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    1. #341
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Sunday, January 28th 2018 (Sunday Morning Coffees. . . . With Sugar. . .)


      I didn't go to the AA meeting last night as I probably should have done. It's good for me to stay connected with people and the fellowship is as good a place as any to meet people and interact with those I've already met. Unfortunately there are so many things about it that keep me from being enthusiastic about going back. One of them was my former sponsor bumping into Lindsay again which happened through the week last Friday. I can see from his social media that he works at that centre just along the road from our local shops and so he has crossed paths with Lindsay three or four times now since he started yet each time he has been very ignorant. I understand that he could have been busy the first time and in a rush the second, but the fourth?

      It's long past the stage where I look back and wonder what I ever saw in that guy that made me want to go along as a sponsee of his for the better part of eighteen months. If anything it shows how far I have come but in saying that I think he has definitely changed for the worst since becoming a father. It's like this is the ultimate ego trip for him. He's not handling it well as is coming across as being even more arrogant than he was before, and that's saying something. It shouldn't put me off going to the meeting last night but it did make me think about all of the negative aspects of people in the rooms and how, essentially, I would just be surrounding myself with people who have a wonderful program that could potentially change their lives for the better yet choose not to allow it to and just abuse it instead, waste it. When I'm this judgemental I am probably all the better for not going to the meetings where there is an almost unlimited scope for judgemental thinking from me and it's just too frustrating, too exhausting, to handle right now. I'd be better saving it for church this morning.

      And so I have done. I'll be going in a little while and looking forward to it. There isn't much chance to actually meet people at the church though since I don't actually ever stick around to have tea and biscuits afterwards. I simply arrive for it starting and leave when it ends. I'm like some weirdo who just shows up one minute and then is gone the next. I don't mind this but at some point soon I would like to try to communicate with someone. This is exactly the sort of thing I reckon Dr. Bacon will want me to start doing very soon. I see him again on Thursday this week and we'll be looking at my three hundred words (that I have yet to write) which look at what I would like my life to be like ideally and also looking at how many sessions we might be having before we think about wrapping it up. I am still a little worried about this but am just continuing to assume that he knows what he's doing and trying to accept that this is not happening because he thinks I'm a lost cause or can't be helped and suchlike. I'll try to write these three hundred words on the future tomorrow in my post. No more stalling.

      There are other things I should really be thinking about as well. One of these is the sugar thing. I have to come up with a definitive plan for this. It'll be my birthday (sober birthday, that is) in a little over a week and so I will be undertaking the next challenge which will be a severely limited amount of sugar in my diet. It looks as though the recommended daily allowance for sugars in adult men is around 30 - 37.5 grams. This obviously does not include the free sugars found in fruit and milk and so on and it does sound like quite a lot of sugar to be fair, but I know that it isn't all that an awful lot as I've been weighing it out recently since purchasing that set of scales just after new year. The thing is – when I don't take sugars in my coffee I won't actually be taking in more than this total anyway. It's the sugars in the coffees that are the biggest problem for me at the moment (I'm on y third cup already this morning and will likely have another three or four by the time I go to bed – no wonder I freak out about not sleeping to much all the time, eh!?) but once that is sorted I will feel a lot more confident about all things relating to sugar intake.

      I guess it's the treats I have to worry about. What will it be like when I'm on holiday and I can't be bothered weighing out and trying to fathom how much sugar is contained in whatever it is the buffet has to offer? That would be a nightmare but over time I will establish a routine of sorts. I'll know what I can and cannot have without having to give much thought to it. I'll also learn over much time how often I can and should indulge. It's all a learning curve that will take time to master like anything else. It was quite easy with the drink and the drugs and the nicotine – don't indulge EVER!! This one is a little more complicated but less limiting and more choice-based as a result.

      One week from today and I'll be looking forward to getting into college to make a start on the sports show and so I'll have to take down plenty of notes when it comes to the sporting events of next weekend – especially football. This is a good thing since a lot of my time is already taken up by my devotion to the beautiful game. I'll also have to start following our local ice hockey team a bit more closely as we'll be talking about them in the show as well as the local football teams. I haven't seen or heard anything from the hockey team since Lindsay and I went with her brother and his wife to Edinburgh on Hogmanay to watch my first ever live hockey match. This will have to change after this week too and I'll have player's names and positions to note down and memorise.

      Shit!! That damn word-count rule. . .

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      Stevie

      Reached the word count again. ..

      1135

    2. #342
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Monday, January 29th 2018 (Clean Running Water)


      I was looking through the new deal that Manchester United forward player Alexis Sanchez has and how much money he will be making from this. This took me on the website merry-go-round that so often happens if you allow yourself to become distracted and you end up going from one site to another and before you know it you are lost. I ended up on a site that was comparing all of the top earners in football and showing you how long (or not) they would have to ''work'' to get this and that and the next thing. Two days for the new top of the range Audi motors and three days for a small private island. Almost nothing is out of price range just after a few days of slogging it out on a training field for a few hours midweek and then playing your match on the Saturday.

      The most staggering and eye-opening thing about this website was the knowledge that for just a few days of work one of these footballers could afford to pay for one million people in lesser developed nations to have clean running water. This begs the question – why would you not? If you had the power and money to provide this then why would you not just do it? Why, if you have so much money that you and your subsequent generations will never be able to make use of it as it simple is so much money, would you not set up a sort of direct debit scheme where every month one million people in a third world nation get clean running water? I just don't quite get it. Maybe someone out there has some knowledge of why this would not enter someone's head. It's entirely possible that there are many reasons I don't know about that make this kind of thing impossible, like maintaining the wells once they are built and when they break down as I'm sure they will at some point, but from where I sit I can't for the life of me fathom why more isn't done by people who have money to provide for those who do not.

