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    1. #351
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Wednesday, February 07th 2018 (Three Years Sober)


      They say that we're in the danger zone until we get to five years so I'm thinking that there is little to celebrate by me turning three years today. Drinking, drug-taking, cigarette smoking. Today I celebrate quitting all three (three years off the booze, two off the drugs, one the cigs). So that means another four years before I can consider myself safe from relapse from all of those mentioned above. One might easily lead to another and onto another and so it's probs for the best I don't think about it like that. Just go with the flow as I have been doing. It's nice to have a birthday though. My oldest niece had one yesterday and Barry the Bullet turned forty the other day (Saturday, 03rd).

      I was browsing the WQD Ryver site the other day and noticed Doodlebug was talking about how she felt her smoking quit to be more difficult than the drinking quit. This doesn't surprise me actually and is one of the big problems I have with forums like these to begin with – was certainly something I struggled with when I first signed up to WQD. It's easy on day one to just assume that everyone has come from the same place and that they all know what they're talking about but there came a time, quite early on I am happy to say, when I began to notice that the site was not as it presented itself at all.

      The smoking quit for me was easy since there were no issues to worry about other than the annoyance that was wanting a cigarette every now and then. It was irritating more than anything else. Where quitting drinking was concerned I had all sorts of things to face from trying to get my appetite back to dealing with rising anger; to coping with low moods to trying to learn basic skills like cleaning my house; from managing my finances to dealing with early emotional problems (remember the whole Jenna thing!?) to the big one: sleep! Everything was new to me. Everything was hard. Everything made me frustrated and want to give in quickly. I don't think Doodlebug had any of these problems when getting sober. She just had to stop drinking. I don't blame her for wanting to post about her experiences in a forum since it had obviously become an issue for her (the drinking) enough that she would want to join a forum to help get off it but it's this sense of then knowing something about addiction and being some sort of expert that these types of forum members seem to have and want to adopt that makes me a little sick to be honest. They are constantly putting themselves before the guy who is really struggling and has all the work to do. It's disturbing, but it's old ground for me and not something I want to get back into again.

      So three years, eh!? When I think about those problems I just mentioned I can see how each and every one of them has been helped along slightly as each year has gone by. I still get very angry and frustrated with life at times but my appetite is no longer the issue it was. Sleeping is extremely poor at the moment but I have faith that this will once again sort itself out whereas before there didn't feel like there was any hope whatsoever. I don't suffer from low moods as much as I used to. This is something that Dr Bacon and I have spoken about recently since we've been reviewing our sessions. My problem to start with seemed to be that I suffered from low mood and so the GP did, as they always do, gave me some antidepressant medication and I was on that for a couple of years. The GP tried to keep me on it and in the end I weaned myself off it as I felt them to be keeping me in a place I did not want to be. I did this exactly one year ago today – the same day I quit smoking.

      What I have learned through working with Bacon for the last year is that feelings of depression and low mood don't necessarily come about just because. They happen as a result of our needs not being met. Now that we've looked through my learned behaviours from childhood and adolescence and can see more clearly how they operate with me we can begin to see how they stop me from being able to do the things I want to do. Bacon had me thinking about my values in life. The next stage is to try to learn how my coping modes stop me from being able to live a life that remains true to my values. Not being able to do this creates frustration within me and ends up with my needs not being me. So I feel down. This seems far more plausible to me than it simply being a case of me feeling down because I feel down. But then I don't feel down all the time like I used to. Not anymore.

      Remember the problems I had with Jenna in my first year? She was my ''special friend'' when I joined AA and we spent a lot of time together which led to all sorts of problems for me at a time when I should have been concentrating on getting better myself. We went our separate ways and I ended up getting off the weed and looking after myself a bit more. With Megs's help (member of the old WQD forum) I managed to get my cave cleaned up a but and I enrolled in college and was accepted. I got rid of my sponsor and limited my time in AA. I wrote A LOT in the old forum and would take my laptop, this laptop, pretty much everywhere I went. I spent lots of time at the (now closed) library at my local Glenwood Centre. I volunteered at the local charity shop. When Lindsay and I started seeing each other I felt better about my odds of getting emotionally involved with someone to that degree when I was nowhere near ready before.

      Looking at things this way it is easy for me to see that there have been significant improvements in my life and personality over the past 1095 days. Soon I will be wrapping things up with Dr. Bacon prematurely and I'll have to rely on past guidance to get me through, as well as leaning more on the Healthy Adult part of me that is still very much in development.

      When I wake up tomorrow I will be weighing out every gram of sugar I have in a new quit. Not a quit as such, more just a new way of consuming sugar. Today – I am going to eat a chocolate bar, an energy drink, and have two sugars in my coffee.

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      Stevie

      Three years sober.

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    2. #352
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Thursday, February 08th 2018 (In Hiding)


      You wouldn't think it but we're about ten per cent of the way through 2018 already. Yep – check it out if you don't believe me. Scary stuff indeed – a sign that I'm not doing as much of what I think I should be doing and perhaps too much of what I think I could and should be doing less of, which probably just about sums up how I have felt about the first ten per cent of this year so far. Here's to making the second ten per cent chapter a little more productive and, failing that, entertaining, although a bit of both would do just fine thank you very much.

