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    1. #21
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Saturday, April 01st 2017 (Responsible Community)


      Busy day yesterday. Sometimes I find myself writing but not managing to post until the next day. I call this (quite obviously I think): posting a day behind. But there's another thing that often happens. I write and post early in the morning or before the day fully takes shape and so I get caught up in the events of yesterday in today's post. I call this (again, for obvious reasons): writing a day behind. I don't know which one is worse but both disrupt the flow of my thinking and writing and end up with my head feeling a little confused. Sometimes it is a stress writing in this journal every single day but it's something I really want to continue to do at this point in time. I'm not quite at Soberland yet, that is likely when this story will end, but I want to capture as much of the voyage to this wonderful place as I can while I still have wind in my sails. So writing a day behind it is.

      The Glenwood library has officially closed now. I know not what will happen to the building for the time being, or even in the future, but they put on a buffet for us with chocolates and cakes and coffee and doughnuts and everything was a little teary-eyed. Not for me of course, it's only a library (not to mention that I have that thing – the Detached Protector – that keeps tears from welling within this particular alcoholic's eyes, stops him from feeling anything at times when loss is involved) but it has been up since 1970 so there are a few people who have formed a relationship with this building beyond what I can understand.

      That place was good to me though. I met a few people there. I did a lot of writing there last summer when I had little to do before the college started up (make that a LOT of writing) and spending the last hour and a half of its existence last night with a couple of dozen other regulars left me with no doubt as to its power as a meeting place for people within the community. It will be missed. It's closure will leave us all a little more isolated.

      At the Charity Shop Cafe yesterday morning I looked through the survey questionnaires that people had been filling out. There is a charity offering to help try to sort out some of the local issues and they are asking residents what they like and dislike about the area. What would they do if they had the money to change some elements? We were granted ten thousand pounds last year as part of a shake-up project (yep – I live in a pretty shitty area where unemployment, drug use and crime are higher than the rest of the town) and the results featured in a BBC documentary screened in December. I filled one out on Wednesday and answered with my ''person in recovery'' head on. This means that I looked at it from the point of view that we are kinda responsible for own lives here. It's okay writing down in a survey that it would be great if there was more to do but unless you state examples then you would be as well as writing nothing down. Also – people wouldn't go!! They wouldn't attend! This is why there is nothing around here. There used to be but now there isn't. There are reasons for this.

      Although some of the questionnaires were filled with comments such as this (there should be more ''stuff to do'' etc) there were some people who answered along the same lines I did. One or two (interestingly all within my age group (35-44) or higher) did mention that the main thing missing is a sense of community and that we are effectively responsible for this. It's our responsibility to shake ourselves up. Until we change then nothing will make any difference. It's interesting this. I've noticed a few times recently how a surprising number of people share my beliefs in a large range of things. It's just that they don't often have the balls to mention these opinions. They might not say it aloud at to one's face but at the moment I have the luxury of reading their views on an anonymous questionnaire.

      I checked my emails for the first time in a week yesterday and noticed one from the guy who actually ran the charity that got us that ten thousand pounds to begin with - JP. He used to work with my old addictions counsellor, Margaret, who I have written about many times since I began my online journal nearly three years ago. I stopped turning up for my sessions with her some months ago but since discovering that she is in touch with JP. I wanted to set up one last appointment to thank her for being there at times when no one else was (or at least times when I thought that no one else was there) and to let her know that I am doing well and have moved on. Winging its way in the mail is our final session. Session ninety seven, I think it will be. That's the equivalent of over four full days sitting talking with her non-stop but split up over a four year period. Some of them were double sessions so it's even longer. One more hour to go.

      JP also says at the end of his email: ''Secondly - would be great if you got involved in Charrette...will keep you posted and look out for stuff on Our Facebook and I'll email you too.
      Cheers ''

      I'd be interested in getting involved in anything within my community to be honest. There's no point in me being one of the guys who writes on a questionnaire that it is up to us to be responsible and pull ourselves together and then pulling the sheets over my head. I should get involved in helping us try to get out of this hole we seem to have dug for ourselves.

      Anyway – I'm writing about yesterday when there's a whole new day just happened. It's not been as sunny as I'd hoped it would and I could really do with it staying dry for a while (please – even just a few successive days) but this afternoon I was at my first ACA meeting (Adult Children of Alcoholics – very similar to AA) which I'll write about at some other time; and I'm now sitting at my brothers looking after my nieces again (twice in one week).

      They are sleeping (at long last – after a battle) and I'm sitting here beginning to feel a longing to be with Lindsay. I haven't been there much recently. Not as much as I've become accustomed to at least. Last week I stayed in the cave from Tuesday night right through to last night and I had hoped to spend all weekend with her. Then my brother text to ask if I could watch the nieces this evening and I felt obliged to accept. I know that it's okay to say no every once in a while but I was away from them for around six weeks and I feel I should show face again more regularly. I'm supposed to be making amends here still. Also – I wanted to look after them this evening. By the time Gary and Scottish Sarah get back tonight the bus service will have ended.

      I'll get up early tomorrow morning and head to Lindsay's town to be with her. I'll be back in this town again for next week as I'm hoping to work through our college Easter break.

      But nothing will stop me from being with her all weekend next week.

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      Stevie

      Missing Lindsay.

      1329

    2. #22
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Sunday, April 02nd 2017 (The Training Plan)


      Right then, where were we? Oh yeah – we were trying to get out of the habit of writing about yesterday. So I'm going to bring us right up to date (although I intend to talk about yesterday's ACA meeting a little later on). The training plan for June's Over The Moon charity walk for breast cancer. Let's have a look at what I'm expected to be doing for the next few weeks in terms of planning for this walk of fifty two miles. Yikes!! Even saying it hurts my feet!!

      Until the penultimate week there will be no training at all on Mondays. This is a rest day. That's cool with me. For most of this plan I'll have college all day every Monday and it's also the night that the SMART meeting runs. Although I've been going to Slimming World on Wednesdays the past three weeks I would like to get back into the habit of going on a Monday evening again. The half past seven until nine class is the one I prefer. It's sort of like my home group if you like. So Mondays are sorted. I like Mondays. Not many people can say that with as much honesty as I currently can.

      Tuesdays and Thursdays are the next easiest days of the week with regards to the training plan. These days ask of me either to rest and stretch (something that seems to be more important as the plan progresses) but also for me to take part in other types of training. Swimming is recommended to help build up stamina and strength. I think that the route of the walk is quite something to behold and that the idea is if we put in as much training as possible then it allows us the extra energy to be able to take it all in, to savour the experience, rather than huffing and puffing our way through the last ten miles and missing our surroundings. I'm not much of a swimmer to be honest but perhaps the time has come to face this head on. Pilates are suggested as another form of exercise to try out during this part of the training process. Again – I'm not much good at them. Okay – I'll just admit that I don't even know what the fuck they are, but I'll research a little and get back to you. I'll have to find ways of getting some training down every Wednesday from now on until at least the final week of training before this damn walk takes place.