      There's something amazing about the whole situation though as far as I can see (which is, admittedly, never too far) and that is that we, as a species, have probably always wondered what the limit of human capacity is throughout our history. We probably wondered back in the stone age what we might be capable of were our basic needs such as food and shelter met without having to rely on survival instinct constantly and have so many threats around – things trying to hurt us and eat us and bite us and so on. Then, when we began to master the art of overproducing food and so could create and sustain communities and settlements, we probably started to wonder what might be possible of our species if we could go a step further. Now we reach the twenty first century and we have most of our needs met and we can see clearly what the limit of human capacity is. We worship the dollar and look out only for number one. Everything is about status and trying to be seen as being better than your neighbour. It's a tremendous disappointment in the end. Surely our ancestors had something much more than this in mind when they went through all their past hardships!?

      I'm up early enough to actually make a go of it this morning. I still feel as though I am half sleeping but I'm game for getting out there and giving working for a full week a go. I'm not in college at all this week (it's a remediation week for those who still have work to do from the first semester) and so all week this week (assuming that the weather stays fair which in Scotland is never a sure thing by any means) I will be out working all week. So far this month has been lame with not much work done at all, either with Barry the Bullet cleaning windows or in the classroom at college working on assignments and radio broadcasts. This also means that I haven't been as connected to my community as I am when I am out of the house all the time and mixing it up with my fellow man and woman.

      On Friday Lindsay and I are going to watch Strictly Come Dancing: the Live Show at the Hydro in Glasgow (it was one of my Christmas presents to her that I am now regretting. . . I'm only joking, it'll be fine) and so we're looking forward to that. There will be a few things happening this coming month that will inspire me to get out to work every minute that the God of my understanding sends as Lindsay's birthday will be in February, as well as my oldest niece's birthday, and that's without mentioning Valentine's Day. A few things to suck the money out of my wallet I'm sure. This is only possible if there is money in my wallet to begin with.

      There's actually a rather expensive dentist appointment coming up the week after this that will set me back a couple of hundred quid as well. Even if I can pay for that with the hours I get this week cleaning windows then it takes the pressure off. If we don't get into a working routine soon then the phone will start ringing and the pressure will be on again at work. It is quite stressful, work and money. I can remember it being much more stressful not having either though.

      Barry the Bullet was saying on Facebook the other day that he's been missing getting out to work regularly (which is odd given the number of days he slept in or didn't come out for one reason or another in the last twelve months) and I get what he's saying. I've actually missed the work this last couple of weeks as we've been waiting on the snow to turn to ice and then just fuck off, as it now has done. I think that part of my poor recent sleeping pattern is down to not having a tired mind through regular college work and window cleaning responsibilities. I shouldn't take any of these things for granted because I do actually really miss them when they aren't in my life.

      Stressful though they may be it's certainly more stressful not having them.

      And it must be even more stressful still not to have clean running water.

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      Stevie

      Thankfully has clean running water.

      1131

    3. #343
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Tuesday, January 30th 2018 (McCalling Davina)


      There was a show on the other night (I actually have no idea which night it was on since Lindsay just records everything and then watches whatever takes her fancy – all I know is that it was played on our television the other night after Manchester United, complete with first start of new signing Alexis Sanchez, defeated little Yeovil Town in a convincing/but not so convincing FA Cup fourth round display – so this would have been on Friday night) and she was talking about her life and struggles. Lindsay's a big fan so there was almost a ''No Talking'' policy going on throughout the show although when we were talking she would pause it and it wouldn't start back up again until she was sure that that particular talking episode had well and truly ran its course. It took around ninety minutes to get through the one hour show and that was with her skimming through the adverts.

      Davina McCall and I share some vague similarities. We both have a past where drink and drugs has played centre stage. We both also lost a parent when we were very young (my father to death; her father walked out on her) and both of us found that our remaining parent couldn't tell us anything about it. We were left to deal with figuring out this loss ourselves. You can actually tell by watching her talk about certain subjects, or at least I think I can, how she has similar parts of the ''alkie/druggie'' sickness and once again I find myself watching a celebrity with a former addiction who is still, years into recovery, displaying some of the behaviour that one would hope we would lose when we start to work on ourselves. It's discouraging but then it's good for me to remember that no one is perfect and this is, for all of us, an ongoing process.

      The way that Davina and I handled our disappointment in early life seems very similar though. She doesn't seem too happy about this subject never being brought to her attention. I still feel resentful to my mother for this. In fact – since talking about this with Dr. Bacon a few times last year and since Christmas I have found myself getting all the more pissed off about it. My mother seemingly used me emotionally this Christmas so that I would go around to hers for Boxing Day dinner so that her social media looks good to other people. The pictures make it seem as though she has managed to keep her family together. Her Facebook friends will see her fake life and some of them will be deluded enough to pass it off as her real life.

      The truth is that her real life is nothing like this. What she's also doing with these pictures (and I've seen them) is making it out as if myself and my brother have our families together. It's all bullshit though. The truth is that we've never been further apart, ever, and no one is actually fighting for it. The family is falling apart to the extent where I am seriously considering that move to Sunderland with the intention of never looking back. What is there really to stay here for? I guess I'd have to think about Lindsay and she would have to make some choices about what she wanted to do. There's a lot going on with her own family at the moment and so it's no surprise that I continually stall when trying to do Bacon's homework assignment and think about what the future might hold.

