figure for all of my rent arrears from all of my previous addresses a couple of years ago when I was going through my Step Nine amends with my AA sponsor) and so there is no record of me living anywhere at the moment. Lindsay did notify them to say that I was moving in and I did tell the council back in my old town where I was moving to when I handed in my keys for the cave but there is a form that we had to both sign that had not been filled in.

It's basically a form asking permission for me to move in with Lindsay. Permission to make a solo tenancy a joint tenancy. It's a bit late to be applying for this now – all of my stuff has been in there for weeks! The thing is: one of the conditions of someone moving into another council property is that they do not have rent arrears from any previous address totalling one twelfth of the annual rent amount. With regards to the cave my arrears are much higher than one twelfth of the annual rent for that place and so I crawled back down to the council office on Friday afternoon with my signed application form not knowing what might be happening. I'm applying to live in a property I already live in.

Towards the end of last week and over the weekend we cleared out the spare room which had everything brought from the cave kind of just lying around. It also was already filled with stuff of Lindsay's that she didn't know what to do with. It was basically a shambles but it's all good now. I found a few interesting things while I was raking through all of the stuff. One of these interesting things was a Roundabout magazine (that's the official monthly magazine for Alcoholics Anonymous in the UK. Some people get the Grapevine; we get the Roundabout, it's the same thing). That's not the interesting thing. I have loads of them myself. People used to give them to me all the time when I was a newcomer and I have never thrown anything away that I was handed at a meeting. I actually kept it all in a little box but I'll discuss that little box in a moment or two. This particular Roundabout is dated from August 2011 and contains within a letter from a guy I know in the fellowship and have met many times.

He's a serial moaner and his letter is no different. I think I know who he's actually referring to and talking about in his letter but some of the stuff he's written I am actually surprised they've published. Normally the magazine is full of letters from AA members just rambling on about how grateful they are and how wonderful life is and on and on. Like all of the really icky stuff from these forums and none of the decent stuff. He's called the letter ''Sober Meetings or Dry Pubs!'' which is unlikely to have been edited and is probably what he actually did call it (although were I the Roundabout moderator I would probably have edited the title to end with a ? rather than a ! since it is really a question). It's good though. It's good that those who can't get to meetings on a regular basis can read about some of the things they are not missing out on by not being able to go. There is a lot of drama in the meetings. I've seen it too many times. I'm chuckling in the spare room as I'm reading about it now too. It was six years since this letter was published but he was arguing about the exact same things when Lindsay and I went to that meeting he was sharing at when we had the hire van to move my stuff here the week we came back from Barcelona. The same day Manchester United played out that dreadful 0-0 with Liverpool. October 14th, I think it was.

That box I kept all of my AA gifts I had a little look through when I found it during the tidy up. It mostly contains things I received from Jenna – my sober buddy for the first eight months or so – but it does also have some things that people gave me as ideas as to what my Higher Power could be. Many AA members are of Catholic persuasion and so there is the inevitable Prayer to St. Jude card. There's Jesus as well, of course. My birthday card from last year when I turned two which has been signed by everyone who attended that meeting. It's in there too. It's a cool little box. Issues of the Roundabout that were given me. A mini version of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

Happy days. Tomorrow I'll be returning to college for the first time since December 19th to try to create some more happy days.

I'll also need to find out from the council what's happening about my living arrangements.

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Stevie

Getting ready to start off 2018 with a bang!

1173

Lunarer
January 8th, 2018, 02:23 AM
Monday, January 08th 2017 (Bottom of the Pecking Order)


Ah. . . At last we can get back into the routine that is college on a Monday and Tuesday! Actually – I don't even have to go in today since I am finished with everything for the semester and I think that there will be very little for me to do. There has been a rota started up, a schedule if you like, which determines who will be in the studios and which times. This sucks for me as I have not been included. There's no real need for me to be involved if I'm done but I personally think that it should be in the college's best interests to ensure that the best students get the help and support they need to be the very best they can be. As one of the best students (and only one actually finished all of their tasks for the year so far – and have been finished since late November) I think that I should still be allowed to do my live shows as normal. At the end of the day it is not my fault that some are embarrassingly far behind and struggling to hand things in now less than three weeks from the deadline. Priority is given to those who still have work to do. Using this approach I am at the bottom of the pecking order. I have a day off.

I think that in 2018 what I do with my days off might define how it goes for me. If I want to push for a more successful and fulfilling year (which would just be greedy after 2017 if I'm being honest) then I'll have to start making better use of my time on my days off. Maybe. I don't know. It's a good thing to learn to relax as well, I guess. What do people do when they have a day off? I suppose it's different for everyone. Whatever I end up doing it does feel slightly as though this year is now starting to take a little longer to get into first gear than I was hoping. It'll all work out fine and I've no doubt this will be a good year. I'm just not fussed for this part of it. The stuttering and false starts that make up the first week in January.

I feel like I could do with an appointment with Dr. Bacon, my clinical psychologist, right now. Not in the way that we need our AA sponsors when we are new to the fellowship and a drinking urge takes us – that would be ridiculous – I'm talking about being eager to get on with things. If I'm not in college much this week (and if I'm right in that my dentist appointment is tomorrow morning then I won't be in until at least late morning tomorrow but possibly not at all, we'll just have to wait and see) then I guess I'm thinking of what else I need to be doing to be getting back into the swing of things and while there are many different aspects to my life at the moment – many different petals to my life's flower, as it were – the sessions with Dr. Bacon are, I think, going to be the one area in 2018 in which the biggest changes and differences appear.

I still feel the slight sting of that comment he made a couple of sessions ago when he said that he thought I had made some real progress in the time since I quit drinking. That I had come as far as I likely could have in this time without doing any of the hard stuff. When I first heard that I put it in a box inside my head so that we could get on with the session but as soon as it was over and I started walking out into the rain I opened it back up again and let the comment run free. I really did think that there were many hard parts to getting sober.

The first shifts volunteering for the Charity Shop Cafe were pretty hard – totally out of my comfort zone! Getting back to work with Barry the Bullet was demanding in so many ways, least of all the fact that with all that time off I was much physically weaker and so climbing the ladder was more difficult than it ever was before. What about all of the social interaction I've had to deal with in the last two years and eleven months? Hard going! I've had to make friends at college, at that Resources Group, in AA meetings. I've met probably as many people in the last three years as I had the previous twenty, when you factor in all of the AA members and people in Restoration and other groups I've been involved with. And let's not forget about Lindsay who has thrown up all manner of tricky situations in the near seventeen months we've been seeing each other. All that walking? The trip to Barcelona? I thought that these were all very hard challenges.

I am quite excited now though. If these were all easy parts to getting sober and learning to battle successfully against my Schema Modes then what might be some of the hard parts? If my life isi very different now as a result of doing the easy things then what might it be like a year from now if Bacon is going to have me doing the hard stuff this year? It makes for some very interesting and exciting possibilities. My next session with him is next Thursday. January 18th. I have a little homework I still have to do before then actually, more of those questionnaires, so I could be getting on with that, as well as those Mode Diaries which have become standard for us between sessions.

Well – I'm getting near to the end of another post and I don't know how I really do it. Every single day last year and multiple times a day the year before I would sit down to the laptop keyboard and type away, not really sure what I would end up talking about, if anything, but the fingers just go on and on until they feel that the time has come to stop (and they often need a little nudge in order to notice this) and the funny thing is that it's become so routine that I almost instinctively know when I am between eleven hundred and twelve hundred words, which seems to be the daily quota.

Who knows – maybe in the years to come this journal will become the longest thing ever written.


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Stevie

Typing and typing and typing and typing.

1146

Lunarer
January 9th, 2018, 04:20 AM
Tuesday, January 09th 2018 (A Plant's Life)


When I first heard about people in recovery being so poor at looking after themselves, their surroundings, and everything that has anything to do with them that they should embark on a mission to learn responsibility by getting their hands on a house plant and trying to keep it alive for a period of one year I figured it would be the ideal thing for me to try. It's a bit of a commitment but at least nothing dies (or even gets as much as a little upset) if I fail in my mission and the plant does indeed die. I heard about this in a Cocaine Anonymous meeting – a meeting that used to actually take place just along the road from where I live at the moment and type this very post out, right next door to my dentist (which we'll get to soon enough), but that closed down just a few weeks after it opened. Upon hearing about this I eagerly headed to the local garden store and got myself a couple of plants. One was a Leopard Lily – the other a Dragon Tree. I had high hopes. A little water here and there and a bit of grooming when necessary and everything should work out fine. They both died within a few months.

It was the winter. That first winter I spent sober in 2015 was one of my more difficult ones. I had stopped drinking but had not yet learned to start looking after myself properly. There was a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy on the go in that I had been saying for years that the winter is just a time when I really struggle and there's nothing I can do about it. I have to suffer during this period every year and that's that. I had that thing. . . Seasonal Affective Disorder. I was SAD. That was what it was. So when this winter came around all of the good work I had done in my early sobriety that helped in giving me a glimmer of hope, a fighting chance at a new life, well it was all discarded temporarily as I went about just another winter but without the booze.

Despite having a bed in the next room I opted to hibernate into the smallest room in the cave and move everything I would need for the winter into that room with me. This included the microwave and kettle. The bed stayed through in the other room. I had a sleeping bag and used it and just slept on the floor. This went on from around mid November to around April last year when someone from the WQD forum came through to visit me from Glasgow and help me clean the place up. It had gotten pretty bad. It was my little world for a while. I only had one room to heat. No one could bother me. The rest of the cave was left cold. I didn't care. At this time I wasn't drinking but I was smoking weed every moment I could to get through the winter. I had no choice – winter was just brutal. I was SAD.

I won't go into how these last two winters (and we are currently into winter this very moment and I feel fine) but I will say that while all of this was going on my house plants were left unattended in the sitting room in the cold and dark. They had little chance of survival. For the most part I forgot they were even there. Poor little things. They died in that cold cave during winter. At least they had each other.

So there was a challenge last year. Get two new plants and try to keep them, or at least one of them, alive and kicking for a period of one full year. After all – a year would inevitably contain a winter. If I was going to achieve this task, become successful at what is for most people a pretty routine challenge, then I would have to ensure that it would survive throughout the winter months. It wouldn't be the same to just let it die off and keep a plant alive for two six month summers. It had to be a proper year and that meant twelve consecutive months.

So I made a plan and waited until June 30th before buying them and I spent time picking the strongest looking plants of the ones in the garden centre. Same plants again this time – one Leopard Lily and one Dragon Tree – and carried them back to the cave. The reason I waited until the very end of June was that I wanted to maximise the chances of survival for them should I have another bad winter. The warmer months are perfect for keeping plants and there is practically no work to be done in order for them to live through them. This gave me the chance to make sure that by November my plants were still strong. It also meant that there would be warm months towards the end of my challenge too. I only had to get through to the end of month eight and I would be all but certain that they would manage to get to their first birthdays. Any damage that they perhaps picked up over a little neglect over winter would have time to sort itself out for I knew that as soon as we got into April and the daylight saving time then I would be home and dry.

I succeeded. The Leopard Lily died over the winter (some plants are perhaps just not cut out for life in a cave such as mine regardless of care and attention) but the Dragon Tree went all the way through the winter and came out at the other end smiling. In late June 2017, as we approached the one year, I nipped into a birthday shop down town and picked up a card for her. It was a Peppa Pig card with ''I'm 1'' written on the front. Ahh. . . happy times! Just three months later (and she's still doing fine) and I am moving through to Lindsay's flat in another town. The plant comes with me and sets up a new home on the balcony where she can get all of the sun that God sends her.

Which obviously wasn't enough because I binned the poor sod yesterday. She was struggling and I brought her in to try to heal her but it's not happening. She's dead. She lived just over eighteen months.

I'll miss her.

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Stevie

Needs to review his plant caring skills.

1131

Lunarer
January 10th, 2018, 05:20 AM
Wednesday, January 10th 2018 (Spiders Up the Plughole)


Over Christmas my family all agreed that we needed to see more of each other this year and blah blah blah and while it's only ten days into the next year I do wonder if anyone will get in touch with me unless I make the first move. I don't want to over-think it. It was over-thinking it that got me into all that trouble this year as it is. It's worth a little thought though. Why do we make these promises and then not follow through? If it is because we are a bunch of walking and talking Detached Protectors then I will be the only one with this knowledge and so the only one with any real insight in how to battle with it and so I may very well be waiting forever unless I make the first move. Sigh. . .

I passed Captain G and his AA girlfriend when I was out on one of my strolls the other day. They were coming the other way. It was one of those times when you don't notice the other person until you are passing and then there's that awkward moment where you are already passing and so don't know whether to stop or just smile and keep walking. It turned into the latter for both parts although I think the former went through both parties' heads. I think it's the whole ''what would I have to say to them?'' thing that stops me from talking. I can't speak for them. I have to question if this might be Detached Protector behaviour in full swing. Is it a kind of avoiding behaviour? I think I would have to say no.

It wouldn't surprise me if both Captain G and his partner had pretty powerful Detached Protectors themselves. They don't go to meetings together. They work their relationship, with regards to AA at least, very differently from how Lindsay and I go about ours. People in AA know all about us and most know that we live together now as well. There's no secret. With Captain G and his partner they hide from the rooms and go to different meetings. It's down to Captain G being a long term member while his partner is pretty new – certainly was new when they started going out – and so there's that predatory element that comes into it. Does he want to be seen as a prowler? Some of the old timers had things to say on the matter so they keep the relationship out of the limelight. Some old timers frown about Lindsay and me but I just suggest to them that they should perhaps concentrate more on their own lives and ask themselves why they are in meetings every night of the week rather than judging others.

In many ways I feel that going to meetings is a Detached Protector thing to do. Sometimes I believe people are sitting at home seeking connection. They know that there are a few ways that they can go about this. Most of these ways put us in the firing line. They force us into being vulnerable. They mean reaching out into the real world. They are the difficult options. Then there's the easy one. Go to a meeting where you can pretend to feel vulnerable.

Right then – the title of this post! It was something that Lindsay said. Spiders come up the plughole and then get stuck in the bath. Unless they are saved or flushed down then they can't get out and will starve. That's not the point though. The point was that I always believed spiders to come up through the plug from the sewer. Mum must have mentioned this to me or a teacher at school or I've read it somewhere or something but that is what I thought. They came up through the pipes and ended up in the bath. Then they get stuck and can't get back down. Or don't want to go back down. Or aren't aware that they can get down because they're spiders and they react solely on instinct and not rational thought.

I can't remember why I mentioned it but Lindsay said that she didn't think that they came from down below. She reckons they fall into the bath from above. They are walking along the wall next to the bath (or even along the ceiling – they are pretty cool that way) and then they make a wrong footing or something and catastrophe hits them. They are stuck in the bath until they either starve to death, are flushed down the plughole, or some nice guy who likes spiders (someone like me) comes along and puts them outside.

What was striking to me (well – that's going a bit far actually. I would say more 'interesting' than 'striking') was that I'd never really thought about it like that before. They fall in from above? Hmmm. . . I had always just figured that they climbed up from the sewage system. I'd been told that at some point in my early life and that was what I had figured ever since. It made me stop for a moment to think about how we know what we know and how we learn things. How some simple things can perhaps not ever occur to us just because we were guided some other way back when we were young. What other silly things might I be missing out on? It makes you wonder though, doesn't it!? How often do we question our own beliefs unless they are brought to our attention?

Anyway. . . Was just a thought. . . Barry the Bullet and I will hopefully be heading out to work in a couple of hours to kickstart 2018 with a decent little shift. I'm looking forward to knuckling down this year in the same way we did at times this year and really making the most of the opportunity I have to work. When it's cold and wet and windy and shit and I'm moaning away to myself (and sometimes to Barry as well) I will remind myself of all the benefits there are to working. Some people are out there looking for work and can't get it yet here I have a job that I can fit nicely around my college studies and dentist appointments and go out pretty much whenever I please as long as weather permits it. I should be grateful as it really is quite a good little earner for the hours I put in.

I know I'm thinking a little too far ahead here but the new semester at college starts in two or three weeks and runs slightly differently from this current one in that we will be in on a Monday and Wednesday rather than the Monday and Tuesday we've been used to for the better part of twenty one weeks now. This might make things a little more awkward at work if Barry has another difficult year. I think that getting him out is fine if it's consecutive days – it's when there's a break that it becomes a little harder. We'll be working on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays soon and I have a feeling that this arrangement might not run as smoothly for us as our current one has been – which hasn't actually been that smoothly at times if truth be told. But yeah – cross that bridge when we come to it and all that.

Fuck – already I'm way over that word count!

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Stevie

Too much talking about spiders and plugholes.

1285

Lunarer
January 11th, 2018, 02:19 PM
Thursday, January 11th 2018 (Not Perfect)


I should be out working just now but I'm not. The time should be still around seven in the morning but it's not. I should be enjoying being back out in the world after all of the festivities of the past few weeks but I'm not. It doesn't help that Barry the Bullet has for so long been depending on me to contact him in the mornings to get him up for work since it means that there is no chance of him ever calling me if he hasn't heard from me by a certain time. We should be taking a leaf out of Lindsay's book – she's been on it every morning this week and has been at her placement while also applying for jobs so that she has somewhere to walk into once she's qualified. We're going back out tomorrow.

Two weeks on Monday we will be starting Semester Two at the college. I have calculated that we get ten weeks off in between years (July and August) and that this leaves forty two weeks (not a difficult calculation, I must say). But then I also worked out that semesters are split into two equal twenty one week blocks without accounting for any holidays. So during Semester One we had two weeks off in October and two weeks off over Christmas. We also had Fresher's Week back in September, which was a kind of holiday. This means a total of sixteen weeks class time for the first semester – fifteen for me if you take into consideration the week off for the trip to Spain.

Semester Two is another huge block of twenty one weeks (which takes us all the way until the end of June in which the FIFA world cup will be underway and everything. Can't wait!) but we'll have holidays in March and April and a day in May. I think we get more class time though. It looks as though we will be in college for eighteen of those twenty one weeks. So we're not quite halfway through the year even once we start off the second semester. This is a good thing. The terms are passing by too quickly as it is.

With me not being at college this week yet (if I don't have to be then I won't) yesterday was the first of me being in my old town, the place where I dwelled in my cave, since the Friday night debt-collecting mission Barry the Bullet and I went on the Friday before Christmas. Nothing has changed. The town is still as it was. I do notice as I get off the usual bus and head to meeting point to wait on Barry as I always do on days we are set to be working how long it seems like since we were last out. December 22nd it was. My mind casts back to when decorations and Christmas music was playing, as it was the last time I stood in this spot, and I think fondly once again upon the festive period we've just had. I think I'm nostalgic by nature.

When I do go back to the college on Monday next week I have a little remediation to do on one of the written assessments. Hmm. . . I'm not perfect after all. That'll be fine. It'll not be much. I'll just have to amend one or two answers here and there. To be honest I can't even recall what assessment it is he's emailed me back regarding. I think that my mood and attention was fully switched onto the festive break by the time we reached the last week of the class year last month and I can only vaguely remember us doing an assessment at all.

How mild it has been this winter. It's scarcely believable actually. And how light it is getting to be in the evenings at the moment. Around two minutes per night it is lightening. Fifteen minutes per week. You can tell. It isn't getting fully dark until around five o'clock nowadays. This will mean that when we do get back out to work we'll be able to work that little bit later each passing week. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

I have some more questions to hand in to Dr. Bacon when I next see him (why have I not filled these questions in already? I've had around three weeks to do them yet they remain. . . somewhere. . . Shit! - I'll have to find them first!) and will likely cover some of that in another post, perhaps sometime over the weekend.

For a while now I've been trying to help turn the tenancy on this property from being a solo one in only Lindsay's name to a joint one in which we both share equal rights to the home. I figured I'd give it a go again today and so spoke with someone from the council about it. There might be a problem due to my having such high rent arrears at my previous address (the cave) but I'll still be fine to stay here. The only issue might be in my name actually appearing on the tenancy.

Stevie – ''What would the benefits be of my name being on the tenancy?''

Council Woman – ''It's maybe not the best example since you've just moved in together but if you were to fall out then you would have equal rights in the home. It wouldn't just be a case of her throwing you and all of your things out onto the street.''

Okay – so it won't end up like my other relationships then!?

Council Woman – ''Also – perhaps another bad example given your circumstances, but if you were to build up lots of arrears on the property and you left then you wouldn't be liable for any of the payments since you're not associated with the home.''

I'm guessing that it isn't all that important at the moment whether or not my name is on the tenancy. I'm registered as living here which is good enough as things stand but it doesn't hurt to apply and so that's what I've done. It's just a case of waiting and seeing what happens now.

Gosh – I really feel as though that post was a real struggle to write. I couldn't think of anything to say at first but think I've managed to reach the end at last. This always happens when I am forced into a situation where I have to type a post in the evening rather than the morning. I think I work much better in the mornings.

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Stevie

Works much better in the mornings.

1141

Lunarer
January 12th, 2018, 02:07 AM
Friday, January 12th 2018 (Lying)


It's been a struggle getting up early these mornings this year. Holy fuck! Gone seem the days where I would be up and at 'em and have time for breakfast and to sit and write my little posts and then still have time to wander to the hospital to catch the quarter to eight bus to make it into work or college. I long for those days to return. Now it seems that if I want to catch that particular bus and be on time for work and college I have to go through a mad morning rush just to do so and it makes me anxious. Reminds me too much of what it was like before. Like things have to be sacrificed. I'll get some breakfast when I'm out; I'll brush my teeth as soon as I get in tonight; it doesn't matter if I can't find my headphones; I don't have time to look for my phone. It's seriously uncool if it gets to that stage. I have to work harder at getting up in the mornings which means getting to bed, and to sleep, earlier. Just like I was doing for so long there.

Time for another little weigh-in this morning. I had put on a few pounds over Christmas and was over twelve stone when I braved the scales for the New Year weigh-in. Then, on Thursday last week I had lost four pounds. I was hoping for the same again today and that would mean I was within my target weight guidelines and all the Christmas fuss be over with. No chance. I'm just the same as I was when I last weighed myself. I've maintained. One of the main criticisms of Christmas is that we tend to put on a little weight each year and then fail to lose it again throughout the course of the rest of the year. Even just a couple of pounds every Christmas would lead to someone putting on three stone or thereabouts over the course of a couple of decades. At the moment I am one such statistic – still a little heavier than I was prior to December 01st. It's not a lot but they all add up. Unless I can find a way to shed these unwanted and unappreciated little pounds then I should expect nothing more than a sagging mid-section come my mid-forties. Maybe Lindsay's right in that I freak out about my weight too much and when she says I have that body dysmorphia. . .

I lied to Lindsay yesterday. Not outright. No. It was more of a stealth mission. More I had to bring out the big guns, the real sneaky, lying tactics. I was supposed to be working (like I am just now but that's another story) but didn't manage to make it in as I mentioned in yesterday's post. With Lindsay working at her placement this week I felt the shame setting in that she should be out there contributing while I am still sitting around the house in a dressing gown come midday. I felt like quite the bum. In order to not face further feelings of bum I had to come up with some way of avoiding talking with Lindsay about this. She is due back at half past four in the afternoon. This gave me all day to lie around in idle bliss (but all the while not really being able to enjoy it due to constant aforementioned feelings of buminess) but if I wanted it to appear as though I had been working throughout the day then I had to be gone by the time she got in.

More than this I had to look and sound as though I had been working. This meant I had to have my bag complete with cloths and scrims that I would have any other day I am out working (not that it's been a lot recently) and my hands have to be a little on the dirty side, particularly my nails. These are the telltale signs of working and the fine details that have to be dealt with for a convincing and really good, expertly crafted lie. I left the flat around twenty to four and went on one of my long walks. I had the bag with me complete with everything I would normally take with me on a shift to work and was wearing clothes I might normally wear when cleaning windows too. There isn't much difference between working clothing and walking clothing to be honest – both lead to pretty sweaty results. I felt as though I looked the part.

