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  1. #121
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Wednesday, June 28th 2017 (Absent Bullet)



    Trying to make the most of a day off (they happen all the time now, like – every fucking day!!) I changed up my doctor surgery and did little else. The college only finished up eight days ago but already I am lost without it. My old doctor was about a mile and a half north of my cave and so it makes sense that I should register with my local one, the closest to me, less than half a mile from the cave. It makes me feel as though I'm a part of the community. I have to say though that this is something I've bee struggling with recently. A sense of belonging and community. It's a combination of leaving the charity shop due to the changes made by the new chair making it more expensive and less community driven, and that Russell Brand book I've been reading which talks all about the importance of community and how we've allowed capitalist ideologies to become so dominant in our societies now that this suffering we all feel yet completely deny is there and real is actually a spiritual suffering due to our lack of sense of community and belonging.

    It's completely true I think. Twice this morning there were chances for drivers to fuck me over, me being a pedestrian on a mission and all that, and both of them took them, speeding up to try to frighten me, or just let me know that they feel as though they are important and that I should wait on them. I can relate. I too used to be filled with hatred – especially in the mornings and especially when I was driving – and it's still there every now and then these days but to a much lesser extent I must say, and when I see these guys racing to work I can't help but think of Russell's comments in the book. We are suffering, to a quite staggering degree, from a lack of community.

    This makes me wonder if I might actually be right in leaving the charity shop and refuse to go along with the apparent community-busting and money-making philosophy that the new chairperson is bringing. Like all nasty ideas it'll spread rapidly throughout a community already in the throes of a terrible neighbour-fucking-over illness. By not giving up my free time to this place any longer (and I feel as though I've never had as much free time as I currently do) I am making a stand against this but it is a silent stand. Only me, Dr. Bacon, Lindsay, and perhaps some of you guys, actually know why I've left. But then would it make any difference in telling anyone else? Like Russell's book says – we don't know that we are suffering from a lack of community and so it's totally unlikely anyone is going to listen to someone that isn't famous and on television. It makes me think that people are not as sociable as they think they are and that the idea of a thriving community fills them with fear. We're actually very isolated creatures just pretending to be sociable. This is the way I've always felt about humans.

    I got up this morning and text Barry the Bullet to make sure he'd be up and ready at the meeting spot, got no reply, risked going all the way down there anyway, waited and waited, realised he wasn't going to show, and then walked back up the road to the cave. Next time he and I are together I am going to have to get from him a list of all the addresses we still have left in this business, move all of the gear up to the cave and then come up with some alternative. Barry is just too unreliable these days. It'll feel like I'm stabbing him in the back – will feel that way for both of us – but it's either that or lose the business completely.

    Maybe I should show him some loyalty and just split it. Fifty/fifty, right down the line. After all – how am I going to continue keeping a business running while I'm a full time student again? It's not going to happen. The extra money from working just one shift per week (could be as much as a hundred bucks) would be enough to cover my living expenses (I'm a cheap date now that I no longer drink, take drugs or smoke) and so one day's work per week is all I'll need come September. What about between now and then though? I could do with getting out as much as possible and it's been a complete disaster so far. Two weeks ago I went out to work on the Wednesday. Last week I was supposed to make my big return and work Wednesday and Thursday and then this week Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The reality has been that I haven't been out at all since that Wednesday two weeks ago and the money gained from that shift went straight back into the business buying business cards and rubbers for the squeegees. I'm not struggling for cash but I have to be careful or it might not be too long before I start struggling for it again.

    So if I'm not going out to work today I'll have to make the best of another day off. It's getting close to lunchtime and I haven't an answer from Barry. I keep getting little images of him sleeping away. He'll get up soon to a bunch of text messages and missed calls from me and I'll hear from him later on. In the meantime I am going to head through to Lindsay's town and pay her a visit. I'll be checking up on dates for meeting musicians and getting on with completing that college funding application. I'll pop into the Credit Union on the way and find out if they accept student loan payments. If not I'll have to work out starting a bank account. I'll also contact mum about checking my passport application. Hopefully I have her details correct and am good to go. There's still plenty of time but it will pass quickly if I'm not thinking about it.

    I'm going to leave the laptop here (in the cave) so won't be posting this or today's writing until probably Friday evening or Saturday morning. This way, should I stay over in the next town, I'll be ready to step straight off the bus tomorrow morning prepared to work. That's the plan anyway.

    But, where Barry's involved, plans don't seem to mean much at all.

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    Stevie

    Sticking to his plan.....

    1131

  2. #122
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Thursday, June 29th 2017 (Watching A Car Crash: Part One)


    It's raining something terrible again. It's only been a week since the college finished up but already I am going nuts with the boredom, the uncertainty, the not knowing where I'm going or what's going to happen now. It's bringing out some of the worst elements of myself. Like all animals do when they feel trapped and uncertain I find myself biting. I think that Dr. Bacon notices this during our session this afternoon.

    It's taking too long. These sessions. Nothing is happening. We're still just messing around at the assessment phase and it's taking too long for me. If I'm going to be making the best of things then I'm going to need tools to help me and I'm not getting them at the moment. There's a real sense of urgency, impatience, about me at the moment. It reminds me of when I was going through the Twelve Steps with my AA sponsor. It's very similar to Step Five in some ways. In that Step we talk about all of the resentments, fears and harms done to others that have been prominent features in our lives so that we can use the rest of the program to try to make up for this. In the case of psychology, or at least Schema Therapy the likes of which I am working with Dr. Bacon on at the moment, we look at existing patterns of thinking and behaviour and how they fail me so that we can use therapy to alter them.