      One thing that Dr. Bacon and I did learn through talking about my mother and how emotionally unavailable she was throughout my upbringing was how she might have developed quite a powerful Detached Protector herself. I told him the story of how, through sponsorship with AA and the Step Nine amends, I had finally, after all these years, mentioned to her what it was I needed from her. I needed to know about my dad and what he was like. She said that she would sort this out and explained that there were things of his in the attic of the house she owns but rents out to a family. If I went to the door and organised a date for picking up this stuff then she would meet me there and we would sit down and talk about this stuff for the first time since dad's death way back in 1983. Dr. Bacon found it very interesting to hear about how my mother went about this in handing the responsibilities of arranging this over to me and it never ending up happening.

      There's no doubt that my mother knows that I would have liked this chat but her cowardice got in the way. I think if I was to be saying this to her face right now as opposed to writing it online in a place she'll never stumble across it that she would possibly begin with the tears. It shows where I've learned my trade. She isn't comfortable in showing emotion and vulnerability without it turning into sympathy seeking and a search for pity. It's the sign of someone who is emotionally far more fragile than she would ever want anyone to see.

      This is why I look at the Facebook pictures from Christmas and just let her go on believing that her family is safe because we all turned up for one day in December. What am I going to say that will make any difference? Fuck all really. There's fuck all more I can say or do. I know how insecure she is. Not just in the way of looking in the mirror and thinking that she's a bit overweight – but actually being insecure about who she is as a person. That is why I'm sure she needs to go putting all this shit online in the first place even though she'll be sixty in a little over a month.

      Do I see the point in resenting my mother any longer? No. Do I have the time and energy to be doing so? No. Does this mean that I'll magically stop resenting her? Of course not. It doesn't really work like that. I have to find a way of getting over this and getting through it normally which is usually something that you would think only time can do. I'll just have to get used to her not being a part of my life and accept that fact that she could not give me what it was I needed from her.

      Davina's mum was a big drinker and died too young. My mum doesn't drink all that much but over the next few years I can't see myself seeing mine any more than Davina sees hers.

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      Stevie

      Resentful.

      1161

    4. #344
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Wednesday, January 31st 2018 (Three's a Crowd)


      Thank (the) God (of my Understanding) that January is over and done with. I definitely get the January Blues, assuming such a thing exists, and find it to be a difficult month to get through – likely because I have not been very productive at all during it. I feel as though this year has started off as perhaps the slowest of the years I've been sober but I do distinctly remember last January being quite slow to get moving too. February will be when 2018 kicks off with a bang, when it starts to find its feet and take shape. I hope.

      There was something else I wanted to discuss in yesterday's post but that damn word count came along and ruined my chance to – so I'll talk about that just now before we go any further and I get sidetracked. It was something else that Lindsay and I were talking about during the Davina McCall interview that was on (nearly a week ago now!) Friday evening. It was about her son. Lindsay's son, Leon, who will be sixteen later on this year.

      For anyone who doesn't know anything about this scenario (which is probably everyone that's reading at the moment) Lindsay's son was taken from her care a couple of years ago when she had a drunken fall that ended with her being hospitalised with a brain haemorrhage (which was pretty serious and resulted in her taking a year out from her university studies) and he went to stay with his grandmother. This is not Lindsay's mother (she died in 2014) but is the boy's father's mother. She's in her seventies and has not been able to look after him at all. Since he's been living there he's dropped out of school completely and hasn't actually been in at all this whole term. He's not spent one single day in school in this final year of his education.

      He's also stolen plenty money from his gran and has basically turned into a little shit. Now the tide is turning and it seems as though social workers are beginning to reverse their views on what should happen and what is in Leon's best interests long term. One of the social workers who has been in involved in the case since the start even mentioned something about him moving back with Lindsay full time by March of this year. I am pleased to hear that Lindsay is using her head on this one. It would be easy for her to go along with this and agree it to be a good idea. This way she would be reunited with family for good and the toxic grandmother would be out of the equation. Where would this leave our life though?

      Would Leon steal from us? How would Lindsay and I go about encouraging him to get on with his own life? Leaving school with no interest in education or work would make his arrival a very interesting one for a whole host of reasons, and not many of them good. It seems as though the social workers have made some tremendous mistakes in all of this and a boy who has been removed from his mother's care one year will be returned a couple of years later a different boy altogether. The deal is that I will have to meet the main social worker who is dealing (very badly) with this whole situation so that she can judge me and then, assuming I pass her standards, will meet Leon himself before us all then determining how we should proceed next. Basically – when should he move in with us.

      I think that this illustrates one or two of the problems we face as a society and one of the reasons I went to college in 2012/13 to study social care. I wanted to know why our care system is so poor when it should, on paper at least, be very strong. I came to realise that it is the people who work in the field who are the problems and the main reason being that anyone can come off the street and study social care. Then, as long as you have the qualifications (which are really easy to get when compared with other qualifications of the same level in other subjects), you can walk into a job. It is also one of the career paths where being a woman is a tremendous advantage.

      The thing is – many people take on jobs that they are no good at whatsoever yet they decide to do them because the financial and status related benefits to them personally outweigh, in their eyes, the potential damage that they will cause. They want the money and status so they take on the job, even though they know in their hearts that they are not suited to it and that someone else could do it better. Once in the job it is then almost impossible for them to lose it, as Lindsay and I will find out when we go through with the long and complicated complaints procedure against this Elaine woman who has been the cause of so much damage here.