She'd be back around half past four and then would go through her chill out routine which would end in front of the television on the couch wrapped in her unicorn blanket. This would happen around ten past five or thereabouts. I only had to make sure that I returned from ''work'' around half past five as I usually would and then go about my after work routine. This consists of washing and changing but I made sure to make it sound as though I was really washing the dirt and the grime off those poor cold and weather-beaten hands (hands that after nearly three weeks off have never looked as clean and soft) and also putting the ''dirty'' cloths and scrims into the washing machine as soon as I got in (yep – I washed cloths and scrims that were completely clean already!) and then changed into some comfortable nightwear and casually walked in to the sitting room, planted a soft one onto her lips, and then asked her how her day at placement was, making sure that I slumped down onto the couch beside her with a lot of fatigue and tiredness – in the way that only someone who had been busy climbing up and down ladders all day would do.

I also usually take the money pulled in for the day and place it into a safe that we have in the flat (which then goes into the bank account at the end of the week, usually on Saturday and it's usually me that does it when I'm out on my long walks – on my own) and so I had to pretend to do this too. I was impressed by the way I could pull this off so convincingly and so expertly but then remembered what it is that I am actually doing here. I'm lying and practising deceitful and dishonest behaviour. I'm being an asshole.

All that really happened was that I escaped that feeling of being a bum during the day and replaced it with feeling like an asshole in the evening.

I don't know which is worse.

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Stevie

Bum or asshole?

1149

Lunarer
January 13th, 2018, 02:43 AM
Saturday, January 13th 2018 (Needs Kitchen Scales)


So it's been three weeks since I was at an AA meeting. Christmas Eve. Can't believe that this is the first thing that has come to my mind this morning – a Saturday morning no less – to write my little post for the day, but there you go. I think it's because I do in some ways miss my Saturday night meeting. I used to go pretty much every week for a time but can't remember the last time I was there. I think we'd be talking about sometime in November. I know I've been twice since coming back from Spain. Twice to that meeting and once to the Sunday night one I went to on Christmas Eve. That's not a lot of meetings. It's as many as I have felt the need to go to though, which is what it's all about.

This morning I am perhaps feeling the pull though. What does this mean? Does it mean I am looking for connection and that I might find it there? Looking to catch up with old friends and keep up appearances? Or is it a warning that I am not doing something I should be? What else could I be doing tonight to make my situation better than go to a meeting? Or what should I be doing? Raith Rovers play at home this afternoon against their closest league rivals in Ayr United and so perhaps I should go to that match. Had I been working all week like a good little Stevie then I likely would have felt as though I deserved to but I'm not sure how we're doing for cash. Maybe I chill out and just wait and see what happens this evening when it gets closer to the start of the meeting. Don't over-think it too much.

One thing I would like to do this morning is go down the town and get a set of scales. Little kitchen scales that measure tiny little amounts. I'm still on the fence about this coming sugar quit on the 07th February when I turn three years from alcohol abstinence. I have been saying for months that I'll be quitting sugar altogether but the more I look into it the more I am starting to see just how almost impossible it would be to keep up indefinitely. Instead I am looking at radically changing up my diet to include as little sugar as possible. I've been taking the sugar that I would have been placing into my coffee cups and sticking it into a container instead and letting it build up but I have no way of measuring how much is in there in terms of grams. If I can get a little set of scales this morning when I'm out and about then I can weight it tomorrow and then I'll be able to estimate how much sugar I am saving myself from consuming in a fortnight, week, a day. Anyone know where I might be able to find a set of scales like this?

I notice that all foods tell you how much sugar is contained within and so it should be possible for me to do this using these scales and keep a track of exactly how many grams I am consuming each day and then cross-reference it with my recommended daily intake. It's a starting point. I need to see things to believe them though. I need to see the sugar I'm not taking in and so by continuing to so what I am doing by placing the sugar into a container that I can actually physically witness brings with it great power. Once I can get the amount of sugar that is going into that container each week down to a tiny little amount I will be better equipped to know how to handle any possibilities of a sugar quit or massive reduction.

I'm running out of time though. Part of my success in quitting drinking, drug-taking and smoking cigarettes has been doing what I set out to do, doing the things I said I would, and so I face a different challenge now in not really having a definite and complete plan and idea of how I will tackle a problem when we only have four weeks to go until the deadline. It's an interesting new problem. This is why I have to get these scales down the town this morning. If I don't then before I know it we will be sitting here a week from now and I'll be no further forward and we'll only have two and a half weeks to go until the deadline. Not only that but the poor container will be filled to the brim with sugar. We'll have the world's first diabetic container on our hands.

Lindsay asks me last night how it feels to be just a few weeks away from being able to say that I am three years sober. This means I am no longer one of the newbies. I guess she's right but I do remember something that a WQD member (think it might have been Binky) put up which was also mentioned in a SMART meeting one time I was there when I used to go on the Monday nights – studies show that those people who remain sober for five years tend not to ever go out and drink again. Something about the way our minds work with addiction. It means that I am, at three years, only three fifths of the way there but when you consider the likelihood of a slip might increase given a slip with the drugs (or even with just the nicotine) then I might have four more years before I could really say that I'm doing well.

It does feel good though. Three years. The funny thing is that I still don't feel as though I have anything to offer up to anyone in terms of advice on how to go about quitting. I still don't feel as though my experience could help anyone since it seems to be quite different from so many others. I used AA – yes! I used alcohol counselling – yes! I posted on internet forums on a daily basis – yes! But I still wouldn't expect anyone else to have had similar results by doing things the way I have been doing them. The most important things, I think, have been the things I've done in the real world. The work I put in that has nothing to do with drinking and not drinking. The normal living stuff.

It's all for nothing though if I can't get my hands on some kitchen scales this morning.

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Stevie

Needs kitchen scales.

1139

Lunarer
January 14th, 2018, 02:15 AM
Sunday, January 14th 2018 (Weighing Up the Sugar Monster)


Well that sucked! Writing a post out and then losing it through a computer crash. Damn! This thing (my laptop) I guess is getting to be past it. I've had it for nearly four years now and it was reconditioned when I got it. It was pretty good for the money back then (bought with money from the window cleaning business so I didn't have to worry about paying any of my own money towards it and so it didn't get in the way of my hand-to-mouth existence back then) but is obviously getting pretty close now to its level of the planned obsolescence – the point where parts just begin to fail purposefully so that I am inclined to go and get another one. That won't be happening. I'll be taking this little thing as far as I can get it to its grave before they get any more from me.

This laptop has character. It has history. With a new one I'd have to start all over again. It would be little more than a baby laptop. This one has been everywhere with me. It came to Spain with Lindsay and me. I've written almost every single post of this entire journal on the keyboard of this particular device (since I lost the desktop in late 2015 in any case). It came with me to Montrose with English Sara and Dennis for that weekend a couple of years ago. It used to travel on the bus with me whenever I would take my little solo trips to AA meetings around the county and even a couple further afield. It's been a good little servant for me. I have no intention of abandoning it just because it has started not to perform as well as it once used to.

The right hand corner of the screen has broken and is taped up. I alternate between using glue and tape to keep it intact but neither seems to work long-term. The clip has shattered and so the lid cannot be closed properly and so it remains open at all times. The screen itself is fine – there are no cracks. It still works. It's just that every now and then it goes and crashes. Normally I don't really care but it can get a little pissing off when it starts to do it as frequently as it has been this month so far.

Anyway – what the fuck was I talking about in that last post? The one that just got taken away from me? Scales came into it. I did manage to get myself a decent little set when I was down the town yesterday afternoon and so can now have a little look at exactly how much sugar I've been taking, even if just in the coffee.

So I put the container filled with sugar onto these new scales. 618 grams. Then I deduct the 92 grams that the container weighs. Now we have to divide the remaining grams by the number of days I have been conducting this little experiment for (since new year) and we get this sum:

618 – 92 = 526 g

526/13 = 40.5 g

So that's 40.5 grams per day I have not been taking in coffee. I've just checked the recommended daily intake for male adults and was staggered to discover that it has recently been reduced from ten per cent of our caloric intake to just five per cent. That makes twenty five grams. 25 g. Twenty five grams!!!! That's less than I take in my coffees.

Two things have started to sink in today since doing this little weigh in: I have learned the scale of the problem and I have learned how right I am in planning this sugar reduction. Twenty five grams seems so incredibly small an amount that I may have to have another little look at this. Even before they halved the recommendation I am noticing that my daily intake looks high even for that.

Forty grams!

This is obviously an incredibly high level of sugar. What makes it seem worse is actually seeing it in front of me. Now I can work out roughly what a certain amount of sugar looks like. When I look at the sugar content in something, most things, I am to be eating from now on I will be able to ''see'' the amount by weighing it out and then actually looking at the physical amount in front of me. This will – I am completely convinced – make me think about exactly how much sugar I am and have been consuming. From now on things will be a little different.

In other news I had planned to go to the AA meeting last night but by the time the football was finished I couldn't be arsed. I am hoping to get to meetings no less than one per month (but not too many more than that I have to say) and so my last meeting was still the Sunday night church meeting on Christmas Eve. That was the only one I went to in December (as far as I can remember anyway) and so I have plenty time still to get to one this month. I don't want to over-think it but I do want to make sure that while I am not at meetings every time I feel that I might feel a little like I need one (because sometimes it is better to actually question what it is I am needing rather than hoping that the instant relief and gratification taken from a meeting will solve it) I am actually attending one every now and then. Just to be sure.

I'll be heading to church in a little while. I like it. I don't know what it is. I had to do a bit of investigating, try out a few different local churches, before I found one I liked. I don't know exactly what it was about this one that I liked more than the others but now that I have the connection and memories established over the Christmas period I can safely say that it is now 'my' church. It's like my home group. I can't see me trying out another church until I move away from the area – whenever that is likely to happen.

Well I don't think I managed to recapture the ebb and flow of the post I wrote prior to the laptop crash but I think I covered all of the points I mentioned: sugar totals; church; that was about it, so I can consider the crash now as something that wasn't worth getting in the huff about.

Hey ho – the African Cup of Nations started last night so it's all good. . .

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Stevie

Takes in FAR too much sugar each day.

1145

Lunarer
January 15th, 2018, 03:21 AM
Monday, January 15th 2018 (A Strange Sexual Situation)


Today signals the beginning of the new year properly. As usual it has been quite a slow burner but I am sure that this week I will get doing all of the things I should be doing and so will establish a routine. The year will start to take shape. At the moment it is just a period of two weeks that have gone by where next to nothing has really happened. The year when I pretty much just continued with the Christmas holiday only without the tree in the corner of the room.

I've been doing a little more research into the whole sugar intake recommendation that I touched on yesterday when I was amazed to find that I drink more than just in drinks each and every day that goes by. No wonder I need dental treatment. Forty grams in drinks per day. Fifteen more grams than I am allocated in total. The Slimming World eating plan finds ways around this and now that I have a set of kitchen scales I can measure out and weight everything I consume to ensure I don't go over with anything. I think it would be incredibly easy to overdo it if you aren't careful. Once the sugar floodgates are open they certainly open. I have to do a lot more reading on this to find out and think about what it is exactly that I'm going to do so don't think that you've heard the last of this. It'll likely drag on and on (and on and on). . .

Lindsay and I went to Relationships Scotland last year over the summer where we had eight appointments. The main reason for these sessions was that Lindsay wanted to address some communication issues she felt were going on between us. I now am starting to see just how poor communication is in general between members of our species and saw lots of examples of it over the Christmas period with my own family. Now I feel as though Lindsay and I are a little better at communicating. Her brother and his wife had a fall out at the new year celebrations and the way they handled it was to not speak with one and other for a few days and then suddenly just act as though nothing had happened and never discuss or resolve the issue so as to try to learn from it. Seems strange to me but I have to remember that not everyone wants to run their lives and their relationships the way Lindsay and I might want to run ours. Each to their own, and all that.

But there is one area of our relationship where things are most definitely not normal, or healthy, or anything really, and it was something that came up during our couple's counselling sessions with our Relationships Scotland counsellor. We were then referred to the sex therapy service and had to just sit by and wait our turn. We were told at the time that we could expect to wait a few months as it was a very busy service (which made me wonder just how many couples out there might have issues in the bedroom) and we did sit and wait for a few months to be fair. Shortly before the Christmas break Lindsay received a call saying that we were booked into a session but it wasn't at a convenient time for either of us. We are now back to wondering when we will manage to get an appointment scheduled.

Why would two people ever consider moving in together if they had never had sex before? Are Lindsay and I trying to set some kind of record here? It seems very strange. My Detached Protector can block it out quite easily and make it so that I don't have to think about it (or makes me over-think it so that it just becomes a riddle rather than a real problem) but it really is something strange at best – disturbing at worst. I don't know why someone would want to have a guy move in with her when they haven't reached this relationship milestone. It's not fair that I take Lindsay's inventory with this though as she does push me – sometimes to the point where I feel uncomfortable. When we're watching something on the television and there's a sex scene starts up she'll joke to the point of mocking and once or twice recently has asked if I was not jealous of the show's protagonist given all of the sex he's been having. Last night she covered her face during a sex scene and asked me to let her know when it was over – if she's not getting to have any sex then she's not watching as other people get to.

It's gone on for so long now that it's become a thing. A 'thing', and it's a chore waiting on the referral to come through now. It's got to the stage where even starting things off in that area I wouldn't know what to do. How would I approach it? Not that I ever really feel the need or desire to. I've turned into some sort of asexual freak. Apparently, according to our old Relationships Scotland counsellor when we spoke to her about the service last year, when the referral comes through there will be a very intensive approach towards sex and we'll get plenty of homework. We'll get approaches and advice on getting started and this will rise from baby steps until we're finally at it.

How long the referral will take now it anyone's guess. I contacted them last month and they said that we were top of the list and then a week later they contacted Lindsay. Since that didn't work out I don't know if that has meant our place in the queue has dropped or if we should expect to be contacted again over the next week or two.

I see Dr. Bacon on Thursday, just two days from now, and we'll start out schema therapy again by getting me out and about and trying to find new places to meet people and new ways of connection with them. Combine this with the sex therapy that should hopefully be starting up very soon and you have an incredible scope for change in my life in 2018.

I just have to play the waiting game at the moment.
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Stevie

Reluctantly playing the sexual waiting game.

1101

Lunarer
January 16th, 2018, 05:50 AM
Tuesday, January 16th 2018 (Not a Seer)


When Semester Two starts up in a fortnight things will get back to being exciting at college. I'll be one of the lucky ones who actually has two shows a week (most of the others have only one – my second show coming as a result of the sport's group wanting my insights on the weekend's action and so me being invited there) and so I can't really wait for that to start. Until then I just have to brush up on my skills and get the best out of the next two weeks as I can. This semester has had its challenges in terms of getting to know how to work all of the studio gear and equipment but from now on I think they are looking at us to be delivering a much higher standard of show with greater quality content and more seamless transitions between links and music. We'll be taking everything we've learned so far and dumping it into each and every show while also demonstrating that we are improving. I'm up for it. I've been laying in wait for something to do this year.

It's amazing how so many of my class peers still have so much to do in order to complete this semester. What's perhaps even more amazing is how these same students are either nowhere to be seen or are out smoking when they would be better off in class working. It's a strange one but then I guess that for the majority of people in this class – for everyone except for me actually – there will be other years. They have more time. I had time to do all of my fuck ups in life and still made it to this point with a fighting chance of doing something with my forties and fifties so they are just going through the motions, they're having their own fuck ups nice and early in life. They'll likely snap out of it a lot sooner than I did and if they managed to get their diploma next year while only putting minimal effort in and doing all of the work in a mad rush at the end of the year then they'll still have diploma and they'll still have a greater chance of gaining employment in the field given the fact that they are so much younger some of them.

Yesterday afternoon I was thinking about all of the times I had a chance to roll my socks up and make a difference to my future. I'm not regretting things here (not fully at least, I don't think) but am more just daydreaming. I'm wondering how things might have been a little different had I taken one or more of the opportunities that came up for me. A few years after I left school I went back to study to get my Highers and had the chance to go to university. I would have been twenty six. That was a bit of a chance blown. There was the music academy as well. I blew that up pretty spectacularly. Not to mention all of the times I could and perhaps should have sobered up a little quicker and they would have led to things changing for me in all sorts of ways.

Like I said: I'm not regretting this. If anything I am grateful that I did pull the plug on it all when I did otherwise I might have been sitting in a few years thinking that in 2015 I had another big chance to get sober and wasted that too. Then I'm wondering what is so awful about right now that makes me think that I would want it to be any other way and, to be honest, I can't think of anything. Things are fine as they are just now. Any problems I am thinking about in the future is just me being silly by thinking I am some sort of seer or clairvoyant. When I remind myself that I cannot read the future and that my predictions are usually totally bullshit (apart from Manchester City to win the English Premier League this season – that will definitely be coming true) then I do a little better with my thoughts for the rest of the day.

When you consider the brand of mints I suck on each day, and have done ever since I quit smoking nearly a year ago, you begin to get a true grip of the scale of the sugar problem that I am faced with and have been facing for most of my life now. Unless you actually take stock and take inventory then you never know just how bad it is. I would ask you to check it yourself. Unless you're one of those who already does battle with their diets each day then give it a try. I assure you that you will be amazed by what you discover. I know I have been.

The main thing about not having my other vices to be concerned with now (drink, drugs, tobacco) I can actually see this problem as the major issue that it is and not brush it off by saying things like, ''It's not as bad as smoking!'' or, ''I'll think about that when I stop drinking,'' and can give it my attention. I reckon that when you factor in everything I eat and drink on your average day I am consuming around three to four – and sometimes perhaps even more – times my daily recommended allowance of sugar. It's got to change and so I have been weighing out everything. Every time I eat anything I check the label, take the weight of sugar contained in the amount of it I am to be consuming, and then weigh it out on the new scales – actually physically spoon it out of the sugar jar and into a container on the scales so that I can see exactly what is going on here. I then compare it with amount I am supposed to be recommended. Remarkable.

Right then – off to college to see what's what and then I'll likely be walking back tonight to get those miles for January up to something respectable. I don't even know what I'm on for the month so far but it's around ninety miles or so.

I'll be back tomorrow morning for more of the same.

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Stevie

Can't predict the future (apart from the odd football result or two)

1100

Lunarer
January 17th, 2018, 03:24 AM
Wednesday, January 17th 2018 (Never Been Smaller)


Two months ago today was the day I was driving in the hire car (from being at the Barrowlands in Glasgow to watch Swedish progressive death metal turned Swedish progressive rock/metal band Opeth) to pick up Barry the Bullet for work and I heard on the radio the first Christmas song I heard of the year when Mariah Carey 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' came on and then later in the afternoon Barry and I stopped work for a moment to have a little cigarette break (well – he stopped for a cigarette break, I just stopped for a stand around break) outside a house that had up the first Christmas decorations I saw of the year. Two months ago. It means that there is a small chance that just three hundred days from today we could be seeing Santa Clause in people's windows. Scary. The odds are high that the shops will by then have been advertising their festive deals for a few weeks already and so no sooner than we take the tree down than we are looking at only a few months until we're being asked to think about putting it up again. Very scary indeed. . .

I started to struggle a little this morning with thoughts of my family. Sometimes I will wake and feel a little pissed off with them and these feelings will linger and stick around for a while proving quite difficult to dispel. I try. I have tools. I can think to myself that they are at least there and so I will see them again. I can hand over to the God of my Understanding this foulness of mood – or at least pray to Him and ask that this mood be removed or at the very least lessened, but it sticks around nonetheless, or comes back very quickly once it has been temporarily removed.

What is it I am thinking of when I am going through these moments? The inner turmoil? It comes both from a sense that I don't like the thoughts of my family being cut off from one and other and my way of dealing with the pain of knowing that this is indeed what has happened and my inability to be able to put this across to them. Perhaps not inability – possibly now it's more of an unwillingness. That's the stage we're at now. I'm not really willing to put effort into family relationships at this time. I know about the whole ideas and concepts of the quality of our lives only being as good as the quality of our relationships and all of that but my potential relationships have the potential to extend way beyond those within my direct family circle. These people are maybe only going to be important people in my life for one day every year (Boxing Day dinner at mum's) and then don't play any further part throughout the year. Like I say: it sucks, but it is what it is.

Tomorrow I'll be having my first 2018 session with my clinical psychologist and he stated before we broke off for the festive holidays that we'd start looking at ways in which I could seek connections with people out-with my immediate current (non-existent) social circle. He's to start giving me home work in that I'll be given the tools to work with and suggestions of what to do and where to go and then I'll head out into the world to see what happens before reporting back to him in the next session with details on what went well and what not so well and then we'll work from there – him sending me back out there into the real world to see what's what. From now on it would appear that I will have to start taking the lead. I'm good with that. But then it's easy to be good with someone when you're just sitting at a computer in the morning before you have to go to work – its the actual act of getting up and doing the thing we said we would which lets us know if we have any courage or not.

My unwillingness to break some ice where my family is concerned should not be confused with me not being able to walk the walk when I'm asked to – not being able to put the action into some part of my life that needs work. That's a different scenario altogether really. That's more a case of realising (at long last) that I don't have any control over how other people think, feel and want from life and that I just have to accept things as they are and not waste time pursuing lost causes. I'll be there for whenever they come calling.

My social circle isn't very impressive at the moment. In fact – it's never been worse! In that I mean that it has never been smaller. I barely see English Sara any more and almost never see Gillon. Fuzzy, Damian, my brother and sister-in-law – I don't really see anyone at the moment. Things have, in all seriousness, never been worse for me than they are at the moment. There aren't any places I can really go anymore. I have my home and Lindsay and that appears to be about that. Some might say that isn't healthy but I feel a little better about myself these days than I did back when I had those people I've just mentioned so I don't really know what to make of it. I don't really get lonely, I don't think, either that or I am so used to it that I don't know what it feels like to not feel lonely and so get all confused. Whichever way I look at it – it's a fact that I am more isolated from friends and family than I ever have been at any time and point in my life.

I'd better get going. I've been doing well this week – I've been up early in the morning and have been into college all day for both days now this week and now it is time to do it at work. It's a little colder this week than it has been so far this year but it won't stop Barry the Bullet and me from giving it a good go. You'd think we'd be used to the cold by now.

I'll see you back here again tomorrow morning.

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Stevie

Time to get to work.

1107

Lunarer
January 18th, 2018, 03:53 AM
Thursday, January 18th 2018 (Back In Therapy)


My routine of getting up in the mornings is back into full flow with me not getting out of bed later than seven any morning since last Thursday when I slept in and Barry the Bullet and I didn't bother going to work as a result. I like getting up early at the weekends as well (although snow will be keeping Barry and I from working this morning) and so this could be the start of a long run of getting up early in the mornings. That's the magic key I managed to find to take me out of my insomnia that was so difficult to get out of when I sobered up. Now I find it difficult not to go to bed early and get up early (although I have shown myself that when Christmas comes it is not impossible).

This afternoon I get things back up and running with my clinical psychologist, Dr. Bacon, and so slowly but surely things in 2018 are starting to get back to normal. I'm back at college, back at work, back to doing everything I'd normally be doing. Now I'm back in therapy, or at least will be by the time the sun sets this evening. This is something that pleases me greatly. I think that when left to my own thinking I can get myself into the idea that I'm doing much better than I am; that some of my thinking is healthy and that I'm doing really well and going in all the right places. I am sure that this afternoon Dr. Bacon will point out why most of my recent thinking and behaviour is just bullshit and show me which modes have been active during the Christmas break.