    For all the positives regarding AA's famous program it is in the changing of our negative behaviours I found it to be weak. Step Six and Seven have only one technique for ridding our negative thinking and it is to just ask for it to be removed. This ties in quite nicely with the whole idea of it being a spiritual program and so plenty more studying of spiritual philosophy may be required to complete these Steps properly but to be fair the whole idea of them really is to just ask an unknown entity to remove parts of your personality you don't like when they crop up. It's pretty vague. The main problem I find myself wondering about now though is what if Schema Therapy is just the same? What if it promises so much but also offers only the most vague of solutions? And what is the point in us spending all of this time talking about Little Stevie, my inner child, and all that? Why when I am going through these periods of being less than happy can we not focus more on the solutions instead of the reasons why Little Stevie might be hurt? Where does it lead us? Where does it take us? What is the point???

    Dr. Bacon – ''Because he needs to learn that something different can happen when that upset comes out, that it's not just going to be shut down. That it's not just going to be detached from. That we're not just going to direct it at someone else. That actually somebody can respond to that and see that it matters that he's upset, and can help him to think through what to do about it. So if you're coming in here all guns blazing and I am just really punitive and say something like: ''Okay, you're not trying, that's the end of therapy!'' that would just be us repeating that cycle. No change. If we just go detached and you say that everything's okay and that it doesn't matter and we just need to move on and I just go along with that then again that's just me going along with one of your defensive coping modes. No change.''

    Stevie - ''…''

    Dr. Bacon - ''I can't collude with these parts, I can respect them, and notice that they are there for a reason but I'm not going to get change from any of those. It's not just a case of Little Stevie coming out and moaning, it's about him saying that he's been hurt and someone else saying that this shouldn't be happening and helping figure out what to do about it.''

    Okay. Let's forget Little Stevie for a moment. We're talking along similar lines to how Gillon was talking to me a few weeks ago. I'm sounding a little like he was when he approached me at the college and talked about this feeling of ''emptiness'' that he was hoping that further study would rid him of but that was sticking around him. I thought at the time that it was a sense of disconnection from his community that was his plight. It makes sense. I don't think we are as sociable creatures as we like to think of ourselves as but definitely more so than we currently are. Back in the day I'd imagine we lived in small settlements of fifty or more and there would be a kind of all inclusive mentality – something incomprehensible in a society where inclusion depends on social and economic status. Where people can't even fathom inclusion let alone believe it possible. Where it is fashionable to hate and exclude.

    I suppose that this is why AA is so popular. It's not a case that it's THE place to go to get sober or even that its program can offer an end to one way of thinking and behaving and the beginning of a new way that will work much better. It's that it is all inclusive. You can go there and fuck up, repeatedly, and yet the fellowship has to accept you back (I must add that on two occasions I have seen this abused and it was appalling, but it has only happened twice that I've known in hundreds of meetings). This is the main reason for my visits to Dr. Bacon's room (a doctor who cannot legally sign my passport and so I'll have to search elsewhere) – lack of ability to connect. Gillon is perhaps proving to me that it's becoming a little more commonplace than just the one or two fuck-ups like me in each community and that even once-popular people can suffer from feelings of isolation given the way our communities are run at the moment.

    Going back to my worry regarding any kind of plan to these sessions:

    Dr. Bacon – ''The way our session is structured is, what we would do in the first little past is try to understand what modes have been active and causing a problem in the time between sessions. What we're trying to do is to establish the life patterns are, and that will be the patterns that different modes and responses create in your life, and there will be some pretty predictable patterns, there'll be a few key patterns, one of them is here – what's happening now. If there's nothing happening in the room then I'd ask you about what's been happening in your week.''

    Stevie – ''Okay.''

    Dr. Bacon – ''But if there's something happening in the room between us then I'd always have to deal with that first, because that's going to get in the way of our therapeutic relationship, that's going to be live, and if we don't deal with it there and then there's a good chance that anything we try to do over and above that is just going to be superficial.''

    Everything's superficial though, isn't it!?

    It hasn't been the best session but then that's around three sessions now we've been faltering a little. I don't know if this is just a part of the natural running order of a Stevie relationship. That's been a few months now and so I'm finding the trickier parts of me more difficult to hide. I'm letting my guard down.

    Where's booze when I need it?

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    Stevie

    A constant internal car crash.....

    1331

  3. #123
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Friday, June 30th 2017 (Watching A Car Crash: Part Two)


    It's the day I've been waiting for for a long time. When we sober up, according to Twelve Step fellowships, we are so useless and untrained at looking after ourselves or anything else that we should try to buy a house plant and keep it alive for one full year. Apparently we should then move onto a small pet and try to keep it going for two years, but we're not there yet. I am there in terms of the plant though. Back in 2015 I bought two and they both died after around eight months in this claustrophobic cave of mine. Then, last June 30th, I thought I'd try it again and bought the same two plants (a Dragon Tree and a Leopard Lily but the Leopard Lily died) and now I am able to celebrate. Yesterday I was down the town and popped into the card shop and bought my Dragon Tree a birthday card. This might seem pitiful to some of you (especially those who consider themselves to be alcoholics but who had no problems in keeping alive plants when their drinking was at its worst – and jobs and relationships and.....) but this to me is a big day.