      Leon now does not go to school and steals money. He's in trouble, there's no doubt about it, and the other kids he still has as friends in the scheme he lives will be moving on soon to college and university and so on leaving him pretty isolated. This is what they are saying anyway. Now he will be uprooted once again and moved in with his mother again and her partner.

      Hey – it might all work out fine. It probably will in the end, it usually always does, but in the meantime, until it starts working out fine, there will likely be a lot of uncertainty regarding how this will all pan out. March is far too early. That is one thing that most of us seem to agree on. I'll have to meet him gradually and Lindsay admits that she too has a relationship to develop with him all over again given how long it has been since they lived together and spoke with one and other without a social worker present. Baby steps will then follow. . .

      The life of alcoholics and problem drinkers, eh? Kids tend to get dragged down with us. Now that we are sober though there is a need to try to do our best not to fuck this one up. To take it super slow. There's a lot at stake after all.

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      Stevie

      Wondering what 2018 might have in store.

      1122

    5. #345
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Thursday, February 01st 2018 (January in Numbers)


      The number I should really be thinking about at this moment in time is the number 300. That's as many words as I'm supposed to be writing, or rather – should have by now written!, about my hopes and aspirations for the future for my clinical psychologist for when I see him later on this afternoon. I'm going to look at the numbers from the recent past first though (I like stalling after all) – the numbers that made up the month of January.

      Days Working: 2

      That's tremendously poor but it's the way it's worked out. I worked one day a couple of weeks ago and then again yesterday after a poor start to what was supposed to be an excellent working week. The plan is that I will try to make this month better and more productive in every way possible than January was and with regards to working this should definitely not be an issue. I'll be half way to equalling it by the end of today! It's really important I force this issue and get out to work enough that a pattern begins. I cancelled the dentist yesterday since I won't have the two hundred quid lying around and would have had to take it out of the bank or Credit Union, which I'm not doing. It has to come from money earned from cleaning windows and so far I don't have nearly enough. This'll change in the coming weeks, I promise. I also believe my sleeping will return to 'normal' once a decent working and college routine is established.

      Days at College: Not Many

      To be fair there hasn't been a whole lot for me to be going in for but with the second semester starting up on Monday I expect to be in class for the full days on both Mondays and Wednesdays, plus a little extra if needed from time to time. Along with work – this is one part of my life that I really look forward to getting back into and in a hurry too.

      Miles Walked: 226

      That's more like it! This is actually quite a decent little total and is the second best month I've managed since starting this up last February. On Monday I walked seventeen miles which turned out to be the longest walk I've done since September 30th. I'll have less days this month to compete with such an impressive mile total but plan to keep going strong in this area, maybe just not beat this one.

      Sugar Consumed: Lots!

      This is one area that I actually plan on greatly reducing. Just one more week to go and things will be changing up in my diet. I've already reduced the amount of sugar I take in tea and coffee and don't bother with sauce or anything like that with my dinner. Still though I am over my target some days. It doesn't take much to be honest. I'll have to go through quite a gruelling schedule of actually weighing out and measuring and working out how much I've been taking from one day to the next from next Wednesday until I get good enough at knowing how much sugar is actually in the things I am likely to eat and portion sizes in which case I'll be in better control of it all. To get things started off though I will have to go about measuring out everything so that I know for sure.

      So with that out of the way I can perhaps concentrate a little on this homework for Dr. Bacon, my clinical psychologist, which is actually due in this afternoon when I next see him at our appointment at half past three. I don't have anything written despite having two full weeks to come up with something. It's not that I'm too lazy to write (most will already know this about me given my commitment to this cause and how I type up something in here every single day) – it's more that I have no idea what I am supposed to be writing. It's meant to be about my hopes for the future but I just cannot think at all where I would like to see myself going.

      At the moment anywhere is possible. As soon as I start picking some doors to go through there are others that begin to close. Life begins to seem a lot more limited. I just do not know. What do I see in the future? What even do I see myself getting at the end of my studies? This is also something I just have no idea about. I'm still just running with an idea that one of the lecturers said to us back at the induction in August:

      Lecturer – ''Even if you don't end up working in radio, or even in the creative industries at all, you should still complete the course and get your degree. When you have a degree there are all sorts of opportunities open to you.''

      I shouldn't quote him on that but it was something very similar. I don't even know why I chose this course in the slightest. At the moment I am just concentrating on getting through what is put in front of me. If thee is work to do for college then I'll put the effort into getting it done. I won't be thinking about what comes at the end of it all. Perhaps this is a big flaw in my thinking. Dr. Bacon seems to want me to think beyond this. He wants me to start thinking about what all this is getting done in order to achieve. He wants me to commit to something whereas I am still playing it safe, keeping my cards close to my chest for fear of looking rather than placing them on the deck to reveal all and show my vulnerability. I guess I'll just have to walk into that session this afternoon with my homework undone. I wonder if this is what he means by me not having done the hard parts.

      Thinking about the future still holds for me great uncertainty. I can't really see past the next few days, maybe a couple of weeks. When I think too far ahead I just lose focus. At the end of the day I just don't really know which direction I'm heading in and whether or not it's the right one. I just don't know.

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      Stevie

      Doesn't know where in life he's headed.

      1106

    6. #346
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Friday, February 02nd 2018 (Strictly Glasgow)


      Yesterday I looked at the numbers that made up the first month of 2018 (and depressing reading they made for too) and so this morning I am going to look at the numbers that will make up the future, the rest of the year. There will be some dates for my diary in there too.