This can be a little disheartening, don't get me wrong. It's not nice thinking that you're doing well only to have it pointed out that this is not in fact the case. The fact that I am prepared for this shows that I have build enough awareness about it to know what to expect. It would be interesting if I could actually spot which modes I have been influenced by over the holiday period but to be honest I haven't really been paying all that much attention. I guess that everything kind of comes to a halt when we celebrate the festive period.

The sex thing isn't something we ever talk about. In fact – we don't really talk about all that much it would seem. We haven't discussed my children either. I haven't seen either my son or daughter in many years and they will both celebrate milestone birthdays later in the year as she turns sixteen and he eighteen. When I think of them I imagine them to be just starting school. That was when we parted company. Bacon has mentioned in recent sessions that there's a chance of us discussing this a little (if only to help me spot some more unhelpful behaviours and demonstrate a little further how current ones came to be and have been strengthened by this) but I don't think that this bears any real significance in me getting better. I don't think that we need to know every shitty thing that has happened before we are ready to move on.

I remember reading Man's Search for Meaning not long ago (was recommended to me from people on this site – the old WQD site, I mean) and the author talking about therapy and his own approach to dealing with clients/patients. He says at the end of the book that there is little point in spending an overly long time looking at the problem for it is just that. We're more interested in looking at solutions. Of course we need to know a little about what the problem is to begin with and how it has developed and so on but at the end of the day when someone going to his or her first golf lesson demonstrates to their teacher their current swing style and stance it is not necessary for the instructor to then have an in-depth discussion and analysis on their background and their relationship with their mother – they only want to help get them striking the ball better and further. They're looking at the future, where they want to be, and looking at ways of making sure they get there in the best way possible.

I think – or at least I hope – that this is the point we are now at in therapy, Dr. Bacon and I. In 2018 we are going to start looking more at my stance and driving technique and how to better it rather than thinking and talking and talking and thinking about how we got to be here.

Lindsay is talking about going to the travel agents over the weekend to look at holiday prices. We were in Spain last October (first sober trip anywhere and first trip for many a year – first trip with a partner ever) and we have something else booked for April to celebrate me turning forty (if such a thing should ever be celebrated) but now she's talking about perhaps getting away again. I suppose we're doing okay for cash at the moment. Me quitting smoking has definitely helped and we've spent nothing since Christmas (have actually tightened up on a lot of things and have started shopping online in bulk) so it's not as if we're struggling really badly or anything. I think that when she starts working (and she's been applying for jobs with the hope of starting as soon as her placement ends in late March and she qualifies) they have to honour anything already booked but if nothing is then we'd have to arrange it around her work. I think this is what she's thinking anyway.

If we plan it for another six months and go at the same time as we went away last year (a week later would actually make it so that it was during term-time holidays and I wouldn't have to take time off college – I'm assuming that next year things will get a little more difficult on that course) then that would work out as being one week away every six months. That's not something that I would ever have believed had you suggested it to me a couple of years ago. I would have laughed at you and then went away into a quiet corner by myself to sulk and convince myself that my life was the shittest ever. Now I don't have to do that – I can book holidays and stuff!!

Therapy first though. And that happens this afternoon.
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Stevie

In therapy.

1127

Lunarer
January 19th, 2018, 04:27 AM
Friday, January 19th 2018 (Working Class White Men)


I was hoping that since I talked about my strange sexual situation that fate might have been listening and sent me a referral but it's not happened yet. You know how that happens often!? You don't think about something for ages and then it all comes together seemingly randomly but also as though it was constructed by some kind of power greater than ourselves that knew exactly what it was doing? I was hoping for that but then I wasn't praying for it. Then again – I'm not supposed to ever pray for something that ends up with me being the sole benefactor.

It's been a good week as weeks go. The best week of the three 2018 weeks but then each of them had their moments to be honest. I guess I like being on holiday but I also like being at college and working, not that there has been much in the way of working getting done due to all of the snow but that's for later on. Maybe I just like everything. Next week is the last week of the first college semester but then we actually have a week off before we start the second and so I am looking forward to getting some money earned with Barry the Bullet and really 'eating' into this dentist bill. I was supposed to have an appointment last week but it was cancelled (not by me – I promise) but I'll have another one through the door shortly and after that it'll be one every few weeks until all of the treatment is done and it will be very expensive. Only once all of that is paid for can I have a hope of starting to put money away for any trips to the Canary Islands which is what we're heading to the travel agents tomorrow morning to look at.

When I was in Spain I started to wonder why it is that people choose to live in the places they are currently living. Surely it can't be that they love it there or feel that things couldn't be better elsewhere. I really got the bug to go travelling and see some of the world. Having been back in Scotland now for a few months (well – a little over three months to be exact) I can see more clearly why so many people just stick to what they know and stay where they are. Routine and what we know kicks in and that feeling of being trapped starts up again. Before we know it the idea of travelling and that there might be more out there than what we currently know begins to feel distant again, silly even. That sense that we are supposed to belong here sets in. It's all rather disturbing, especially for someone who has never felt as though they belonged where they are.

Professor Green has got himself into a little habit of making documentaries and I watched his last one on whether cannabis should be legal and it wasn't too bad. Last night there was another one on and it was about working class white people in the UK and what it's like for so many of us. I figured I'd give it a go. Much of it was looking at some guys who had been fucked over when they were young boys (who isn't in Britain these days) and the majority of them had no father figure while growing up and so ended up on drugs or in jail or both, as often happens, but I did like how there was one guy who was currently working for his father in construction but was trying to break into the modelling world. The conclusion was kind of along the lines of the importance of stability in family life. If you have a stable family growing up then you tend to go into new situations with a confidence that people who face tragedy in younger life don't have.

I can relate. I'm almost forty and only feel as though my confidence is starting to build now. This pattern of backing out of things when they start to feel tough has effectively destroyed my chances of ever reaching my potential and ever being what I might otherwise have been. It all started when I was young and none of it was my fault. Here I am though – trying to find my way in a world and society where every man is out for himself and where we are often judged harshly on our past decisions. So few people have any kind of insight into what makes people seem to follow the ''wrong'' paths and get involved in the ''wrong'' crowds when they are younger.

The show does touch on a few things that I feel work against the working class bloke though. For one – there's a guy not long out of prison and he's trying to find work so that he can provide his son with stuff so that he'll lose the shame about his past decisions. His son wants an iPhone. Thing is – we see the kid with his current iPhone all the time on the show. The boy wants the NEW iPhone. The one he has isn't good enough. This whole part of the show unwittingly touches on a much more important and sinister aspect of life and how we will always want more stuff to make us feel superior because we now live in a world where there is no spirituality but since this is not the programme's intention we are supposed to feel bad for the dad who could afford to buy this stuff for his boy were he to go back to selling grass but not while he's on the dole and for the kid who only has last year's phone and not the latest one.

It also never expands on the point it made earlier about the significance of the stability in one's upbringing and how this crazy age of absent father syndrome comes into play after teasing us with that early on in the show. It focuses on people trying to solve their problems by making more money and gives off the impression that this is all that matters in a man's life, which, to be fair given the societal structures we've created for ourselves in most developed nations these days, is pretty accurate. A shame though.

It's a good show though and it held my interest until the third advert break in which I decided it was time for bed.

Now I've decided it's time to stop typing.

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Stevie

A working class white man.

1129

Lunarer
January 20th, 2018, 03:02 AM
Saturday, January 20th 2018 (Creating a New Identity)


I will talk a little about my Dr. Bacon session in a moment or two after I catch up on other stuff less important. Bear with me. Actually – I can't think of anything interesting so let's just get straight on with it.

Now that we've had twenty sessions (this was actually session twenty one) we are to start thinking about how we are going to bring therapy to a close. Initially when he said this I felt a little shock – perhaps the abandonment of old cropping up – but when he explained why this is the case and how it will work I calmed down a little. We'll be looking at around twelve to sixteen more sessions so there's still plenty time at around one session per two weeks (although I would expect every now and then there to be one session spread out over three or four weeks – when I go on holiday for my fortieth being one possible example of us having to break the cycle) but around the moment that England step out onto the pitch for their first world cup game we'll be in the final stages of things, or not much later than that anyway.

This is done because there have been huge strides made in the year I've had these twenty one sessions but in order to really make the most of the time we have things have to go this way. People tend to procrastinate if they get the impression that therapy lasts for years and years and years. My problem is faltering before I can get my teeth truly stuck into the ''Action'' phase and by limiting the number of sessions we have left dramatically increases the chances of me trying to make the most out of the time we have left. I was a little sceptical when he was first telling me all of this but now I can see his point. I can feel his point. Now that I've had a couple of days to think about what was said during the session I feel more up for it, more willing to give it a try. I only have a limited number of sessions left and so I have no choice but to get in the mood.

One thing he pointed out while we were exchanging thoughts on how the previous twenty sessions have been was how I am different in terms of what I think about my identity. Things like going to church on Sundays (although I have missed a couple of weeks recently) show that I am experimenting and trying new things, trying to discover and explore who and what I am. I think it's easy to think that we have a strong grasp of who we are when we get a little sober time under our belts but we're always changing and developing (assuming we keep doing the work) and so it can be difficult to keep track of who we are.

He says that one thing he feels is definitely gone is this sense of me being defined as the ''alcoholic''' label. This is something he felt was a slight concern at the beginning of our work together – I tended to use the AA way in confusing the alcoholic label as being my identity – but that has significantly reduced now, a year down the line. It is kind of awkward I guess. People get together, in some cases every night of the week, and call each other a label. This is the opposite of how SMART Recovery runs its meetings. They keep away from labels. While this is nothing more than a marketing strategy for SMART I am now of the mind that naming ourselves like this is harmful (although SMART absolutely sucks as a quit drinking strategy and will surely die off before too long) but I do see the relevance in me calling myself an alcoholic for so long as I went around the meeting rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous in those first couple of years.

I think it's important to call yourself an alcoholic in AA when you first join because it helps you break through that barrier of denial. It also made me feel as though I was a part of what was going on, that I was like them. It was also important in figuring out exactly what was meant by the term in that if I take one more drink then I run the risk of not wanting to stop until I'm in trouble all over again. Now though – now I am seeking a new identity. I'm looking to become something much more than an ''alcoholic'' but then I have been for a long time now.

So I am to think about the future for our next session. I've to write three hundred words on where I'd like to be. We're making all of these changes – bit for what? That is what I am to think about for our next session which will be one week on Thursday – the 01st February. I have one or two ideas but that's for another post. I'll give it some thought over the weekend and see what I think. What is it exactly that I wanted to make all of these changes so that I could become? And we're not talking about a job here. Money doesn't come into it. We're talking about values based futures. What are my values basically. Our desires change from year to year – sometimes from moment to moment – but our values take much longer to change and develop. We're thinking about values now.

One interesting thing that we spoke about towards the end of the session was the correlation between the huge rise in social media and his line of work and the rise of disconnection. He says that it's the most common problem of the people he sees nowadays and expected this to rise in future. People feel more disconnected than ever due to the rise of the machines. This is largely because so few people have any insight into the problem of disconnection. Most feel that they are connected because they have hundreds, sometimes thousands, of followers on social media and so they don't recognise the emptiness they feel inside as being loneliness. They feel that they shouldn't be lonely. Studies show quite clearly that teenagers who spend the most time on their computer screens feel the loneliest. They just don't notice it as being that. They think it's depression or something else. I am not surprised in the slightest to discover that Dr. Bacon himself uses no social media whatsoever and never has done. There's an argument for truly healthy people not needing it.

Anyway – I'll go get Lindsay up out of her lazy bed and we can take a trip down town for something to eat and then a little look around the travel agents to see what they have to offer.

Keep up my new identity as someone who goes abroad from time to time.

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Stevie

Creating an identity away from the alcoholic label.

1208.

Lunarer
January 21st, 2018, 05:46 AM
Sunday, January 21st 2018 (I Like the Stories)


Anyone outside of the UK likely won't have heard of Stacey Solomon. She became famous for winning one of those talent competitions a few years ago but now works as a television presenter, of sorts, but one thing she's been doing recently is campaigning against body image. She's recently done a photo-shoot and printed both the airbrushed and edited versions of the photographs as well as the real ones with nothing added (or taken away). This has been done as a kind of way of trying to help young people realise that to make new year resolutions to starve themselves and try to quit taking carbohydrates or cakes or chocolate is a complete waste of time as they are all part of a healthy, balanced diet (if taken in moderation). She's an attractive woman and the photos are very pretty, but she's not perfect and the comparisons between the edited photographs and the real ones show this clearly.

This would fit in with Slimming World's ideas about not dieting but getting into a healthy eating habit – which would also go along with what Dr. Bacon is always telling me in that rather than setting goals and trying to reach them it is often better just to adapt our lifestyles in some way so that these goals are not goals as such, more just become par for the course. The reason I discovered this Stacey Solomon thing (besides Lindsay watching Loose Women on ITV – damn those digital televisions that allow you to record stuff and then watch whenever you want to!!) was because we were asked to complete an assignment for tomorrow afternoon and it is to write two scripts for radio : one is to be a sports show and the other is a celebrity news/gossip aimed at a slightly younger audience.

So there is still a task to be done before I can wave goodbye to the first semester of this course I am working through. I've carried out my research and written my scripts but we have to read them out to the lecturer when in class tomorrow afternoon and so I won't really be finished this task until then. After that I am good to go on holiday for a week. We start the second semester the week after that, so – two weeks from tomorrow, the 05th February.

But yeah – all this has once again got me into thinking about this coming date (February 07th) when I will be three years off the booze, two years off the drugs, and one year off the cigarettes and antidepressant medication – and when I'm also supposed to be quitting sugar. Recently I bought a set of kitchen scales that can accurately measure tiny amounts and discovered exactly how bad my addiction to sugar really is. I coupled that with the discovery that we are supposed to only take in around twenty five grams of 'extra sugar' in our diets per day and I was in for a shock. Since this discovery I have kind of gone into limbo mode and not worried much about it. My Detached Protector is running things in that department. It's important I now what I'm going to be doing, however, when the 07th comes around. It's only two weeks on Wednesday (two days after we go back to college). It's right around the corner really.

Stacey says that carbs of all kinds are a par of a healthy balanced diet. Slimming World agrees and it allows chocolate daily if you work their program properly. This was never about me losing weight though. It was about keeping other health problems at bay. I'll have to think a little more about this because whenever I start typing about it here I just end up going around and around in circles – a little lapdog chasing its tail.

The weather sucked last week and this week I don't know if it's to look much better. We had snow that kept Barry the Bullet and me from getting back into the swing of things at work. January has been really slow in many ways. I still at times feel as though I am on some kind of unplanned Christmas break. The only thing missing is the tree. You notice how dull it looks out there now? I've noticed it while out on my walks. The lack of Christmas decorations is noticeable. What's also noticeable are the nights getting brighter. Maybe that's not the best word choice. I still wouldn't say that the nights were bright, but they're certainly not as dull as they were. When Barry and I do get back out to work (most likely this week) then we'll be able to work up until half past four I should have thought. A month ago we were wrapping things up around half pas three. Next month it'll be all the way up to five.

I've made good progress on the walking front so far in 2018. January is now at (not including a walk I intend to take later on this afternoon) one hundred and thirty six (averaging six and a half miles per day – which isn't actually all that impressive but then I haven't walked every day). This compares well with the previous months – those towards the end of last year were none too impressive. In October I managed only one hundred miles; in November only twelve more. Last month saw me creep it up to one hundred and thirty miles but it's still nothing close to my September total of three hundred and seventy three. Yep – 377 miles walked that month. More than an average of twelve and a half miles per day. I do want to beat this at some point this year. I think I can push four hundred miles out of myself one month in 2018.

I'll be leaving you guys in around one paragraph's time to go to church. It's not an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting this early in the morning – I'm talking about normal church. I went looking for a church last year and found this one I like in November. I've been half a dozen times or so since (and went twice on Christmas Eve – once to the morning service and then again at night for the Carol Singing Service) and have enjoyed what I've seen and heard so far. I like the stories. I'll be in the main hall in less than twenty minutes from now.

It's a rather chilled out way to start off a Sunday morning.

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Stevie

Likes the stories told in the church.

1124

Lunarer
January 22nd, 2018, 02:00 AM
Monday, January 22nd 2018 (The Facebook Hacker/Script-Writing Tasks)


I noticed the other day that someone had posted something on my page as myself. I don't go on Facebook much myself, it's not really my thing (and to see the people I know squirming for attention makes me sometimes squirm if I'm honest. I'm not surprised that young people fall for it hook, line and sinker but watching some of the adults I know is pretty disturbing to say the least) and when I do go on there is very little happening or has happened for me to take notice. This all changed the other night when I am online and find that I've posted something.

Stevie: ''You know what? Morrisey is overrated!''

For a second I wonder if I might have been drunk and that this was some silly little error on my part but I quickly remember that I don't drink anymore. I don't take anything that in any way alters my state of mind. I'm now what young people call a boring fart! I also would never misspell his name like that. Morrissey has two S's. I know someone who has also recently misspelled Morrissey's name in this exact same way and he is one of my college peers. He'd be my number one suspect in this. Early in the year we were given bands to have at the centre of our first assignments and they were drawn at random. This peer of mine – Fraser – drew out the Smiths, the band Morrissey became best known for (controversial political opinions aside). He and I discussed swapping (I got given Elvis) but the lecturer said no – we had to keep who we were given. Me liking the Smiths and Morrissey became a thing and on the Facebook group chat we all have been given silly names to make it all fun. Mine is Morrissey – spelled with only one S.

The 'me liking Morrissey' thing has always been quite interesting. Kung fu Pandis has private messaged me asking if I'm just trying to stir up debate and get a reaction on my page or is I really have had a big change of heart and several people have commented on the page itself – the first one being our main suspected culprit Fraser. I remember Tess from the old WQD forum and I would discuss this too. Morrissey being a whiny git. For some reason the whole Stevie and Morrissey thing has always been a bit of a thing. Now it's become an online scandal as someone has posted as me on my own Facebook account. It's very interesting.

To hack into my Facebook account though? That creeps me out and I have to wonder if I might be better just getting rid of it altogether. Then I remember that we kind of need it for our work on Boom Radio – the college's radio station we use to create and present material for throughout the course. Perhaps I just ask him about it when I go in this morning. If he denies it then there's little I can do. My password has been changed so who knows what else I can really do. All I do know is that this has taken up more than half of the word count for this post which is the absolute maximum I am going to allow it to have.

The snow is clearing up a little bit now. It's too late now for it to really cause us problems. It needs to start in late November for that to really happen. I'll be trudging through it to get to the bus station to get to college for the last Monday of the first semester and this afternoon is when the suckiest class it. Script Writing for Radio, is its name. It's the only class I feel as though I am not miles ahead with and I think that one of the main reasons for this is that my live show is booked in for during this class. Each student is paired up with someone, and has been since almost day one, and then goes into the studio to go out live on the air. There's no real way of missing it as it's your slot. Something needs to be playing.

It does annoy me slightly that my time slot for this is from two until three in the afternoon as it always interferes with this script-writing class. Usually my partner and I walk into class an hour late and have missed whatever we're all supposed to be doing. We are then trying to play catch up. Sometimes I manage to do it but there are other times when I struggle a little and have to do it at home. Then there's this time when I haven't been into college at all on a Monday afternoon yet this year and so don't really know what is expected of this final task other than what is in the rather vague email brief I received the other day. I am simply hoping that I have done enough because if not there isn't really the time left to go about fixing it and making sure that it is worthy of putting my name to. This afternoon I will be trying to swap my studio time with someone else so that I have the full time allocated to everyone for this class – assuming we're not all in the same boat in which case I'll have my usual limited time with which to complete this task.

When this is done I will probably walk back. Unless it snows again (unlikely now) then I think I will. I've packed my walking shoes into the backpack anyway just in case. It's about nine miles from the college front door to this sitting room in the next town so usually takes around two hours so I should expect to get home around seven this evening. I'll never get close to September's total of three hundred and seventy odd miles I'll help make January a decent little second place to it.

Lindsay and I didn't go to the travel agents over the weekend after all. It's probably a good thing. I like the idea of us getting our own transport. It needn't be too expensive and would certainly help in many ways – especially regarding work. I don't know what it would do for my walking totals though. That's one of many concerns in getting a car. My bus pass only has two months before it runs out.

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Stevie

Very much dislikes script-writing tasks – and people hacking his Facebook account.

1115

Lunarer
January 23rd, 2018, 02:55 AM
Tuesday, January 23rd 2018 (Sleeplessness)


Next time I'm in college after today will be to start the new semester. How I am looking forward to it. I'll be in class Monday and Wednesday from the week after next as opposed to Monday and Tuesday which has been the case for so long now. More than this I'll have interesting stuff to do. The challenge will be greater. This first semester was far too easy and I've had all of the work for it completed for weeks (actually a couple of months) so am eager to see what comes next. A higher standard required from now on from all of us. This is what I hope at least.

While nowadays I don't enjoy dwelling on the negatives in life with the same fervour and misguided zeal as I did once upon a time when I depended on alcohol to be my emotional and spiritual guide I do now accept that I am in the midst of a sleeping issue once again – a sleeping issue that is the worst I've known in around eighteen months. It sucks. Any sound or light at all will, assuming I can get to sleep in the first place, see me wake. At the moment I feel really tired. Like I haven't had anywhere close to adequate rest. I can feel it in my body but mostly in my head. Right behind the eyes. I feel as though I could just lean back on this couch and drop off. What's the point in that though? What would be the point in me not being able to sleep at night when I am supposed to be but then finding little difficulty in doing it in the mornings when I need to be awake and alert, focused on what must be done during the day?

This was a very regular thing back when I was trying to get sober and for the first sixteen to eighteen months of my getting sober. Sleeping was the biggest issue I faced in the early days. Bigger than the low mood and anxiety. Bigger than the anger. Bigger than the hearing of people in AA telling me over and over that it was action that I would need to put into my life in order to get better when I really wanted to just sit on my ass and be able to think my way out of it. Bigger than all of them was the sleeping issues. I'm not sitting here freaking out. Really, I'm not. I know that this year so far is not a sign of how the whole year, or the rest of my life, is going to turn out. It's been around for the majority of this month so far though, this sleeplessness.

On Friday night I went to bed before Lindsay and couldn't get to sleep. I might have been slightly asleep when she came to bed around half one in the morning but I heard her despite her best efforts to be silent. She likes to sleep with an eye-patch thing that has headphones attached and she listens to medical lectures while she's drifting off (would put anyone to sleep, except maybe me). As I am lying there I can hear, very faintly, the sound of some guy talking through some lecture. My super-sensitivity is causing this to become unbearable. I'm sure she's sleeping but the likelihood of my being able to take the mask thing off or figure out how to turn the volume down without waking her is very small. I end up leaving the room with a pillow and taking up the couch for the night. Then I am awoken every now and then with the cat's bell on her collar every time she scratches an itch. I have a bad night but get up before seven in the morning.

This has carried over the weekend and into the start of this week. I don't really know what to do to stop it from continuing over the rest of the week and into this coming weekend. What did I do before that worked? All I really did (once I'd established that all of the recommended sleep aids more or less just hinder you in the long term) was to get the set up good and proper. Make sure that the bedroom was comfy (ish) and that I went to it at a routine time. I do this now although there was a big break from it over the Christmas period which has undoubtedly lead us to this rather scary and most unwelcome point. I know that it won't have undone my sleeping pattern altogether though. It won't take another sixteen to eighteen months to get my sleeping mojo back. I just need to get a couple of nights under my bedtime belt and all should be good and well.

As things stand (not sure I am able to though) I have to get moving for one last day of college before I can think about how I'm going to sleep. It isn't like in the movies when you have a poor night and so you're about sleeping at the desk during the day. I'll be fine throughout today. Later on I'll feel a little tired and then, assuming this nightmare is to continue for another night (although a nightmare would be welcome right now as it would mean that I would have at least got some sleep) then I should perk up the moment I find myself lying in bed waiting for sleep.