    Talking about my problem behaviour in that I struggle to relate to people and to connect with them in any meaningful way – not because I don't try to but more because I create, quite frustratingly, defensive modes of conduct during connecting opportunities which renders them difficult and often impossible – I wonder about those who have managed to.

    Stevie – ''Some people do. I have connected with people before.''

    Dr. Bacon – ''They must be able to, like I can, see past it.''

    Makes me wonder. Makes me a little suspicious actually. Do the people who I can seem to connect with want something from me? Is that why they are willing to see beyond the damage of my psyche? Lindsay? English Sara? Gillon? I could think that they all want me for one reason or another and that would help understand them a little better. It wouldn't explain more recent connections though. What about the folks at college? There tended to be two groups in our class and I was as valuable a member of one of these groups as anyone else who was a part of it. That's the way it felt to me anyway. Maybe this is one of the reasons for my slip in mood of late. I have lost some connections. It wasn't just a college course.

    I'm meeting with mum (yep – you heard that right!! This'll be twice since Youngest Niece's birthday back in February, the day before my second sober birthday. I've been to more AA meetings than I've seen mum since) tomorrow morning. A large percentage of passport applications are returned due to some error but post offices will check them for you for a tenner. Mum says she'll look over it if I want and so it's happening tomorrow morning. I'll get to find out how my family is doing. It's got to be one of the most distant families ever now. I haven't seen my brother, his wife, or either of my nieces in more than two months. This is not how it used to be at all. Some things were definitely better early on in my sobriety.

    I wonder if this is just the passage of time. It could just be that these particular siblings have reached the point in their lives where they go their separate ways. I think there could be another possibility though. It could be me. My modes often work in unknown ways to me but others will know all about them. Is it a case of me getting worse now that I am sober? It's highly likely. In many ways I feel more disconnected than I remember when drinking.

    Dr. Bacon says that I have to have built an awareness about myself that means that I know which mode is most active within me at any given time and so that I can step in before he does and tell him which mode is in play.

    Dr. Bacon – ''But if this is happening between us then that awareness isn't there yet.''

    Indeed. Sucks. It's all about building this awareness then. If I want to move forward then this is the next step in doing so – learning to become an expert in knowing my modes.

    Dr. Bacon – ''Without that awareness then it doesn't matter, I could teach you some of the best psychological techniques, tips and strategies in the world but if you aren't on it, if you aren't catching yourself and don't see it then you won't be able to put it into practice.''

    Stevie – ''Is that something that's going to be happening?''

    Dr. Bacon – ''What's that?''

    Stevie – ''You teaching me some of the world's best psychological tips and strategies?''

    Dr. Bacon – ''Well I don't know about that hahaha. This is something that often goes wrong in other types of therapy, this is why Schema Therapy was designed actually, you can teach....loads of people learn all of the techniques and strategies but...''

    Stevie – ''Can't make them work.''

    Dr. Bacon – ''Can't make them work. They know them......they just can't put them into practice.''

    Stevie – ''I've all but given up trying to use AA's program because it was always during the times I needed it most that I was found wanting.''

    Dr. Bacon – ''And the problem there is that when you are at the time when you need it most that is when the mode activation is the strongest, and remember when you're in that mode...this mode...''

    He's pointing at the Detached Protector mode on our little diagram which always sits on the desk during sessions.

    Dr. Bacon – ''This mode doesn't give a damn about your AA, couldn't care less. It's only function is to disconnect. I can feel this pulling me into one of my modes, my Compliance and Surrender mode, which is to just go along with people when they are unhappy with me – so that's one of my modes – so I'm having to resist just jumping straight into this change with you.''

    I don't think that I want to jump into this change as quickly and recklessly as he might be thinking I do, or that I might be putting across that I do, it's just been a difficult transition going from college full time and working at the charity shop on the side to not being able to even get out and clean windows. Barry the Bullet has been on the phone to say that he'll be in touch about next week as his mum has taken another turn for the worst. Her years spent with a cigarette in her months are coming back to bite her in the ass, they always do but usually a little earlier than the sixty five years she's reached, and so once again I am torn between feeling bad for Barry and his mum and for myself for not being able to forget about all this shite and just get back out working for a spell.

    I know my modes better though. It's Friday late afternoon and I'm supposed to be heading to Lindsay's for the weekend soon. I'm a little behind schedule though. It's the Detached Protector again. He loves asking me to just stay inside on my own. Why risk going to all these places that might humiliate me? It's the same mode that stopped me from going to Restoration again this afternoon. That's a whole bunch of weeks on the trot that I haven't been. Probably a good thing though.

    What I am going to try to do this weekend is attend that AA meeting. Even if it's a whole load of shit and carries the weakest AA message I've ever heard (would have to be really bad then, I promise you) being there will help satisfy my need for connection.

    It's not why we're really supposed to be going there but it'll do for me.

    Dr. Bacon describes this situation I am currently in where I am to notice modes in action but not make any effort to try to stop them from happening as watching a car crash.

    I don't have another session now for three weeks.

    I'll be hoping for as few car crashes as possible.


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    Stevie

    Off for his bus.