      Christmas is now only forty six weeks away (forty six weeks on Tuesday I think it is) but it seems as though there will be something happening every week between now and then. That's the way it feels anyway but when I break it down there will likely not be all that much happening. Let's have a look. It all starts this evening after work when Lindsay and I go through to Glasgow for the Strictly Come Dancing live show. I bought these as part of her Christmas presents and so I'm looking forward to it, not that I would admit that to everyone I know. This will start off a fairly busy February which will see a bunch of birthdays towards the middle of the month.

      First will be my oldest niece's birthday. She'll be six on the sixth. That's next Tuesday. I know not if I will be seeing her or not, which is a real shame, but whether or not I do will be entirely dependent on how much effort I put into it as there has certainly been none from the other side. My brother said that this year he would be upping his efforts to see friends and family since last year he realised that he was too focused on university and nothing else but these are easy things to say. It's easy to say that you will make more of an effort to check in with family and friends but it's another thing to actually go and do it.

      A day after this birthday will be my sober birthday. I'll have three birthdays all on one day. I'll be three years off the booze, two off the drugs, and one off the cigarettes all on the seventh of February. This will also be the first day of me living under my new diet of severely restricted and weighed out sugar. I'll be keeping to the guidelines and won't be going over my recommended daily allowance. This date has been extremely good for me in the past for some reason and I have never looked back when quitting something on this date. Now we'll find out if it is also a good date for me to be reducing things too.

      On February 12th my window cleaning business will be ten years old. It's officially been dead since 14th December 2014 and so doesn't technically exist anymore according to government records and such like but to me it is still going strong in its massively reduced state and Barry the Bullet and me rely up on it to get us by from one week until the next. This birthday will be an unofficial one but is as real as any of my drink/drug and cigarette quit anniversaries. We then have Valentine's Day a couple of days later and the month ends with Lindsay's birthday on the 25th.

      Back when I was with children we used to laugh about 2018. At the time it was miles away but this would be the year where my mother would turn sixty, I would turn forty, my son would turn eighteen and my daughter sixteen. Also there was my youngest step-daughter who would celebrate turning twenty one. I guess you could add my youngest niece into this incredible number of milestone birthdays as she turns five this year too. Now 2018 is upon us and these birthdays will be happening over the course of the next few months although how many celebrations I am actually to be involved in does not seem as much now as it did back then when I first noticed all of these connected events and how they would fall into the same year. Lindsay's son will actually turn sixteen this year as well, now that I think about it.

      So the first of these birthdays comes in March when my mum turns sixty. If I see her on this fate, before this date, or anywhere after this date that isn't Christmas isn't up to me and is completely unknown. My mother and I see each other perhaps as much as any mother and son who don't really have anything in common and can't be arsed with one and other will see each other. I had hoped that my Step Nine AA amends would perhaps change this – and they did for all of ten seconds or so – but I am starting to realise that nothing will likely ever change with regards to this. She'll be sixty. How old must she become before she makes more of an effort? We'll find out, I guess.

      Then in April it is my turn. Forty! Wow! Scary stuff! Lindsay and I have booked a trip for this and so will be out of the country for this date. It will make it feel less awkward for me. I won't have to pretend and make excuses for my family not seeing me or even contacting me on my big day. We were out of the country and so they couldn't make contact. I'm happy to go along with that.

      In June we have the end of the college year plus a world cup to look forward to although how excited you can get about a tournament held in Russia that does not involve Scotland, Holland, America, or Italy I am still unsure of. This will also be the month where Walk the Walk holds its annual marathon Moon Walks in Edinburgh city centre that I did last year but I'm not sure yet if I'll be doing it again this year.

      In August my youngest niece will turn five, the new football season will start, and then at the very end of the month I'll be starting my second year of the college diploma. Then come the big birthdays. My son will celebrate turning eighteen on September 08th – a Saturday night no less, my daughter will be sixteen on November 04th – a Sunday, not quite as good, and then Lindsay's son will be sixteen on the November 24th (another Saturday meaning that they all hit these milestones at the weekend – cool!)

      Like I said though – how much of all of this I am actually involved in is undetermined. I'll just have to wait and see. Lindsay and I are also planning to take another trip in October and there are a couple of concerts (well – two stand-up comedians and a trip to the theatre to see the Wicked musical) to help split up the year and I hope to add to this a few football matches and an ice hockey game or two, and then we'll be looking forward to Christmas all over again.

      And I have to get going because of this blasted word-count rule I have in place.

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      Stevie

      Thinking he's gonna be busy. . .

      1215

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Saturday, February 03rd 2018 (Bacon's New Job)


      Now that we are at another weekend I feel like I have the time to be able to sit down and reflect upon the week just passed. I haven't spoken so far about anything that happened at work this week or about the Dr. Bacon session I had on Thursday afternoon. So let's get down to it. But can I first just say that the Strictly Come Dancing live show last night was wonderful!!

      Dr. Bacon has a new job which he will be moving to at the end of March. How do I feel about it? I guess I'm starting to realise that there isn't a whole lot can be done about it and so am thinking, painfully deliberating over, the two possible options of how to progress and trying to figure out which one might be best. Option 1: we fast-track the remaining sessions and I finish up my work with psychology services at the end of next month. Option 2: I am put onto another psychologist and we begin work again. Both have pros and cons.

      Option 1 is interesting. We book in my final three sessions which will now take place on February 15th, March 01st and March 15th (so two, four, and six weeks from the session I just had, one session every two weeks exactly) and I wonder to myself how we might be able to finish up in three sessions. Three hours and this will all be over assuming that we go with this option. Quite what we'd be doing in each session isn't as yet altogether clear and so if you asked me if this was enough time I really wouldn't know how to answer.