No caffeine after six (which, if I'm walking back from college tonight in a bid to tire myself out a little more, will basically mean no caffeine after college considering I won't get back here until around seven in the evening) and make sure I don't go to bed too early. That's all I can really do. Maybe Lindsay is onto something with her night-patch thing that plays boring lectures for her but then I don't want to have to go down that route of depending on something to be there to assist me. What works for some people doesn't work for others and it feels that for me it would be another of those gimmicks that I would have to rely on. What if it was for some reason not there one night? Would that mean it was back to this again all of a sudden?

Sleepless and tired or not nothing escapes the fact that a bus will be leaving from the hospital stance college-bound in half an hour and I should be on it.

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Stevie

College-bound.

1120

Lunarer
January 24th, 2018, 02:53 AM
Wednesday, January 24th 2018 (Three Hundred Words On What The Future Looks Like)


It's homework for Dr. Bacon, my clinical psychologist. I've to be thinking about a number of things between now and our next session, one week tomorrow, and this includes where I want to be in the future. Essentially asking myself what the reason for all of this therapy is. I've also been asked to think a little about how we will begin to wind down these sessions in order to bring them to a close. We're looking at between twelve and sixteen sessions before this is all said and done. One of the main reasons for this is to bring an increase in my own motivation levels. When faced with a deadline, when there is an end in sight, there is more of a likelihood I'll put the effort into doing the tasks I am assigned from one week to the next. From now on our work will be very much results-based – goal-focused. I'll be given tasks (like the ones I've been given this week) and I'll go away and do them. This is the plan.

But what's my plan? Why am I doing all of this stuff I am doing? What's the endgame? Why did I choose to do the course I am currently studying? Why not the others I had considered? I spoke over the weekend about how me trying to experiment with things to do is like me trying to figure out a new identity for myself away from the alcoholic label that AA gave me three years ago that I now want to be far, far away from, but what would I like my identity of the future to be like? I've to be thinking about what my values are. Dr. Bacon says that his personal and professional goals will alter from time to time which will often lead to confusion and uncertainty sometimes but his identity remains strong as his values don't really ever change much. They are solid and concrete.

I don't know if I agree with this wholeheartedly as I believe my value system to have changed quite a lot since making the decision to stop drinking and taking drugs but I'm not going to get into that lest being accused of trying to intellectualise my way out of doing my homework assignment. Three hundred words on what I would like my life to end out like in a few years? It's a tricky one when for so long there has been no plan. I lived a day at a time for many years but not in the AA way – it was more in the hand-to-mouth way of getting by for one period of twenty four hours and then worrying about how I'd manage to get through the next when I woke up that morning.

On Saturday night I asked Lindsay for one of her pills. She has quite a lot of medication to take on a daily basis and one of them is Quetiapine and so she gave me one of these when I started complaining about my recent sleeping problems and sleeplessness. She begged that I did not moan in the morning like I did the last time she gave me this stuff as I struggled to get up next day due to the sedative knock out they gave me. I assured her that I would be fine. It's just a little pill I'm taking this time. Then I ended up not getting up until just after eleven o'clock on Sunday morning and ended up missing church and everything. It sucked. I tried my best not to moan about it though.

Ever since then I have continued to have problems either getting to sleep at night or getting up the next morning or both. On Monday morning I was late into college and I was only on time yesterday because the cat was annoying the fuck outta me by rummaging around in one of the wardrobes and rustling a bag of coat-hangers and so I had to get up to chase her. When I'm up I'm up. This morning I'm up by some miracle again and so I am hoping that this is the start of things improving. As much as not sleeping can suck it's the not getting up in the morning that is the worst thing. As long as I keep getting up things'll be okay.

It snowed over the weekend again but now it's looking okay. There's still evidence it's been snowing and it's cold as fuck still but assuming Barry the Bullet and I meet like we're supposed to be in an hour and a half from now then I'll have started the ball rolling with work in 2018. I'm off college next week and so can get out five days – there's certainly the work available for us to do this – and so my determination will be tested. If I can start getting into the routine of work then I can expect to sleep better in the evenings. January sucks – the no question about it – but we're getting to the end of it slowly but surely.

Anyway – enough stalling! How would I like my life to look in the future? Damn – I've gone and rambled on so much that I'm running out of words to post before I reach my daily limit. I keep getting distracted. I am stalling though. I know it. I'm stalling because while it might seem like an easy question to answer (what we want our lives to look like in the future) I find it very awkward. I have no idea. I have no clue as to what my current value system is and Dr. Bacon asked me to use this as a guide. What is my value system? Maybe if I can answer that first, give it some thought throughout the course of the day at work, then I can come back to this tomorrow morning prepared to give it a better, more honest, go than this pathetic effort I have attempted this morning.

If I can figure out where I want to be in the future then it will help me decide what to do in the present. It seems as though this question is coming at the right time for me though, with life beginning at forty and all that.
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Stevie

Trying to figure out where he wants to be in life.

But not doing too great a job at it.

1103

Lunarer
January 25th, 2018, 01:30 PM
Thursday, January 25th 2018 (Organised Thus Recommended)


That is so disappointing! Last week I lost a post while trying to save it before I went to post it onto the Ryver and My Way Out forums but ended up losing it and the same thing happened this morning so I have had to type up this one this evening and post it without saving. Sometimes this program fails and so I like to save my writing quickly at the end of every paragraph. I would like to say now that I do not in any way recommend Open-Office word processing. It's been a constant source of frustration for me during the time I've been posting about my sober life and I will be looking for an alternative (Word is not really an option) come Saturday morning. As for the time in between now and then I will have to copy this stuff onto my external drive after every paragraph just to be sure. It's a lot of fucking around just to post some shit on a forum that anyone who looks at will just skim-read anyway, but do it I for some reason must.

In my previous but now completely lost post I was talking about the different routes that students studying radio can take. One of them is the route I am taking where all of the effort is put into getting the coursework done as best as possible. This involves learning the software and how to work the desk and everything from a technical standpoint. This is perhaps where I am strongest. One of the other routes is to go along with a local radio station as they always seem on the lookout for students to go on their Street Team list. By going down this avenue you get to know people in the industry and get to be a little more hands-on. It's quite an attractive sounding way of doing things and is perhaps more likely to result in a job at one of these stations than doing things my way where you get all the practice and get good at student radio but then have difficulties in selling yourself but there are pros and cons to both directions. There is a third route that some students seem to be taking: do everything half-assed and drop out just after Christmas, but we won't worry about them too much now.

So I was standing at the smoking area talking with one of the students that has gone down the Street Team route and is doing a lot of volunteering with Dundee-based radio station Tay FM. It's like a coming together of both worlds: the tech guy and the volunteer; route one and route two; the Street Team girl and the student radio guy. She's chatting away about how little I've been in class this year since I'm finished all of my work so early and well before the deadlines.

Blondie – ''You're really organised, aren't you?''

Stevie – ''I don't know about ''really'' organised.''

Apparently where she volunteers at Tay FM is looking for someone who would be useful at the production side of things in the studio and had asked her if she knew of any students in her class who might fit the bill. They would need to know their way around a radio studio and have excellent organisational skills. I was the first person she thought about and so I am asked to check my emails every now and then as, no promises, but they might try to contact me at some point.

This really is something. I don't mean the opportunity that could come out of this recommendation – I mean the fact that someone would think of me when they hear words like ''organised'' as this really does not suit me. I say this because just a couple of winters ago I had to get someone (a member of the old WQD forum actually) to come to visit me to help me clear out the cave I was living in at the time since it was in such a state I had no idea how to get out of it. It then took several midnight trips over a few nights with English Sara to get rid of the rubbish bags that had built up in there. I was so disorganised that it isn't even believable when I think about it. Remember that I couldn't even organise a house plant to its first birthday (although I'm not doing too much better given that my most recent one died earlier this month at the tender age of eighteen months).

Still though – it really is evidence of a change in my lifestyle when I think about it. To go from not being able to clean up my cave to getting college work done at such a rate that classmates feel I am ''really'' organised. It's cause for celebration, not that I really have any way of celebrating things these days. I guess I can see this a little given that I am already planning for when we go back to college a week on Monday. I am one of four guys who is on air at nine – first show of the new semester – and it's a sport-based show we are to be doing. I'll be presenting the first ever one and so I want to be as ready – as ''organised'' – as possible since we plan on releasing these shows as podcasts on the Monday evenings as well. They have to sound good. They will be evidence of our work after all and so you never know who might end up listening to one of them.

I noticed on Facebook that a group chat between the four of us has been started and so between now and next Monday we have to communicate and come up with plenty of content to make up one hour of sport-based chat with as little need for music as possible. It'll be a challenge – an hour is a long time to keep things interesting – but with there being four of us I think we'll do okay.

I've actually discovered that I can just save these writings onto the Onedrive and then collect them from there whenever I fancy. Saves a lot of fucking around. Open-Office is still not recommended though as you really shouldn't have to be doing this just to keep your work. Avoid.

Right – I'm not going to say anymore as I'm getting strict about this word count thing.



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Stevie

Avoid Open-Office if you know what is good for you.

1119

Lunarer
January 26th, 2018, 03:51 AM
Friday, January 26th 2018 (The Sport Show)


Already that's been a month since I saw my nieces again. The time builds up, doesn't it!? Boxing Day it was. There was a time, not that long ago either, where one month would have seemed like a ludicrous length of time to go without seeing them at least once. Now it is just something I've come to expect. Things have changed, moved on. Devolved. Before I know it we'll be on the 26th February and little will have changed. My mum put pictures up online of her with them the other day when she was babysitting and so I messaged her asking if she could give me a shout when she's getting them next so that I could pop along. We'll see. She doesn't act with the same urgency to have me there during the year as she does over Christmas. At Christmas there is a need in her to have us all together. It's almost like she's trying to hide the reality of what has happened to her family for one day. That way on Facebook it looks the part. The is a sickness in her that I'm not even sure she's aware she has.

Thinking a little more about the radio show that myself and three of my peers will be starting up a week on Monday when we return to college for the start of the second semester – and chatting to them a little on the Facebook group chat that we have started as a way of sharing ideas and views on what we'll be talking about during each show – I'm going to create a bed to get things up and running. By that I mean that I'll be creating something that will play in the background as I introduce the show to listeners (assuming there are any – it's mostly hypothetical) which will give the show some more substance and interest to kick it off rather than just having a voice as we've been used to up until now. It'll be just a couple of minutes long and will start off with the sound of a ball being kicked, followed by the sound of a net bulging, then will have the music come in.

I'll put it onto CD so that when in the college a week on Monday I can just play it through the CD player. This means I'll be able to easily control the volume levels so that when I am speaking it will be just faint in the background but will come to the fore when I pause to let the (mostly hypothetical) listeners digest what is being said. If done right this will sound pretty cool and professional. The aim of this next semester is to try to push things on a lot more than we have been up until now and really make ourselves sound good on air and so little touches like these will be exactly the sort of thing that the lecturers will be looking out for. I'm getting all excited just thinking about it.

If we are going to be putting these shows online in the evenings after we edit them slightly then I'll have to make the music one of my own tracks. On the radio we can play whatever is on the playlist because the college pays its licenses to the appropriate agencies who then collect money and distribute the royalties to those who's music we use regularly but when putting it out as a podcast in the evening we do not pay these licences as it is nothing to do with the college. It's our own work and so we won't be allowed to play anything by anyone ever. This does suck a little but there are ways around it – play our own stuff!

One of the biggest challenges we will face in the construction of this show – and certainly the challenge I will face as the presenter of the first show – will be keeping things interesting for a whole hour. What we've been doing up until now has been a simple case of short links between songs with the odd little weather report and local news, with perhaps a celebrity gossip thing thrown in there as well, and that's all we've really been taught in terms of show structure. This will be very different. There won't be a song to go to if we get stuck. I'll have to make sure that I, as host for the first episode, can keep things ticking along nicely and make sure that no one topic drags on too long. We'll have to get through a lot of content.

This is where we'll find out about my organisational skills for sure. We'll have to break each show down into segments and keep to this time limit. We'll have plenty of topics to cover if we want to get an hour worth of content out of each and every show without reverting to music and other radio gimmicks. This show will very much be in the mould of Radio 5 Live and other talk shows. Without the visual aid we'll have to work hard on sounding good.

We might sound a little ambitious here but there are plans to extend this idea beyond the college studio and the idea of possibly streaming a live match from one of the local football grounds is something that we are in early talks with local football club Dunfermline Athletic about. Jamie – one of my peers who will be running the show with me – has been in contact with them and I believe is to be meeting someone from their PR department during the week break we are currently on. We'd be looking to perhaps run the broadcast as a Facebook live stream. The lecturer at the college says that we would need at least three people to run it. One would be a commentator; another would be a co-commentator; the third guy would be solely a technical guy who's job would be to make sure that the stream was constant and that the microphones and everything else was working fine. If we get the go-ahead we'd be able to use the club's journalist wi-fi rather than the punter's shitty wi-fi and would get one of their comfortable seats away from the wind and the rain. We'll have to wait and see how Jamie gets on with his meeting before I know what's happening there.

All I know is that we are on air from nine until ten in the morning a week on Monday for the first live show of a sport-based show – the first show of this kind done by students of the college (which is quite unbelievable to be honest) and so we'll have to be ready for it.

Damn that word count again!!

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Stevie

Sport presenter

1161

Lunarer
January 27th, 2018, 03:28 AM
Saturday,*January*27th*2018*(Lonely/Not*Lonely!?)** *



I*think*that*sometimes*I*think*I'm*feeling*more*lo nely*than*I*actually*am.*I*say*this* because*I*did*feel*lonely*yesterday*for*a*spell*an d*it*was*a*feeling*that*I*can't*say*I'm* altogether*familiar*with.*This*must*surely*mean*th at*normally*I*am*not*lonely.*The*reason* for*my*sudden*feeling*of*loneliness*was*due*to*a*l ittle*check*on*Facebook.*My*mum*barely* seems*able*to*get*back*to*me*when*I*contact*her*as *it*has*been*suggested*by*Dr.*Bacon,* my*clinical*psychologist,*I*do*as*part*of*my*Healt hy*Adult*training*regime*(building*up*and* maturing*the*part*of*me*that*we*want*to*be*making* the*majority*of*the*decisions*in*my* life)*and*so*often*this*can*feel*like*a*slap*in*th e*face.*I*have*tools*though*and*for*once*I*find* myself*using*AA's*program*as*my*tool*of*choice*in* dealing*with*this*feeling*of*loneliness that*comes*from*feeling*as*though*I*don't*have*a*f amily*that*gives*a*fuck*about*me*if*it* isn't*Christmas*and*so*I*hand*over*my*worries*to*m y*Higher*Power*–*the*God*of*my* Understanding.* *

This*worked*and*allowed*me*to*be*able*to*look*not* at*the*things*in*life*that*I*don't*have* but*at*the*things*that*are*going*well*in*my*life*a t*the*moment*and*that*I*do*have.*I*guess* it*makes*me*appreciate*things.*It's*important*for* me*to*remember*that*everything*on* social*media*is*posed*and*that*what*I*see*is*not*a *true*representation*at*all*of*what*the* person's*life*is*actually*like.*People*with*rich*l ives*do*not*post*on*Facebook,*they*don't* need*to.*I*recall*my*psychologist*telling*me*that* he*does*not*use*any*social*media* whatsoever.*I*don't*supposed*Healthy*Adults*do.*I* know*that*my*mum*struggles*more* than*she'd*ever*let*on.*I*know*that*her*life*isn't *perfect.** *

I*do*feel*upset*about*the*way*things*have*turned*o ut*though.*Making*my*amends*through* AA's*Twelve*Step*program*was*supposed*to*be*my*way *of*clearing*out*the*wreckage*of*my* past*but*it's*not*really*turned*out*that*way.*Like *I've*said*many*time*over*the*past*twelve* months*or*so*since*contact*with*family*has*hit*an* all*time*low:*Things*have*never*felt*this* distant*–*not*even*when*I*was*drinking*all*the*tim e.*At*least*then*I*saw*my*family*from* month*to*month.*This*is*easily*the*worst*it's*been .*With*regards*to*my*brother*it*all*kind*of* started*when*he*got*married.*With*mum.*.*.*maybe*o ur*relationship*has*always*been*this* bad*it's*only*taken*me*to*get*sober*so*that*I*coul d*see*it.** *

I*wasn't*on*social*media*for*anything*to*do*with*f amily*bullshit*in*the*first*place*–*I*went* on*to*check*for*any*developments*in*our*group*chat *about*our*sport*show*that*will*be* starting*when*we*go*back*to*college*on*week*on*Mon day.*First*thing*–*nine*until*ten*every* Monday*morning*–*will*be*myself*and*three*of*my*cl assmates*and*we'll*be*trying*to*run*a* full*hour*worth*of*content*away*from*the*norm*of*p laying*lots*of*music*while*filling*them* out*with*little*links*in*between.** *

I*am*quite*lucky*actually.*I*was*originally*paired *with*one*of*the*women*in*the*class*to*run* my*show*on*Wednesday*afternoon*but*the*guys*who*we re*to*do*the*sport*show*wanted* me*in*for*my*older*insights.*I*am*twice*the*age*of *the*other*guys.*This*gives*me*an* advantage*when*it*comes*to*certain*elements*of*a*s port*based*radio*show.*The*lecturer* said*that*this*was*okay*and*so*I'm*in.*I'm*part*of *the*four*team*sport*show*on*a*Monday* morning.*I*also*get*to*keep*my*Wednesday*afternoon *slot*with*Evana*and*so*I*get*to* present*two*shows*and*am*actually*the*only*guy*in* the*class*who*finds*themselves*in*this* position.*Sweet!!*This*means*that*I*get*to*work*on *both*types*of*shows.*

The*sport*-based*show*which*will*be*largely*talk*based*and*ai med*at*a*particular*demographic,*more*of*a* specialised*effort,*as*well*as*getting*to*hone*my* skills*in*the*generic*link/song*based*radio* presenting*shows*that*we've*been*doing*up*until*no w.*It's*a*good*position*to*be*in.** * Lindsay*had*a*problem*with*her*placement*earlier*i n*the*week*as*she*made*a*mistake*on* the*ward*with*one*of*her*patients.*This*ended*up*w ith*a*doctor*being*quite*snippy*with*her* but*it's*fine*now.*It*can*seem*a*little*like*the*n ever*-ending*placement*at*times*but*that*is* her*now*at*the*halfway*point*of*the*sixteen*weeks. *Eight*more*weeks*to*go*and*she's* (finally)*qualified.*I*don't*actually*know*if*we'l l*be*better*off*or*not*when*she*graduates*and* starts*working.*Since*she's*only*going*to*be*contr acted*part-*time*we'll*be*lucky*if*what*she* earns*is*more*than*what*she*is*getting*at*the*mome nt*when*factoring*all*of*the*extra* things*we'll*have*to*start*paying*for*that*we*don' t*at*the*moment*as*two*students.*But* then*I'm*not*actually*sure*if*I*am*counted*as*bein g*a*part*of*this*household*since*the* council*have*yet*to*get*back*to*us*about*the*appli cation*form*to*add*me*as*a*tenant,*to* make*it*a*joint*tenancy.*They*can*be*quite*slow*at *times,*the*council.** *

Speaking*of*AA*(which*I*wasn't*really*but*I*did*me ntion*at*the*top*of*the*post*one*of*their* tools*in*the*God*of*my*Understanding*and*how*I*use d*it*yesterday*to*get*over*feelings*of* loneliness*brought*about*by*not*feeling*as*though* I*have*a*family*around*me*–*ever)*I* haven't*been*to*a*meeting*since*Christmas*Eve*and* there*is*one*on*tonight.*I*can't*see*me* going*though.*So*already*that*is*five*weeks.** *

According*to*the*group*chat*on*the*sport*based*rad io*show*we'll*be*kicking*things*off*with*a*Kasabia n*song*and*then*changing*it*later*so*that*we*can*p ut*it*out*as*a*podcast*and*we're*working*on*a*stru cture*over*the*weekend*and*early*next*week*so*that *we're*good*to go *a*week*on*Monday*and*have*plenty*time*to*gather*i nformation*and*pay*attention*to*all* of*the*sport*headlines*next*weekend.** * Anyway*–*the*word*count*again!*I've*gotta*go.
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Stevie

Counting*words.**

1118** * * * * *

Lunarer
January 28th, 2018, 05:40 AM
Sunday, January 28th 2018 (Sunday Morning Coffees. . . . With Sugar. . .)


I didn't go to the AA meeting last night as I probably should have done. It's good for me to stay connected with people and the fellowship is as good a place as any to meet people and interact with those I've already met. Unfortunately there are so many things about it that keep me from being enthusiastic about going back. One of them was my former sponsor bumping into Lindsay again which happened through the week last Friday. I can see from his social media that he works at that centre just along the road from our local shops and so he has crossed paths with Lindsay three or four times now since he started yet each time he has been very ignorant. I understand that he could have been busy the first time and in a rush the second, but the fourth?

It's long past the stage where I look back and wonder what I ever saw in that guy that made me want to go along as a sponsee of his for the better part of eighteen months. If anything it shows how far I have come but in saying that I think he has definitely changed for the worst since becoming a father. It's like this is the ultimate ego trip for him. He's not handling it well as is coming across as being even more arrogant than he was before, and that's saying something. It shouldn't put me off going to the meeting last night but it did make me think about all of the negative aspects of people in the rooms and how, essentially, I would just be surrounding myself with people who have a wonderful program that could potentially change their lives for the better yet choose not to allow it to and just abuse it instead, waste it. When I'm this judgemental I am probably all the better for not going to the meetings where there is an almost unlimited scope for judgemental thinking from me and it's just too frustrating, too exhausting, to handle right now. I'd be better saving it for church this morning.

And so I have done. I'll be going in a little while and looking forward to it. There isn't much chance to actually meet people at the church though since I don't actually ever stick around to have tea and biscuits afterwards. I simply arrive for it starting and leave when it ends. I'm like some weirdo who just shows up one minute and then is gone the next. I don't mind this but at some point soon I would like to try to communicate with someone. This is exactly the sort of thing I reckon Dr. Bacon will want me to start doing very soon. I see him again on Thursday this week and we'll be looking at my three hundred words (that I have yet to write) which look at what I would like my life to be like ideally and also looking at how many sessions we might be having before we think about wrapping it up. I am still a little worried about this but am just continuing to assume that he knows what he's doing and trying to accept that this is not happening because he thinks I'm a lost cause or can't be helped and suchlike. I'll try to write these three hundred words on the future tomorrow in my post. No more stalling.

There are other things I should really be thinking about as well. One of these is the sugar thing. I have to come up with a definitive plan for this. It'll be my birthday (sober birthday, that is) in a little over a week and so I will be undertaking the next challenge which will be a severely limited amount of sugar in my diet. It looks as though the recommended daily allowance for sugars in adult men is around 30 - 37.5 grams. This obviously does not include the free sugars found in fruit and milk and so on and it does sound like quite a lot of sugar to be fair, but I know that it isn't all that an awful lot as I've been weighing it out recently since purchasing that set of scales just after new year. The thing is – when I don't take sugars in my coffee I won't actually be taking in more than this total anyway. It's the sugars in the coffees that are the biggest problem for me at the moment (I'm on y third cup already this morning and will likely have another three or four by the time I go to bed – no wonder I freak out about not sleeping to much all the time, eh!?) but once that is sorted I will feel a lot more confident about all things relating to sugar intake.

I guess it's the treats I have to worry about. What will it be like when I'm on holiday and I can't be bothered weighing out and trying to fathom how much sugar is contained in whatever it is the buffet has to offer? That would be a nightmare but over time I will establish a routine of sorts. I'll know what I can and cannot have without having to give much thought to it. I'll also learn over much time how often I can and should indulge. It's all a learning curve that will take time to master like anything else. It was quite easy with the drink and the drugs and the nicotine – don't indulge EVER!! This one is a little more complicated but less limiting and more choice-based as a result.