    1439

  4. #124
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Saturday, July 01st 2017 (New Month; New Musicians)



    The year half over then (not quite – there are more days in the second half of a year and especially one not a leap year). That's okay. I still like the thought of life not being all that long. Knowing that it does have an end. That we are all heading in some direction. That everything is always moving. Even if the direction we are always moving toward is death. It's good to think this way sometimes. It helps put things in perspective a wee bit.

    One thing I'm doing to try to keep busy in the time I have between now and then is looking for musicians with which to spend my time with. This isn't a new thing for me and once a year I go on one of these musician hunting missions with varied success. Early last year I played my first sober gig but then things fell apart afterwards. I'm met with literally dozens of guys (and a few gals) since I sobered up in a bid to connect with others who share this passion of mine.

    In saying that I haven't played guitar much at all in the time I've been sober. I actually once upon a time studied music at an academy in a nearby city and got myself to a pretty decent standard. I yearn to be back there (at that playing standard) but don't have the patience to get back into it in that way. Somewhere along the line I lost my passion for playing music. I'm not na´ve enough to think that by playing a few auditions with a few guys is going to get me back into thinking back along those musical lines and giving it that kind of commitment again but it's all about trying to have fun. That and trying to connect with other guys.

    So far I have three meetings scheduled. On Wednesday night I am to be meeting with some guy from my town. I'll be meeting him in the very same Wetherspoon I used to meet up with musicians the last time around. I think I'll take my laptop down there after work (assuming that happens) and have my dinner there while I wait on the guy to show up for seven o'clock. He's the most local of those I am to be meeting but he seems the least sure, by this I mean he takes the longer time to get back to me on the website private messages and he seems.....I don't know.....just a little unsure. It's hard to explain. Anyway – he's looking for a more acoustic thing and plays guitar and sings. It should be an okay meeting (they always are) so I'm looking forward to it.

    Next weekend there's more happening. On Friday I am off to a small local village in the afternoon to meet another. This must be the most awkward town in my county to reach. There are hardly any bus routes take me to his neck of the woods on a weekday (there's no Sunday service whatsoever) and so with us arranging to meet at his house at half past two I will have to get a bus (according to Google) around two hours before we meet and won't get another one until ten to seven, a good four and a bit hours after our meeting is scheduled. It's at times like these when you notice how poor our public transport system actually is. I'll have to confirm this at the bus station where I'll be able to get official times and that but already it seems like travelling will be an issue for meeting regularly with this guy.

    The third option is happening on Sunday. There's a band from another local town (a bigger one though and so comes complete with a decent public transport system) and they've sent me this message:

    ''
    Here's a set list we're working on:*
    Set list:*
    1) Creeping Death - Met*
    2) holy diver - KE*
    3) You could be mine - Guns*
    4) Rose of sharyn - KE*
    5) Doom song (original)*
    6) Seek and destroy - Met*
    7) The Trooper - Maiden*
    *cassandra (original)*

    We're keen to write more originals.*
    ''


    There's some really cool stuff in there. The KE stands for Killswitch Engage who are a (sort of) metal band and so the whole set is kind of very hard rock or out and out metal, with the Guns song being the exception – Guns 'N' Roses are more pop/rock if you ask me – and so this is a very different project from the other guys I'm meeting earlier in the week. I looked back through the history of this guy's membership adverts on the website and it seems like he only started this up in January and met up with the band members between then and late April. Then, around the beginning of last month, the lead guitar player left for some reason and they've been hunting ever since.

    So this is where Stevie comes in. I think it's a good thing that they've only been playing together for a few months. It means that I'll have a better chance of sliding in. This is definitely the most promising of the meetings coming up and while I am still under forty (just) I think it's okay for me to play hard rock and metal music. There will come a time where neither appeals to me. These guys are all in their thirties. I have until Sunday next week to learn these tracks but that's fine. I could probably play The Trooper right now even though I haven't played for ages and the Metallica ones are pretty standard (although Creeping Death is pretty tough going on the old stamina) but I'm not familiar with the Killswitch Engage tracks at all. Practice needed. The main thing I'm interested in though is the quality of their two originals. What are their writing skills like? I'm looking forward to this one more than the others for sure but each of them will be interesting.

    I met with mum this morning and we chatted for a couple of hours. I should probably have talked a little about that while it's still fresh in my head and talked about the musical stuff tomorrow but fuck it. There's never any structure to this journal.

    In many ways it's just the ramblings of a madman!

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    Stevie

    In many ways mad.....

    1092

  5. #125
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Sunday, July 02nd 2017 (The Shack)


    Yesterday was one of those days that you don't really appreciate how good it was until it's over. I think that yesterday might turn out to be a very important day for me a little further down the line.

    I'm talking with mum over coffee in the morning. We've met at a local cafe and she's going over my passport application to make sure I've done everything correctly. All this planning for holidays abroad is very new to me but mum knows what's happening. I think she's not long come home from her third trip of 2017. She starts talking to me about Barcelona after hearing that Lindsay and I are looking forward to our day there. Most people I mention it to say little more than the importance of protecting my wallet but it can't be worse than any other major city. I don't live that far from Glasgow after all. Mum has much better advice for me although she does give me an example of her pocket being picked.

    She then starts talking about her latest trip. She's recently been to Crete and has made some interesting observations regarding the differences between life there and life where she spends most of her time, here in the Kingdom of Fife in central Scotland. She says that one thing she notices more than anything is the sense of community spirit. I can imagine. Maybe I can't actually. The best way for me to would be to try to imagine the complete opposite of what I know from my time here. She is telling me of possible reasons we may have lost community whereas some places still seem to have it and thrive with it.