      Option 2 would mean I was back on the waiting list. It wouldn't take a year or eighteen months like it did to get my first sessions with Dr. Bacon in the first place and I wouldn't be starting my work all over again from the beginning – more from some point mid-way through, several sessions back – but it would mean going backwards. I would also be unlikely to get another psychologist who specialises in Schema Therapy since this is a small county and there seems to only be a handful of psychologists available and each of them represents an area of the field. I'd likely get someone who is an expert on some other forms of therapy. In this regard I guess we could be all but starting over.

      This is inconvenient. It's neither a whole lot more, or a whole lot less, than that. Inconvenient. On the scale of things it could be worse. I would say that my 2018 poor sleeping patterns (and so subsequent poor waking patterns) are a much bigger threat to my year. This has a much bigger daily effect on the quality of my life this year. So far I have been doing well to tell myself that just because the year has started poorly does not mean that the whole of 2018, or indeed the rest of my entire life, is going to follow suite. This was a common belief and thinking pattern I had in the past. I have moved on in some ways I am happy to say.

      Dr. Bacon is all for pointing out ways in which I have moved on since we started working together but all the while I can't help but wonder if he's perhaps doing this since we are getting close to the end of things. Even if I am to begin working with someone else the gig will be up for Bacon and me in a little under six weeks. I'd be lying if I was to say that I am also a little worried about my bus pass. It is up for renewal soon and runs out on March 22nd. I wonder if he'd sign the form again. If so I might be able to get another year out of it. But this is a small concern at the moment.

      Before the session I had a little time to kill and so went to the town centre and had some lunch. As I was walking through the centre I passed my old next door neighbour. The one that lives next to the cave I left less than three months ago. We don't speak. She just kinda glares at me a little and then we are passed. I feel silly though. Embarrassed even. She knows too much about me and what life in that cave was like for me. How is it she knows so much? I told her. I actually went to her door, knocked on it, and went into her house and told her. Why would I do such a thing? Because my AA sponsor told me to.

      This is just another example of the AA program coming back to bite me in the ass a while later. Dr. Bacon would have said that we didn't think it through enough at the time. He'd be right too. Bob Earll said in his book that I quoted many times after I'd read it last year that we often (especially when we're still hurting) seek out approval and forgiveness from people we've wronged so that they will stop hurting us. This is an example of that I think. I wanted my neighbour to stop hurting me (not that she was – I just thought she was) and so if I went to her door and explained myself everything would be out in the open and she would forgive me for being a poor neighbour for four years. She did, and I felt okay about it for a while, but now I feel silly. My sponsor and I rushed into it. We were foolish. I was foolish. He was foolish too, but I was the most foolish for believing that the answer to my woes could come from someone who isn't in any way qualified to take someone through a healing process and on a road to retribution. AA and its program has me feeling ashamed when I cross paths with my ex-neighbour.

      This has nothing to do with the situation I now face with my psychologist. We've looked at the schema modes for months now and we're looking into what sort of life I would want to be living ideally. I failed to hand in my homework assignment but we did establish that certain values I have are in creativity, health and ''physical performance'', connection, exploration, and we are now looking at how my schema modes and the beliefs that they have about myself and the world impact on me being able to fulfil any ambitions within these values. Am I getting the best out of my creativity? No – why? Am I connected to the world around me in a way I feel satisfied with? No – which schema modes are impacting on this?

      This is the kind of thing we'll be looking at over our final three sessions. What happens after that only time will tell but the action stage is upon me once again. If I want to make the most out of these final sessions then action will be required of me.

      That would be a lot easier if I could get to sleep at a decent time and wake the next morning feeling fine.

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      Stevie

      Three sessions left.

      1232

    8. #348
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Sunday, February 04th 2018 (Semester Two)


      So – off the back of my mid-week post about Lindsay's son and how his coming to live with us suddenly might cause an upset in our otherwise cosy little life the two of them were out for lunch and a bit of shopping yesterday (with her dad – there has never been a meeting between Lindsay and her son without a third party being involved yet, not in the time I've known her anyway) and so I was brought into the conversation a little. The whole ''Leon meets Stevie'' thing. In Leon's own words: ''I don't know why everyone is making a big deal out of me meeting him. I've sort of met him before at that funeral.''

      He's talking about AA member Jagger's funeral, which happened around fourteen months or so ago, last October I think it was. He didn't meet me. He was in the social worker's car as Lindsay got in and I waved goodbye while I came back to Lindsay's flat and the three of them went out on their fortnightly supervised visit. The lad is right though. Why is such a thing being made of this? It's just the coming together of two people. It's the social workers that are making a bit thing out of it. They always do. It's dramatic for them because they love drama in their lives. They thrive action and control.

      Me meeting Lindsay's son is potentially something that could happen either next weekend of the weekend after that. I don't think that there's a reason to keep feeling it out. It would appear that the only thing getting in the way of that happening could be the social worker herself. Forget what should be happening, what needs to happen, or what could potentially happen – it's all about what a social worker wants to happen. That's what really counts here. There is a way that we might be able to bypass this though. This woman in question will be in Dubai soon (if she's not already there. And why she would think that we would want to know the exact destination of her trip away I have no idea – especially given how she is in no way whatsoever worth the money she earns and should do the decent thing and quit to let someone replace her who would be good for the families she works for rather than putting herself first as she clearly does) and so there could be a chance for this to be done for her coming back without her knowledge. There are so many various workers involved that there are others we could get advice on handling this meeting without this social worker knowing anything about it. When she asks about why we did things this way when she returns then a vote of ''no confidence'' would perhaps be the best way to put it to her. That could be the beginning of the complaint against her. We'll see. But potentially I could be meeting Lindsay's fifteen year old son for the first time either next weekend or the following one.