One week from today and I'll be looking forward to getting into college to make a start on the sports show and so I'll have to take down plenty of notes when it comes to the sporting events of next weekend – especially football. This is a good thing since a lot of my time is already taken up by my devotion to the beautiful game. I'll also have to start following our local ice hockey team a bit more closely as we'll be talking about them in the show as well as the local football teams. I haven't seen or heard anything from the hockey team since Lindsay and I went with her brother and his wife to Edinburgh on Hogmanay to watch my first ever live hockey match. This will have to change after this week too and I'll have player's names and positions to note down and memorise.

Shit!! That damn word-count rule. . .

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Stevie

Reached the word count again. ..

1135

Lunarer
January 29th, 2018, 03:38 AM
Monday, January 29th 2018 (Clean Running Water)


I was looking through the new deal that Manchester United forward player Alexis Sanchez has and how much money he will be making from this. This took me on the website merry-go-round that so often happens if you allow yourself to become distracted and you end up going from one site to another and before you know it you are lost. I ended up on a site that was comparing all of the top earners in football and showing you how long (or not) they would have to ''work'' to get this and that and the next thing. Two days for the new top of the range Audi motors and three days for a small private island. Almost nothing is out of price range just after a few days of slogging it out on a training field for a few hours midweek and then playing your match on the Saturday.

The most staggering and eye-opening thing about this website was the knowledge that for just a few days of work one of these footballers could afford to pay for one million people in lesser developed nations to have clean running water. This begs the question – why would you not? If you had the power and money to provide this then why would you not just do it? Why, if you have so much money that you and your subsequent generations will never be able to make use of it as it simple is so much money, would you not set up a sort of direct debit scheme where every month one million people in a third world nation get clean running water? I just don't quite get it. Maybe someone out there has some knowledge of why this would not enter someone's head. It's entirely possible that there are many reasons I don't know about that make this kind of thing impossible, like maintaining the wells once they are built and when they break down as I'm sure they will at some point, but from where I sit I can't for the life of me fathom why more isn't done by people who have money to provide for those who do not.

There's something amazing about the whole situation though as far as I can see (which is, admittedly, never too far) and that is that we, as a species, have probably always wondered what the limit of human capacity is throughout our history. We probably wondered back in the stone age what we might be capable of were our basic needs such as food and shelter met without having to rely on survival instinct constantly and have so many threats around – things trying to hurt us and eat us and bite us and so on. Then, when we began to master the art of overproducing food and so could create and sustain communities and settlements, we probably started to wonder what might be possible of our species if we could go a step further. Now we reach the twenty first century and we have most of our needs met and we can see clearly what the limit of human capacity is. We worship the dollar and look out only for number one. Everything is about status and trying to be seen as being better than your neighbour. It's a tremendous disappointment in the end. Surely our ancestors had something much more than this in mind when they went through all their past hardships!?

I'm up early enough to actually make a go of it this morning. I still feel as though I am half sleeping but I'm game for getting out there and giving working for a full week a go. I'm not in college at all this week (it's a remediation week for those who still have work to do from the first semester) and so all week this week (assuming that the weather stays fair which in Scotland is never a sure thing by any means) I will be out working all week. So far this month has been lame with not much work done at all, either with Barry the Bullet cleaning windows or in the classroom at college working on assignments and radio broadcasts. This also means that I haven't been as connected to my community as I am when I am out of the house all the time and mixing it up with my fellow man and woman.

On Friday Lindsay and I are going to watch Strictly Come Dancing: the Live Show at the Hydro in Glasgow (it was one of my Christmas presents to her that I am now regretting. . . I'm only joking, it'll be fine) and so we're looking forward to that. There will be a few things happening this coming month that will inspire me to get out to work every minute that the God of my understanding sends as Lindsay's birthday will be in February, as well as my oldest niece's birthday, and that's without mentioning Valentine's Day. A few things to suck the money out of my wallet I'm sure. This is only possible if there is money in my wallet to begin with.

There's actually a rather expensive dentist appointment coming up the week after this that will set me back a couple of hundred quid as well. Even if I can pay for that with the hours I get this week cleaning windows then it takes the pressure off. If we don't get into a working routine soon then the phone will start ringing and the pressure will be on again at work. It is quite stressful, work and money. I can remember it being much more stressful not having either though.

Barry the Bullet was saying on Facebook the other day that he's been missing getting out to work regularly (which is odd given the number of days he slept in or didn't come out for one reason or another in the last twelve months) and I get what he's saying. I've actually missed the work this last couple of weeks as we've been waiting on the snow to turn to ice and then just fuck off, as it now has done. I think that part of my poor recent sleeping pattern is down to not having a tired mind through regular college work and window cleaning responsibilities. I shouldn't take any of these things for granted because I do actually really miss them when they aren't in my life.

Stressful though they may be it's certainly more stressful not having them.

And it must be even more stressful still not to have clean running water.

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Stevie

Thankfully has clean running water.

1131

Lunarer
January 30th, 2018, 02:09 AM
Tuesday, January 30th 2018 (McCalling Davina)


There was a show on the other night (I actually have no idea which night it was on since Lindsay just records everything and then watches whatever takes her fancy – all I know is that it was played on our television the other night after Manchester United, complete with first start of new signing Alexis Sanchez, defeated little Yeovil Town in a convincing/but not so convincing FA Cup fourth round display – so this would have been on Friday night) and she was talking about her life and struggles. Lindsay's a big fan so there was almost a ''No Talking'' policy going on throughout the show although when we were talking she would pause it and it wouldn't start back up again until she was sure that that particular talking episode had well and truly ran its course. It took around ninety minutes to get through the one hour show and that was with her skimming through the adverts.

Davina McCall and I share some vague similarities. We both have a past where drink and drugs has played centre stage. We both also lost a parent when we were very young (my father to death; her father walked out on her) and both of us found that our remaining parent couldn't tell us anything about it. We were left to deal with figuring out this loss ourselves. You can actually tell by watching her talk about certain subjects, or at least I think I can, how she has similar parts of the ''alkie/druggie'' sickness and once again I find myself watching a celebrity with a former addiction who is still, years into recovery, displaying some of the behaviour that one would hope we would lose when we start to work on ourselves. It's discouraging but then it's good for me to remember that no one is perfect and this is, for all of us, an ongoing process.

The way that Davina and I handled our disappointment in early life seems very similar though. She doesn't seem too happy about this subject never being brought to her attention. I still feel resentful to my mother for this. In fact – since talking about this with Dr. Bacon a few times last year and since Christmas I have found myself getting all the more pissed off about it. My mother seemingly used me emotionally this Christmas so that I would go around to hers for Boxing Day dinner so that her social media looks good to other people. The pictures make it seem as though she has managed to keep her family together. Her Facebook friends will see her fake life and some of them will be deluded enough to pass it off as her real life.

The truth is that her real life is nothing like this. What she's also doing with these pictures (and I've seen them) is making it out as if myself and my brother have our families together. It's all bullshit though. The truth is that we've never been further apart, ever, and no one is actually fighting for it. The family is falling apart to the extent where I am seriously considering that move to Sunderland with the intention of never looking back. What is there really to stay here for? I guess I'd have to think about Lindsay and she would have to make some choices about what she wanted to do. There's a lot going on with her own family at the moment and so it's no surprise that I continually stall when trying to do Bacon's homework assignment and think about what the future might hold.

One thing that Dr. Bacon and I did learn through talking about my mother and how emotionally unavailable she was throughout my upbringing was how she might have developed quite a powerful Detached Protector herself. I told him the story of how, through sponsorship with AA and the Step Nine amends, I had finally, after all these years, mentioned to her what it was I needed from her. I needed to know about my dad and what he was like. She said that she would sort this out and explained that there were things of his in the attic of the house she owns but rents out to a family. If I went to the door and organised a date for picking up this stuff then she would meet me there and we would sit down and talk about this stuff for the first time since dad's death way back in 1983. Dr. Bacon found it very interesting to hear about how my mother went about this in handing the responsibilities of arranging this over to me and it never ending up happening.

There's no doubt that my mother knows that I would have liked this chat but her cowardice got in the way. I think if I was to be saying this to her face right now as opposed to writing it online in a place she'll never stumble across it that she would possibly begin with the tears. It shows where I've learned my trade. She isn't comfortable in showing emotion and vulnerability without it turning into sympathy seeking and a search for pity. It's the sign of someone who is emotionally far more fragile than she would ever want anyone to see.

This is why I look at the Facebook pictures from Christmas and just let her go on believing that her family is safe because we all turned up for one day in December. What am I going to say that will make any difference? Fuck all really. There's fuck all more I can say or do. I know how insecure she is. Not just in the way of looking in the mirror and thinking that she's a bit overweight – but actually being insecure about who she is as a person. That is why I'm sure she needs to go putting all this shit online in the first place even though she'll be sixty in a little over a month.

Do I see the point in resenting my mother any longer? No. Do I have the time and energy to be doing so? No. Does this mean that I'll magically stop resenting her? Of course not. It doesn't really work like that. I have to find a way of getting over this and getting through it normally which is usually something that you would think only time can do. I'll just have to get used to her not being a part of my life and accept that fact that she could not give me what it was I needed from her.

Davina's mum was a big drinker and died too young. My mum doesn't drink all that much but over the next few years I can't see myself seeing mine any more than Davina sees hers.

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Stevie

Resentful.

1161

Lunarer
January 31st, 2018, 02:03 AM
Wednesday, January 31st 2018 (Three's a Crowd)


Thank (the) God (of my Understanding) that January is over and done with. I definitely get the January Blues, assuming such a thing exists, and find it to be a difficult month to get through – likely because I have not been very productive at all during it. I feel as though this year has started off as perhaps the slowest of the years I've been sober but I do distinctly remember last January being quite slow to get moving too. February will be when 2018 kicks off with a bang, when it starts to find its feet and take shape. I hope.

There was something else I wanted to discuss in yesterday's post but that damn word count came along and ruined my chance to – so I'll talk about that just now before we go any further and I get sidetracked. It was something else that Lindsay and I were talking about during the Davina McCall interview that was on (nearly a week ago now!) Friday evening. It was about her son. Lindsay's son, Leon, who will be sixteen later on this year.

For anyone who doesn't know anything about this scenario (which is probably everyone that's reading at the moment) Lindsay's son was taken from her care a couple of years ago when she had a drunken fall that ended with her being hospitalised with a brain haemorrhage (which was pretty serious and resulted in her taking a year out from her university studies) and he went to stay with his grandmother. This is not Lindsay's mother (she died in 2014) but is the boy's father's mother. She's in her seventies and has not been able to look after him at all. Since he's been living there he's dropped out of school completely and hasn't actually been in at all this whole term. He's not spent one single day in school in this final year of his education.

He's also stolen plenty money from his gran and has basically turned into a little shit. Now the tide is turning and it seems as though social workers are beginning to reverse their views on what should happen and what is in Leon's best interests long term. One of the social workers who has been in involved in the case since the start even mentioned something about him moving back with Lindsay full time by March of this year. I am pleased to hear that Lindsay is using her head on this one. It would be easy for her to go along with this and agree it to be a good idea. This way she would be reunited with family for good and the toxic grandmother would be out of the equation. Where would this leave our life though?

Would Leon steal from us? How would Lindsay and I go about encouraging him to get on with his own life? Leaving school with no interest in education or work would make his arrival a very interesting one for a whole host of reasons, and not many of them good. It seems as though the social workers have made some tremendous mistakes in all of this and a boy who has been removed from his mother's care one year will be returned a couple of years later a different boy altogether. The deal is that I will have to meet the main social worker who is dealing (very badly) with this whole situation so that she can judge me and then, assuming I pass her standards, will meet Leon himself before us all then determining how we should proceed next. Basically – when should he move in with us.

I think that this illustrates one or two of the problems we face as a society and one of the reasons I went to college in 2012/13 to study social care. I wanted to know why our care system is so poor when it should, on paper at least, be very strong. I came to realise that it is the people who work in the field who are the problems and the main reason being that anyone can come off the street and study social care. Then, as long as you have the qualifications (which are really easy to get when compared with other qualifications of the same level in other subjects), you can walk into a job. It is also one of the career paths where being a woman is a tremendous advantage.

The thing is – many people take on jobs that they are no good at whatsoever yet they decide to do them because the financial and status related benefits to them personally outweigh, in their eyes, the potential damage that they will cause. They want the money and status so they take on the job, even though they know in their hearts that they are not suited to it and that someone else could do it better. Once in the job it is then almost impossible for them to lose it, as Lindsay and I will find out when we go through with the long and complicated complaints procedure against this Elaine woman who has been the cause of so much damage here.

Leon now does not go to school and steals money. He's in trouble, there's no doubt about it, and the other kids he still has as friends in the scheme he lives will be moving on soon to college and university and so on leaving him pretty isolated. This is what they are saying anyway. Now he will be uprooted once again and moved in with his mother again and her partner.

Hey – it might all work out fine. It probably will in the end, it usually always does, but in the meantime, until it starts working out fine, there will likely be a lot of uncertainty regarding how this will all pan out. March is far too early. That is one thing that most of us seem to agree on. I'll have to meet him gradually and Lindsay admits that she too has a relationship to develop with him all over again given how long it has been since they lived together and spoke with one and other without a social worker present. Baby steps will then follow. . .

The life of alcoholics and problem drinkers, eh? Kids tend to get dragged down with us. Now that we are sober though there is a need to try to do our best not to fuck this one up. To take it super slow. There's a lot at stake after all.

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Stevie

Wondering what 2018 might have in store.

1122

Lunarer
February 1st, 2018, 03:58 AM
Thursday, February 01st 2018 (January in Numbers)


The number I should really be thinking about at this moment in time is the number 300. That's as many words as I'm supposed to be writing, or rather – should have by now written!, about my hopes and aspirations for the future for my clinical psychologist for when I see him later on this afternoon. I'm going to look at the numbers from the recent past first though (I like stalling after all) – the numbers that made up the month of January.

Days Working: 2

That's tremendously poor but it's the way it's worked out. I worked one day a couple of weeks ago and then again yesterday after a poor start to what was supposed to be an excellent working week. The plan is that I will try to make this month better and more productive in every way possible than January was and with regards to working this should definitely not be an issue. I'll be half way to equalling it by the end of today! It's really important I force this issue and get out to work enough that a pattern begins. I cancelled the dentist yesterday since I won't have the two hundred quid lying around and would have had to take it out of the bank or Credit Union, which I'm not doing. It has to come from money earned from cleaning windows and so far I don't have nearly enough. This'll change in the coming weeks, I promise. I also believe my sleeping will return to 'normal' once a decent working and college routine is established.

Days at College: Not Many

To be fair there hasn't been a whole lot for me to be going in for but with the second semester starting up on Monday I expect to be in class for the full days on both Mondays and Wednesdays, plus a little extra if needed from time to time. Along with work – this is one part of my life that I really look forward to getting back into and in a hurry too.

Miles Walked: 226

That's more like it! This is actually quite a decent little total and is the second best month I've managed since starting this up last February. On Monday I walked seventeen miles which turned out to be the longest walk I've done since September 30th. I'll have less days this month to compete with such an impressive mile total but plan to keep going strong in this area, maybe just not beat this one.

Sugar Consumed: Lots!

This is one area that I actually plan on greatly reducing. Just one more week to go and things will be changing up in my diet. I've already reduced the amount of sugar I take in tea and coffee and don't bother with sauce or anything like that with my dinner. Still though I am over my target some days. It doesn't take much to be honest. I'll have to go through quite a gruelling schedule of actually weighing out and measuring and working out how much I've been taking from one day to the next from next Wednesday until I get good enough at knowing how much sugar is actually in the things I am likely to eat and portion sizes in which case I'll be in better control of it all. To get things started off though I will have to go about measuring out everything so that I know for sure.

So with that out of the way I can perhaps concentrate a little on this homework for Dr. Bacon, my clinical psychologist, which is actually due in this afternoon when I next see him at our appointment at half past three. I don't have anything written despite having two full weeks to come up with something. It's not that I'm too lazy to write (most will already know this about me given my commitment to this cause and how I type up something in here every single day) – it's more that I have no idea what I am supposed to be writing. It's meant to be about my hopes for the future but I just cannot think at all where I would like to see myself going.

At the moment anywhere is possible. As soon as I start picking some doors to go through there are others that begin to close. Life begins to seem a lot more limited. I just do not know. What do I see in the future? What even do I see myself getting at the end of my studies? This is also something I just have no idea about. I'm still just running with an idea that one of the lecturers said to us back at the induction in August:

Lecturer – ''Even if you don't end up working in radio, or even in the creative industries at all, you should still complete the course and get your degree. When you have a degree there are all sorts of opportunities open to you.''

I shouldn't quote him on that but it was something very similar. I don't even know why I chose this course in the slightest. At the moment I am just concentrating on getting through what is put in front of me. If thee is work to do for college then I'll put the effort into getting it done. I won't be thinking about what comes at the end of it all. Perhaps this is a big flaw in my thinking. Dr. Bacon seems to want me to think beyond this. He wants me to start thinking about what all this is getting done in order to achieve. He wants me to commit to something whereas I am still playing it safe, keeping my cards close to my chest for fear of looking rather than placing them on the deck to reveal all and show my vulnerability. I guess I'll just have to walk into that session this afternoon with my homework undone. I wonder if this is what he means by me not having done the hard parts.

Thinking about the future still holds for me great uncertainty. I can't really see past the next few days, maybe a couple of weeks. When I think too far ahead I just lose focus. At the end of the day I just don't really know which direction I'm heading in and whether or not it's the right one. I just don't know.

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Stevie

Doesn't know where in life he's headed.

1106

Lunarer
February 2nd, 2018, 03:07 AM
Friday, February 02nd 2018 (Strictly Glasgow)


Yesterday I looked at the numbers that made up the first month of 2018 (and depressing reading they made for too) and so this morning I am going to look at the numbers that will make up the future, the rest of the year. There will be some dates for my diary in there too.

Christmas is now only forty six weeks away (forty six weeks on Tuesday I think it is) but it seems as though there will be something happening every week between now and then. That's the way it feels anyway but when I break it down there will likely not be all that much happening. Let's have a look. It all starts this evening after work when Lindsay and I go through to Glasgow for the Strictly Come Dancing live show. I bought these as part of her Christmas presents and so I'm looking forward to it, not that I would admit that to everyone I know. This will start off a fairly busy February which will see a bunch of birthdays towards the middle of the month.

First will be my oldest niece's birthday. She'll be six on the sixth. That's next Tuesday. I know not if I will be seeing her or not, which is a real shame, but whether or not I do will be entirely dependent on how much effort I put into it as there has certainly been none from the other side. My brother said that this year he would be upping his efforts to see friends and family since last year he realised that he was too focused on university and nothing else but these are easy things to say. It's easy to say that you will make more of an effort to check in with family and friends but it's another thing to actually go and do it.

A day after this birthday will be my sober birthday. I'll have three birthdays all on one day. I'll be three years off the booze, two off the drugs, and one off the cigarettes all on the seventh of February. This will also be the first day of me living under my new diet of severely restricted and weighed out sugar. I'll be keeping to the guidelines and won't be going over my recommended daily allowance. This date has been extremely good for me in the past for some reason and I have never looked back when quitting something on this date. Now we'll find out if it is also a good date for me to be reducing things too.

On February 12th my window cleaning business will be ten years old. It's officially been dead since 14th December 2014 and so doesn't technically exist anymore according to government records and such like but to me it is still going strong in its massively reduced state and Barry the Bullet and me rely up on it to get us by from one week until the next. This birthday will be an unofficial one but is as real as any of my drink/drug and cigarette quit anniversaries. We then have Valentine's Day a couple of days later and the month ends with Lindsay's birthday on the 25th.

Back when I was with children we used to laugh about 2018. At the time it was miles away but this would be the year where my mother would turn sixty, I would turn forty, my son would turn eighteen and my daughter sixteen. Also there was my youngest step-daughter who would celebrate turning twenty one. I guess you could add my youngest niece into this incredible number of milestone birthdays as she turns five this year too. Now 2018 is upon us and these birthdays will be happening over the course of the next few months although how many celebrations I am actually to be involved in does not seem as much now as it did back then when I first noticed all of these connected events and how they would fall into the same year. Lindsay's son will actually turn sixteen this year as well, now that I think about it.

So the first of these birthdays comes in March when my mum turns sixty. If I see her on this fate, before this date, or anywhere after this date that isn't Christmas isn't up to me and is completely unknown. My mother and I see each other perhaps as much as any mother and son who don't really have anything in common and can't be arsed with one and other will see each other. I had hoped that my Step Nine AA amends would perhaps change this – and they did for all of ten seconds or so – but I am starting to realise that nothing will likely ever change with regards to this. She'll be sixty. How old must she become before she makes more of an effort? We'll find out, I guess.

Then in April it is my turn. Forty! Wow! Scary stuff! Lindsay and I have booked a trip for this and so will be out of the country for this date. It will make it feel less awkward for me. I won't have to pretend and make excuses for my family not seeing me or even contacting me on my big day. We were out of the country and so they couldn't make contact. I'm happy to go along with that.

In June we have the end of the college year plus a world cup to look forward to although how excited you can get about a tournament held in Russia that does not involve Scotland, Holland, America, or Italy I am still unsure of. This will also be the month where Walk the Walk holds its annual marathon Moon Walks in Edinburgh city centre that I did last year but I'm not sure yet if I'll be doing it again this year.

In August my youngest niece will turn five, the new football season will start, and then at the very end of the month I'll be starting my second year of the college diploma. Then come the big birthdays. My son will celebrate turning eighteen on September 08th – a Saturday night no less, my daughter will be sixteen on November 04th – a Sunday, not quite as good, and then Lindsay's son will be sixteen on the November 24th (another Saturday meaning that they all hit these milestones at the weekend – cool!)

Like I said though – how much of all of this I am actually involved in is undetermined. I'll just have to wait and see. Lindsay and I are also planning to take another trip in October and there are a couple of concerts (well – two stand-up comedians and a trip to the theatre to see the Wicked musical) to help split up the year and I hope to add to this a few football matches and an ice hockey game or two, and then we'll be looking forward to Christmas all over again.

And I have to get going because of this blasted word-count rule I have in place.

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Stevie

Thinking he's gonna be busy. . .

1215

Lunarer
February 3rd, 2018, 06:26 AM
Saturday, February 03rd 2018 (Bacon's New Job)


Now that we are at another weekend I feel like I have the time to be able to sit down and reflect upon the week just passed. I haven't spoken so far about anything that happened at work this week or about the Dr. Bacon session I had on Thursday afternoon. So let's get down to it. But can I first just say that the Strictly Come Dancing live show last night was wonderful!!

Dr. Bacon has a new job which he will be moving to at the end of March. How do I feel about it? I guess I'm starting to realise that there isn't a whole lot can be done about it and so am thinking, painfully deliberating over, the two possible options of how to progress and trying to figure out which one might be best. Option 1: we fast-track the remaining sessions and I finish up my work with psychology services at the end of next month. Option 2: I am put onto another psychologist and we begin work again. Both have pros and cons.

Option 1 is interesting. We book in my final three sessions which will now take place on February 15th, March 01st and March 15th (so two, four, and six weeks from the session I just had, one session every two weeks exactly) and I wonder to myself how we might be able to finish up in three sessions. Three hours and this will all be over assuming that we go with this option. Quite what we'd be doing in each session isn't as yet altogether clear and so if you asked me if this was enough time I really wouldn't know how to answer.