      Wednesdays are busy. I'll be getting the miles in. Not too many actually, now that I'm looking a little more closely. They want me to do between five and six miles roughly every Wednesday but there is an emphasis on speed. I think that I should be blitzing the walks on these days. They are shorter but more intense. I'll be properly power walking. People look dreadfully ridiculous when they power walk the way I am picturing it in my head at the moment. I will try hard not to let these images put me off. I have to get a new phone sorted quickly. Jenna gave me an iphone back in June of 2015 and still it sits doing nothing. If I can get something sorted with a more up to date phone than the piece of shit I currently use then I can get a little more info about my pace and distance travelled. At the moment everything has to be drawn out in advance on my Endomondo account. It's okay but nothing would beat having access to hand while I'm out there. The Wednesdays I'm not power waking I am to be doing the ''other'' sport I do on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The swimming or those pilate things I have no fucking clue about. The only Wednesday I simply recover and stretch will be the Wednesday of the second week before the walk itself, which will be Wednesday, May 31st. That seems like a lot of active Wednesdays on the horizon. Luckily it is my midweek day off from the college.

      Friday ends the week with just a recovery day the next two weeks but then adds a few miles towards the latter stages of the training plan. It's obviously been designed for guys who work in nine-to-five jobs and so the weekends get a little more hectic. Still – it's a bit of a commitment sticking to all of this training. The longest walk I'll have to do on a Friday will be eight miles and on weeks when I've been walking to the next town on a Friday evening to see Lindsay I've been travelling further than this. I might not be fit but I'm in a relatively good place physically all things considered.

      The weekends are where it's at. Every single Saturday and Sunday between now and the walk on the tenth of June (besides the last Sunday of the plan) features a longer walk, starting around twelve miles but quickly gathering distance and ending up nearer twenty. Every Sunday I am asked to walk on hills. This is okay as I happen to live in Scotland. Finding somewhere to walk where there are no hills would be a challenge. Not far from where I live is a particularly nasty set of hills for miles and with me having my concession bus pass I am good to go for free. The bus will take me from my front door almost to the foot of the first hill. It's painful to think of me spending my Sundays in this way but it's the way I spent a few of the early Sundays back when I was very new to this sober way of living. According to the number of weeks we have left until this mammoth challenge begins today signals the start of the tenth last week of training and so I'll be starting on week three. This is okay, I've been doing a lot of walking since I quit smoking in early February, more miles than the plan would have had me doing, and so I am confident I can keep this pan going from now until the end.

      Today I am supposed to be walking, on hills, for twelve miles. There's a total of thirty four miles to be walked in total this week, with a shorter eight mile trek on Wednesday but upping the pace a little. Plenty of other exercises to do in between. The mile-count gets higher as the weeks roll by and we have three weeks in May when there will be more than forty miles per week covered and the final week with sixty miles. These seem like extremely high mile totals to be walking in a week but I consult my Endomondo account and gloss over my personal statistics. I only did one workout before I quit smoking and this was a marathon distance walk when I was new to sobriety back in 2014. I actually slipped later in that month and drank again for six months or so. Besides that walk my account is dedicated to my smoke-free days over the last seven weeks.

      There are a few weeks there with impressive totals. For me at least. The week from Feb. 13th to 19th I managed to cover over forty three miles and more than thirty five the following week. There was another week where I cleared the thirty five mile mark (which was actually last week, March 20th - 26th) and at the beginning of the month (March 06th - 12th) there was one week in which I walked just a third of a mile short of fifty five miles, which is only five miles less than the longest week's worth of training asks of me on this plan.

      In just under eight weeks since I stubbed my last cigarette I've walked more than two hundred and thirty miles. In the coming ten weeks I'm going to be clearing over four hundred and thirty. It's a lot of work and it's asking of me the one thing that's always been lacking in my efforts in all areas of my life pretty much since the day I was born: consistency!!

      Fuck!! Now I've banged on about this training plan so much that I've ran out of space to talk about that ACA meeting yesterday.

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      Stevie

      Writing two days behind?????

      1425

    3. #23
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Monday, April 03rd 2017 (Thinking Of Rio)


      Much more difficult it's gonna be to get my daily posts onto these sites this week and next. Without internet in my cave things are always a little trickier but I was on the phone to Barry the Bullet last night and will be returning to work with him from tomorrow onward. This means my time at Lindsay's will be limited and so I won't be able to use her internet. With the Glenwood library closing on Friday last week I won't have that as an option either. The other libraries close either at five or just before and I won't finish work until it's too late. There is a replacement laptop battery in the post but I won't get that until the weekend to even the option to use this thing on public transport or while having dinner at Wetherspoon or suchlike where I could use their connection. I'll just do what I always do and work things from my end, throw the words down onto OpenOffice word processing documents, and then post them online collectively when I next get the chance.

      It's gonna be hard to get to grips with being away from the college for a full fortnight while we pretend to know whatever the hell it is we're supposed to be celebrating with this Easter thing. Two weeks away from all things sound production. Hmmmm... It's happening though so I had better get used to it. People, places, and things – they are what I have no control over. I was reminded about this at the ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families) meeting on Saturday there. I think that being away from the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous has seen me regress slightly. Perhaps I haven't been aware of it happening as it's been so subtle, but I definitely have forgotten at times this fundamental and important aspect of my recovery – my powerlessness over people, places and things. I can't control whether Bayne's chooses to fill its rolls to con its customers any more than I can change Gregg's decision to ripp off those who fund it by watering down their lattes. Do I wish people would wake up and boycott this type of business? Of course. Can I stop the fact that this is never going to happen from getting me down? Only if I remember to practice that all important recovery principal and remind myself of how powerless I am over everything that is not me.

      I was watching something on television with Lindsay the other night that we'd recorded on the iplayer. It was about former football captain Rio Ferdinand and how he's failed to cope well with losing his wife to breast cancer a couple of years ago (at only thirty four she was too) and now being left with three children to raise and somehow explain to them what happened. An impossible job, I have to admit, but I also know that it can be more dangerous not to talk to our young about this. I found it interesting that Rio mentioned suicide in the programme, admitting that while he's never really considered it at any point – indeed used to think of it as incredibly selfish – but that ''all kinds of thoughts go through your head'' and it makes me wonder. Even with his lifelong ''winning'' mentality and training from the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United his thoughts went down the suicide line, however briefly.

