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    1. #321
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Monday, January 08th 2017 (Bottom of the Pecking Order)


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

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

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

      I still feel the slight sting of that comment he made a couple of sessions ago when he said that he thought I had made some real progress in the time since I quit drinking. That I had come as far as I likely could have in this time without doing any of the hard stuff. When I first heard that I put it in a box inside my head so that we could get on with the session but as soon as it was over and I started walking out into the rain I opened it back up again and let the comment run free. I really did think that there were many hard parts to getting sober.

      The first shifts volunteering for the Charity Shop Cafe were pretty hard – totally out of my comfort zone! Getting back to work with Barry the Bullet was demanding in so many ways, least of all the fact that with all that time off I was much physically weaker and so climbing the ladder was more difficult than it ever was before. What about all of the social interaction I've had to deal with in the last two years and eleven months? Hard going! I've had to make friends at college, at that Resources Group, in AA meetings. I've met probably as many people in the last three years as I had the previous twenty, when you factor in all of the AA members and people in Restoration and other groups I've been involved with. And let's not forget about Lindsay who has thrown up all manner of tricky situations in the near seventeen months we've been seeing each other. All that walking? The trip to Barcelona? I thought that these were all very hard challenges.

      I am quite excited now though. If these were all easy parts to getting sober and learning to battle successfully against my Schema Modes then what might be some of the hard parts? If my life isi very different now as a result of doing the easy things then what might it be like a year from now if Bacon is going to have me doing the hard stuff this year? It makes for some very interesting and exciting possibilities. My next session with him is next Thursday. January 18th. I have a little homework I still have to do before then actually, more of those questionnaires, so I could be getting on with that, as well as those Mode Diaries which have become standard for us between sessions.

      Well – I'm getting near to the end of another post and I don't know how I really do it. Every single day last year and multiple times a day the year before I would sit down to the laptop keyboard and type away, not really sure what I would end up talking about, if anything, but the fingers just go on and on until they feel that the time has come to stop (and they often need a little nudge in order to notice this) and the funny thing is that it's become so routine that I almost instinctively know when I am between eleven hundred and twelve hundred words, which seems to be the daily quota.

      Who knows – maybe in the years to come this journal will become the longest thing ever written.


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      Stevie

      Typing and typing and typing and typing.

      1146

    2. #322
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Tuesday, January 09th 2018 (A Plant's Life)


      When I first heard about people in recovery being so poor at looking after themselves, their surroundings, and everything that has anything to do with them that they should embark on a mission to learn responsibility by getting their hands on a house plant and trying to keep it alive for a period of one year I figured it would be the ideal thing for me to try. It's a bit of a commitment but at least nothing dies (or even gets as much as a little upset) if I fail in my mission and the plant does indeed die. I heard about this in a Cocaine Anonymous meeting – a meeting that used to actually take place just along the road from where I live at the moment and type this very post out, right next door to my dentist (which we'll get to soon enough), but that closed down just a few weeks after it opened. Upon hearing about this I eagerly headed to the local garden store and got myself a couple of plants. One was a Leopard Lily – the other a Dragon Tree. I had high hopes. A little water here and there and a bit of grooming when necessary and everything should work out fine. They both died within a few months.

      It was the winter. That first winter I spent sober in 2015 was one of my more difficult ones. I had stopped drinking but had not yet learned to start looking after myself properly. There was a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy on the go in that I had been saying for years that the winter is just a time when I really struggle and there's nothing I can do about it. I have to suffer during this period every year and that's that. I had that thing. . . Seasonal Affective Disorder. I was SAD. That was what it was. So when this winter came around all of the good work I had done in my early sobriety that helped in giving me a glimmer of hope, a fighting chance at a new life, well it was all discarded temporarily as I went about just another winter but without the booze.

      Despite having a bed in the next room I opted to hibernate into the smallest room in the cave and move everything I would need for the winter into that room with me. This included the microwave and kettle. The bed stayed through in the other room. I had a sleeping bag and used it and just slept on the floor. This went on from around mid November to around April last year when someone from the WQD forum came through to visit me from Glasgow and help me clean the place up. It had gotten pretty bad. It was my little world for a while. I only had one room to heat. No one could bother me. The rest of the cave was left cold. I didn't care. At this time I wasn't drinking but I was smoking weed every moment I could to get through the winter. I had no choice – winter was just brutal. I was SAD.

      I won't go into how these last two winters (and we are currently into winter this very moment and I feel fine) but I will say that while all of this was going on my house plants were left unattended in the sitting room in the cold and dark. They had little chance of survival. For the most part I forgot they were even there. Poor little things. They died in that cold cave during winter. At least they had each other.

      So there was a challenge last year. Get two new plants and try to keep them, or at least one of them, alive and kicking for a period of one full year. After all – a year would inevitably contain a winter. If I was going to achieve this task, become successful at what is for most people a pretty routine challenge, then I would have to ensure that it would survive throughout the winter months. It wouldn't be the same to just let it die off and keep a plant alive for two six month summers. It had to be a proper year and that meant twelve consecutive months.