Option 2 would mean I was back on the waiting list. It wouldn't take a year or eighteen months like it did to get my first sessions with Dr. Bacon in the first place and I wouldn't be starting my work all over again from the beginning – more from some point mid-way through, several sessions back – but it would mean going backwards. I would also be unlikely to get another psychologist who specialises in Schema Therapy since this is a small county and there seems to only be a handful of psychologists available and each of them represents an area of the field. I'd likely get someone who is an expert on some other forms of therapy. In this regard I guess we could be all but starting over.

This is inconvenient. It's neither a whole lot more, or a whole lot less, than that. Inconvenient. On the scale of things it could be worse. I would say that my 2018 poor sleeping patterns (and so subsequent poor waking patterns) are a much bigger threat to my year. This has a much bigger daily effect on the quality of my life this year. So far I have been doing well to tell myself that just because the year has started poorly does not mean that the whole of 2018, or indeed the rest of my entire life, is going to follow suite. This was a common belief and thinking pattern I had in the past. I have moved on in some ways I am happy to say.

Dr. Bacon is all for pointing out ways in which I have moved on since we started working together but all the while I can't help but wonder if he's perhaps doing this since we are getting close to the end of things. Even if I am to begin working with someone else the gig will be up for Bacon and me in a little under six weeks. I'd be lying if I was to say that I am also a little worried about my bus pass. It is up for renewal soon and runs out on March 22nd. I wonder if he'd sign the form again. If so I might be able to get another year out of it. But this is a small concern at the moment.

Before the session I had a little time to kill and so went to the town centre and had some lunch. As I was walking through the centre I passed my old next door neighbour. The one that lives next to the cave I left less than three months ago. We don't speak. She just kinda glares at me a little and then we are passed. I feel silly though. Embarrassed even. She knows too much about me and what life in that cave was like for me. How is it she knows so much? I told her. I actually went to her door, knocked on it, and went into her house and told her. Why would I do such a thing? Because my AA sponsor told me to.

This is just another example of the AA program coming back to bite me in the ass a while later. Dr. Bacon would have said that we didn't think it through enough at the time. He'd be right too. Bob Earll said in his book that I quoted many times after I'd read it last year that we often (especially when we're still hurting) seek out approval and forgiveness from people we've wronged so that they will stop hurting us. This is an example of that I think. I wanted my neighbour to stop hurting me (not that she was – I just thought she was) and so if I went to her door and explained myself everything would be out in the open and she would forgive me for being a poor neighbour for four years. She did, and I felt okay about it for a while, but now I feel silly. My sponsor and I rushed into it. We were foolish. I was foolish. He was foolish too, but I was the most foolish for believing that the answer to my woes could come from someone who isn't in any way qualified to take someone through a healing process and on a road to retribution. AA and its program has me feeling ashamed when I cross paths with my ex-neighbour.

This has nothing to do with the situation I now face with my psychologist. We've looked at the schema modes for months now and we're looking into what sort of life I would want to be living ideally. I failed to hand in my homework assignment but we did establish that certain values I have are in creativity, health and ''physical performance'', connection, exploration, and we are now looking at how my schema modes and the beliefs that they have about myself and the world impact on me being able to fulfil any ambitions within these values. Am I getting the best out of my creativity? No – why? Am I connected to the world around me in a way I feel satisfied with? No – which schema modes are impacting on this?

This is the kind of thing we'll be looking at over our final three sessions. What happens after that only time will tell but the action stage is upon me once again. If I want to make the most out of these final sessions then action will be required of me.

That would be a lot easier if I could get to sleep at a decent time and wake the next morning feeling fine.

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Stevie

Three sessions left.

1232

Lunarer
February 4th, 2018, 04:15 AM
Sunday, February 04th 2018 (Semester Two)


So – off the back of my mid-week post about Lindsay's son and how his coming to live with us suddenly might cause an upset in our otherwise cosy little life the two of them were out for lunch and a bit of shopping yesterday (with her dad – there has never been a meeting between Lindsay and her son without a third party being involved yet, not in the time I've known her anyway) and so I was brought into the conversation a little. The whole ''Leon meets Stevie'' thing. In Leon's own words: ''I don't know why everyone is making a big deal out of me meeting him. I've sort of met him before at that funeral.''

He's talking about AA member Jagger's funeral, which happened around fourteen months or so ago, last October I think it was. He didn't meet me. He was in the social worker's car as Lindsay got in and I waved goodbye while I came back to Lindsay's flat and the three of them went out on their fortnightly supervised visit. The lad is right though. Why is such a thing being made of this? It's just the coming together of two people. It's the social workers that are making a bit thing out of it. They always do. It's dramatic for them because they love drama in their lives. They thrive action and control.

Me meeting Lindsay's son is potentially something that could happen either next weekend of the weekend after that. I don't think that there's a reason to keep feeling it out. It would appear that the only thing getting in the way of that happening could be the social worker herself. Forget what should be happening, what needs to happen, or what could potentially happen – it's all about what a social worker wants to happen. That's what really counts here. There is a way that we might be able to bypass this though. This woman in question will be in Dubai soon (if she's not already there. And why she would think that we would want to know the exact destination of her trip away I have no idea – especially given how she is in no way whatsoever worth the money she earns and should do the decent thing and quit to let someone replace her who would be good for the families she works for rather than putting herself first as she clearly does) and so there could be a chance for this to be done for her coming back without her knowledge. There are so many various workers involved that there are others we could get advice on handling this meeting without this social worker knowing anything about it. When she asks about why we did things this way when she returns then a vote of ''no confidence'' would perhaps be the best way to put it to her. That could be the beginning of the complaint against her. We'll see. But potentially I could be meeting Lindsay's fifteen year old son for the first time either next weekend or the following one.

Semester Two doesn't officially begin until I get into the college tomorrow morning but the work for it should and will begin now. I'll be on air at nine o'clock tomorrow morning with three other guys (although I will be presenting the first show and so will be working the desk and taking the main microphone for the duration of the hour tomorrow) and will need to be prepared before heading in there. I have work to be getting on with in terms of research and analysis which can begin from right now.

I was ''speaking'' with co-presenter Jamie on the Facebook group chat the other day and he's managed to get us some interviews with players and coaches from local football club Dunfermline Athletic as well as ''access'' to local ice hockey team Fife Flyers. This is a cool little thing to have in our live shows. It's quite easy to put audio onto the college radio system so that it can be added to a schedule as though it were just another song and so I am actually partly looking forward to this weekend just being over and done with so that we can get started. You won't hear me saying that very often of the weekends either. With Lindsay's son Leon being a huge ice hockey fan and regular at Fife Flyers home games this could also be a way in for me where he is concerned. It might be possible to have him sit in on an interview. That would be something.

I think that since Jamie knows all of the questions he wants us to ask he will pretty much be taking care of all of that while I just pretty much sit there with a camera and film it all. I don't know why actually since this will only really be used for our live radio shows and subsequent podcast but perhaps we could post a link to the interviews somewhere and people can access them from there.

Right then – my AA and church attendances in 2018 have been exceptionally poor. So poor that I haven't been to either yet this year. My last AA meeting was on Christmas Eve and I think that my last church attendance was actually later on that same night. I've been meaning to go every Sunday of the year so far but haven't managed to for whatever reason. Will this Sunday, this morning, less than an hour from now, finally be the time that I kill at least one of these elusive stones? We'll see, but I do quite fancy it this morning to be honest. It's good for setting up routine as well.

When I come back I'll take the song we'll be using for the show tomorrow morning (a Kasabian tune) and mix it up with some sounds of crowds at a stadium and the effect of a ball being kicked into a net. Considering I've paid nearly two hundred quid for the rental of the software package from Adobe I should try to at least use it for something. I used it for my Assessed Show 2 (most of which I recorded in the cave) and one or two other little things but for the most part it has not been worth the money at all. I'll be looking to illegally download it all for free for next year and won't be feeling guilty about it in the slightest since it is a rip off in the first place.

Good God, is that us at that blasted word count again already!?

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Stevie

Off to church. . .

1139

Lunarer
February 5th, 2018, 01:44 AM
Monday, February 05th 2018 (Lesser Identity)


I think I'm much less than I can be, or rather 'could' be. By that I think I mean only that I am doing too little still. I could be doing much more in this sober life. Dr. Bacon said that I seem to be trying to find (or create) for myself a new identity, one that is removed from the ''I'm an Alcoholic'' label that we seem to like to place on ourselves. I'm trying to move away from that. I think he's right too. I am trying to create and discover a new identity for myself. I could be trying a lot harder to do this though.

I think that when I was drinking had other things going that helped me to have an identity of sorts, until there was little left besides the drink, in that I had hobbies. I used to play guitar and until last year would still try to pick it up every now and then. Everything with it seems lost now and there are times when I actually wonder if I would be better off just selling all of the gear. I have two electric guitars (one of them a rather nice Godin Freeway Classic too, worth five or six hundred quid) and a couple of amplifiers as well as all of the usual pedals and add-ons and shit like that. Altogether there's enough to get anyone who is interested in learning to play started and then some. I'm wondering if that person might actually be me again. Are my music playing days over? Or could there be a chance I could pick it back up again and find what it was that attracted me to it in the first place?

It's definitely something I miss. By that I don't necessarily mean that I miss the guitar playing part of it, or even the guitar at all. I guess I'm saying I miss being good at something. I miss having something that helps to define me. I miss having something that takes up my spare time in a positive way and gives me something to look forward to spending time with. In recent years I had to struggle to pick it up and it really did become something I did not look forward to but back in the days when I was learning to play for the first time and was making good and steady progress I loved it. Is there any chance of me getting something close to those days back and if so is it possible with this instrument or do I have to look elsewhere?

Something else I'd been thinking about starting is another thing I used to do but don't anymore. This was so long ago that there is pretty much no part of my current identity that I could possibly compare. Karate. I loved this when I was younger and it was another thing that I was good at. Again though, just like guitar playing – at some point along the line it started to feel far too much like work and not enough like something that I was to enjoy. Is this another thing I could start back up again? There's a school not too far from where I stay (when you walk as much as I do nowhere is actually all that far) and so it would be worth popping down to have a look and watch a session.

Karate and electric guitar? You can tell I grew up in the eighties!!

These are definitely two things I would be interested in taking a look at once more but this could be seen as me trying more to reclaim an old identity than it could me trying to establish a new one. What are some other interests I have? Obviously football is a huge one but there isn't really much of an option for me there. Not in terms of playing anyway. I quite enjoy writing my posts in this forum but have no idea how I might take to trying some other kinds of writing. I had enquired about possibly taking a creative writing class but there wasn't enough people interested in it for it to run and I got the phone call telling me that it was cancelled the day it was scheduled to start. I could perhaps take another look into it and see if there has been any more of an interest.

What about things that Lindsay and I could do together? I know that she freaks out about her placement quite a lot and it does take up a lot of her mental energy but it's getting close to finishing now and so there might be a chance for us to get a bit of time together to try out some things in the evenings. One thing we had looked into was dancing. I'm no dancer but I'd be willing to learn (not that it's something I think I'd be good at) as it would definitely be good for Lindsay, myself and our relationship. I should get about looking into any weekly classes there might be in the local area. There's bound to be something going on.

This is all without even giving it any thought. There is a slight calling for me to go back to AA soon and I had to resist it this weekend. The last meeting I attended was on Christmas Eve and while that is a long time ago for your average AA punter it is not all that long for someone who is trying to discover an identity for himself away from the alcoholic label. I'll go to meetings again, of course I will, but the calling is more likely to be a problem with connection and something to do than it is an actual desire to go to a meeting and so I should explore these feelings rather than taking the easy option and just going to a meeting to temporarily relieve the disquiet I feel within myself.

Dr. Bacon says that I have done well and come a long way considering I haven't done any of the hard stuff yet. The hard stuff will start to come to me and ask me to rise up to it and match it when I get about doing the kind of things I'm mentioning in this post. These are the kinds of things that ''normal'' people do all the time. They get out there and learn new things. I'm doing okay in my sobriety and my life at the moment and things like going on a holiday to Barcelona with a girlfriend are watershed moments in my life for sure.

But it's time I started trying some new things. As well as possibly reconnecting with some old things.

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Stevie

Still searching for his identity.

1157

Lunarer
February 6th, 2018, 04:09 AM
Tuesday, February 06th 2018 (Oldest Niece Turns Six)


I have her gift but I'm just going to hold onto it for now. I'll give it to her when I see her. Things aren't at the stage now where I can just knock on the door. Nor are they at the point where they would be expecting me to. Some things in sobriety are worse than they were when drinking. I wonder if that is something else I could add to my list of values. Family? Do I value family? I guess it might look like I don't but then when you consider how things have turned out for me (all the problems in my youth and childhood pretty much caused by the death of a parent and the emotional unavailability of the other; accelerated drinking and drug taking due to breakdown of own family in mid-twenties; current problems with breakdown of communication and contact with mother, brother and nieces) they all point to me having issues when there is no family stability. This would strongly point to me valuing family and the support and structure they can offer.

Anyway, I wanna keep it more light-hearted this morning. How did Semester Two start off? It has been blighted in the same way that everything has so far in 2018. My sleeping routine has become such that things are getting intolerable already this year. For a long time Lindsay and I would go to bed at the same time but for a while now she has been coming through later than me. I have this thing about sleeping since it was the one major issue I had when sobering up. Confidence, anger, appetite – there were other problems, but the sleeping issue was the only one I would have considered as a major issue when getting sober. The only thing I could say that I was truly afraid of in the first eighteen months or so.

The situation as it is just now and has been since we ended the Christmas break is that I go to bed at my routine time and try to get to sleep. It takes a while but sometimes I do manage to do so. Then I am woken by anything that moves or makes a sound in the night. Lindsay tries to be quiet when she comes through but even the light coming from her phone and night-light on the bed-stand wakes me and then I have to go through all kinds of bullshit to get back to sleep again. The cat might make a noise. There might be a sound outside. Every little thing can and will wake me. When I used to wake up when I was having a really good time of it I could almost tell you straight away what time of morning it was but now I rush to check the time as soon as my eyes open because for all I know the bus to college has left already or I'm going to be late for work. There have been times this year when I've slept into the very late morning.

For the last three nights I have become frustrated with Lindsay's coming to bed and have ended up getting up and sleeping elsewhere. She'll come in and go about her routine, which will already have woken me as she goes to the bathroom and the light shines through the glass above the bedroom door. This has been enough to wake me pretty much every night since 2017 became '18. Then she'll do her thing which will take a while. I know the routine by heart now and so it becomes something of a frustrating waiting game for her to finish so that we can get back to the quiet and the dark. Only then do I have a chance of trying to get back to a sleep of sorts. The cat might decide to come through an hour later and so I am on a clock here to try to get some rest in between.

So I went to sleep on the couch in the middle of the night on both Saturday night and Sunday in a bid to get better rest. During the first night I had problems with the cat. She does nothing all day but sleep but then as soon as the lights are out and it's time to be quiet she seems to think of it as being plat-time and the noise starts. On the second night I armed myself well. I had some cushions at the ready and a few pairs of socks still rolled up and I kept them close to me as I attempted to settle down. When, in the middle of the night, she started her shit and woke me up I would hurl in her direction one of my missiles and I could hear her darting out of the room and off to safety. It was very satisfying. I knew that she would return before too long and begin to make some more noise all over again but at least it got me some extra vital minutes of rest.

So I've not been in the best of moods while getting up these days. It feels very much like I remember the old days being like when I would struggle for months to get any kind of sleep when I had stopped taking drink to bed with me. It's not enough to make me think about taking a drink to get me to sleep – the ''T'' in HALT – that would just be silly. That would actually be really immature thinking to be honest. I am waaaayyyyy past thinking about old coping habits even when old problems like this arise. I guess that the problem is the fact that I don't have any other ways to deal with this issue I have learned now that all of my tactics are failing.

Things are starting to happen now though. Things that if I'm not careful I could end up sleeping through and missing altogether. This can not be allowed to happen. Yesterday I had the first show of our second semester at the college and it went pretty well. There's a buzz I notice has come back and the four of us involved in this sport show have something that we can all get our teeth into – something that interests us. The others in the class will be doing their shows in pretty much the same way that we've been doing live shows up until now. With this we (thankfully) have something very different.

As for seeing my niece on her birthday – I am resorted to feeding off Facebook scraps like some online puppy.

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Stevie

Feeding off scraps.

1137

Lunarer
February 7th, 2018, 01:45 AM
Wednesday, February 07th 2018 (Three Years Sober)


They say that we're in the danger zone until we get to five years so I'm thinking that there is little to celebrate by me turning three years today. Drinking, drug-taking, cigarette smoking. Today I celebrate quitting all three (three years off the booze, two off the drugs, one the cigs). So that means another four years before I can consider myself safe from relapse from all of those mentioned above. One might easily lead to another and onto another and so it's probs for the best I don't think about it like that. Just go with the flow as I have been doing. It's nice to have a birthday though. My oldest niece had one yesterday and Barry the Bullet turned forty the other day (Saturday, 03rd).

I was browsing the WQD Ryver site the other day and noticed Doodlebug was talking about how she felt her smoking quit to be more difficult than the drinking quit. This doesn't surprise me actually and is one of the big problems I have with forums like these to begin with – was certainly something I struggled with when I first signed up to WQD. It's easy on day one to just assume that everyone has come from the same place and that they all know what they're talking about but there came a time, quite early on I am happy to say, when I began to notice that the site was not as it presented itself at all.

The smoking quit for me was easy since there were no issues to worry about other than the annoyance that was wanting a cigarette every now and then. It was irritating more than anything else. Where quitting drinking was concerned I had all sorts of things to face from trying to get my appetite back to dealing with rising anger; to coping with low moods to trying to learn basic skills like cleaning my house; from managing my finances to dealing with early emotional problems (remember the whole Jenna thing!?) to the big one: sleep! Everything was new to me. Everything was hard. Everything made me frustrated and want to give in quickly. I don't think Doodlebug had any of these problems when getting sober. She just had to stop drinking. I don't blame her for wanting to post about her experiences in a forum since it had obviously become an issue for her (the drinking) enough that she would want to join a forum to help get off it but it's this sense of then knowing something about addiction and being some sort of expert that these types of forum members seem to have and want to adopt that makes me a little sick to be honest. They are constantly putting themselves before the guy who is really struggling and has all the work to do. It's disturbing, but it's old ground for me and not something I want to get back into again.

So three years, eh!? When I think about those problems I just mentioned I can see how each and every one of them has been helped along slightly as each year has gone by. I still get very angry and frustrated with life at times but my appetite is no longer the issue it was. Sleeping is extremely poor at the moment but I have faith that this will once again sort itself out whereas before there didn't feel like there was any hope whatsoever. I don't suffer from low moods as much as I used to. This is something that Dr Bacon and I have spoken about recently since we've been reviewing our sessions. My problem to start with seemed to be that I suffered from low mood and so the GP did, as they always do, gave me some antidepressant medication and I was on that for a couple of years. The GP tried to keep me on it and in the end I weaned myself off it as I felt them to be keeping me in a place I did not want to be. I did this exactly one year ago today – the same day I quit smoking.

What I have learned through working with Bacon for the last year is that feelings of depression and low mood don't necessarily come about just because. They happen as a result of our needs not being met. Now that we've looked through my learned behaviours from childhood and adolescence and can see more clearly how they operate with me we can begin to see how they stop me from being able to do the things I want to do. Bacon had me thinking about my values in life. The next stage is to try to learn how my coping modes stop me from being able to live a life that remains true to my values. Not being able to do this creates frustration within me and ends up with my needs not being me. So I feel down. This seems far more plausible to me than it simply being a case of me feeling down because I feel down. But then I don't feel down all the time like I used to. Not anymore.

Remember the problems I had with Jenna in my first year? She was my ''special friend'' when I joined AA and we spent a lot of time together which led to all sorts of problems for me at a time when I should have been concentrating on getting better myself. We went our separate ways and I ended up getting off the weed and looking after myself a bit more. With Megs's help (member of the old WQD forum) I managed to get my cave cleaned up a but and I enrolled in college and was accepted. I got rid of my sponsor and limited my time in AA. I wrote A LOT in the old forum and would take my laptop, this laptop, pretty much everywhere I went. I spent lots of time at the (now closed) library at my local Glenwood Centre. I volunteered at the local charity shop. When Lindsay and I started seeing each other I felt better about my odds of getting emotionally involved with someone to that degree when I was nowhere near ready before.

Looking at things this way it is easy for me to see that there have been significant improvements in my life and personality over the past 1095 days. Soon I will be wrapping things up with Dr. Bacon prematurely and I'll have to rely on past guidance to get me through, as well as leaning more on the Healthy Adult part of me that is still very much in development.

When I wake up tomorrow I will be weighing out every gram of sugar I have in a new quit. Not a quit as such, more just a new way of consuming sugar. Today – I am going to eat a chocolate bar, an energy drink, and have two sugars in my coffee.

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Stevie

Three years sober.

1193

Lunarer
February 8th, 2018, 01:45 AM
Thursday, February 08th 2018 (In Hiding)


You wouldn't think it but we're about ten per cent of the way through 2018 already. Yep – check it out if you don't believe me. Scary stuff indeed – a sign that I'm not doing as much of what I think I should be doing and perhaps too much of what I think I could and should be doing less of, which probably just about sums up how I have felt about the first ten per cent of this year so far. Here's to making the second ten per cent chapter a little more productive and, failing that, entertaining, although a bit of both would do just fine thank you very much.

I was in the next town yesterday (as I will hopefully be again later on today) and was walking through the town at lunchtime when I passed my old next-door neighbour from the cave. This is happening quite a lot recently, seeing people from the past. I once again had to avoid looking at her. She wouldn't have likely spoken anyway but I feel terrible when I see her. When I was working through my Step Nine amends with Stu this neighbour was on the list of amends I had to make. I had been a pretty shitty neighbour after all. I didn't keep the best company when I first moved in there and on the first night there was a fight in my sitting room. For the next four years I struggled to keep the house and the garden to neat and tidy standards. I wasn't the best neighbour. This was a result of my drinking and drug-taking behaviour and so she was placed onto my AA Step Nine amends list.

When the time to make the amend arrived I struggled with it. I spoke with my sponsor about it and we discussed how I would go about it and what sort of things I should and shouldn't say. It took me a while to pluck up the courage to go to the door and there were a couple of times when I did so but she wasn't in. Eventually I managed to get an answer at the door and I was invited into her home for the one and only time I was in there. I stayed for around an hour and explained myself and my actions in accordance with Stu (my AA sponsor's) guidance. Now I feel very silly about it all. Ridiculous even. I feel as though she has all of this information about me and I have nothing about her and it just hasn't worked out in the way that it says that it will in our ''Big Book.'' It's very frustrating to think that I hide away from someone when we are supposed to be doing these amends so that we can clear out our side of the street and so that we can hold our heads up high and face people again. It hasn't been my experience. Is it coincidence that this lack of communication with my family began shortly after making my amends with them? Perhaps that's going a little too far actually.

But the bottom line is that the amends process may not have worked well for me. Sometimes, as I have said a few times in this journal recently, I have wondered what on earth I was thinking in the first place to have even asked Stu to sponsor me for, let alone actually stick it out with him all the way to Step Nine, but then I did the groundwork. I did compile a list of potential sponsors and ''interviewed'' them looking for someone whom I thought would be the most likely to carry out sponsorship in the way that the Book explained. Taking no shortcuts, doing things properly. I wonder what Dr. Bacon might have to say about this method. I admit to feeling stupid when I see my old neighbour and he always says that I tend to confuse feeling ''stupid'' with feeling ''vulnerable'' and so I guess this could be what's happening. This old neighbour of mine knows my dark secrets. Not only the ones I told her about but also the ones she figured out by herself by living next door to me for a little more than four years. I think that perhaps the feeling of being stupid that I get when I see her coming is a case of me feeling vulnerable. I don't like feeling that way.