      Makes me feel a little better about the thoughts I used to have. I think much of my problems with suicidal thoughts and feelings were to do with how we are asked to talk to people when feeling this way and the fact that I chose to share these feelings with the old website I used to post, WQD, and how these thoughts were used as a playground for others to thoughtlessly, selfishly, and incredibly immaturely, dump their negativity regarding the subject onto the pages of my former journal and really closed it down as a subject for me to talk about. As incredible as this sounds it is what happened. People become terrified by things they don't understand and for a long time I wondered about the authenticity of members of the forum. How come no one gets it!? Over time it became clear why, but none of that matters now.

      Scottish Sarah – ''Some people at the salon were talking about that the other day. Was it any good?''

      Stevie – ''It was okay actually. It focused a lot on Rio himself but did mention other things more towards the end, like Child Bereavement UK and other places that help young people cope with loss. Things that we would doubtlessly have benefited from years ago.''

      Both Gary and Scottish Sarah are nodding. They were at a fiftieth birthday party on Saturday night and I was babysitting the nieces while they went out – nieces who are becoming very close to being the same ages that Gary and I were when our father was killed and our carers chose the easy option and covered it up. It becomes obvious that Gary has been doing some thinking about all of this recently too. I've been working through some of it with Dr. Bacon, my clinical psychologist, and my little brother has had fate force his hand. In a little over four months his youngest daughter will turn four. Our dad was killed the day before my little brother turned four.

      It seems as though by the nieces simply growing up a little they are forcing us to think about the past, especially with the age gap between the two being so similar to that of my brother and me, and so it's likely I would have been forced to look at this stuff just now anyway whether I got sober or not. The only difference in being sober is the way I can look at it. It doesn't have to be a resentment-inducing mess where everything is out to get me. It can instead be perhaps something I can use over the next four months or so to bond better with my brother. I've noticed us drifting a little since we stopped working together; his attention taken up by a university degree and mine largely by trying to learn to live sober.

      I'm going to return to what we spoke about on Saturday night when I next post (which may not be for a few days as I mentioned earlier) but for now Lindsay and I must make way for the physiotherapist. She's an appointment at half past one and I'm going with her. Then we are heading to Slimming World to (probably) find out that I'm the exact same weight I was when I was last there a fortnight ago. Then we're off to SMART for six o'clock. I'm heading home after that, back to the cave for the night.

      When I wake up tomorrow I will be going out to work for the first time since that week I did back in December. It's been confirmed and I'm meeting Barry the Bullet at his brother's back garden (which is where the work gear is stored) at half past eight.

      It's all go.
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      Stevie

      See you when I see you.

      1238

    4. #24
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Tuesday, April 04th 2017 (The Meeting Point)


      Barry the Bullet fails to meet me at the arranged point so that we might go to work. It's a pain in the ass. I was so sure he would be up for it today. I've tried contacting him but he must have slept in. I'll expect a message of apology later in the day and we'll most likely head out tomorrow instead. I could have gone out and put in some effort myself but I have no idea where the ladders and bucket might be located. They are not in his brother's garden so must be at one of the other stops he uses and even if I did have access to the equipment I have no idea where abouts on the run we currently sit and so which customers require their windows cleaned next and which customers we even have left. Without Barry it is very difficult to know what to do. Ill have to hope he contacts me sometime throughout the day and we can arrange to go out tomorrow.

      I started that business over nine years ago now and it's a miracle that it has survived this long. Without my brother running it for all that time I was a useless drunk and Barry the Bullet taking the reins this last year or so it would by now all be over. Somehow it still manages to tick over though. It's handy if you happen to be me. It's a little earner whenever I need it, whenever I can locate Barry. It's clear that I'll have to stay in contact with him more frequently when I am at the college so that I know roughly where we are in the grand scheme of things from one week to the next.

      Lindsay wants to go on a little trip away to celebrate her graduating from university. Her class finishes in August but she'll have two months of placement hours to make up for given the time she's missed through various drink related absences. So we're looking at getting away in maybe October. Perhaps a Spanish island or something similar. For this I will need a passport. I'm not one of those drinkers who could hold down a job and career and so don't have much life experience outside of my native homeland and so this will be something very different to what I'm used to. By working regularly throughout the holidays from college I could put something away for this trip each month. We have holidays for two months over the summer so there's plenty scope for earning. We also have this fortnight holiday where I could be earning but can't seem to meet up with Barry. I'll have to keep working on him and all will work out in the end.

      It's not as if I've never been abroad before. I was in Florida for three weeks when I was in my teens, back in 1996. Mum sold the house when we left St. Andrews and there was money left over. I visited her when she lived in the United Arab Emirates in 2002, just before it became the clichéd place to visit, and I was in Menorca in 2005 with my all the family. That meant my children and partner; my brother and his partner at that time, and mum. We all went away for a week. This'll be different though. All this stuff that's happening is starting to make me feel as though I'm normal. It kinda makes me wonder what all the fuss was about with the drinking and using to begin with . I know it hasn't been that long but it is starting to feel like ages ago that I was doing all of that shit. I have to get to work if it's gonna happen though and at the moment I seem to be at the mercy of Barry the Bullet's sleeping habits.

      I guess I can't really say all that much. There were times when we had employees and I would do the same to them. Often they would make their way to work and I wouldn't be there. I'd have slept in. The meeting point was always either at my brother's or down the town. This happened more and more towards the end of my drinking career and it's something I'm only starting to see as unacceptable now as it's happening to me. I'm the one that's normal now and keen to earn cash for I have reasons to while someone else has the abnormal sleeping pattern.

      So – Gary, Scottish Sarah and I were discussing that Rio Ferdinand documentary from the other night and how it seems as though child bereavement services have fairly moved on since we were at school back in the eighties and nineties. It wouldn't have mattered what services were in place though – age plays a part regardless and it's clear that Gary is seeing this in his own children now. There are exactly eighteen months between my nieces. I am seventeen months, two weeks, and two days older than Gary. It's a pretty similar situation going on. So all of this thinking about the past that I've been doing at this stage of getting sober would have likely happened anyway because Gary's been doing it now that Youngest Niece is just four months away from turning the age that Gary was when dad died. She'll turn four on August 06th.

      Gary – ''It is weird the difference between them.''

      Stevie – ''How so?''

      Gary – ''I think that if anything happened to me then Oldest Niece would be deeply affected by it. Her would be overturned. Youngest Niece though, I think she'd just, over time, get used to me not being around. It wouldn't have that much of an impact on her.''

      I think he's right. Oldest Niece is more the princess. She's a lot more of what we would say in this day and age is feminine. She does all the girly things and wants all the girly stuff. Youngest Niece is more battle-hardened. She knows the score. She's made of tougher stuff emotionally than her older sister.

      Scottish Sarah – ''If anything happened to Gary I don't think I'd be able to tell them that he wasn't coming back.''