      So I made a plan and waited until June 30th before buying them and I spent time picking the strongest looking plants of the ones in the garden centre. Same plants again this time – one Leopard Lily and one Dragon Tree – and carried them back to the cave. The reason I waited until the very end of June was that I wanted to maximise the chances of survival for them should I have another bad winter. The warmer months are perfect for keeping plants and there is practically no work to be done in order for them to live through them. This gave me the chance to make sure that by November my plants were still strong. It also meant that there would be warm months towards the end of my challenge too. I only had to get through to the end of month eight and I would be all but certain that they would manage to get to their first birthdays. Any damage that they perhaps picked up over a little neglect over winter would have time to sort itself out for I knew that as soon as we got into April and the daylight saving time then I would be home and dry.

      I succeeded. The Leopard Lily died over the winter (some plants are perhaps just not cut out for life in a cave such as mine regardless of care and attention) but the Dragon Tree went all the way through the winter and came out at the other end smiling. In late June 2017, as we approached the one year, I nipped into a birthday shop down town and picked up a card for her. It was a Peppa Pig card with ''I'm 1'' written on the front. Ahh. . . happy times! Just three months later (and she's still doing fine) and I am moving through to Lindsay's flat in another town. The plant comes with me and sets up a new home on the balcony where she can get all of the sun that God sends her.

      Which obviously wasn't enough because I binned the poor sod yesterday. She was struggling and I brought her in to try to heal her but it's not happening. She's dead. She lived just over eighteen months.

      I'll miss her.

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      Stevie

      Needs to review his plant caring skills.

      1131

    3. #323
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Wednesday, January 10th 2018 (Spiders Up the Plughole)


      Over Christmas my family all agreed that we needed to see more of each other this year and blah blah blah and while it's only ten days into the next year I do wonder if anyone will get in touch with me unless I make the first move. I don't want to over-think it. It was over-thinking it that got me into all that trouble this year as it is. It's worth a little thought though. Why do we make these promises and then not follow through? If it is because we are a bunch of walking and talking Detached Protectors then I will be the only one with this knowledge and so the only one with any real insight in how to battle with it and so I may very well be waiting forever unless I make the first move. Sigh. . .

      I passed Captain G and his AA girlfriend when I was out on one of my strolls the other day. They were coming the other way. It was one of those times when you don't notice the other person until you are passing and then there's that awkward moment where you are already passing and so don't know whether to stop or just smile and keep walking. It turned into the latter for both parts although I think the former went through both parties' heads. I think it's the whole ''what would I have to say to them?'' thing that stops me from talking. I can't speak for them. I have to question if this might be Detached Protector behaviour in full swing. Is it a kind of avoiding behaviour? I think I would have to say no.

      It wouldn't surprise me if both Captain G and his partner had pretty powerful Detached Protectors themselves. They don't go to meetings together. They work their relationship, with regards to AA at least, very differently from how Lindsay and I go about ours. People in AA know all about us and most know that we live together now as well. There's no secret. With Captain G and his partner they hide from the rooms and go to different meetings. It's down to Captain G being a long term member while his partner is pretty new – certainly was new when they started going out – and so there's that predatory element that comes into it. Does he want to be seen as a prowler? Some of the old timers had things to say on the matter so they keep the relationship out of the limelight. Some old timers frown about Lindsay and me but I just suggest to them that they should perhaps concentrate more on their own lives and ask themselves why they are in meetings every night of the week rather than judging others.

      In many ways I feel that going to meetings is a Detached Protector thing to do. Sometimes I believe people are sitting at home seeking connection. They know that there are a few ways that they can go about this. Most of these ways put us in the firing line. They force us into being vulnerable. They mean reaching out into the real world. They are the difficult options. Then there's the easy one. Go to a meeting where you can pretend to feel vulnerable.

      Right then – the title of this post! It was something that Lindsay said. Spiders come up the plughole and then get stuck in the bath. Unless they are saved or flushed down then they can't get out and will starve. That's not the point though. The point was that I always believed spiders to come up through the plug from the sewer. Mum must have mentioned this to me or a teacher at school or I've read it somewhere or something but that is what I thought. They came up through the pipes and ended up in the bath. Then they get stuck and can't get back down. Or don't want to go back down. Or aren't aware that they can get down because they're spiders and they react solely on instinct and not rational thought.

      I can't remember why I mentioned it but Lindsay said that she didn't think that they came from down below. She reckons they fall into the bath from above. They are walking along the wall next to the bath (or even along the ceiling – they are pretty cool that way) and then they make a wrong footing or something and catastrophe hits them. They are stuck in the bath until they either starve to death, are flushed down the plughole, or some nice guy who likes spiders (someone like me) comes along and puts them outside.

      What was striking to me (well – that's going a bit far actually. I would say more 'interesting' than 'striking') was that I'd never really thought about it like that before. They fall in from above? Hmmm. . . I had always just figured that they climbed up from the sewage system. I'd been told that at some point in my early life and that was what I had figured ever since. It made me stop for a moment to think about how we know what we know and how we learn things. How some simple things can perhaps not ever occur to us just because we were guided some other way back when we were young. What other silly things might I be missing out on? It makes you wonder though, doesn't it!? How often do we question our own beliefs unless they are brought to our attention?