I also bumped into a party of AA punters the other day. I haven't been to a meeting since Christmas Eve and up until now had only briefly seen Captain G and his partner from the fellowship. Here in the Golden Bite cafe is AA Gangster, Main Man, and a couple of lesser members, all munching on something as unhealthy looking as the thing I'm about to order. I was always weirded out in the early days when I met with people from AA out of the rooms as they lost all of their power. In the rooms everyone has a voice and they know it. In the real world most of us shy away, we change to suit our surroundings, and we seem much smaller and less mighty as a result. AA Gangster is looking much older every time I see him. Since I'm not at meetings much these days I don't know the ins and outs of people's lives but it wouldn't surprise me if he is carrying some sort of illness now. He'll be seventy now surely. Lots of stress too with two of his kids recently being given long stretches in the jail.

I will pop down to that Saturday night meeting at one point when it's next convenient. I am sure that there will again come a time when I go to meetings on a regular basis, even if it is just for a few weeks, this is the way it tends to happen for me, how I ''work'' my AA. I don't go for a few weeks and then I go a lot for a few. It's perhaps a sign that I still have no idea where on earth it fits in with my life. Maybe I like going but it's just that I get sick of it very quickly. I like to think that it's because I don't need it as much these days. My search for identity and a life in keeping with my values demands I look elsewhere.

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Stevie

Hides from old neighbours.

1106

Lunarer
February 9th, 2018, 04:02 AM
Friday, February 09th 2018 (Sunderland F.C.)


I'm dreading next week's Valentine's Day celebrations as anyone who has been reading in here will likely guess, but it's a-comin' and so I would do well to start thinking about it now – how I'm going to afford it and how I might get around the subject that will inevitably crop up. I know – I'll avoid it and think about football instead!!

The course I am currently studying is the first of a two year diploma in radio. Once attained it gives me an unconditional offer into the University of Sunderland for the degree program, a city in England a couple of hundred miles south of where I am in (not so) Bonny Scotland. This is something that myself and many of my peers are considering, even if only for the nine months that the course lasts. For guys like me who are part of the college radio's sports' show there is a real scope for sporting action in Sunderland since they are home to a huge football club: Sunderland F.C.

Until very recently they have been playing in English football's top tier and one of the most well-known, lucrative and biggest sporting competitions in the world in the English Premier League. How cool it would be were we to soon be living in a city in which the giants of football come to play every week and teams like Manchester City and United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, and all of the others in the league bring some, if not most, of the best players in the world to play (usually beat) what would have become our new home team!? The thing is – Sunderland were terrible last season and were relegated to the second tier of English football: the Championship.

There's more. Sunderland are having another really shitty season and are currently in the bottom three of the second tier of English football. If you finish in the bottom three come the end of the season (three months and sixteen more games away) then you are relegated to the third tier of English football – the much less lucrative League One. The way things are going this is a realistic possibility. What I would need to happen in order for me and my sport-loving class-mates to be living in a town which regularly hosted English football's big boys would be for Sunderland to avoid finishing in the bottom three come May this year and then this would give them one season to finish in the top two so that they would be promoted into the top tier once again. This is much less likely to happen.

Sunderland recently saved themselves from gaining an embarrassing record of going an entire three hundred and sixty five day period without a home win. They beat Watford on December 17th 2016 and then went the whole year without winning at the Stadium of Light until they beat Fulham 1-0 on December 16th 2017, just one day to spare. There's always a chance it could happen but at the moment it looks as though the football club is on a real slippery slope and a late rescue isn't looking very likely. We'll keep an eye on it from one week to the next.

At the start of this week I went to phone Barry the Bullet to make sure that he was up for working (snow fall kept us off though and so the lame year continues) and I noticed I had a text message from my sister-in-law. She was offering a congratulations on my sober birthday. I haven't had any contact with them since the Boxing Day dinner and I reckon this was her way of reaching out since it is the week her eldest daughter, my oldest niece, celebrates a birthday. This is also how she'll remember I have my own birthday of sorts this week. Rather than leave it and have a think about it I decided to seize the chance and got back to her, saying that I would pop in later in the week with my niece's birthday present. Dr. Bacon would be loving these developments. I guess that the question is now what am I going to do about it. I could go there after work this afternoon, during the break we have between cleaning windows and debt collecting in the evening. That's if the snow doesn't keep us off all day.

One interesting thing that will be happening from next week and lasting for the foreseeable will be my own little radio slot I've booked in on a Tuesday afternoon. Even though Edinburgh University have students now on Boom Radio's books and who travel through to work on some shows as well as two years' worth of students active in doing the same there are still some hours throughout the week when the station is put onto automation mode and doesn't have an active presenter. I booked in the Tuesday afternoon slot from four until five. This is the latest time I can get so that it has the slightest chance of interfering with work but it does still mean that I will have to finish up slightly early on a Tuesday from now on. With every second Thursday being taken up by a Dr. Bacon session (for another three sessions anyway) and Friday seeing a work related debt collecting session every week the Tuesday is the only week that is really available to me.

I'll be using this slot to get all of my assessed shows done for class. It beats the stress of having to try to work them into our reduced timetables for this second semester. It'll be good practice for me. It'll also give me the opportunity to work on a niche show that I might not be allowed to do while broadcasting during mainstream midday times when the station's primary demographic is the focus of all things played. It'll be cool.

Besides all of that Lindsay had two of her job interviews this week and has been unsuccessful with the first one. They're looking for someone with experience. I think that this will be something she'll be hearing a lot of throughout these interviews. I thought that the placements were so that the students could gain experience. I sometimes wonder about what my class's chances might be at interviews based on what little work we've done in the actual industry. It's scary.

But not as scary as having a word count looming over my shoulder.
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Stevie

'Mon the Sunderland!!

1106

Lunarer
February 10th, 2018, 04:23 AM
Saturday, February 10th 2018 (Booking Another Holiday)


Lindsay had two job interviews last week and has another this coming week. In around six weeks she'll be finished her sign-off placement and will officially have become a nurse. Should she be successful in either of these interviews then she'll be good to start working immediately. This is great news as it's been a long and hard last couple of years for her trying to get through this. The end is almost upon her. Even if she begins working straight after her placement is over the hospital will honour any holidays she has already booked. This means we'll be good to go in April for our little trip to celebrate my fortieth. This could be our last chance to get something booked for October as well and so it was actually last week at this time that we went to the travel agents and booked something for October that fits nicely into my break from college. We get a week off in October and the dates are already on the Student Portal so we've booked it in for that week. We're going to Portugal next. How Stevie gets about these days! He's making better use of that passport than he would have thought possible when he initially applied.

Our little trip last year to Santa Susanna and Barcelona was only really possible, as was the coming trip to the Canary Islands, through my working with Barry the Bullet window cleaning whenever we got the chance. I was popping into the travel agent every week on my way to the Golden Bite and paying one hundred pounds towards the balance. This meant that it was possible to pay of the cost of the trip in a couple of months. This is kind of the thing I need to be doing again now. It almost feels like a huge debt has been created – and this is exactly what has happened. It's simple – get out to work and everything will be fine; don't go out to work as much and everything will be a struggle. I can only hope and pray that my sleeping pattern is listening and agrees with this logic.

Right then – a little review on the sugar intake since we're now a few days into it. Three whole days into it to be exact. On Thursday I struggled a little with knowing what to have and what not to have – a sure sign of lack of preparation – and so ended up skipping breakfast (not something I will be making a habit out of) while promising myself I'd be getting some eggs in (which I have done) and starting off the next day with a couple of boiled ones. At around 0.5 grams of sugar per egg this is a good morning option. Lunches are going to be a little tougher when I'm at college and out working. Usually we head to the town and go to one of the bakeries or suchlike. I have been astonished by the sugar content of some of their products (anything between 19.5 and 27.5 grams for a fudge doughnut depending on which website you consult). One thing I will probably start doing is taking my flask in. This'll have boiled water only. Then I can make up things like Mugshots and other low in sugar type things that I got into when I was at Slimming World around this time last year. I'll be on the water at college rather than the coffees and lattes.

I already know how much sugar I am saving myself by not taking any in coffees and by generally drinking less coffee. As I was doing before I have been weighting and measuring everything out and spooning it into a tub so that I can keep track of the daily amounts at this early stage and so that I can physically see what I am consuming. I think it helps even though it is a little extra work. Maintaining this when I get lazy will be the important part of it all. So on Thursday I consumed (I hate that word) around fourteen grams all in. Yesterday it was closer to twenty. Today hasn't happened yet so I've no idea how it will end up but there's a pattern here whereby I'm taking in a lot less and so far it hasn't been very difficult. Not taking any sugar in coffee has saved me a fortune in sugar granules. Not going to bakeries for lunch while at college and work will do the same. It doesn't take much, just small differences, to make big changes.

Scottish Sarah contacted me through the week to congratulate me on my anniversary off the booze. This is also perhaps her way of trying to reach out to me considering that it is, or rather has been, my oldest niece's birthday recently. Given what has been happening with regards to my family over the past twelve months I should not mess around here. The ball is in my court. I would be foolish not to try to make the best serve possible. I'm going to the next town to see them all tomorrow afternoon. I'll probably make a day of it: getting the bus through at midday and then walking the nine miles back later on. It'll be the first time I've set foot in my brother's house in almost a year – by far the longest time since we've been on this earth.

I saw English Sara and Dennis the other day for the first time in 2018. They were coming on the bus as I was getting off it in the morning before college on Wednesday. I used to rely on her friendship to get by and she was a pretty big influence when it came to me getting sober in the early days. Keeping me out of trouble and always having somewhere I could go to get something to eat. She's been living with Dennis since January last year and I'm always in the next town these days with my new life and not being able to visit as much is something I admit to regretting.

I don't see Gillon much now either. Gillon and English Sara are perhaps the only friends I have left although I recently got a message from Fuzzy asking me to go round and I've penned that in for next Thursday after work. I think I'll reach out to Gillon that day too. Wish him all the best for the new year we are already ploughing through. I need new friends though. I'll be the first to admit that. One option is one of Lindsay's pals' husbands. When Lindsay goes to visit them I tend not to always go. One time I went to AA instead, another time I stayed at home. There's always an excuse to avoid feeling vulnerable.

Anyway – the word count is here.

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Stevie

The mighty word count. . .

1179

Lunarer
February 11th, 2018, 04:04 AM
Sunday, February 11th 2018 (Eleven Assignments and a Graded Unit)


We're hoping that next weekend I'll finally be introduced officially to Lindsay's son. Her birthday is two weekends from this and we're hoping that her family can all go out for dinner to celebrate. As things stand it would be awkward with me not having met Leon so we're trying to arrange this for next Saturday. It's perhaps about time. There's an interesting development happening at the moment regarding this whole situation. There is a court hearing scheduled for the end of next month and, according to one of the workers on the case, Leon will be moving out of his grandmother's and into a sort of temporary foster home for a period of six weeks while arrangements are made for him to move back with his mother.

What's happening here is that while Lindsay was in the latter stages of her drinking it was not in the boy's best interests to be living with her and so he was relocated into his grandmother's care. There are so few foster homes and care opportunities available that this was pretty much the only option available at the time (around two and a half years ago). Now that Lindsay is closing in on three years sober and looking unlikely to relapse and the grandmother that Leon has been living with has proved to be completely incapable of looking after him it looks as though the social work department now feels as though his needs are not being met by remaining where he is and so he should be moving back in with his mother within six weeks of this court hearing at the end of next month. I wonder what the actual role of the social word department has been in all of this to be honest.

Lindsay said to this worker on the phone that this would not be happening. That the deal was that there was to be a rebuilding of her relationship with her son after all the time they've had apart from one and other in recent years and that this hasn't really been happening. Last weekend they were supposed to be meeting up for lunch but then this was cancelled due to one of Leon's workers scheduling an appointment with him – an appointment which was later cancelled at the last minute meaning that Lindsay and he could have met up after all. It's all stops and starts at the moment. Speaking with Lindsay last night the general feeling is that she should be jumping at the chance to have her fifteen year old son back in her life but it's not as simple as that now.

I don't know how I would feel to be honest. If something had happened to my kids' mother and they had to move back in with me suddenly and after not seeing them for such a long time. I wouldn't be into the sudden disruption without a settling in period to get to know them a little first. It's perhaps a little different in that I haven't seen my children in more than ten years whereas Lindsay and Leon have had contact every now and then ever since this all happened. Where I stand on the situation with Leon I am glad to say that I seem to be involved in Lindsay's thinking. The way that the whole feminism movement seems to work these days is that women make the decisions regarding the family and the man gets no say. If he says anything then he must not be a feminist and should be completely disregarded. That's not to say that I should be allowed to act as any kind of barrier to this happening. The eventual outcome here is that her son will be coming to stay with us. This I have accepted. It's just now a case of us trying to find the right time for it to happen without it all being about making the social workers look as though they are doing their jobs well.

At the college I seem to have twelve pieces of work to carry out in the second semester. One of these is the Graded Unit – which is pretty much a way of deciding which grade we end up with at the end of the year. There are four assessed shows as there were last semester; two assessments on law; two on a class called Producing Online Content; and three for whatever will be replacing the scriptwriting classes from next week. It works out as something like one piece of work per week and then a month left over to complete the Graded Unit. We started looking at this in class last week and I couldn't think of anything. This is where it is interesting to note my change in confidence at times. Many students have ideas about what they will be doing for their Graded Units whereas I have no clue. What I do feel, however, is that was I able to jump six months into the future and take a look at whatever it is I end up submitting will be decent. I'm confident that when the time comes I'll produce something that gets the seventy marks I'll need to get the A Grade.

On top of these assignments there is also the sport show every Monday morning to consider. This is starting to take up some time. With me block-booking myself a midweek radio slot on a Tuesday afternoon from this coming week until further notice I will now be on-air three times a week. At the start of the semester I was the only student scheduled to be on twice a week but now I have added one to that. It means quite a lot of preparation time is required (we're no longer allowed to just go on-air and wing it – we must plan our shows to a decent standard) and so I'll have my hands busy for the next few months (although if I feel the heat I can cancel this Tuesday slot at any time).

Think about how challenging all of this will be. Juggling work and college now that I have three on-air commitments per week. Meeting Lindsay's son with the mid – long term plan being for him to come live with us. These are huge steps considering my three year sober state. And to think that my old AA sponsor didn't want me to do any of it. He wanted me to throw myself into AA and the Twelve Step Program. To live in meetings. To do nothing with life other than to sit in meetings and wait for someone to ask me to sponsor them through the program.

I'm glad I jumped when I did.

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Stevie

Appeasing social workers.

1151

Lunarer
February 12th, 2018, 01:32 AM
Monday, February 12th 2018 (Window Cleaning For Ten)


Ten years ago today I set out with my heroin addict friend to start up a window cleaning business and it's still going to this day, just, (my friend died from an overdose in 2011 so it didn't quite work out for him) although it is run these days as an illegal hand-to-mouth kind of affair rather than a business – what my late grandmother would have called a ''fly by night job'' meaning that there is no real future or hope for it. Without it I would not have had such a good time of it these last few months though.

I was supposed to be working last week but snow kept us off on Tuesday, Barry the Bullet not answering his phone until late on Thursday kept us off then too, and then on Friday it was my fault that we didn't go out. Another week of potential work squandered. Fair play to the Tuesday – it had been snowing badly and I doubt any window cleaning companies would have been out on that day – but they would all have been out the rest of the week. We're throwing away a great chance to earn some cash and keep a business alive and kicking. This is a new week and whatever happens I am making it my priority to get out to work. It's even more important than college this week.

Things were very different when I started this company up ten years ago. It was a Tuesday. I had the month before moved into a house with my brother and Kung fu Pandis. My brother had not long started dating Scottish Sarah, Kung fu had started college, and I had started a business, so we were all a little strapped for cash. It made sense that we moved in together for another year. It dawns on me how I've never really tried all that much to get this business up and running and turn it into all that it could have been. I guess it's hard when you don't have any passion for something to give it the care that it needs to grow and flourish. Add to that the need to take booze into your body every day and you always have a clock ticking away, telling you that it's time to stop working and take your well earned rest.

Fast forward ten years and you find me with the exact same attitude. It's not as if Barry and I don't have good reason to be working either. He is back into his downhill biking and has equipment he'll need for the spring if he wants to do all the things with it he claims to. I have a holiday booked that now needs paid for as well as an upcoming college trip down south that I'd like to go on and many other things. It's not just that either. I never have any money on me anymore. When I was working last year I always had some spare change in my pockets and a couple of notes in my wallet. Since January I have noticed this vanish and I never have any money for anything. I have to use Lindsay's bank card. It's not cool.

One other thing I dislike about not getting out working all the time is that it always feels as though the clock is ticking. The run works on a monthly basis. We go around all of the customers and then try to get round them all once every month. When we go through weeks when we're not out a clock starts to go off in my head. A reminder that there can never be too long a holiday where window cleaning customers are concerned. Many customers haven't been cleaned since before we broke off for Christmas and so until we have been round them all at least that first time I will be filled with an ever-growing insecurity regarding them perhaps moving on to another company. It would be a shame when both Barry and I are capable adults able to run this business and keep up with this workload but just don't seem capable of doing it right now for whatever reason.

I was at my brother's yesterday to see my niece for her birthday (which was actually last week) and got my exercise in for the weekend by walking through there (around nine miles) and then walking back via a window cleaning customer who had left money he was due to us lying under a gnome in his back garden (around eleven miles) so totalled twenty miles for the day (19.12 really) – the most I've managed in a single day in 2018!

Besides this the actual visit was as decent as I might have thought it to be. My nieces were keen to show me their new room (actually just the old room but with a few notable changes) complete with new bunk beds and extra toy and book shelves. We did the usual things as though I had last been there the day before and not several months before. Scottish Sarah was in when I arrived but disappeared at some point along the way without me actually noticing, which I thought was a little weird but wasn't about to get offended by it. My brother was himself fairly chatty, mostly about his university work and how he's now struggling. I hope that Sunderland University doesn't work in the same way as Edinburgh does from what I'm hearing.

I didn't know what to take as a present so gave her an I.O.U, meaning that I'm going to have to go there again soon so that I can take her shopping for something herself. That has left the door open fr another visit. Dr. Bacon will love hearing about all of this when I see him through the week. I've made a bit of effort and reconnected with family, actually arranging another time to see them although no official date was ever planned.

Tomorrow it will be back to work (hopefully) and we'll start off the beginning of our eleventh year. How likely we are to see another year is unknown. We'll certainly not see another ten. This 'business' is serving its purpose at the moment though. Barry and I just have to find some consistency and get back into it like we did throughout November and December last year when we battered through it three and four times a week.

I'm really looking forward to getting out to work tomorrow which is probably actually the biggest sign that it's likely to happen.

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Stevie

Has seen his nieces in 2018

1132

Lunarer
February 13th, 2018, 01:46 AM
Tuesday, February 13th 2018 (Appetite, Sleep and Sex: The Three Major Challenges)


I'm up and ready for work. Barry the Bullet is game too and so this could be the start to the working year I've been waiting for. There's time to salvage things yet. We haven't been out much at all since that fantastic run we went on through November and December where I went out even when Barry let me down. Those seemed like much happier times. It's really important we get started again and get round all of the customers for the first time this year.

So it does look very much like I will be meeting Lindsay's son for the first time this coming weekend. It won't be a big thing. Just lunch at the Golden Bite (I'll have to be careful with what I order and make sure that I check out the sugar contents of any items I might have prior to this arrangement) for a while and then we'll be going our separate ways again until the following weekend when we meet again for Lindsay's birthday dinner. I am quite relaxed about the whole thing. I've written about this sort of thing in the past – how usually when you start seeing a woman they have you meeting the children within a couple of weeks of dating and how I always feel this to be far too soon. This time it has been nearly eighteen months I've been dating the mother and have yet to meet the child although there are very interesting circumstances surrounding this one. All will be revealed in a few days.

I'm really dreading tomorrow night. Sex has become such an overrated 'thing' in my relationship with Lindsay now and tomorrow we will all be 'celebrating' love and sex (if that's what we actually are supposed to be doing – I get really confused with what all of these annual events are supposed to be about other than feeding chain-stores more cash) and with Lindsay and I being in the situation we are in it is causing a little anxiety, perhaps more than a little. I think that there have been many reasons my constant headache from early sobriety has returned: sleeping problems returning for 2018; not getting out to work so having the fear of losing custom; Dr. Bacon leaving for a new job meaning that we don't have many more sessions together; the whole anxiety about whether the course of study I am currently doing is anywhere close to being the right one; not seeing much of my family anymore; meeting Lindsay's son for the first time this coming weekend and the possibility of him coming to live with us suddenly in a few weeks; and this sex problem Lindsay and I have and have had since the start of our relationship.

I know – I should put things into perspective, right!? Three years ago my problems were different but more immediate, more in tune with Maslow's bottom tier. Where will I get food for today? How can I secure my home? Or even tidy this place up? How will I be able to stop drinking? To stop taking drugs? To stop smoking? Will I really be able to go through with a suicide and where will it leave my family (in retrospect I needn't have bothered wasting all of my thought energy on that last one). All admittedly much bigger questions and more difficult situations to try to get out of. I would do well to bear in mind that what I have going on at the moment is very much a luxury situation – a product of my own success.

Nevertheless – if I want to move forward I am going to have to earn it, as is always the case I have learned. I'll talk to her about it tonight when I return. I'll probably be out of the house for the full twelve hours today by the time I go to work and then college for an hour and then I plan to walk the nine miles from the college back here which will take me until around quarter past seven this evening, around the same time I leave for my bus this morning. Then I'll get the dinner on and we can sit and have a little discussion about where our sex life might be going. Sleep, appetite, sex. Those have been the three biggest issues I've had to face in sobriety I think. The first two I managed to find ways of defeating. Appetite isn't a problem anymore. Sleep has returned back into something of an issue but I'm working on it. Sex is something Lindsay and I will hopefully have an open conversation about this evening.

So I have work and then will be in college from four until five as has been prearranged. I don't like the idea of leaving work early just to fuck around on student radio for an hour but I have a block-booking now and I made the choice. In the long run it will be for the best as I'll now be on air three times a week – once for the Monday morning talk radio sport show; once on a Wednesday with my allocated student partner, Evana; and this extra session I have booked on a Tuesday that affords me time in the studio by myself so that I can work on my assessed shows and a niche show. Each of the three times I am on air is under very different circumstances which is a good thing. Like I say though – it is annoying having to leave work at half past three for anything at the moment.

I actually have to leave work early on Thursday as well since I have my Dr. Bacon session – what will actually be my third-last session – and Barry the Bullet is off this coming Friday and so here is a week where we can't just get on it and get all caught up. I'm not going to freak out and focus on the negative but it does sometimes feel as though, where work is concerned at least, 2018 is slipping away from me already.

So that about sums it up for another morning. I'll be spending Valentine's Day in college and then the evening with Lindsay. I should be using the mental tools I have to bring myself back to today first though. I have a day of work to get through before any of that Valentine stuff happens.

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Stevie

Bringing himself back to today.

1114

Lunarer
February 14th, 2018, 01:28 AM
Wednesday, February 14th 2018 (Going Overboard)


I'm writing this on Tuesday night actually but will post it in the morning so that it looks as though it's a post for Wednesday, which it is, it's just that it hasn't been written on that day, which is cheating a little bit, but fuck it – this is my journal and as such I make the rules!!

Lindsay mentioned to me the other day that she had only bought me a card for tomorrow and so don't go getting her a present or anything. She's right – I haven't been working much and we don't have all that much extra cash but have dentist bills and a holiday to pay for right around the corner, we should watch what we're doing. It's her birthday in a couple of weeks too and so we're supposed to be going out for that. We'll be taking it easy during the season of love. Apparently British people spend more money on Pancake Day than they do on Valentine's Day – a statistic I don't know quite what to make of.