    I drop in my own little possible reason and it does not go down well with mum. She completely disagrees. I mention that us no longer going to church might be a big factor in the lack of community spirit these days. She's a newsreader though. She watches it too, so when she hears ''religion'' she somehow connects it first and foremost with ''war'' and ''death''. She seems totally incapable of seeing that this is just a part of the capitalist agenda. Get rid of the church. Get rid of anything that threatens this new way of life we seem to be heading towards where communities don't exist at all. My mother isn't a stupid woman but I feel this part of her to be very closed-minded. She cannot see a single benefit to community by having churches or even, so it would seem, spirituality.

    She seems incapable of separating the words ''religion'' and ''war'' and, if I'm being honest, why has she taken me saying that we might feel unhappy and disconnected as a community because we no longer are a church visiting society, at least that might be a little reason, one of many contributing factors, but why does she confuse religion with spirituality. She's quite sure of making me understand that she's not religious.

    Stevie – ''I'm not religious either. But I have a God in my life. Not a hate-filled one that you seem to have got all messed up with, sounds more like the Devil fucking with you to me, and I am a member of a fellowship, a community within a community, that for all its flaws and imperfections, does try to promote a healthier and more spiritually driven lifestyle. It's the difference between me drinking to suicide and asking you to help me with a passport application so that I can go on my first trip abroad since 2005 – all made possible with the savings I've made from quitting smoking. That's what spirituality is capable of. The Bible is taken as a metaphor.''

    As I am discussing this with my mother I realise how selfish I have become. How the God of my Understanding has disconnected from me, not because He's nasty and enjoys abandoning me, but because I am not doing his bidding. Thy Will Be Done. I've forgotten that and have taken a different path from he. But he's calling to me now, telling me that, as always, I have another chance. I just have to do the right thing.

    I am at the AA meeting for it starting. Since doing my ''ninety days without a meeting'' thing I have tried a couple of times to get back into the AA way of things. I stayed for the first half of a meeting back in mid May. I then attended the first half of the local convention a couple of weeks later. This time staying right to the end was not such a difficult thing.

    I found that a great deal of the judgement that I felt and that I was putting out to others began to diminish as the meeting got going. By the end it was gone. It's not perfect by any means. Some people who attend meetings are very sad and very lonely men and women. They aren't able – likely for reasons I am working through with Dr. Bacon at the moment and over the coming months, making me feel like one of the lucky ones in that I can take what I like from AA but realise that it does not meet all of my needs – to make it in the real world. Imagine, then, what life might be like for these people if the fellowship was not there.

    It's easy sometimes for me to forget that all of the stuff that's starting to happen in my life now: the dilemma with which course to study; the coming holiday; the quitting smoking; the double marathon attempt; perhaps even just the fact that I am alive still – this is all directly related to the fact that I started attending AA meetings on a regular basis back when I first got sober. I even met Lindsay in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

    More than perhaps all of that is that I found a god, a Higher Power. The God of my Understanding. This means I am effectively never alone. I know have a (sort of) socially acceptable way of talking with myself. I just have to better learn the signs I am disconnecting from Him so as to minimise the time it happens. The more time I spend disconnected in this way the worse I will feel. All of this has taken me more than two years of exploring and investigating, writing it all down, to figure out. It's no wonder I can't communicate it with mum. She may or may not have her own Higher Power but at the moment she feels that there is only one god and it is one of evil. She suffers as a result of this belief. She can't see that the real evil are the corporations and news outlets that promote the ideas that ''religion'' and ''war'' are synonymous.

    Captain G drops me off at Lindsay's after the meeting. While I've been away Lindsay has found a movie for us to watch. The Shack, it is called. It's a 2017 film but we got an HD quality copy from the site ''fmovies'' (although the second option is best – ''fmovies.io'' rather than fmovies.to but either is okay. I've found this year that this has become our favourite movie streaming site. I am a little sceptical of the movie at first but we watch it. My mind is still buzzing around thoughts of the day to concentrate much on it. I have to make sure that this evening's meeting isn't a one off and isolated event. I'll do my best to get there next week too.

    Then the film begins to take shape and it follows the themes of my day. The protagonist's daughter is murdered and he finds himself in the company of God for the movie. He is like my mum is now, like I used to be, in that he believes God to be evil. During the course of the film he goes through a kind of fast-tracked version of what I had to do regarding my father and my lot in life while I was working through the Twelve Step program. The same kind of psychic changes I've had to try to go through since getting sober. The film is a little wanky at times but I really enjoyed it given the context of the day.

    Sometimes life can be beautiful I guess.

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    Stevie

    Leaving it there.....

    1430

  6. #126
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Monday, July 03rd 2017 (Old Timer Training)


    Captain G drove me to Lindsay's from the meeting on Saturday night. We had a good old chat. The only AA member I've had any sort of contact with over the last few months has been Lindsay and so I've lots of catching up to do. He's telling me as we are driving along about a couple of resentments he's had recently and how his method of dealing with them is to pray for the other person each and every day until eventually, sooner or later, it is gone. It might take a while but keep at it and eventually the resentment will die. From the way he explains how his resentments started I have to wonder if I am quite as bat-shit crazy as I often disrespect myself as. I'm a ''quick fix'' kinda guy still and so I don't like any solution that features the terms ''eventually'' or ''sooner or later'' but I like the way that each and every one of us tries to find what works for him or her.