      I was in the next town yesterday (as I will hopefully be again later on today) and was walking through the town at lunchtime when I passed my old next-door neighbour from the cave. This is happening quite a lot recently, seeing people from the past. I once again had to avoid looking at her. She wouldn't have likely spoken anyway but I feel terrible when I see her. When I was working through my Step Nine amends with Stu this neighbour was on the list of amends I had to make. I had been a pretty shitty neighbour after all. I didn't keep the best company when I first moved in there and on the first night there was a fight in my sitting room. For the next four years I struggled to keep the house and the garden to neat and tidy standards. I wasn't the best neighbour. This was a result of my drinking and drug-taking behaviour and so she was placed onto my AA Step Nine amends list.

      When the time to make the amend arrived I struggled with it. I spoke with my sponsor about it and we discussed how I would go about it and what sort of things I should and shouldn't say. It took me a while to pluck up the courage to go to the door and there were a couple of times when I did so but she wasn't in. Eventually I managed to get an answer at the door and I was invited into her home for the one and only time I was in there. I stayed for around an hour and explained myself and my actions in accordance with Stu (my AA sponsor's) guidance. Now I feel very silly about it all. Ridiculous even. I feel as though she has all of this information about me and I have nothing about her and it just hasn't worked out in the way that it says that it will in our ''Big Book.'' It's very frustrating to think that I hide away from someone when we are supposed to be doing these amends so that we can clear out our side of the street and so that we can hold our heads up high and face people again. It hasn't been my experience. Is it coincidence that this lack of communication with my family began shortly after making my amends with them? Perhaps that's going a little too far actually.

      But the bottom line is that the amends process may not have worked well for me. Sometimes, as I have said a few times in this journal recently, I have wondered what on earth I was thinking in the first place to have even asked Stu to sponsor me for, let alone actually stick it out with him all the way to Step Nine, but then I did the groundwork. I did compile a list of potential sponsors and ''interviewed'' them looking for someone whom I thought would be the most likely to carry out sponsorship in the way that the Book explained. Taking no shortcuts, doing things properly. I wonder what Dr. Bacon might have to say about this method. I admit to feeling stupid when I see my old neighbour and he always says that I tend to confuse feeling ''stupid'' with feeling ''vulnerable'' and so I guess this could be what's happening. This old neighbour of mine knows my dark secrets. Not only the ones I told her about but also the ones she figured out by herself by living next door to me for a little more than four years. I think that perhaps the feeling of being stupid that I get when I see her coming is a case of me feeling vulnerable. I don't like feeling that way.

      I also bumped into a party of AA punters the other day. I haven't been to a meeting since Christmas Eve and up until now had only briefly seen Captain G and his partner from the fellowship. Here in the Golden Bite cafe is AA Gangster, Main Man, and a couple of lesser members, all munching on something as unhealthy looking as the thing I'm about to order. I was always weirded out in the early days when I met with people from AA out of the rooms as they lost all of their power. In the rooms everyone has a voice and they know it. In the real world most of us shy away, we change to suit our surroundings, and we seem much smaller and less mighty as a result. AA Gangster is looking much older every time I see him. Since I'm not at meetings much these days I don't know the ins and outs of people's lives but it wouldn't surprise me if he is carrying some sort of illness now. He'll be seventy now surely. Lots of stress too with two of his kids recently being given long stretches in the jail.

      I will pop down to that Saturday night meeting at one point when it's next convenient. I am sure that there will again come a time when I go to meetings on a regular basis, even if it is just for a few weeks, this is the way it tends to happen for me, how I ''work'' my AA. I don't go for a few weeks and then I go a lot for a few. It's perhaps a sign that I still have no idea where on earth it fits in with my life. Maybe I like going but it's just that I get sick of it very quickly. I like to think that it's because I don't need it as much these days. My search for identity and a life in keeping with my values demands I look elsewhere.

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      Stevie

      Hides from old neighbours.

      1106

    3. #353
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Friday, February 09th 2018 (Sunderland F.C.)


      I'm dreading next week's Valentine's Day celebrations as anyone who has been reading in here will likely guess, but it's a-comin' and so I would do well to start thinking about it now – how I'm going to afford it and how I might get around the subject that will inevitably crop up. I know – I'll avoid it and think about football instead!!

      The course I am currently studying is the first of a two year diploma in radio. Once attained it gives me an unconditional offer into the University of Sunderland for the degree program, a city in England a couple of hundred miles south of where I am in (not so) Bonny Scotland. This is something that myself and many of my peers are considering, even if only for the nine months that the course lasts. For guys like me who are part of the college radio's sports' show there is a real scope for sporting action in Sunderland since they are home to a huge football club: Sunderland F.C.