      Stevie – ''You'd have to.''

      Scottish Sarah – ''I'd come up with something but I wouldn't be telling Oldest Niece that ''your dad's dead'', I don't think that's right.''

      What she means, of course, is that she doesn't think that it's right for her to have to do it. It's very important that, should anything happen to Gary, that she wouldn't put her own fears and shielding of reality first and foremost like I've recently learned my mother and grandmother did. They put themselves first. It doesn't surprise me that Sarah would be thinking along those lines as well. They aren't at the same stage in this investigation of the past as I am. They don't need to be either, but nevertheless I am miles ahead of them in this.

      Sarah would have only one other option if she was not willing to put aside her own grief for one second for the good of her children.

      She'd have to instead create a monster like me.

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      Stevie

      Barry says we'll go out tomorrow.

      1236

    5. #25
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Wednesday, April 05th 2017 (Healing The World)


      I told you that I'd keep writing although exactly when all of this crap is going to make it onto the internet is still unknown to me. Barry the Bullet had another shitty night last night and so I've missed another chance of going out and earning some cash (it's also good to show face and try to keep this business going so that it is there for the coming summer – ten more teaching weeks left when we go back to college and then we're off for two months). I'm gonna arrange to meet with him so that I can find out where we are in the run, which customers still get done, and so on, so that I can go out all next week myself without having to worry about relying on Barry. I'd probably make a little more as well.

      It's a shame too as the sun most definitely has its hat on for all of us Scottish pricks this fine day. It really makes a world of difference so it does. It makes everyone else less miserable too, I notice. It makes a difference to the way I view the world on many different levels. It obviously has an effect on how I look at the present day but it also makes the future seem brighter and my memories of the past a little warmer too. The fact that I am to be returning to window cleaning on a week when it is getting sunnier and spring has pushed out the last of the winter has made me feel more optimistic about window cleaning in general. I've forgotten most of the shitty parts of it and have been focusing on the parts I used to enjoy. I've been finding myself missing it at times when I've been thinking about it. I never thought I'd type that.

      So I had to find something to do to take up my time. Marshall (dude in recovery who is hoping to start up a guitar class with me for people in recovery) text last night to ask if I wanted to go with him to a nearby town to see Susan (the project manager for the service that is trying to get this class up and running and who I still have forms of identification to hand into) and so I told him this morning of my change of heart (forced by Barry's sleeping pattern).

      I was at the Charity Shop Cafe for breakfast this morning (and I have to be careful not to be self-destructive here as I lost another half pound at Slimming World on Monday and so am currently – or at least was for that moment I stepped on the scales – under the ten stone mark and so six and a half pounds away from my target weight, something I'd love to reach by my birthday at the end of the month) and was sitting with someone I speak with regularly who is in recovery.

      We're sitting there and talking about all sorts of things but the whole time I'm waiting on the inevitable switch to a conversation about addictions and for it to remain the topic of choice for the duration of our time together. This is a common problem among people in recovery and something I had worried about happening with Lindsay when we first started going out back in late August/early September but that we seemed to get over quite quickly, I'm happy to say. We made a pact early on and managed to stick to it. This is exactly what happens and he tells me about his coming training and how addictions services have all this and that lined up for him. His incredible lack of self-esteem will lap it up – him not believing there to be another way in which he can gain status and position in society, another common problem with regards to people in recovery.

      I was like this myself and wrote about it on another forum some time ago, when I was still in the midst of my drinking but of the thinking that I was cured. I was sure that I had plenty to offer others struggling with their woes, losses, and addictive behaviours. It seems silly now but I had been sober for around a month when I wrote about my thoughts of getting into addictions counselling and how I might be able to help others who might be struggling with what I ''used'' to be. Someone wrote this response in my old journal, those reading on Ryver might know who they are but there's no need to mention names. It doesn't really matter. This is what they wrote to me regarding my thinking about working in the addictions counselling field:

      ''
      I*remember*going*to*a*meeting*years*ago*when*an*ol d*guy***a*Glaswegian,*funnily*enough***said*someth ing*along*the lines*of*"they*say*it*doesn't*matter*how*long*you' re*sober,*I*say*that's*bollocks.*I'm*glad*I*was*se ven*years*sober*and*not seven*days*when*I*had*my*first*heart*attack.*I'm*g lad*I*was*ten*years*sober*and*not*ten*weeks*when*m y*wife*died.*I'm glad*I*was*fifteen*years*and*not*fifteen*months*wh en*my*son*died*of*an*overdose.*The*man*I*became*in *recovery*during that*time*was*capable*of*coping*with*those*things* in*a*way*that*I*could*not*have*done*when*I*was*fir st*around".*

      Recovery***as*opposed*to*sobriety***takes*time*and *practice.*Some*of*the*things*that*have*got*tangle d*up*inside*of*us might*straighten*themselves*out,*given*time.*Some* of*the*things*that*are*tangled*up*inside*of*us*mig ht*require*conscious effort.*All*of*these*things*will*be*acknowledged*i n*ways*that*they*simply*weren't*when*we*were*using *or*recently*stopped. I've*also*had*a*wee*bit*of*experience*with*drug*an d*alcohol*counsellors,*both*as*a*client*back*in*th e*day,*and*more recently*in*work*I've*done*with*rehabs*as*business es.*There*are*some*great*ones*and*many*poor*ones.* The*poor*ones all*shared*two*things*I*noticed***they*were*all*ex *addicts*or*alkies,*and*they*all*wanted*to*"heal*t he*world".*Grandiose thinking*still*working*hard*in*them,*convinced*the y*knew*better*than*everyone*else,*convinced*that*t heir*thinking*was better*than*everyone*else's,*convinced*that*the*pe rson*they*were*"at*that*moment"*was*well*equipped* (indeed,*couldn't be*better*equipped)*to*help*others.*A*long*time*ag o*I*sponsored*one*person*who*spoke*in*early*recove ry*about becoming*a*counsellor,*I*just*suggested*that*she*p ark*the*idea*until*she*was*better,*and*then*take*a *look*at*it.*And*I've never*heard*her*mention*it*since,*and*she's*been*s ober*for*a*good*while.*Maybe*she'll*do*it*now***an d*she*might*be*good at*it.*But*she*wouldn't*have*been*good*at*it*when* she*was*first*around.

      ''

      As I'm talking to the guy at the Charity Shop Cafe I am struck with the same thoughts about him as I am whenever I listen to someone speak in a SMART meeting, when I listen to Marshall talk about recovery, when I listen to anyone and everyone who goes to Restoration, and when I listen to people who attend FIRST meetings as well – almost everyone I talk to about recovery. They want to talk and talk and talk. I guess I am finally, fifty three days into my ninety days without an AA meeting, starting to see the advantages of being in the fellowship. They have a policy whereby we are to ''take the cotton wool out of our ears and stick it in our mouths'' and I notice that those who use other services do not possess this crucial skill. They always want you to hear their opinion and snuff out yours. If they ask your opinion and it differs from theirs then they get all offended and frightened and don't ask you again.