    He starts talking about Lindsay and me and how it's great that we're doing so well and going on holiday and all that.

    Stevie – ''You seeing anyone yourself?''

    Captain G – ''I'm seeing someone from the fellowship.''

    Stevie – ''Oh right, anyone I know?''

    Captain G – ''Yeah, you'll know her.''

    I figured that would be it. I'd be left to cast my mind over all of the women I've met since joining AA over two years ago in search of one I felt to be a potential match for Captain G – a task that may have wasted many a.......whatever thought measurements are called.......but he just comes out and says it.

    Captain G – ''Marie.''

    Stevie – ''Oh, nice.''

    I haven't seen her for fucking ages. The last time I even heard about her was when she spent a couple of months (must have been around November/December time) in a local psychiatric ward which was something I only learned through someone else's Facebook (I won't get Facebook myself).

    Captain G – ''Yeah, been seeing her for around seven or eight months now.''

    So the psychiatric ward thing happened while the two of them were dating. That's okay.

    Stevie – ''That's nice. I didn't know.''

    Captain G – ''We wanted to keep it secret from others in the fellowship.''

    I get it. I was the same with both Jenna and Lindsay. It's not the business of others in AA. But over time (and not all that much of it I can tell you) people in the fellowship came to know all about it. It's not important enough for others to care but it is important enough for those who find out about it to spread it. Lindsay and I are now common knowledge in AA but, as I am beginning to realise, Captain G has other reasons for perhaps wanting to keep such a tight lid on this part of his private life.

    Captain G – ''This is actually the main reason I left my home group. They said that I shouldn't be going out with her. When we started dating she was only a couple of months sober.''

    This is frowned upon in the rooms, and rightly so, and we call it ''Thirteenth Stepping'' in the rooms. Marie was a newcomer, two months sober and still learning the ropes. Captain G, on the other hand, has been in the fellowship for years (six and a half at the moment so just under six when this all started taking place) and has been through the program. He's supposed to know better. What would people think about him if they knew? Who gives a fuck!? It's a little closed-minded again from people in AA. For all we know what happened between them happened very organically. We just don't know. I've never been able to see how the old timers can tell us not to be so judgemental but be so judgemental themselves. If we are all only sober for today then why does it matter how far into one's sober journey they are?

    Stevie – ''I got the same advice with Jenna and with Lindsay. They didn't want to know the details, they just got the basic information and made an instant judgement about it. To be honest it was one of the times I saw genuine sickness in some of the old timers. They've never been able to communicate well with the opposite sex and they have huge issues in sex as a subject. They come from a repressed age but where's the growth?

    Captain G – ''My sponsor lives on his own and he's divorced from his wife but still went round every day. I wondered what the hell he knew about relationships when he was acting like this.''

    Stevie – ''I was the same. Stu had a Russian bride who lived apart even though they were married and then the moment she was refused her visa to work in Scotland she mysteriously fell pregnant and now has her visa. Stu acts like he's in control but if you want my honest opinion there is no love in that relationship whatsoever. They are both satisfying aesthetic needs – theirs is a marriage based on co-dependence.''

    It doesn't matter too much about Captain G's relationship with Marie or Captain G's sponsor or ex-sponsor's relationship to his ex-wife and how healthy or unhealthy it may be. Nor does my sponsor or ex-sponsor's reasons for marring his Russian bride in need of a visa come into the equation when I'm assessing my own love life. All of this is just distraction, stopping me from connecting with my own problems in my own relationship. If I wanna be this guy who turns into a better AA old timer than the current old timers, a more wise and worldly in the ways of recovery old timer (which I do, of course) then I'm going to have to conquer my own demons, my own fears.

    Lindsay contacted a relationships guidance/counselling agency a couple of months ago and she went to an induction thing where they discussed the outlines of what it is that the service offers as well as Lindsay giving them her perspective of what our relationship is all about. She was then told that she'd receive an appointment date for the two of us to go down and start some kind of relationships therapy around the end of June. This has actually happened and on Friday she got a letter with an appointment which is, with amazingly little notice – this very day! So, in my dreams, today goes like this:

    I get the bus in a short while to my town to meet with Barry the Bullet and head out for a day of work. I'll finish this around four o'clock this afternoon and head straight for the bus station and get the half past four bus back through here so that I can make the appointment at five. It'll be tight.

    These sessions will likely be happening every fortnight and they will be (probably) structured round possible reasons as to why I find having sex with my girlfriend to be such a fearful task. It'll be all spotlights on Stevie once again but I'll give it a shot.

    Quite whether this will work or if this is something that Dr. Bacon is more likely to be able to help me with is as yet unclear. I'll give it a go though.

    Anything to be a better and more knowledgeable old timer in thirty years time.

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    Stevie

    Going through extensive new wave old timer training.

    1293

  7. #127
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Tuesday, July 04th 2017 (Relationships Scotland)



    The working situation is still as embarrassing as anything – not working yesterday because Barry slept in – but would have been out this morning had it not been raining again. It's mad out there. The weather forecasters didn't mention anything about it last night, it's as if they don't even know sometimes what it's going be doing, and Barry and I are still hoping to get out in an hour or two depending on what happens, but these are all little reminders of how shit and inconsistent an earner this occupation can be – and this is supposed to be peak summer time too. So far we've had two brief hot spells and the rest of the time it's been wet. I actually heard the other day that this year's June was the wettest June for seventy five years. Global warming in full flow. I still have eight weeks after this one (or is it only seven now?) until any study I might be engaging in gets up and running and so I am keen to get working to put a little aside for this coming holiday and maybe even for Christmas.