It hasn't been nearly as difficult to get my sugar intake down to under my daily recommended levels and keep them there. That's been a week now and each of these days have seen me consume between ten and twenty five grams of sugar per day. Without the addition of any sweet extras in the diet it is surprisingly easy to keep the levels low. Not taking sugar in my coffee alone has done wonders for my daily totals. This will be pretty easy to keep up, I think. Difficult times will likely be when on holiday and at Christmas time. I'll be a combination of vigilant and relaxed during these times. I don't want to overdo it but at the same time I have to also remember that I don't absolutely need to be doing this with the sugar – it's just a healthy lifestyle choice I've made (and a bid to try to keep my teeth beyond the age of fifty, which gives me ten more years to slog through). The dentist said that the trick was not to have any sugar in between mealtimes and so I have taken her advice. We'll see how I get on over the next ten years.

Today work was punishing (this is still Tuesday, remember!?) as it was cold and icy and all the things I associate with being shit where window cleaning in the winter is concerned. Anytime I am struggling at college (which hasn't been at all in the last year and a half since I started to be fair, but anytime in the future when it does inevitably start to happen) I would do well to think about days like today and try to remember the pain in the fingertips at some points this morning when they were so cold they felt hot and I couldn't feel them warming even when I dipped them straight into the bucket full of hot water. That's when you know that things are pretty cold. Next the water will be freezing to the glass. When that starts happening we usually call it a day, at least until things warm up for a few hours in the afternoon. Thankfully it never got to be that cold today but it got bad enough. I'll try never to take the comfort of the cosy radio studio for granted. I'm human though – so I will take it for granted at some point no doubt.

Another thing I try not to take for granted is Barry the Bullet. He was keen today and I think there won't be any issues with him coming out again on Thursday and Friday. This is hopefully the beginning of a run of weeks where we are out at least twice to three times a week, weather permitting – there's little we can do about things when it rains and so on – and really start to make up for lost ground in 2018. It's been a slow-burning year for sure but I am keen to kick start it and get it moving in a direction that feels as though I won't reach December filled with regret.

At college tomorrow I will have to suck up a couple of little changes that have been made to the class timetable and they are not exactly to my liking. My partner has been changed and now I am with the youngest in the group. That means that the youngest and oldest have been paired together. It's fine. I'm all good with that, but it does mean that the direction of more mature, talk-based radio content is out the window and unlikely to happen. The other big change is that the Edinburgh students come through on a Tuesday rather than a Thursday as was planned and so I won't be able to keep a hold of that extra slot I wanted to start doing on a Tuesday late afternoon. Sure – I could change it up and do it on a Thursday instead but then this would clash with my sessions with Dr. Bacon every second week. I am booked into this time-slot for next week and then every fortnight after that. When the Bacon sessions end in a month's time I can probably take that slot every week but I think that by then the time to get working full-time with every hour I can get will be upon us and I won't have any more assessed shows to do at the college. At least this is the plan. We all need a plan. This one is mine.

One thing I think that my first semester has done (by that I mean how I didn't fuck about and had it all done and dusted with weeks to spare) is that I've single-handedly upped the work ethic of the entire class. Everyone seems to be keen to get on with their work for a change. There are bets going out as to who will get the semester finished before me. While I am flattered I am more concentrating on handing in work that is as good as it can be. Rather than hand it in just because I feel as though I'm finished it I think I'll hold onto work for a while longer and let it sit with me. I have noticed some things I would like to have changed regarding my earlier work but it had already been submitted and graded.

So tomorrow will be Valentine's Day. I don't know how things will end up, if anything will end up happening. There's a part of me looking forward to it and another part thinking that it wishes the whole thing would just be over – that such a day doesn't exist in the first place. If anything it gives Lindsay an opportunity to assess where we are with our relationship. What could be better and what is going well? That sort of thing. Things could definitely be going better in the bedroom, that goes without typing, but there are some things we have that are going well.

Shit!! Is that the word count already!? I've gone overboard!

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Stevie

Gone overboard.

1221

Lunarer
February 15th, 2018, 01:41 AM
Thursday, February 15th 2018 (The Nineties!!)


I didn't even get to finish my question before Barry the Bullet answered me with the title of this post.

So I'll be meeting him to go working again this morning. It's a much better life when I'm out there and mixing with the world. It's felt like a pretty isolated and slow start to the new year but this last couple of weeks has seen my mood perk up a little. I've started a new semester at college and so have new tasks to be getting busy with and now I am motivated to get back to work. February is already shaping up to be better than January was but that wasn't ever going to be all that difficult to do.

We've just had Valentine's Day and I'll get to that in a moment but first I'll quickly mention that Lindsay has been successful in one of her interviews and so now has a job to start once she has finished her sign-off placement – pending successful references. All going well she'll start working soon. It's another reason for celebrating February.

With Barry having just turned forty and myself set to hit this landmark in a couple of months I asked him what his favourite decade of the four he has lived through would be. Born in 1978 he would be allowed to pick any decade from the eighties right up until this current decade. He answered with no thinking time at all. I get it. I would say the same. I became a father in 2000 but these 'best days of our lives' wouldn't quite cut it for me I don't think and when I look back I have to agree with Barry about the nineties.

On Monday at the college there were a bunch of younger students talking about some of the latest video games they've been playing. I think that young people these days do genuinely wonder what it was that people my age and older did with their time when we were kids and adolescents. Sonic the Hedgehog, lol? Well, yeah, I did have a Sega and did have Sonic the Hedgehog, but there were other things that we did too. We had more back then than our screens. I think that young people today are aware of this and can appreciate it, but I still don't think that they can understand it or fully comprehend it. I still feel as though they think we spent our time bored and don't seem to realise that we actually had more to do with our time. I struggle to build connections in my life now as an adult but when I was a kid I had no issue with making friends. I shudder to think of what it might have been like for young Stevie had he been born twenty years later.

So a big shout out to the eighties as well. I think that it would be safe to say that the eighties was the golden age for toys. This, then, pretty much means that it was the golden age for kids gaining imagination. I don't see this much these days. Young people with imagination. I think that studying in the creative industries for a couple of years now has shown me that children these days are growing up being told that they are imaginative and creative but don't fit the bill at all. I see a lot of regurgitated shit – stuff that's already been done being rehashed and remixed and passed off as creativity, but I don't see any real imagination at work. I see very limited scope and, to be totally honest, a lack of thoroughness in the work of my peers. Just enough to pass and no more. That seems to be the attitude of my peers.

Growing up in the eighties and nineties kind of forced me and my mates to come up with other things to do that did not involve screens. We learned to be creative from a young age. My nieces don't really care for screens all that much at the moment but the day will come when I go to visit one day and they barely speak to me – face down in a screen the whole time. I'll likely shed a tear when this happens. There will come a time when they will live on social media and barely leave it, all the while wondering what on earth their dinosaur family used to do before these screens were around.

Barry reckons that the nineties was the time when all the best music came out from his lifetime. I would probably agree with that too. The UK actually had a music scene back then but it vanished pretty soon afterwards and has yet to return. This hasn't happened since the death of the industry and its replacement by screens. He reckons that there was a hope back then that we don't seem to have now. I don't know if he's trying to speak from his own personal viewpoint only or if he's sensing a loss of hope for all of us in that the screen is now our god and there appears to be no way back from it. I know that individually we can lose a little hope as doors close as we age.

He reckons that the new town he was brought up in (same town I left last year – a town celebrating turning only seventy this year) was thriving and booming and so it was an exciting time to be living in the area. I do remember leaving St. Andrews at the age of eighteen and moving through to that town and getting that vibe actually – feeling as though things were on the up in the area. I don't feel that now. Perhaps it wouldn't have mattered what was happening at the time it's just that fact that both Barry and I started the nineties as eleven year olds and saw it out as twenty one year olds and that this is the main factor in our agreement that this is the overall best decade we've lived through.

I was standing at the snack bar on Tuesday and the woman at the till was chatting with the school kid that was ordering chips for his lunch.

Woman – ''You've got three days off school half-term now. What're you gonna get up to?''

Kid – ''Sleep and play my Playstation. That's all I ever do.''

Woman – ''You'll have to eat though. Do you have dinner with your parents?''

Kid – ''I go down and get my dinner and then take it up to my room.''

Woman – ''Do you pause the game or eat and play?''

Kid – ''I'll play while I'm eating but I'll pause it to take mouthfuls.''

Woman – ''What do you play – X-Box or Playstation?''

Kid – ''I've got both but I mostly play the Playstation.''

Woman – ''You're very lucky, having both.''

Kid – ''Not really.''

Oh dear!! I can't think of a boy who'd unluckier.

How I sometimes miss the nineties.

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Stevie

Will talk about Valentine's Day tomorrow.

1210

Lunarer
February 16th, 2018, 02:41 AM
** This post has been removed due to offensive content in violation of our forum rules (https://www.mywayout.org/community/first-time-here-read-our-faq-/94628-forum-rules.html)**

Lunarer
February 17th, 2018, 03:16 AM
Saturday, February 17th 2018 (Filters of Reality)


A couple of things to talk about then. A couple of things I missed out on either due to my word count limit or the fact that I often stall on things and allow myself to get carried away and intellectualise over things less important in a bid to detach from the important. Take your pick really. Lindsay is working a rare Saturday and so I have the house to myself until four. I'm going to post this then walk down to the Golden Bite for some decent breakfast. When I get back I'll be getting on with some college work for next week to help stay ahead of the game and will have the football on the radio in the background.

On Thursday I had my usual fortnightly session with my clinical psychologist. Dr. Bacon and I only have two more sessions together after which I found out during Thursday's session that I'll be getting his boss as a replacement, a consultant psychologist. My case has already been discussed and so the transition shouldn't be too much of a big thing. It'll just be a waiting game more than anything else. I have my final two sessions with Dr. Bacon a week on Thursday (March 01st) and then a fortnight after that.

It's important, then, that I have a good idea of where we are in therapy and where it is I am supposed to be going. And therein lies one of my main problems. Where I'm ''supposed'' to be going? Does that mean that therapy for me is all about waiting on Dr. Bacon to decide what it is I should be doing with my life? Being told what to do next? One of my issues is not making up my own mind on a lot of things and taking responsibility for my life at times. This is something I am told that the consultant, Dr. Bacon's replacement, will be good at. He's really experienced and will be good at pushing me. Bacon admits that perhaps not pushing me hard enough, or at least more often, is something he's perhaps been guilty of during our time together.

Another of my problems has been regarding my attempts to connect with people already in my life. One way I avoid doing the hard work yet make it appear to all not trained in psychology or otherwise super observant as though I am working very hard is by targeting people who are unlikely to give me any real positive responses back. In other words I tend to try very hard and dedicate a lot of our session time to my mother when the reality is that she is often not available or capable of giving me exactly what it is I perhaps need from her. This means that these attempts, while often painful and frustrating, are still safe options as there is unlikely to be any new developments and so no next phase. It's this next phase I am meant to be working on. It's important from now on that I try to focus my attention on people who are available to take things to the next level of connection. This is harder as it puts me in vulnerable positions which triggers Little Stevie, but it is the only real way forward is I still want things to change.

Risk taking. This is what I hope the consultant (I can already see that being his permanent name in the pages of this journal) will be good for. Encouraging me to take the necessary risks from one session to the other so that there might always be something good to look at. Optimism is another of these things I should be trying to think about since my pessimistic world view is something which often holds me back. It's important to be clear on what schemas actually are and how they affect a person's life. They are not just beliefs. They are more than that. When triggered Little Stevie will bring out a schema coping mode which then act as filter for reality, if you like. A way of seeing the world, admittedly a very distorted way. Everything and anything then passes through that distorted filter before it gets into my consciousness and belief system. The problem then occurs when it goes on like this for so long, usually a whole lifetime as has been the case with me, that the problem is then in convincing my brain that these filters aren't actual reality.

This would become really frustrating in the early days of my sobriety and involvement in these forums and recovery services when it would be suggested that I click my fingers and change my view of reality. What would have been better would have been for someone to suggest that I try to find ways of doing this. Turns out that there are ways of managing this but no one has ever been known to flick a switch as a way to trade a pessimistic world view into a positive and optimistic one.

So when I begin work with the consultant (or – now that we have established this will be his official title) the Consultant in a few weeks we will be starting from here. I know why my Schema Modes exist and where they have come from and I know the things I must work on from now on if I want to start seeing improvements in my life. Social isolation is a big problem for me. In this I don't necessarily mean that I spend all of my time on my own (this hasn't been the case for a while now I am happy to say) but is more in not feeling as though I have a place within my community, like I genuinely don't have a peer group. I would agree with Bacon on this. Sure – I like to go try new things every now and then (or at least think about trying new things from time to time) and I mix quite well with fellow students in my class – but I always get the feeling as though they are together and I am separate but joining in. Like I don't really belong.

This is the type of feelings that might – if I didn't know any better – trigger my brain into thinking it's time to get to an AA meeting. That would be a decent short-term fix and would give me the impression that I do have a peer group. I'm looking for more than that though. I'm looking for something genuine.

This is where the hard work comes in, I guess.

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Has a distorted reality.

1135

Lunarer
February 18th, 2018, 03:48 AM
Sunday, February 18th 2018 (Earth to Admin, Come In, Admin!)


At least now I know that someone reads in here.

Where would I find out why my post was deleted? How do you contact the moderators? Why would a moderator delete such a post? I have looked through the forum rules and cannot fathom which one of them I am supposed to have breached with that last post. For those reading on the other forum I post on (Ryver) I am referring to Friday's post – one still very much up for viewing on that site. For some (PC) reason or another it has been removed on the My Way Out site. Doesn't it seem absolutely bewildering that such a post should be deemed unsuitable for members of a forum?

I had problems with the old WQD forum and some of its members when I joined. Some of it was geared at those who acted as though they were something special in their sobriety while discounting the fact that their own drinking was really tame. Some of it was aimed at those who laughed off the times when I was new and was feeling suicidal. At other times I just aimed it at anyone because I was newly sober and angry. I wanted to punish others for myself feeling bad. There was one time during my WQD tenure when my account was temporarily suspended until I removed some content from a post.

This was a much better way of handling things. My entire journal was removed from the site until I contacted a moderator. When I promised to edit the content the journal went back online and I was allowed to edit the part that had caused offence. This meant that I and everyone else knew which House Rule had been broken and I was able to edit it myself to reword it appropriately. Then the whole thing was forgotten about. I had a huge amount of respect for Rich during that episode. This is different though. This is just deleting a post with no reasons nor explanation.

Why not contact me? I don't know how to contact the admin department around My Way Out and so don't know what to do to try to get your attention other than write about it in here (now that I know that people obviously do continue to read the journals I type up) and hope that they can reach me via Private Message (although I MUCH prefer writing out in the open where there are no hiding places, but hiding behind PM is something I am willing to do). What was the rule I broke? Ryver WQD does not seem to feel as though there has been any violation as my post is still up on that site.

For all the problems I had with WQD (and when we look back there were not all that many considering the mindset I had during my first year in sobriety and that fact that I was still drunk and high when I joined the forum – writing many times while steaming drunk and high on amphetamines. The experience was overwhelmingly positive and I still miss it) it had something (and still has in its new weaker state on Ryver) in that it let me be me. It let us be us. There was a line and if it was crossed then you were made to know. But it allowed us to be ourselves. This is something sorely missing from the My Way Out forum. It's a real shame that it is controlled in such a way. Created by snowflakes for snowflakes? Possibly.

Perhaps there was a complaint about the post and this was the reason for it being taken down. If so then I am a little more understanding. The bottom line is that I don't know. There is no contact between an admin member and myself. Rich and/or Doodlebug on the old WQD forum would have contacted me. No one would have been named. It would just simply have been made clear that there had been a complaint and that there was a wish for me to edit said part out of my post. There is no such connection between us in this forum.

I would understand if this My Way Out forum was a thriving, bustling community of ex-drunks, a successful forum in any way, shape or from, but it is not. At time of writing I am the only member online. Yep – the only member. There are eight guests along with me but they are probably spammers and robots. I might be the only human being currently online. On the old WQD a bad day would see me sharing this webspace with around twenty to twenty five members and a couple hundred guests. How busy must the admin department of this forum be?

I am hoping that they might be able to take some pride in their forum and contact me so that I can learn exactly what it is I am supposed to have done here. The other forum I use allows us to be ourselves providing there are no obvious attempts to offend another member. This forum seems instead to be run by snowflakes for snowflakes. Amazing considering that new members could join at any moment and could genuinely be in a life or death state. They could be armed to their drunken teeth with offensive language and we would just delete all of their posts? I am grateful that the old WQD did not take this stance when I was washed up on its virtual beach nearly four years ago. I might never have found AA. I would probably, in all seriousness, be dead. Somehow I feel as though this particular forum has little to no experience in real situations involving drunk people.

I don't really know how to proceed with this journal in My Way Out. Lindsay and I were contacted on Friday to find out that we are top of the list again for the Relationships Scotland sex therapy workers and so this will be starting up soon. The old WQD forum would have looked upon this as an exciting time to start discussing a topic that is of great problems for many of us who have drinking and drug-taking histories and it might have helped others struggling in silence, not bold enough to write about it in their own journals. I am sure that the new Ryver WQD will have no issues with me discussing it either.

My Way Out will likely ban me if I consider even mentioning it.

It's the site's loss really. Unless admin contact me and I can discuss a little with them what I can and cannot post then I'll have no option but to edit out the parts of the journal that I reckon would be of any worry to a snowflake whatsoever. It'll just become another journal.

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Let's talk, Moderator1.

1171

Lunarer
February 19th, 2018, 01:38 AM
Monday, February 19th 2018 (Two in a Camp)


St. Andrews, where I come from, the Home of Golf, and all that. Probably one of the most famous places in Scotland. My grandparents lived there their whole lives. I don't think that they ever thought about leaving. They were actually concerned when we said that we were leaving back in 1996. My auntie warned us:

Auntie – ''Once you leave you'll never get back. You won't be able to afford a house here and you won't be able to get on the council housing list!''

Turns out that this is not strictly true but never mind. What I'm trying to say is that some people, quite a lot of people actually, don't tend to move very far from where they were born. They tend to just stay put. (apologies if anything I have mentioned in my post so far has offended any of the snowflakes on the My Way Out forum.) I know people who have lived in the same little village their whole lives. Barry the Bullet (does the word ''Bullet'' cause too much offence to the My Way Out community? Is it perhaps too violent for the punters here?) tells me that he has a school reunion coming up in the summer. This will be twenty five years since he left school. He must have been a Christmas leaver in 1993 being born in February. I was born two months later but won't be out of school for twenty five years until next year, leaving in the summer of 1994.

He says he's looking forward to meeting up with some people he hasn't seen for ages. He does bump into old school pals around the town though. Many of his peers have stayed put. They are still living, like he is, not far from where it all started. I don't know if I would be to be honest. For one thing: I don't really care about how most of my peers are getting on now. There are a few I would like to meet again at some point down the line (including Greame who is still on my AA Step Nine amends list) but most of them I would probably struggle to remember. Barry says that some of his classmates are long gone, dead for whatever reason, and so I would imagine this to be the case with my own year, and so that would be interesting to know also. Generally though – I don't think it would be for me.

They seem awfully like they would be performance comparison exercises. I should think that Barry will walk away from his reunion feeling a tad bad about himself and the way his life has turned out. He'll look at some of those doing ''better'' than him and perhaps get into the mindset that they all had the same schooling and so the same opportunities and he fucked up. Actually – I think that this paragraph is getting a little to opinionated and could likely offend some of the My Way Out snowflakes so I'll edit out the next paragraph, just leave them the word count in parenthesis as I shall do from now on when it comes to any topic that is not simply your bog-standard internet journal affair. I'm going to be talking about something said in my last Dr. Bacon session and I don't want it to hurt any of those hypersensitive sods on the MWO.

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Isn't that crazy? It kind of makes Victor Frankl seem as though he doesn't know what he's talking about in his book. There's some important stuff to think about there though when it comes to giving myself a break for not being perfect. It also suggests that fate is, very loosely, based on some kind of truth. We are on some kind of road that cannot be completely transformed.

Anyway. . .

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Maybe some people are happy with where they are.

1110

Lunarer
February 20th, 2018, 01:45 AM
Tuesday, February 20th 2018 (Thinking Graded Units)


Yesterday I completed one of my assessed shows for the college. Today I'll be doing another one. The genres couldn't be more contrasting. Yesterday's was about boy bands of the 1990's while today's is progressive metal. I prefer the latter. While I will be working with Barry the Bullet for the majority of the day I will be finishing up a little early to go to college and get some studio time for myself. The time in the studio for me is very limited this semester. I won't be able to record any of my assessed shows on Monday as it is the sports show I am involved in. The only chance is during my other show which is on a Wednesday afternoon but I share this time with classmate Paige and there will be times when she will want to take the controls. The only option (other than moaning about it but that never really gets me places) is to block book a slot for a day when we are not in class and no one else is using the room. The only times this is possible is on a Friday – which is no good as it interferes with work too much – or Tuesday afternoons. The latter is the option I went for (for want of a better alternative) and so I am in the studio every Tuesday from four until five whether I am working during the day or not. It isn't ideal but it is the only way I can see of working it at the moment.

With regards to some of the stuff that Dr. Bacon has been working with me through the course of the last year (time to say goodbye to the My Way Out guys). . .

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All that has to be put aside for now though as work is on the menu first thing. It's not as cold at the moment as it was this time last week I'm happy to say.

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Stevie

Off to work.

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Lunarer
February 21st, 2018, 01:16 AM
Wednesday, February 21st 2018 (Diving for Cover)


Looking back at my Filters of Reality post I am asking myself this morning how my week has been. Have I been taking risks? Have I been reaching out? Have I been directly asking for what I want rather than trying to give off signals and hope that the other party can guess?

I think that (yep – I am actually going to do that thing that some people on the My Way Out forum are scared shitless of and actually have an opinion, offer a thought, a personal insight, rather than just regurgitate a popular belief or say something I know to be politically correct and base everything I write about on whether or not it will cause offense. I am going out on a limb here and am going to offer up something that I am actually thinking myself and have not been told to think or feel – something that scares the bajeezus out of some members of My Way Out) – I think that it's a fine day today!

DIVE!!

. . .

. . .

. . .

I look out from under the bed. It looks as though the coast is clear. The My Way Out snowflakes have not come to lynch me after all. Perhaps they are waiting, for the offense that has been caused to them by my opinion (which I will evolve into an assertion) that this looks to be a fine day today has frozen them stiff. Fear running through their veins rendering them immobile. It is a fine day though – that's my opinion!

Fine day aside I have been thinking a little this week about the coming of the end of my sessions with Dr. Bacon, my clinical psychologist, and the work we've done so far – most of which has just been exploring my defective behaviour patterns of a lifetime and how and why they've come about. I mentioned most of these in the post the other day: inadequacy; the sense that people won't be there for me when I need them to be; abandonment; the feeling that I am defective, that there's something wrong with me. Actually – wait a moment while I edit this next part out from the My Way Out forum. They might start getting all hot and flustered. . .

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One very interesting development that will be happening this coming weekend is meeting Lindsay's son, Leon. This will be happening on Saturday. It's Lindsay's birthday on Sunday and so everyone is getting together but with me never having met her son before there is something of an issue surrounding it. This will be getting sorted out before we go. I think one of his workers will be bringing him to the house before we go out and we'll get the chance to be introduced to one and other. I'd rather have not done it this way – would rather have met him supervised only by his mother and given a little more than a quick introduction immediately before we head out for a family meal but it has gone on for long enough now and so I'm just glad it's going to be happening at all.

So – with that to look forward to (and to feel nervous about) this coming weekend, and with my final psychology sessions coming up over the next few weeks as well, there is plenty to keep a Stevie busy.

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Stevie

Staying busy.

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