      Being Teachable. That was something else I was advised to do while trying to get sober. I never thought that I was but the fact that, way back in the summer of 2014 when I received that post quoted above, I had already become slightly teachable. I was able to read the post and think about it, to try to understand the points it was making to me. Now I look around and I can see quite clearly that all of the poorest workers in the field of addiction all have that one thing in common – they are all in recovery. For the others it is a job, like their last one and like their next one, it's a job and they do their best. For those in ''recovery'' it is more than that. It is their ego, their self-worth, their sobriety – everything hinges on them creating a cover life for themselves in the same way many a serial killer has. Anything is easier than actually putting the work in to try to recover.

      I think that everyone in the recovery world was stunned last year when the government cut the funding to our services by twenty per cent. We lost our addictions psychologist; we lost funding for Restoration; employees of agencies are on three month rolling contracts - we lost a lot. It's kind of obvious now though, to me at least, that this will continue to happen more and more. Why would the government want to give money to a service that isn't working? Why would they want to pile cash and resources into something which yields such poor results? They wouldn't, and they won't. This is already the beginning of the end. I think that places like Restoration, Addiction Services; SMART; FIRST; DAPL; FASS; Frontline Fife; and all of the others, need to start producing results or they can expect to be cut even further.
      Last edited by Lunarer; April 6th, 2017 at 04:03 PM. Reason: I don't know why the quote has come out like it has

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Marshall (I keep forgetting if I spell his name with one ''l'' or two) and I arrive at the DAPL headquarters a couple of towns away. It's great being spring. The windows in Marshal(l)'s car are down and I saw a bumblebee earlier – the first time I've experienced either of these things so far this year. We're entering times when everything seems better. We're off to see Susan. She's meeting with us again to progress this music group. She gets onto the subject of cuts and results.

      Susan – ''The reason that some people try to get into work as addiction workers for the Scottish Drug Consortium is because they wouldn't be able to get work anywhere else on account of their criminal records.''

      It's a fair point, but one that still doesn't really make up for the fact that most of these guys I've met are very poor at what they do. Being an addict doesn't mean that you will be any good at the job. The guy I had breakfast with has quite a short temper. He also blames everyone else for things he does wrong. He can't speak very clearly yet still speaks quite softly. Rather than speak up and slow down his words he, quite rudely it must be said at times, or I think seems to most people, blames others for not hearing him. We've to turn our hearing aids up. It's never his fault. I wonder what kind of quality this is to carry into a job working with addicts and alkies. I know – it's his mental health, he doesn't know any better. But I was always told that I am responsible for my own illness. He must have to be too. I can see the yellowy-white colouring of his tongue as he lifts the spoon to eat his soup. Because he has ran out of teeth he won't be bothering with toothbrushes and so the bacteria has continued to grow and develop without any maintenance and care. It's a horrendous sight and one that shows me he does not look in the mirror too often. I know – empathise, and I do try, but the drug consortium would do well for themselves if they taught these guys how to do the simple things like this before training them to help others with addictive tendencies.

      Susan brings up a comparison between the UK and the USA.

      Susan – ''If we were in America people would be really happy about us being in recovery. In Britain there is still a very stigmatised way of looking at those in recovery, a very old fashioned attitude.''

      I don't know if this is true. I actually think that people are happy that I'm getting better. My nieces even love that I have quit smoking – the final addictive substance to leave my life.

      Susan, Marshall and I come up with a ''script'' for running this guitar class but I'll outline that tomorrow. I'm way over my word-count for today.
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      Stevie

      Way over his word count.

      2186

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Thursday, April 06th 2017 (The Schedule)


      Right then – did Barry the Bullet get up this morning so that we could head out to work? The short answer would be NO. We're going to leave it until next week. That's three days work I've lost out on though and there's no guarantee that he'll make it out of bed any easier next week. I'll just have to have faith, pray to my Higher Power that his mother makes a swift recovery but I don't know if it works like that. I would be praying for someone else's good fortune but would really have my own best interests at heart. I'm still a little too new to work out if Higher Powers operate in this way and I've been away from the meetings for long enough now to start forgetting some of AA's teachings. Maybe Gods of our understanding work similarly to the Monkey's Paw if we secretly have our own desires at the root of our prayers, in which case I should be careful, but whatever way you look at it the opposite of praying for Barry the Bullet's mother to get well soon, regardless of what my true prayers may be, would be to not wish for her a speedy recovery. If my Higher Power is like that then I'm not really sure I understand him at all. Maybe I'm just overcomplicating it. Moving on.

      I'll be heading through to Lindsay's this afternoon. I haven't been through all week but we were on the phone last night and I'm gonna go through today. I'm gonna walk through with my big heavy bag and all that so I'll be getting some more of my training done while I'm at it. The replacement laptop battery has arrived through the post and is sitting at her flat as we type. This way I'll be able to use this thing while out and about once more. The benefits were enormous before and they'll be enormous again. I'll be able to sneak around and use the laptop on buses and in cafes. There are other libraries in my town and surrounding towns and so I can get over the loss of the Glenwood one a little quicker. They are less hospitable and don't really have the same space as the Glenwood did (and none of them are as sociable as the Glenwood was which was the main thing it had going for itself – I think the community has lost a great meeting place with this closure, but I should get over it, that's last week's news) and so I am unable to plug my laptop into their power sockets but this new battery will mean that I won't have to bother. I'm back online.

      I was at the Charity Shop Cafe again this morning. I have to be careful that this place doesn't turn into my replacement library as the food it sells is far from healthy stuff (it's like a modern day Greasy Spoon) and the menu here would see my Slimming World consultant's mouth hit the floor. It is the only place you can be with the community down at the Glenwood Centre at the moment though. When the really good weather comes in then people will meet at the benches outside but at the moment it really has to be indoors most days although today has been particularly decent.


      @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@


      Right then, I'm in the next town. Lindsay is out with her friends from AA (Ann and Lisa – both went to SMART on Monday and both are just off the back of a lengthy binge. You notice that – when one of them goes out they take the other with them. Lindsay struggles as a result with them as friends as they can get quite close for a while but then when a relapse is on the horizon she is left out. They know they can't drink with Lindsay so she just has to sit around and wait for them to sober up so that she can be included again. They seem to be going through a little sober patch at the moment so all is good, but at some point soon........) so I let myself in with my key and I have to say it's been a good day so far. It's the weather. It can make what would otherwise be a normal and nondescript day seem heavenly. I'm not saying that this day has been poor – it's been pretty good and would have been had the weather been what it was at this time last month (maybe not actually – weather really does have that effect on me) and there is still much of it to go. I'm optimistic.