    I'm gonna talk a little bit about last night's relationship counselling session that Lindsay and I attended in a moment or two and this will likely take up the rest of the post but I just wanted to quickly say that......actually, nah – it's neither the time nor the place.

    So I meet Lindsay at the Relationships Scotland main office and it isn't long until we're called up. It seems like it's going to be quite interesting. The counsellor is female which helps me tremendously in opening up (but to be fair every employee I saw in the building was female and so it makes me wonder about the authenticity of the equal rights movements we're been having in this country for decades) and we are led to a little room upstairs. Lindsay had started this idea rolling after her psychiatric nurse had suggested it after we'd had a few troubles a couple of months ago – April I think Lindsay came here for her initial meeting.

    I had figured that it would be a case of the spotlight being shone on Stevie and him having to explain a few things about himself to these women but it wasn't like that (not yet anyway). It was more a case of the counsellor finding out a little about the two of us and our relationship. On the way out the next couple in the waiting room are called up. It's then that I begin to wonder about how we might have appeared to our counsellor. This couple seem very different from Lindsay and I.

    This couple look as though they both work full time whereas Lindsay and I are both students despite us being each well into our thirties. As we are telling the counsellor about our individual lives it becomes a little obvious that we are not the type of couple that walks into these rooms all the time. I suppose that we are an interesting little challenge. Neither Lindsay or I drink or take any drugs and so we didn't meet in a pub or a nightclub. On the contrary we met in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous – a fellowship that while I accept is not invisible is certainly not as known in the public eye as I might be led to believe give my affiliation. We are both ex-drinkers and users in recovery. This gives our relationship an interesting dynamic I feel.

    I've heard Lindsay's story before but as I listen too her explain it to our counsellor I can see that my acceptance of it is perhaps not normal and has come about by the fact that I am used to listening to horror stories about people drinking and am used to seeing it in my everyday life. The problems with access to her son; the brain haemorrhage and so on. When the counsellor asks us one at a time if we have ever had thoughts of suicide it is almost a case of ''Of course – who hasn't!?''

    As we start to talk about our relationship I find myself judging us a little, thinking that the other couples who come her will all be more sophisticated than us, more ''normal'' and that their problems will be more adult and less ''alkie'', less addict. I do think though, and always have since we started going out, that Lindsay and I do share some qualities that aid our relationship that some of these ''normal'' couples would be terrified of. One of them is the fact that since we are both in recovery and have our individual therapists we are constantly advised to be honest and are constantly encouraged to seek growth, spiritual growth mainly. This all gives us perhaps some advantages over these other couples who have a little more stability and greater direction that we have, both individually in their lives and within their relationships.

    As I am listening to the outline of what will be happening in these weekly sessions I can't help but feel that this will be yet another place where I will reap tremendous advantages. Every Monday evening we will have our one hour session and we'll be going over all sorts of mouth watering subjects including the reasons we drank in the first place; our family history; our sexual health; you name it and it's there. Initially there will be six sessions before we go through a review to see if another six might be needed – for some couples the initial six is fine but others may need more – and it is suggested to us in a joking manner that the six sessions will likely not be enough for us.

    She also says that we might have to do a lot of talking and work around loss as there appears to be a lot of loss in each of our lives. I guess this is true. I think that when you drink like I used to (in your cave on your own for so long) that you tend to miss out on quite a lot of things that other people deem necessary, perhaps even essential, parts of growing up. I missed out on a lot of these things. Many people in AA and on forums like this don't seem able to understand this and that's okay. Some alkies have relatively normal lives. They are married in healthy partnerships; they have long-term employment; they have a circle of healthy friendships. They have everything that makes the adult human healthy, they just drank a little bit too much.

    I didn't have any of these things. It's not that I didn't try – they just didn't ever seem possible. The truth is that, given the modes Dr. Bacon and I are discussing during our psychology sessions, I probably wouldn't have had the capacity to gain this normal stuff that so many take for granted. It seems as though sitting on my own with a bottle in my hand was pretty much the only option and sometimes now when I think back I can relate to this older Stevie a little better than I've previously been able. I can understand him a little better.

    Anyway – the rain doesn't look like it's going to die down any but maybe if I go meet Barry the Bullet at the later time that we've agreed this morning – do my part as it were – then possibly the weather will do its.

    Later dudes.

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    Stevie

    Far from normal.

    1292

  8. #128
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunarer View Post

    I did notice a couple of things going on upstairs in this closed-minded, turbulent little collection of conscious and unconscious thoughts that fits snugly within the confines of my skull.
    Love that phrase....

    Regards



    Bacman
    I am not a Doctor - I am an alcoholic.
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  9. #129
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunerer
    The first was the most prominent – the Charity Shop Cafe. Why has it put its prices up? Did it really have to go and do that? Lindsay and I were at lunch yesterday and the place we were at sold filled rolls at only ten pence more than the charity shop now charges. Their big breakfast deal is a pound eighty more but you get twelve items instead of seven and so when you work it out per item the charity shop charges fifty seven pence per item and the other place only forty nine


    Ahh but have you considered 'your' shop may offer more beans, peas or chips than the other local charity shops in the area. Fresher free range eggs or a larger cup of coffee. The additional cost of transport to, said cafe may outweigh the increased cost of 'your' shop.