      Anyway. . . Was just a thought. . . Barry the Bullet and I will hopefully be heading out to work in a couple of hours to kickstart 2018 with a decent little shift. I'm looking forward to knuckling down this year in the same way we did at times this year and really making the most of the opportunity I have to work. When it's cold and wet and windy and shit and I'm moaning away to myself (and sometimes to Barry as well) I will remind myself of all the benefits there are to working. Some people are out there looking for work and can't get it yet here I have a job that I can fit nicely around my college studies and dentist appointments and go out pretty much whenever I please as long as weather permits it. I should be grateful as it really is quite a good little earner for the hours I put in.

      I know I'm thinking a little too far ahead here but the new semester at college starts in two or three weeks and runs slightly differently from this current one in that we will be in on a Monday and Wednesday rather than the Monday and Tuesday we've been used to for the better part of twenty one weeks now. This might make things a little more awkward at work if Barry has another difficult year. I think that getting him out is fine if it's consecutive days – it's when there's a break that it becomes a little harder. We'll be working on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays soon and I have a feeling that this arrangement might not run as smoothly for us as our current one has been – which hasn't actually been that smoothly at times if truth be told. But yeah – cross that bridge when we come to it and all that.

      Fuck – already I'm way over that word count!

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      Stevie

      Too much talking about spiders and plugholes.

      1285

    4. #324
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Thursday, January 11th 2018 (Not Perfect)


      I should be out working just now but I'm not. The time should be still around seven in the morning but it's not. I should be enjoying being back out in the world after all of the festivities of the past few weeks but I'm not. It doesn't help that Barry the Bullet has for so long been depending on me to contact him in the mornings to get him up for work since it means that there is no chance of him ever calling me if he hasn't heard from me by a certain time. We should be taking a leaf out of Lindsay's book – she's been on it every morning this week and has been at her placement while also applying for jobs so that she has somewhere to walk into once she's qualified. We're going back out tomorrow.

      Two weeks on Monday we will be starting Semester Two at the college. I have calculated that we get ten weeks off in between years (July and August) and that this leaves forty two weeks (not a difficult calculation, I must say). But then I also worked out that semesters are split into two equal twenty one week blocks without accounting for any holidays. So during Semester One we had two weeks off in October and two weeks off over Christmas. We also had Fresher's Week back in September, which was a kind of holiday. This means a total of sixteen weeks class time for the first semester – fifteen for me if you take into consideration the week off for the trip to Spain.

      Semester Two is another huge block of twenty one weeks (which takes us all the way until the end of June in which the FIFA world cup will be underway and everything. Can't wait!) but we'll have holidays in March and April and a day in May. I think we get more class time though. It looks as though we will be in college for eighteen of those twenty one weeks. So we're not quite halfway through the year even once we start off the second semester. This is a good thing. The terms are passing by too quickly as it is.

      With me not being at college this week yet (if I don't have to be then I won't) yesterday was the first of me being in my old town, the place where I dwelled in my cave, since the Friday night debt-collecting mission Barry the Bullet and I went on the Friday before Christmas. Nothing has changed. The town is still as it was. I do notice as I get off the usual bus and head to meeting point to wait on Barry as I always do on days we are set to be working how long it seems like since we were last out. December 22nd it was. My mind casts back to when decorations and Christmas music was playing, as it was the last time I stood in this spot, and I think fondly once again upon the festive period we've just had. I think I'm nostalgic by nature.

      When I do go back to the college on Monday next week I have a little remediation to do on one of the written assessments. Hmm. . . I'm not perfect after all. That'll be fine. It'll not be much. I'll just have to amend one or two answers here and there. To be honest I can't even recall what assessment it is he's emailed me back regarding. I think that my mood and attention was fully switched onto the festive break by the time we reached the last week of the class year last month and I can only vaguely remember us doing an assessment at all.

      How mild it has been this winter. It's scarcely believable actually. And how light it is getting to be in the evenings at the moment. Around two minutes per night it is lightening. Fifteen minutes per week. You can tell. It isn't getting fully dark until around five o'clock nowadays. This will mean that when we do get back out to work we'll be able to work that little bit later each passing week. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

      I have some more questions to hand in to Dr. Bacon when I next see him (why have I not filled these questions in already? I've had around three weeks to do them yet they remain. . . somewhere. . . Shit! - I'll have to find them first!) and will likely cover some of that in another post, perhaps sometime over the weekend.

      For a while now I've been trying to help turn the tenancy on this property from being a solo one in only Lindsay's name to a joint one in which we both share equal rights to the home. I figured I'd give it a go again today and so spoke with someone from the council about it. There might be a problem due to my having such high rent arrears at my previous address (the cave) but I'll still be fine to stay here. The only issue might be in my name actually appearing on the tenancy.

      Stevie – ''What would the benefits be of my name being on the tenancy?''

      Council Woman – ''It's maybe not the best example since you've just moved in together but if you were to fall out then you would have equal rights in the home. It wouldn't just be a case of her throwing you and all of your things out onto the street.''

      Okay – so it won't end up like my other relationships then!?

      Council Woman – ''Also – perhaps another bad example given your circumstances, but if you were to build up lots of arrears on the property and you left then you wouldn't be liable for any of the payments since you're not associated with the home.''

      I'm guessing that it isn't all that important at the moment whether or not my name is on the tenancy. I'm registered as living here which is good enough as things stand but it doesn't hurt to apply and so that's what I've done. It's just a case of waiting and seeing what happens now.