      It's good to be able to get this stuff posted as well which I will do in a minute or so. When it clogs up my OpenOffice Writer rather than being out there and online it becomes a little irritating, almost like an annoying itch from an insect bite, only one from an insect that has somehow managed to burrow into my skull and pierce my brain. It won't find much in the way of nutritional excellence in there, I'm afraid.

      So – Susan, Marshall and I came up with a music class structure. Here it is (rough estimate and subject to change):

      18:30 – 18:35: Opening Statement.

      We have something in the pipeline which outline what the group is here for and what we hope to achieve. I'll write it down in the journal when it's been finalised.

      18:35 – 18:45: Check In

      Similar to SMART only we talk about what we've been listening to, practising, and how we got on with the ''homework'' from the week before.

      18:45 – 19:15: Lesson

      Seems to be my section of the class as Marshall gives away more and more that he knows very little about why a chord is a chord, but we'll get to that the more he gets found out.

      19:15 – 19:25: Comfort break

      Or more accurately: smoke break.

      19:25 – 19:55: The ''fun'' part, which it seems as though Marshall will be taking. This is more the part where we jam together, perhaps in pairs.

      19:55 – 20:00: End of class, feedback, etc.

      20:00: Get outta here, I'm sick of the sight of you guys.

      This will start from April 19th, a fortnight from now, but will just be Marshall and myself for the first two weeks (meaning that it officially begins on the first Wednesday of May)

      Anyway, that's me reached my one thousand words for the day already. I'm off to enjoy a sunny afternoon.
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      Stevie

      Raising his replacement laptop battery aloft as though wielding some enormous sword in victory after winning an epic duel.

      1139

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Friday, April 07th 2017 (Two Months Smoke Free)


      The seventh of every month used to mean a lot to me a couple of years ago as the days I was sober became weeks, became months. Two years ago at this point I was two months sober to the day, but not long from a weed smoking lapse which would last until my one year sober anniversary on the seventh of February last year. This means that one year ago to the day I was fourteen months sober and two months off the weed, around thirteen weeks since I'd last taken any harder drugs. Today means that I am, to the day, twenty six months off the booze; fourteen months away from the weed; and two full months off the cigarettes. Perhaps even more interesting than this though, is the fact that I am also two full months off the Sertraline antidepressants. The ''brain zaps'' died off eventually. I did the right thing in weaning off them against the doctor's advice. Sometimes we have to accept that we know in our gut when something feels right and so we must go with it. This is by far the longest I have gone since becoming a teenager that I have had nothing destructive going into my system on a regular basis (although I am sure that my Slimming World consultant would have something to say about that given the menu at the Charity Shop Cafe). Let's get on with things.

      So - I'm back in my own town again. I've been here quite a lot this last week, more than I've been used to so far this year, and I've noticed some interesting things as a result. I've noticed that I don't receive much in the way of mail. All of my current bills and debts are being catered for, I'm paying them as I should be, and so there is no reason for anyone to be sending me letters of hate and threats. I also have noticed that my Dragon Tree looks all but certain to survive from now until the finish line. The Scottish weather won't get cold enough and dark enough for long enough a period now for it to kill my beloved tree and so I am not long from being able to officially tick off another challenge in my sobriety. One that many might think ludicrously easy – keeping a house plant alive for one full year – but one that has taken me two attempts to achieve, assuming it makes it to June 30th as it is.

      At the Charity Shop Cafe this morning (I'm working there – not just eating) I can see the true nature of the Glenwood Centre and what its fate must surely be. An old television has been thrown from one of the flats that sits high above the shops and has crashed onto the ground to be left (why? When there is a charity shop directly beneath you?). The weeds and reeds are loving this sunny weather as much as I have been and are pushing through all of the many gaps and holes in the slabs and no one is caring for them. It's gonna look like a jungle soon, or what my garden used to look like when I was drinking, whatever's worse. The welcoming doors of the library, which would on sunny days like today have been open to air out the place, are now hidden behind enormous and rusty metal shutters. It's starting to look a little derelict. One of this town's most well established restaurants sits next to the charity shop and I've heard through the grapevine that there are plans to move it, to relocate down the town centre, which would be another bitter blow to this community.

      It seems as though capitalism is in full flow here at the Glenwood Centre – my local shopping area. Local hospitality such as the library and (at some point along the line surely) the charity shop are closing down and being replaced by places like Iceland and Tesco. It's easy to see the differences between the two different types of service when you step inside each of their respective buildings.

      I'm working this morning with someone I've never worked with before. We're chatting away and some guys are coming out of the flats above the shop. This new woman strikes up a conversation about junkie types, the addicted. She says she doesn't want to judge but then goes out and judges. I decide, not to defend the addicts of the world, but just to point out that it is quite a daunting task for someone who has missed out on so much compared with their age-related counterparts, that often we leave school with little, go through long spells of unemployment, have trouble with the law, can't bond with our fellow humans and so go through most of our twenties and thirties (and for many of us beyond) without having much in the way of close friendships and certainly we don't have intimate relationships with romantic partners – we miss out on so much of what makes a healthy twenty first century person living in a developed and capitalist community that it seems like an incredible challenge for us to be able to change our ways and our personal resources at the time of sobering up or straightening up are so poor that we are often incapable of taking part in the very services that might be able to help us.

      She asks how I know so much about this.

      Stevie – ''After I'm done here I have another voluntary position I go to. It's with Restoration, they offer a safe place for those in recovery to hang out every week.''

      Woman – ''Ah, Restoration!! I have a friend who volunteers for them.''

      Turns out that she does and I know the woman she's talking about. She's not the smartest tool in the box, this volunteer we both know, and I am now worried for my anonymity. When this woman I am speaking with mentions my name and that she worked beside me at the Charity Shop Cafe to her friend then it's likely she'll be told that I am not a volunteer but actually one of the service users. I'm not that important that people want to talk about me when I'm not there but there is an enormous chance that this woman I was working with this morning will soon know that I am an ex-problem drinker. It serves me right for lying. I'm not a volunteer, but it's none of anyone else's business why I go to the place every week.

      It's not that I mind her or anyone else knowing, not at all, it's more that I feel as though the threat of my anonymity being broken isn't really of any great concern to Restoration or indeed addiction services. In AA we talk about anonymity quite a bit, all the time actually, and in SMART there is an opening statement which covers this too. ACA does the same, as well as any other Twelve Step Fellowship you care to pick. Restoration doesn't seem to mention it though. Maybe my anonymity being broken here could be used to the advantage of the service as a whole.