      Semester Two doesn't officially begin until I get into the college tomorrow morning but the work for it should and will begin now. I'll be on air at nine o'clock tomorrow morning with three other guys (although I will be presenting the first show and so will be working the desk and taking the main microphone for the duration of the hour tomorrow) and will need to be prepared before heading in there. I have work to be getting on with in terms of research and analysis which can begin from right now.

      I was ''speaking'' with co-presenter Jamie on the Facebook group chat the other day and he's managed to get us some interviews with players and coaches from local football club Dunfermline Athletic as well as ''access'' to local ice hockey team Fife Flyers. This is a cool little thing to have in our live shows. It's quite easy to put audio onto the college radio system so that it can be added to a schedule as though it were just another song and so I am actually partly looking forward to this weekend just being over and done with so that we can get started. You won't hear me saying that very often of the weekends either. With Lindsay's son Leon being a huge ice hockey fan and regular at Fife Flyers home games this could also be a way in for me where he is concerned. It might be possible to have him sit in on an interview. That would be something.

      I think that since Jamie knows all of the questions he wants us to ask he will pretty much be taking care of all of that while I just pretty much sit there with a camera and film it all. I don't know why actually since this will only really be used for our live radio shows and subsequent podcast but perhaps we could post a link to the interviews somewhere and people can access them from there.

      Right then – my AA and church attendances in 2018 have been exceptionally poor. So poor that I haven't been to either yet this year. My last AA meeting was on Christmas Eve and I think that my last church attendance was actually later on that same night. I've been meaning to go every Sunday of the year so far but haven't managed to for whatever reason. Will this Sunday, this morning, less than an hour from now, finally be the time that I kill at least one of these elusive stones? We'll see, but I do quite fancy it this morning to be honest. It's good for setting up routine as well.

      When I come back I'll take the song we'll be using for the show tomorrow morning (a Kasabian tune) and mix it up with some sounds of crowds at a stadium and the effect of a ball being kicked into a net. Considering I've paid nearly two hundred quid for the rental of the software package from Adobe I should try to at least use it for something. I used it for my Assessed Show 2 (most of which I recorded in the cave) and one or two other little things but for the most part it has not been worth the money at all. I'll be looking to illegally download it all for free for next year and won't be feeling guilty about it in the slightest since it is a rip off in the first place.

      Good God, is that us at that blasted word count again already!?

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      Stevie

      Off to church. . .

      1139

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Monday, February 05th 2018 (Lesser Identity)


      I think I'm much less than I can be, or rather 'could' be. By that I think I mean only that I am doing too little still. I could be doing much more in this sober life. Dr. Bacon said that I seem to be trying to find (or create) for myself a new identity, one that is removed from the ''I'm an Alcoholic'' label that we seem to like to place on ourselves. I'm trying to move away from that. I think he's right too. I am trying to create and discover a new identity for myself. I could be trying a lot harder to do this though.

      I think that when I was drinking had other things going that helped me to have an identity of sorts, until there was little left besides the drink, in that I had hobbies. I used to play guitar and until last year would still try to pick it up every now and then. Everything with it seems lost now and there are times when I actually wonder if I would be better off just selling all of the gear. I have two electric guitars (one of them a rather nice Godin Freeway Classic too, worth five or six hundred quid) and a couple of amplifiers as well as all of the usual pedals and add-ons and shit like that. Altogether there's enough to get anyone who is interested in learning to play started and then some. I'm wondering if that person might actually be me again. Are my music playing days over? Or could there be a chance I could pick it back up again and find what it was that attracted me to it in the first place?

      It's definitely something I miss. By that I don't necessarily mean that I miss the guitar playing part of it, or even the guitar at all. I guess I'm saying I miss being good at something. I miss having something that helps to define me. I miss having something that takes up my spare time in a positive way and gives me something to look forward to spending time with. In recent years I had to struggle to pick it up and it really did become something I did not look forward to but back in the days when I was learning to play for the first time and was making good and steady progress I loved it. Is there any chance of me getting something close to those days back and if so is it possible with this instrument or do I have to look elsewhere?

      Something else I'd been thinking about starting is another thing I used to do but don't anymore. This was so long ago that there is pretty much no part of my current identity that I could possibly compare. Karate. I loved this when I was younger and it was another thing that I was good at. Again though, just like guitar playing – at some point along the line it started to feel far too much like work and not enough like something that I was to enjoy. Is this another thing I could start back up again? There's a school not too far from where I stay (when you walk as much as I do nowhere is actually all that far) and so it would be worth popping down to have a look and watch a session.

      Karate and electric guitar? You can tell I grew up in the eighties!!

      These are definitely two things I would be interested in taking a look at once more but this could be seen as me trying more to reclaim an old identity than it could me trying to establish a new one. What are some other interests I have? Obviously football is a huge one but there isn't really much of an option for me there. Not in terms of playing anyway. I quite enjoy writing my posts in this forum but have no idea how I might take to trying some other kinds of writing. I had enquired about possibly taking a creative writing class but there wasn't enough people interested in it for it to run and I got the phone call telling me that it was cancelled the day it was scheduled to start. I could perhaps take another look into it and see if there has been any more of an interest.

      What about things that Lindsay and I could do together? I know that she freaks out about her placement quite a lot and it does take up a lot of her mental energy but it's getting close to finishing now and so there might be a chance for us to get a bit of time together to try out some things in the evenings. One thing we had looked into was dancing. I'm no dancer but I'd be willing to learn (not that it's something I think I'd be good at) as it would definitely be good for Lindsay, myself and our relationship. I should get about looking into any weekly classes there might be in the local area. There's bound to be something going on.