    This is a conundrum that will play on the mind of many a peckish cafe attendee.

    Regards


    Bacman

    Note to self - never, never again will I post on this site using the mobile theme.
    It sucks, as does predictive text....
    I am not a Doctor - I am an alcoholic.
    Thoughts expressed here are my own, often poorly put together and littered with atrocious grammar and spelling.
    AF since 2nd January 2016.

  10. #130
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Wednesday, July 05th 2017 (Firsts For Everything)



    I find myself still casting my mind back to some of the things we talked about at that first counselling session with Relationships Scotland on Monday night. I actually can't wait to get started on this. The counsellor has a lot of work to cover in terms of our family histories and how we ended up as drinkers and then as ex-drinkers but I think already she hinted that she is impressed by the level of honesty and insight that we both seem to share. It makes me realise that all of this recovery work we do; all the sponsorship and meetings and AA stuff; the psychology appointments; listening to others in places like Restoration; trying all types of therapy once (I even tried art therapy a few months ago) – it all adds up. It all makes for people who aren't so afraid to explore or express themselves.

    I had been worried that the spotlight might have been shone on me during these sessions (there will be times when this happens) but this isn't new to me. I'm not a beginner when it comes to sitting in a counsellor's chair. I'm actually getting quite good at it but have to remind me to be myself as best as possible, whoever that is. We have these personae we adopt given situations we find ourselves in. You notice it a lot on forums such as this where everyone acts almost sickly nice and fake – not at all a true reflection of who they are. Perhaps even lying but more likely just desperate for approval. I'm possibly no better than any, perhaps even worse than some in that sometimes I am nastier in these pages than in the real world – this is often used as an outlet for me rather than an ego-stroker – but to get back to the point: I can't let my previous experience in counselling settings dictate who I am to be when I am at the Relationships Scotland sessions which will from now on be weekly engagements.

    One of the things (actually THE thing) that I felt was Lindsay's main motivation for starting up these sessions in the first place was our sex life, or lack of it. The counsellor brings this up.

    Counsellor – ''It says here that you hadn't had sex yet, is this still the case?''

    It is! When she asks about it and why this is so despite us being together for ten months now I can only speak up and say that it is my doing, that I'm responsible for this happening (or not) and that I'm still unsure exactly why. Rather than make an enormous thing about it she gives me a little hope.

    Counselling – ''We have a sex therapist here, they're very good....''

    Hmmmm... ''they'' doesn't suggest male or female but given what I've seen of this place so far I am going to all but guarantee that it's a woman.

    Counselling - ''...that's maybe a road we'd go down later. Obviously sex is a part of relationships and so it's going to come up in these sessions. You both are going to have to try to be comfortable talking about all kinds of things related to sex. We will talk about different positions, porn, masturbation, and so on.''

    This is completely fine with me.

    Counselling – ''To have been together for ten months and not had sex.....that's obviously something that we would consider a problem but we'd be able to work with you on that. It would start as maybe mutual masturbation and then move on and eventually onto penetrative sex. That would be kind of homework that you guys would be given.''

    I've covered my past sex life in this journal on older versions of this website and how difficult I've found it in my sobriety. It's been a long time (eight years now – almost all of my thirties) and I gave up trying to figure out when the last time I did it sober was but I reckon it would have been when my daughter was conceived and she'll be fifteen later in the year.

    They say that sobriety is all about ''firsts'' in that we have to learn to do things all over again. It's not the same as relearning because we never really learned to do things sober anyway. I've had my first sober birthday, first sober Christmas, all of that stuff. Soon I'll be going on my first sober trip out of the country. I've played my first sober live gig; I've studied my first sober college course. This though – when sex comes into play it is much more difficult.

    AA might say that I should work my program and that it should all be fine. Sometimes I think that these AA old timers have said those words so often that they have completely lost all meaning. It's just something they say now – an answer to every problem. It's their way of avoiding thinking about anything: just hand it over, pass the buck and bury your head in the sand. ACA is just as bad. It would suggest talking about it every week for the rest of your life. Nope! Unfortunately an answer to real life problems cannot be found in fellowships like these. Their programs are useless against issues such as sex.

    Thankfully I am gaining insight into why. My defensive schema mode – the Detached Protector – is so powerful that when it is in control very little can stop it. When Little Stevie feels vulnerable this mode will come in and shield him. Sex is now a situation where Little Stevie is triggered and this mode comes out to play. The program can't help me with this because it isn't designed to. Dr. Bacon said the other week that once my awareness is such that I know at all times exactly which mode I am in then we can start to work on some of the better psychological techniques and tricks. I long for the day but it can only happen once my awareness is highly acute. There's no easy, quick fix for this.

    There might be a fix though. The good thing about all of these ''firsts'' is how interesting it has been learning all about them. I can't see how first sober anything's can be fun and interesting if they were always done anyway. Learning to have sex all over again – learning something like this sober for the first time in many a year – it'll be a lot of fun I think and certainly it'll be interesting.

    Right then – I'm meeting some musician guy in a while so I'd better get moving.

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    Stevie

    Learning and Relearning.

    1142

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