      Gosh – I really feel as though that post was a real struggle to write. I couldn't think of anything to say at first but think I've managed to reach the end at last. This always happens when I am forced into a situation where I have to type a post in the evening rather than the morning. I think I work much better in the mornings.

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      Stevie

      Works much better in the mornings.

      1141

    5. #325
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Friday, January 12th 2018 (Lying)


      It's been a struggle getting up early these mornings this year. Holy fuck! Gone seem the days where I would be up and at 'em and have time for breakfast and to sit and write my little posts and then still have time to wander to the hospital to catch the quarter to eight bus to make it into work or college. I long for those days to return. Now it seems that if I want to catch that particular bus and be on time for work and college I have to go through a mad morning rush just to do so and it makes me anxious. Reminds me too much of what it was like before. Like things have to be sacrificed. I'll get some breakfast when I'm out; I'll brush my teeth as soon as I get in tonight; it doesn't matter if I can't find my headphones; I don't have time to look for my phone. It's seriously uncool if it gets to that stage. I have to work harder at getting up in the mornings which means getting to bed, and to sleep, earlier. Just like I was doing for so long there.

      Time for another little weigh-in this morning. I had put on a few pounds over Christmas and was over twelve stone when I braved the scales for the New Year weigh-in. Then, on Thursday last week I had lost four pounds. I was hoping for the same again today and that would mean I was within my target weight guidelines and all the Christmas fuss be over with. No chance. I'm just the same as I was when I last weighed myself. I've maintained. One of the main criticisms of Christmas is that we tend to put on a little weight each year and then fail to lose it again throughout the course of the rest of the year. Even just a couple of pounds every Christmas would lead to someone putting on three stone or thereabouts over the course of a couple of decades. At the moment I am one such statistic – still a little heavier than I was prior to December 01st. It's not a lot but they all add up. Unless I can find a way to shed these unwanted and unappreciated little pounds then I should expect nothing more than a sagging mid-section come my mid-forties. Maybe Lindsay's right in that I freak out about my weight too much and when she says I have that body dysmorphia. . .

      I lied to Lindsay yesterday. Not outright. No. It was more of a stealth mission. More I had to bring out the big guns, the real sneaky, lying tactics. I was supposed to be working (like I am just now but that's another story) but didn't manage to make it in as I mentioned in yesterday's post. With Lindsay working at her placement this week I felt the shame setting in that she should be out there contributing while I am still sitting around the house in a dressing gown come midday. I felt like quite the bum. In order to not face further feelings of bum I had to come up with some way of avoiding talking with Lindsay about this. She is due back at half past four in the afternoon. This gave me all day to lie around in idle bliss (but all the while not really being able to enjoy it due to constant aforementioned feelings of buminess) but if I wanted it to appear as though I had been working throughout the day then I had to be gone by the time she got in.

      More than this I had to look and sound as though I had been working. This meant I had to have my bag complete with cloths and scrims that I would have any other day I am out working (not that it's been a lot recently) and my hands have to be a little on the dirty side, particularly my nails. These are the telltale signs of working and the fine details that have to be dealt with for a convincing and really good, expertly crafted lie. I left the flat around twenty to four and went on one of my long walks. I had the bag with me complete with everything I would normally take with me on a shift to work and was wearing clothes I might normally wear when cleaning windows too. There isn't much difference between working clothing and walking clothing to be honest – both lead to pretty sweaty results. I felt as though I looked the part.

      She'd be back around half past four and then would go through her chill out routine which would end in front of the television on the couch wrapped in her unicorn blanket. This would happen around ten past five or thereabouts. I only had to make sure that I returned from ''work'' around half past five as I usually would and then go about my after work routine. This consists of washing and changing but I made sure to make it sound as though I was really washing the dirt and the grime off those poor cold and weather-beaten hands (hands that after nearly three weeks off have never looked as clean and soft) and also putting the ''dirty'' cloths and scrims into the washing machine as soon as I got in (yep – I washed cloths and scrims that were completely clean already!) and then changed into some comfortable nightwear and casually walked in to the sitting room, planted a soft one onto her lips, and then asked her how her day at placement was, making sure that I slumped down onto the couch beside her with a lot of fatigue and tiredness – in the way that only someone who had been busy climbing up and down ladders all day would do.

      I also usually take the money pulled in for the day and place it into a safe that we have in the flat (which then goes into the bank account at the end of the week, usually on Saturday and it's usually me that does it when I'm out on my long walks – on my own) and so I had to pretend to do this too. I was impressed by the way I could pull this off so convincingly and so expertly but then remembered what it is that I am actually doing here. I'm lying and practising deceitful and dishonest behaviour. I'm being an asshole.

      All that really happened was that I escaped that feeling of being a bum during the day and replaced it with feeling like an asshole in the evening.

      I don't know which is worse.

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      Stevie

      Bum or asshole?

      1149

    6. #326
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Saturday, January 13th 2018 (Needs Kitchen Scales)


      So it's been three weeks since I was at an AA meeting. Christmas Eve. Can't believe that this is the first thing that has come to my mind this morning – a Saturday morning no less – to write my little post for the day, but there you go. I think it's because I do in some ways miss my Saturday night meeting. I used to go pretty much every week for a time but can't remember the last time I was there. I think we'd be talking about sometime in November. I know I've been twice since coming back from Spain. Twice to that meeting and once to the Sunday night one I went to on Christmas Eve. That's not a lot of meetings. It's as many as I have felt the need to go to though, which is what it's all about.