      I think I'm coming down with some kind of illness. This never happens. Worse than this I noticed pins and needles in my left arm and fingertips as I was walking to Lindsay's last night – a ten mile trip with my bag of goodies. Today I have had little flutters here and there but there has been no chest pain. Lindsay took my blood pressure and said that it was perfect. There shouldn't be anything to worry about.

      So I won't worry.

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      Stevie

      Another week bites the dust.

      1320

    9. #29
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Saturday, April 08th 2017 (Looking Over The Problem)


      We're flying through the weeks now. I can't believe it's been eight weeks since I was last in an AA room. Fifty six days to the day. That represents fifty six minutes of our football match since I am taking ninety days away from the meetings (AA says when you join that you should go to ninety meetings in your first ninety days to ensure that you settle in and so I am putting my own little twist on things by staying away for that long) and there are ninety minutes in a football match (I'm British so when I mention ''football'' I am talking about ''soccer'') so we are ten minutes now into the second half. Things are hotting up.

      Sometimes the word ''codependency'' comes to mind. I'm not sure what this means in a recovery context. This isn't some fantasy adventure where I am a solo swordsman travelling some unknown lands to slay some evil wizard or dragon who threatens the stability of my people; nor is it a game of Call Of Duty where I alone must face entire armies in the hope that we all might survive a Nazi invasion – it's hardly as dramatic as all that, it's just a case of me adding flowers to my life's petal. I think I wrote that wrong. I mean: adding petals to my life's flower. This means that the people who are with me on this journey are not people I depend on in the way that I think the codependency phrase means. I don't know. Would I still be able to stay sober if I lost Lindsay from my life? Or my brother? English Sara and Dennis? My nieces? I don't quite know what they are talking about when they speak of codependency because we all have people in our lives – even those who warn about codependency – who's loss to us would change things dramatically.

      I think I've finally succumbed to illness. This doesn't happen to me very often but I think that there's no avoiding it this time. I'm gonna be ill. I decided to walk through the pre-illness feelings of weakness and cold and get myself to the ACA meeting that started up in this town last week.

      ''
      Many of us found that we had several characteristics in common as a result of being brought up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional household. We had come to feel isolated and uneasy with other people, especially authority figures. ''


      I can relate to most of the things that ACA says and discusses in its meetings but not everything. There was no alcoholism in my family while I was growing up. I also think that it's unfair to say that I come from a dysfunctional family as they did do their best, mostly for themselves I accept, but that is no different from any other family out there. Yesterday I had Oldest Niece with me to Restoration. She loved it. We were making Easter cards and cupcakes and she made one of each for her uncle Stevie, and again for her sister, mum and dad. Gary had asked if I could do this so that he could get on with a university report he had to finish for Monday.

      When Oldest Niece and I got back Gary continued with his report. For all I know he could still be typing now. As a result of this Oldest Niece had to make do with the television after I left and Gary had still not looked at the work she had done while away, despite many efforts to raise his attention to them. Of course, Gary would, were we stupid enough, have us believe that the reason he is going to university in the first place is to provide a better future for his family and this is what most of us tend to say under similar circumstances, but it's bullshit really, and I hope we all know it, and I can see in Oldest Niece's face many times as she accepts she's second place to the laptop screen the smallest but surest first signs of abandonment. In many ways she comes from a dysfunctional family in that the family comes in second place behind a screen.

      ''To protect ourselves, we became people-pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat. We either became alcoholics (or practiced other addictive behavior) ourselves, or married them, or both. Failing that, we found other compulsive personalities, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our sick need for abandonment.''

      I don't feel as though I was ever a people-pleaser but my own identity was completely lost somewhere along the line of time and I became confused as to how much of the facade I put on since I was a young boy was actually the real me. Probably not very much. I guess that this is one of the things that Dr. Bacon is trying to do with me during our psychology sessions – he's trying to smash down the facade, the Detached Protector Mode, and get to the real Stevie, surely just a child himself, and then I have the rest of my life to try to grow and ''mature'' this real child, to try to develop what is a very underdeveloped Healthy Adult Mode.

      ''We lived life from the standpoint of victims. Having an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We got guilt feelings when we stood up for ourselves rather than giving in to others. Thus, we became reactors, rather than actors, letting others take the initiative.''

      Again – only parts of this ring true with me. I don't feel as though I was more concerned with others than with myself but instead feel as though I got into real alcoholic territory by becoming obsessed with myself and my tiny world. In saying that – I did seem to have an unhealthy preoccupation with particular types of people - those starving in the world and, in particular, women – especially those physically abused in the home. Maybe this was a form of people-pleasing but in any case was definitely used as a way of avoiding the situation I was faced with at that time. I worried about others to avoid having to sort out myself.

      ''We were dependent personalities, terrified of abandonment, willing to do almost anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally. Yet we kept choosing insecure relationships because they matched our childhood relationship with alcoholic or dysfunctional parents.''

      We're all dependent. In fact – we are all totally and completely dependent on others from birth to death and are all in our own ways terrified of being abandoned, more so in today's society than at any other point in history I feel, as our attitudes towards social media and the internet kind of illustrates, so abandonment is on the increase if you ask me and Oldest Niece is starting to warm to this type of lifestyle already, at the tender age of five. In ten years times when she's totally addicted to social media she'll, and everyone else will agree, think that she's made the choice to be when the reality is that she is as we speak learning that technology is more important than human interaction. She'll not be making a choice anymore than she'll simply be doing as she was told to do as she was growing up. Mum and dad will both look back and say that they were not on their computers or phones all that much so I'll write it down right now for future reference: you guys were on your laptops and phones ALL THE TIME!! Much more than I ever saw you talk with your children.

      It's my duty as her uncle to always make sure that technology is second to her and her sister. It's something I have no problem with (and I don't have to even check my phone when I visit) but it's an enormous responsibility. I'm up to it though.

      ''These symptoms of the family disease of alcoholism or other dysfunction made us "co-victims", those who take on the characteristics of the disease without necessarily ever taking a drink. We learned to keep our feelings down as children and kept them buried as adults. As a result of this conditioning, we confused love with pity, tending to love those we could rescue. Even more self-defeating, we became addicted to excitement in all our affairs, preferring constant upset to workable relationships.''

      The meeting was okay but sometime I am sitting there thinking that I actually seem pretty stable in comparison to these guys. There is perhaps one reason for this: I attend sessions with a clinical psychologist. This guy, according to all of the bollocks I hear in Restoration and SMART and so on, should be shite at his job because he's not been an addict himself. That is what they say. But because he has not wasted so much of his life wallowing in addictive self-pity as we have is exactly one of the main reasons he is a psychologist in the first place. He's not that much older than me yet has his training and plenty of experience. He's in a position at a time of his life when it would be impossible for someone like me to ever be, let alone be at my age.