      This is all without even giving it any thought. There is a slight calling for me to go back to AA soon and I had to resist it this weekend. The last meeting I attended was on Christmas Eve and while that is a long time ago for your average AA punter it is not all that long for someone who is trying to discover an identity for himself away from the alcoholic label. I'll go to meetings again, of course I will, but the calling is more likely to be a problem with connection and something to do than it is an actual desire to go to a meeting and so I should explore these feelings rather than taking the easy option and just going to a meeting to temporarily relieve the disquiet I feel within myself.

      Dr. Bacon says that I have done well and come a long way considering I haven't done any of the hard stuff yet. The hard stuff will start to come to me and ask me to rise up to it and match it when I get about doing the kind of things I'm mentioning in this post. These are the kinds of things that ''normal'' people do all the time. They get out there and learn new things. I'm doing okay in my sobriety and my life at the moment and things like going on a holiday to Barcelona with a girlfriend are watershed moments in my life for sure.

      But it's time I started trying some new things. As well as possibly reconnecting with some old things.

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      Stevie

      Still searching for his identity.

      1157

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Tuesday, February 06th 2018 (Oldest Niece Turns Six)


      I have her gift but I'm just going to hold onto it for now. I'll give it to her when I see her. Things aren't at the stage now where I can just knock on the door. Nor are they at the point where they would be expecting me to. Some things in sobriety are worse than they were when drinking. I wonder if that is something else I could add to my list of values. Family? Do I value family? I guess it might look like I don't but then when you consider how things have turned out for me (all the problems in my youth and childhood pretty much caused by the death of a parent and the emotional unavailability of the other; accelerated drinking and drug taking due to breakdown of own family in mid-twenties; current problems with breakdown of communication and contact with mother, brother and nieces) they all point to me having issues when there is no family stability. This would strongly point to me valuing family and the support and structure they can offer.

      Anyway, I wanna keep it more light-hearted this morning. How did Semester Two start off? It has been blighted in the same way that everything has so far in 2018. My sleeping routine has become such that things are getting intolerable already this year. For a long time Lindsay and I would go to bed at the same time but for a while now she has been coming through later than me. I have this thing about sleeping since it was the one major issue I had when sobering up. Confidence, anger, appetite – there were other problems, but the sleeping issue was the only one I would have considered as a major issue when getting sober. The only thing I could say that I was truly afraid of in the first eighteen months or so.

      The situation as it is just now and has been since we ended the Christmas break is that I go to bed at my routine time and try to get to sleep. It takes a while but sometimes I do manage to do so. Then I am woken by anything that moves or makes a sound in the night. Lindsay tries to be quiet when she comes through but even the light coming from her phone and night-light on the bed-stand wakes me and then I have to go through all kinds of bullshit to get back to sleep again. The cat might make a noise. There might be a sound outside. Every little thing can and will wake me. When I used to wake up when I was having a really good time of it I could almost tell you straight away what time of morning it was but now I rush to check the time as soon as my eyes open because for all I know the bus to college has left already or I'm going to be late for work. There have been times this year when I've slept into the very late morning.

      For the last three nights I have become frustrated with Lindsay's coming to bed and have ended up getting up and sleeping elsewhere. She'll come in and go about her routine, which will already have woken me as she goes to the bathroom and the light shines through the glass above the bedroom door. This has been enough to wake me pretty much every night since 2017 became '18. Then she'll do her thing which will take a while. I know the routine by heart now and so it becomes something of a frustrating waiting game for her to finish so that we can get back to the quiet and the dark. Only then do I have a chance of trying to get back to a sleep of sorts. The cat might decide to come through an hour later and so I am on a clock here to try to get some rest in between.

      So I went to sleep on the couch in the middle of the night on both Saturday night and Sunday in a bid to get better rest. During the first night I had problems with the cat. She does nothing all day but sleep but then as soon as the lights are out and it's time to be quiet she seems to think of it as being plat-time and the noise starts. On the second night I armed myself well. I had some cushions at the ready and a few pairs of socks still rolled up and I kept them close to me as I attempted to settle down. When, in the middle of the night, she started her shit and woke me up I would hurl in her direction one of my missiles and I could hear her darting out of the room and off to safety. It was very satisfying. I knew that she would return before too long and begin to make some more noise all over again but at least it got me some extra vital minutes of rest.

      So I've not been in the best of moods while getting up these days. It feels very much like I remember the old days being like when I would struggle for months to get any kind of sleep when I had stopped taking drink to bed with me. It's not enough to make me think about taking a drink to get me to sleep – the ''T'' in HALT – that would just be silly. That would actually be really immature thinking to be honest. I am waaaayyyyy past thinking about old coping habits even when old problems like this arise. I guess that the problem is the fact that I don't have any other ways to deal with this issue I have learned now that all of my tactics are failing.

      Things are starting to happen now though. Things that if I'm not careful I could end up sleeping through and missing altogether. This can not be allowed to happen. Yesterday I had the first show of our second semester at the college and it went pretty well. There's a buzz I notice has come back and the four of us involved in this sport show have something that we can all get our teeth into – something that interests us. The others in the class will be doing their shows in pretty much the same way that we've been doing live shows up until now. With this we (thankfully) have something very different.

      As for seeing my niece on her birthday – I am resorted to feeding off Facebook scraps like some online puppy.

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      Stevie

      Feeding off scraps.

      1137

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