      This morning I am perhaps feeling the pull though. What does this mean? Does it mean I am looking for connection and that I might find it there? Looking to catch up with old friends and keep up appearances? Or is it a warning that I am not doing something I should be? What else could I be doing tonight to make my situation better than go to a meeting? Or what should I be doing? Raith Rovers play at home this afternoon against their closest league rivals in Ayr United and so perhaps I should go to that match. Had I been working all week like a good little Stevie then I likely would have felt as though I deserved to but I'm not sure how we're doing for cash. Maybe I chill out and just wait and see what happens this evening when it gets closer to the start of the meeting. Don't over-think it too much.

      One thing I would like to do this morning is go down the town and get a set of scales. Little kitchen scales that measure tiny little amounts. I'm still on the fence about this coming sugar quit on the 07th February when I turn three years from alcohol abstinence. I have been saying for months that I'll be quitting sugar altogether but the more I look into it the more I am starting to see just how almost impossible it would be to keep up indefinitely. Instead I am looking at radically changing up my diet to include as little sugar as possible. I've been taking the sugar that I would have been placing into my coffee cups and sticking it into a container instead and letting it build up but I have no way of measuring how much is in there in terms of grams. If I can get a little set of scales this morning when I'm out and about then I can weight it tomorrow and then I'll be able to estimate how much sugar I am saving myself from consuming in a fortnight, week, a day. Anyone know where I might be able to find a set of scales like this?

      I notice that all foods tell you how much sugar is contained within and so it should be possible for me to do this using these scales and keep a track of exactly how many grams I am consuming each day and then cross-reference it with my recommended daily intake. It's a starting point. I need to see things to believe them though. I need to see the sugar I'm not taking in and so by continuing to so what I am doing by placing the sugar into a container that I can actually physically witness brings with it great power. Once I can get the amount of sugar that is going into that container each week down to a tiny little amount I will be better equipped to know how to handle any possibilities of a sugar quit or massive reduction.

      I'm running out of time though. Part of my success in quitting drinking, drug-taking and smoking cigarettes has been doing what I set out to do, doing the things I said I would, and so I face a different challenge now in not really having a definite and complete plan and idea of how I will tackle a problem when we only have four weeks to go until the deadline. It's an interesting new problem. This is why I have to get these scales down the town this morning. If I don't then before I know it we will be sitting here a week from now and I'll be no further forward and we'll only have two and a half weeks to go until the deadline. Not only that but the poor container will be filled to the brim with sugar. We'll have the world's first diabetic container on our hands.

      Lindsay asks me last night how it feels to be just a few weeks away from being able to say that I am three years sober. This means I am no longer one of the newbies. I guess she's right but I do remember something that a WQD member (think it might have been Binky) put up which was also mentioned in a SMART meeting one time I was there when I used to go on the Monday nights – studies show that those people who remain sober for five years tend not to ever go out and drink again. Something about the way our minds work with addiction. It means that I am, at three years, only three fifths of the way there but when you consider the likelihood of a slip might increase given a slip with the drugs (or even with just the nicotine) then I might have four more years before I could really say that I'm doing well.

      It does feel good though. Three years. The funny thing is that I still don't feel as though I have anything to offer up to anyone in terms of advice on how to go about quitting. I still don't feel as though my experience could help anyone since it seems to be quite different from so many others. I used AA – yes! I used alcohol counselling – yes! I posted on internet forums on a daily basis – yes! But I still wouldn't expect anyone else to have had similar results by doing things the way I have been doing them. The most important things, I think, have been the things I've done in the real world. The work I put in that has nothing to do with drinking and not drinking. The normal living stuff.

      It's all for nothing though if I can't get my hands on some kitchen scales this morning.

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      Stevie

      Needs kitchen scales.

      1139

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Sunday, January 14th 2018 (Weighing Up the Sugar Monster)


      Well that sucked! Writing a post out and then losing it through a computer crash. Damn! This thing (my laptop) I guess is getting to be past it. I've had it for nearly four years now and it was reconditioned when I got it. It was pretty good for the money back then (bought with money from the window cleaning business so I didn't have to worry about paying any of my own money towards it and so it didn't get in the way of my hand-to-mouth existence back then) but is obviously getting pretty close now to its level of the planned obsolescence – the point where parts just begin to fail purposefully so that I am inclined to go and get another one. That won't be happening. I'll be taking this little thing as far as I can get it to its grave before they get any more from me.

      This laptop has character. It has history. With a new one I'd have to start all over again. It would be little more than a baby laptop. This one has been everywhere with me. It came to Spain with Lindsay and me. I've written almost every single post of this entire journal on the keyboard of this particular device (since I lost the desktop in late 2015 in any case). It came with me to Montrose with English Sara and Dennis for that weekend a couple of years ago. It used to travel on the bus with me whenever I would take my little solo trips to AA meetings around the county and even a couple further afield. It's been a good little servant for me. I have no intention of abandoning it just because it has started not to perform as well as it once used to.