      There's only so far identification is going to take you before it becomes pointless and just another problem. These groups are okay but to have them and only them (as well as their Twelve Step programmes) is only going to help a small percentage of the problem. The real work begins when in the presence of a professional who will not provide hiding places for you, who will constantly be pushing you to face demons and fears. The rooms provide too many hiding places. Too many opportunities for us to tell ourselves and each other how it is. Psychology works it differently. I have my next session on Monday afternoon.

      ''This is a description, not an indictment.''

      I had to get straight and sober to start looking at all of this stuff so I thank AA for that, but I think I also feel less distracted now that I don't attend their meetings as I don't have to talk about alcohol all the time. In AA we very seldom speak about things related to recovery, it's always just a chat about our drinking days.

      I reckon staying away for eight weeks has worked for me and I deserve a goal.

      Fifty six minutes in and Stevie scores.

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      Stevie

      Stevie 1 – 0 Ninety days without AA

      1822

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Sunday, April 09th 2017 (Hard To Relate)


      Who'd have thought when we all made the transition (and a painful one it was too) from WQD to this place that so few of us would write in our journals? In fact – there seems to be only one other person (Jupiter) besides me who writes in this place regularly at the moment. What has happened to the others? I don't know why we didn't all sign up to one of the other forums that are on offer. Some of us have already, and some of us seem to have been members of multiple forums for some time, but most of us seem to just not be around anymore. I quite like My Way Out as a forum. It works the exact same way as WQD used to but is much smaller and has a few extra limitations (posts have to be under ten thousand characters for instance, not really a problem unless you happen to be me though) but it otherwise more or less the same. I guess it's best not to plug it too much as I know how much work is required on the other end once message boards become too popular and we end up losing them.

      Whatever way I try to look at it though – WQD on Ryver has been, after only three months, a complete and utter failure. A total disaster. Strength in numbers. Unless there's an entire ''invitation only'' section of the site reserved for those and such as those that I have purposefully be kept out of the loop from then I can't see how anyone in their right mind could say that this new site has worked. There is no community left at all. Already a ticking time bomb. The ''Chat'' section appears to be the only place where anything happens, and very little at all happens in there.

      But I'll carry on and the thing buzzing around my head this sunny Sunday morning (besides the dying embers of a virus of some kind that saw me head to bed very early last night and seriously sweat it out) is something that Lindsay was talking about. Being a former drinker as well (to the extent where her son does not live with her and she's had a brain haemorrhage from a drunken fall a couple of years ago) she speaks with a psychiatric nurse once a fortnight. The differences between psychiatric nurses and clinical psychologists was not clear to me until I started to immerse myself in the recovery world. Psychiatric nurses, besides the fact that they haven't undertaken anywhere near the same levels of training as their psychological counterparts, are more focused to keeping patients safe in the here and now. They look to protect the onion until ready for the peeling process. Psychology doesn't waste any time and gets straight on with peeling the onion.

      This is quite an interesting way to look at AA sponsorship and the advice that was given to me when I was new to the rooms. I wanted a sponsor early and managed to get ''on the program'' at around three and a half months sober. Advice varied. Some said to wait, others said to do it at the earliest opportunity. Because my journey saw me enter into the life of a sponsee so soon I always thought it was the right way to go. Why would someone want to remain sick for a period before trying to get well through working the Steps AA has to offer? Now I am wondering. Perhaps it's better to make sure that you are safe in the here and now, just off a drink (and these days drugs too) bender that has often lasted for decades, before the onion peeling begins!? Or perhaps due to sponsors not being in any way qualified to help us peel our onions maybe the role they play is more that of the psychiatric nurse – preparing us for the next step of the help we'll need.

      So with Lindsay and I you have a seven month old relationship between two former drinkers who met in Alcoholics Anonymous, one sees a clinical psychologist regularly while the other makes do with a psychiatric nurse while she's waiting on her referral to come through to psychology services. Some might think that we are a recipe for a bigger failure than WQD on Ryver. Who's to say!? The thing I'm thinking about is something that Lindsay and her psychiatric nurse were taking about at their session on Wednesday last week. I must have come up in the conversation quite a bit and the agency/organisation ''Relationships Scotland'' was mentioned, particularly ''Relate'' and Lindsay has already paid for a triage of sorts with them next week.

      At first my mind started to wander. Or more accurately – began to be stretched in all different directions, trying to figure out what might be happening. My first instinct was that we are far too early into a relationship of any kind surely for us to be considering relationships counselling. Then I began to wonder if maybe this meant that Lindsay was clinging onto something she doesn't feel to be working. Then I wondered if she might be codependent, and then if I might be, then I chilled the fuck out and collected my thoughts, looked at what was going on.

      At least she cares enough about what we have going at the moment to try to get to the bottom of any issues we might be having this early on. She had mentioned to her nurse that while we have only been going out for seven months she does feel closer to me than previous boyfriends due to the depth of sharing that goes on between us and has done since this all started. I get that too, but then when I take into consideration some of what ACA talks of regarding previous relationships. My own experience has been tainted badly by many of these. I was, or always thought that I was, attracted to women who lived life in much the same chaotic way that I myself did. There have been some belters in there. Relationships, like any other of life's petals you care to pick, are areas of life that I am having to learn all about as I approach forty years old. I'm learning now much of the stuff I should have been learning twenty years ago. Some of us, those who really do venture a little too far down drink's rabbit-hole, have it all to do from the moment we get sober.

      I can't think of what particular aspect of our relationship Lindsay might be feeling to be out of control to the extent that she (and her psychiatric nurse) feels that there needs to be a more professional intervention other than the totally obvious one: sex! Seven months down the line and we still have not managed to get past this hurdle. There are times when I try to raise it (I mean to raise the subject) but there are other times when I enjoy looking forward to a period of time where we do not think about it, as if I'm happy to accept that it is not something we have to live with at the moment. She would try to initiate it early on and I would always start to feel claustrophobic and smothered. I would mastermind a way out of it. After a while Lindsay's efforts died down but she continues to bring it up every now and then, as you might imagine and as it her right. I think that she is going to go to this triage appointment with Relate on her own but then after this is hoping that I might go with her to the sessions. This won't be a problem and I'm happy to go along. I no longer feel frightened when I am in a position where I have to be judged. I wrote on the old WQD many times and in great depth about my problems regarding sex but don't know how necessary that will be in this new journal.

      I'll cover this a little more tomorrow. I've a session with Dr. Bacon in the afternoon so there's no telling what tomorrow's post might contain.

      I've still another week to go before I return to the college to get on with all things sound production related so to pass the time productively I am still hopeful that I can get a hold of Barry the Bullet and get out working this week.

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      Stevie

      Hopeful about work.

      1447

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