      The right hand corner of the screen has broken and is taped up. I alternate between using glue and tape to keep it intact but neither seems to work long-term. The clip has shattered and so the lid cannot be closed properly and so it remains open at all times. The screen itself is fine – there are no cracks. It still works. It's just that every now and then it goes and crashes. Normally I don't really care but it can get a little pissing off when it starts to do it as frequently as it has been this month so far.

      Anyway – what the fuck was I talking about in that last post? The one that just got taken away from me? Scales came into it. I did manage to get myself a decent little set when I was down the town yesterday afternoon and so can now have a little look at exactly how much sugar I've been taking, even if just in the coffee.

      So I put the container filled with sugar onto these new scales. 618 grams. Then I deduct the 92 grams that the container weighs. Now we have to divide the remaining grams by the number of days I have been conducting this little experiment for (since new year) and we get this sum:

      618 – 92 = 526 g

      526/13 = 40.5 g

      So that's 40.5 grams per day I have not been taking in coffee. I've just checked the recommended daily intake for male adults and was staggered to discover that it has recently been reduced from ten per cent of our caloric intake to just five per cent. That makes twenty five grams. 25 g. Twenty five grams!!!! That's less than I take in my coffees.

      Two things have started to sink in today since doing this little weigh in: I have learned the scale of the problem and I have learned how right I am in planning this sugar reduction. Twenty five grams seems so incredibly small an amount that I may have to have another little look at this. Even before they halved the recommendation I am noticing that my daily intake looks high even for that.

      Forty grams!

      This is obviously an incredibly high level of sugar. What makes it seem worse is actually seeing it in front of me. Now I can work out roughly what a certain amount of sugar looks like. When I look at the sugar content in something, most things, I am to be eating from now on I will be able to ''see'' the amount by weighing it out and then actually looking at the physical amount in front of me. This will – I am completely convinced – make me think about exactly how much sugar I am and have been consuming. From now on things will be a little different.

      In other news I had planned to go to the AA meeting last night but by the time the football was finished I couldn't be arsed. I am hoping to get to meetings no less than one per month (but not too many more than that I have to say) and so my last meeting was still the Sunday night church meeting on Christmas Eve. That was the only one I went to in December (as far as I can remember anyway) and so I have plenty time still to get to one this month. I don't want to over-think it but I do want to make sure that while I am not at meetings every time I feel that I might feel a little like I need one (because sometimes it is better to actually question what it is I am needing rather than hoping that the instant relief and gratification taken from a meeting will solve it) I am actually attending one every now and then. Just to be sure.

      I'll be heading to church in a little while. I like it. I don't know what it is. I had to do a bit of investigating, try out a few different local churches, before I found one I liked. I don't know exactly what it was about this one that I liked more than the others but now that I have the connection and memories established over the Christmas period I can safely say that it is now 'my' church. It's like my home group. I can't see me trying out another church until I move away from the area – whenever that is likely to happen.

      Well I don't think I managed to recapture the ebb and flow of the post I wrote prior to the laptop crash but I think I covered all of the points I mentioned: sugar totals; church; that was about it, so I can consider the crash now as something that wasn't worth getting in the huff about.

      Hey ho – the African Cup of Nations started last night so it's all good. . .

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      Stevie

      Takes in FAR too much sugar each day.

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Monday, January 15th 2018 (A Strange Sexual Situation)


      Today signals the beginning of the new year properly. As usual it has been quite a slow burner but I am sure that this week I will get doing all of the things I should be doing and so will establish a routine. The year will start to take shape. At the moment it is just a period of two weeks that have gone by where next to nothing has really happened. The year when I pretty much just continued with the Christmas holiday only without the tree in the corner of the room.

      I've been doing a little more research into the whole sugar intake recommendation that I touched on yesterday when I was amazed to find that I drink more than just in drinks each and every day that goes by. No wonder I need dental treatment. Forty grams in drinks per day. Fifteen more grams than I am allocated in total. The Slimming World eating plan finds ways around this and now that I have a set of kitchen scales I can measure out and weight everything I consume to ensure I don't go over with anything. I think it would be incredibly easy to overdo it if you aren't careful. Once the sugar floodgates are open they certainly open. I have to do a lot more reading on this to find out and think about what it is exactly that I'm going to do so don't think that you've heard the last of this. It'll likely drag on and on (and on and on). . .

      Lindsay and I went to Relationships Scotland last year over the summer where we had eight appointments. The main reason for these sessions was that Lindsay wanted to address some communication issues she felt were going on between us. I now am starting to see just how poor communication is in general between members of our species and saw lots of examples of it over the Christmas period with my own family. Now I feel as though Lindsay and I are a little better at communicating. Her brother and his wife had a fall out at the new year celebrations and the way they handled it was to not speak with one and other for a few days and then suddenly just act as though nothing had happened and never discuss or resolve the issue so as to try to learn from it. Seems strange to me but I have to remember that not everyone wants to run their lives and their relationships the way Lindsay and I might want to run ours. Each to their own, and all that.

      But there is one area of our relationship where things are most definitely not normal, or healthy, or anything really, and it was something that came up during our couple's counselling sessions with our Relationships Scotland counsellor. We were then referred to the sex therapy service and had to just sit by and wait our turn. We were told at the time that we could expect to wait a few months as it was a very busy service (which made me wonder just how many couples out there might have issues in the bedroom) and we did sit and wait for a few months to be fair. Shortly before the Christmas break Lindsay received a call saying that we were booked into a session but it wasn't at a convenient time for either of us. We are now back to wondering when we will manage to get an appointment scheduled.

      Why would two people ever consider moving in together if they had never had sex before? Are Lindsay and I trying to set some kind of record here? It seems very strange. My Detached Protector can block it out quite easily and make it so that I don't have to think about it (or makes me over-think it so that it just becomes a riddle rather than a real problem) but it really is something strange at best – disturbing at worst. I don't know why someone would want to have a guy move in with her when they haven't reached this relationship milestone. It's not fair that I take Lindsay's inventory with this though as she does push me – sometimes to the point where I feel uncomfortable. When we're watching something on the television and there's a sex scene starts up she'll joke to the point of mocking and once or twice recently has asked if I was not jealous of the show's protagonist given all of the sex he's been having. Last night she covered her face during a sex scene and asked me to let her know when it was over – if she's not getting to have any sex then she's not watching as other people get to.

      It's gone on for so long now that it's become a thing. A 'thing', and it's a chore waiting on the referral to come through now. It's got to the stage where even starting things off in that area I wouldn't know what to do. How would I approach it? Not that I ever really feel the need or desire to. I've turned into some sort of asexual freak. Apparently, according to our old Relationships Scotland counsellor when we spoke to her about the service last year, when the referral comes through there will be a very intensive approach towards sex and we'll get plenty of homework. We'll get approaches and advice on getting started and this will rise from baby steps until we're finally at it.

      How long the referral will take now it anyone's guess. I contacted them last month and they said that we were top of the list and then a week later they contacted Lindsay. Since that didn't work out I don't know if that has meant our place in the queue has dropped or if we should expect to be contacted again over the next week or two.

      I see Dr. Bacon on Thursday, just two days from now, and we'll start out schema therapy again by getting me out and about and trying to find new places to meet people and new ways of connection with them. Combine this with the sex therapy that should hopefully be starting up very soon and you have an incredible scope for change in my life in 2018.

      I just have to play the waiting game at the moment.
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      Stevie

      Reluctantly playing the sexual waiting game.

      1101

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Tuesday, January 16th 2018 (Not a Seer)


      When Semester Two starts up in a fortnight things will get back to being exciting at college. I'll be one of the lucky ones who actually has two shows a week (most of the others have only one – my second show coming as a result of the sport's group wanting my insights on the weekend's action and so me being invited there) and so I can't really wait for that to start. Until then I just have to brush up on my skills and get the best out of the next two weeks as I can. This semester has had its challenges in terms of getting to know how to work all of the studio gear and equipment but from now on I think they are looking at us to be delivering a much higher standard of show with greater quality content and more seamless transitions between links and music. We'll be taking everything we've learned so far and dumping it into each and every show while also demonstrating that we are improving. I'm up for it. I've been laying in wait for something to do this year.

      It's amazing how so many of my class peers still have so much to do in order to complete this semester. What's perhaps even more amazing is how these same students are either nowhere to be seen or are out smoking when they would be better off in class working. It's a strange one but then I guess that for the majority of people in this class – for everyone except for me actually – there will be other years. They have more time. I had time to do all of my fuck ups in life and still made it to this point with a fighting chance of doing something with my forties and fifties so they are just going through the motions, they're having their own fuck ups nice and early in life. They'll likely snap out of it a lot sooner than I did and if they managed to get their diploma next year while only putting minimal effort in and doing all of the work in a mad rush at the end of the year then they'll still have diploma and they'll still have a greater chance of gaining employment in the field given the fact that they are so much younger some of them.

      Yesterday afternoon I was thinking about all of the times I had a chance to roll my socks up and make a difference to my future. I'm not regretting things here (not fully at least, I don't think) but am more just daydreaming. I'm wondering how things might have been a little different had I taken one or more of the opportunities that came up for me. A few years after I left school I went back to study to get my Highers and had the chance to go to university. I would have been twenty six. That was a bit of a chance blown. There was the music academy as well. I blew that up pretty spectacularly. Not to mention all of the times I could and perhaps should have sobered up a little quicker and they would have led to things changing for me in all sorts of ways.

      Like I said: I'm not regretting this. If anything I am grateful that I did pull the plug on it all when I did otherwise I might have been sitting in a few years thinking that in 2015 I had another big chance to get sober and wasted that too. Then I'm wondering what is so awful about right now that makes me think that I would want it to be any other way and, to be honest, I can't think of anything. Things are fine as they are just now. Any problems I am thinking about in the future is just me being silly by thinking I am some sort of seer or clairvoyant. When I remind myself that I cannot read the future and that my predictions are usually totally bullshit (apart from Manchester City to win the English Premier League this season – that will definitely be coming true) then I do a little better with my thoughts for the rest of the day.

      When you consider the brand of mints I suck on each day, and have done ever since I quit smoking nearly a year ago, you begin to get a true grip of the scale of the sugar problem that I am faced with and have been facing for most of my life now. Unless you actually take stock and take inventory then you never know just how bad it is. I would ask you to check it yourself. Unless you're one of those who already does battle with their diets each day then give it a try. I assure you that you will be amazed by what you discover. I know I have been.

      The main thing about not having my other vices to be concerned with now (drink, drugs, tobacco) I can actually see this problem as the major issue that it is and not brush it off by saying things like, ''It's not as bad as smoking!'' or, ''I'll think about that when I stop drinking,'' and can give it my attention. I reckon that when you factor in everything I eat and drink on your average day I am consuming around three to four – and sometimes perhaps even more – times my daily recommended allowance of sugar. It's got to change and so I have been weighing out everything. Every time I eat anything I check the label, take the weight of sugar contained in the amount of it I am to be consuming, and then weigh it out on the new scales – actually physically spoon it out of the sugar jar and into a container on the scales so that I can see exactly what is going on here. I then compare it with amount I am supposed to be recommended. Remarkable.

      Right then – off to college to see what's what and then I'll likely be walking back tonight to get those miles for January up to something respectable. I don't even know what I'm on for the month so far but it's around ninety miles or so.

      I'll be back tomorrow morning for more of the same.

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      Stevie

      Can't predict the future (apart from the odd football result or two)

      1100

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Wednesday, January 17th 2018 (Never Been Smaller)


      Two months ago today was the day I was driving in the hire car (from being at the Barrowlands in Glasgow to watch Swedish progressive death metal turned Swedish progressive rock/metal band Opeth) to pick up Barry the Bullet for work and I heard on the radio the first Christmas song I heard of the year when Mariah Carey 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' came on and then later in the afternoon Barry and I stopped work for a moment to have a little cigarette break (well – he stopped for a cigarette break, I just stopped for a stand around break) outside a house that had up the first Christmas decorations I saw of the year. Two months ago. It means that there is a small chance that just three hundred days from today we could be seeing Santa Clause in people's windows. Scary. The odds are high that the shops will by then have been advertising their festive deals for a few weeks already and so no sooner than we take the tree down than we are looking at only a few months until we're being asked to think about putting it up again. Very scary indeed. . .

      I started to struggle a little this morning with thoughts of my family. Sometimes I will wake and feel a little pissed off with them and these feelings will linger and stick around for a while proving quite difficult to dispel. I try. I have tools. I can think to myself that they are at least there and so I will see them again. I can hand over to the God of my Understanding this foulness of mood – or at least pray to Him and ask that this mood be removed or at the very least lessened, but it sticks around nonetheless, or comes back very quickly once it has been temporarily removed.

      What is it I am thinking of when I am going through these moments? The inner turmoil? It comes both from a sense that I don't like the thoughts of my family being cut off from one and other and my way of dealing with the pain of knowing that this is indeed what has happened and my inability to be able to put this across to them. Perhaps not inability – possibly now it's more of an unwillingness. That's the stage we're at now. I'm not really willing to put effort into family relationships at this time. I know about the whole ideas and concepts of the quality of our lives only being as good as the quality of our relationships and all of that but my potential relationships have the potential to extend way beyond those within my direct family circle. These people are maybe only going to be important people in my life for one day every year (Boxing Day dinner at mum's) and then don't play any further part throughout the year. Like I say: it sucks, but it is what it is.

      Tomorrow I'll be having my first 2018 session with my clinical psychologist and he stated before we broke off for the festive holidays that we'd start looking at ways in which I could seek connections with people out-with my immediate current (non-existent) social circle. He's to start giving me home work in that I'll be given the tools to work with and suggestions of what to do and where to go and then I'll head out into the world to see what happens before reporting back to him in the next session with details on what went well and what not so well and then we'll work from there – him sending me back out there into the real world to see what's what. From now on it would appear that I will have to start taking the lead. I'm good with that. But then it's easy to be good with someone when you're just sitting at a computer in the morning before you have to go to work – its the actual act of getting up and doing the thing we said we would which lets us know if we have any courage or not.

      My unwillingness to break some ice where my family is concerned should not be confused with me not being able to walk the walk when I'm asked to – not being able to put the action into some part of my life that needs work. That's a different scenario altogether really. That's more a case of realising (at long last) that I don't have any control over how other people think, feel and want from life and that I just have to accept things as they are and not waste time pursuing lost causes. I'll be there for whenever they come calling.

      My social circle isn't very impressive at the moment. In fact – it's never been worse! In that I mean that it has never been smaller. I barely see English Sara any more and almost never see Gillon. Fuzzy, Damian, my brother and sister-in-law – I don't really see anyone at the moment. Things have, in all seriousness, never been worse for me than they are at the moment. There aren't any places I can really go anymore. I have my home and Lindsay and that appears to be about that. Some might say that isn't healthy but I feel a little better about myself these days than I did back when I had those people I've just mentioned so I don't really know what to make of it. I don't really get lonely, I don't think, either that or I am so used to it that I don't know what it feels like to not feel lonely and so get all confused. Whichever way I look at it – it's a fact that I am more isolated from friends and family than I ever have been at any time and point in my life.

      I'd better get going. I've been doing well this week – I've been up early in the morning and have been into college all day for both days now this week and now it is time to do it at work. It's a little colder this week than it has been so far this year but it won't stop Barry the Bullet and me from giving it a good go. You'd think we'd be used to the cold by now.

      I'll see you back here again tomorrow morning.

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      Stevie

      Time to get to work.

      1107

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