      Until very recently they have been playing in English football's top tier and one of the most well-known, lucrative and biggest sporting competitions in the world in the English Premier League. How cool it would be were we to soon be living in a city in which the giants of football come to play every week and teams like Manchester City and United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, and all of the others in the league bring some, if not most, of the best players in the world to play (usually beat) what would have become our new home team!? The thing is – Sunderland were terrible last season and were relegated to the second tier of English football: the Championship.

      There's more. Sunderland are having another really shitty season and are currently in the bottom three of the second tier of English football. If you finish in the bottom three come the end of the season (three months and sixteen more games away) then you are relegated to the third tier of English football – the much less lucrative League One. The way things are going this is a realistic possibility. What I would need to happen in order for me and my sport-loving class-mates to be living in a town which regularly hosted English football's big boys would be for Sunderland to avoid finishing in the bottom three come May this year and then this would give them one season to finish in the top two so that they would be promoted into the top tier once again. This is much less likely to happen.

      Sunderland recently saved themselves from gaining an embarrassing record of going an entire three hundred and sixty five day period without a home win. They beat Watford on December 17th 2016 and then went the whole year without winning at the Stadium of Light until they beat Fulham 1-0 on December 16th 2017, just one day to spare. There's always a chance it could happen but at the moment it looks as though the football club is on a real slippery slope and a late rescue isn't looking very likely. We'll keep an eye on it from one week to the next.

      At the start of this week I went to phone Barry the Bullet to make sure that he was up for working (snow fall kept us off though and so the lame year continues) and I noticed I had a text message from my sister-in-law. She was offering a congratulations on my sober birthday. I haven't had any contact with them since the Boxing Day dinner and I reckon this was her way of reaching out since it is the week her eldest daughter, my oldest niece, celebrates a birthday. This is also how she'll remember I have my own birthday of sorts this week. Rather than leave it and have a think about it I decided to seize the chance and got back to her, saying that I would pop in later in the week with my niece's birthday present. Dr. Bacon would be loving these developments. I guess that the question is now what am I going to do about it. I could go there after work this afternoon, during the break we have between cleaning windows and debt collecting in the evening. That's if the snow doesn't keep us off all day.

      One interesting thing that will be happening from next week and lasting for the foreseeable will be my own little radio slot I've booked in on a Tuesday afternoon. Even though Edinburgh University have students now on Boom Radio's books and who travel through to work on some shows as well as two years' worth of students active in doing the same there are still some hours throughout the week when the station is put onto automation mode and doesn't have an active presenter. I booked in the Tuesday afternoon slot from four until five. This is the latest time I can get so that it has the slightest chance of interfering with work but it does still mean that I will have to finish up slightly early on a Tuesday from now on. With every second Thursday being taken up by a Dr. Bacon session (for another three sessions anyway) and Friday seeing a work related debt collecting session every week the Tuesday is the only week that is really available to me.

      I'll be using this slot to get all of my assessed shows done for class. It beats the stress of having to try to work them into our reduced timetables for this second semester. It'll be good practice for me. It'll also give me the opportunity to work on a niche show that I might not be allowed to do while broadcasting during mainstream midday times when the station's primary demographic is the focus of all things played. It'll be cool.

      Besides all of that Lindsay had two of her job interviews this week and has been unsuccessful with the first one. They're looking for someone with experience. I think that this will be something she'll be hearing a lot of throughout these interviews. I thought that the placements were so that the students could gain experience. I sometimes wonder about what my class's chances might be at interviews based on what little work we've done in the actual industry. It's scary.

      But not as scary as having a word count looming over my shoulder.
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      Stevie

      'Mon the Sunderland!!

      1106

    4. #354
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Saturday, February 10th 2018 (Booking Another Holiday)


      Lindsay had two job interviews last week and has another this coming week. In around six weeks she'll be finished her sign-off placement and will officially have become a nurse. Should she be successful in either of these interviews then she'll be good to start working immediately. This is great news as it's been a long and hard last couple of years for her trying to get through this. The end is almost upon her. Even if she begins working straight after her placement is over the hospital will honour any holidays she has already booked. This means we'll be good to go in April for our little trip to celebrate my fortieth. This could be our last chance to get something booked for October as well and so it was actually last week at this time that we went to the travel agents and booked something for October that fits nicely into my break from college. We get a week off in October and the dates are already on the Student Portal so we've booked it in for that week. We're going to Portugal next. How Stevie gets about these days! He's making better use of that passport than he would have thought possible when he initially applied.

      Our little trip last year to Santa Susanna and Barcelona was only really possible, as was the coming trip to the Canary Islands, through my working with Barry the Bullet window cleaning whenever we got the chance. I was popping into the travel agent every week on my way to the Golden Bite and paying one hundred pounds towards the balance. This meant that it was possible to pay of the cost of the trip in a couple of months. This is kind of the thing I need to be doing again now. It almost feels like a huge debt has been created – and this is exactly what has happened. It's simple – get out to work and everything will be fine; don't go out to work as much and everything will be a struggle. I can only hope and pray that my sleeping pattern is listening and agrees with this logic.

      Right then – a little review on the sugar intake since we're now a few days into it. Three whole days into it to be exact. On Thursday I struggled a little with knowing what to have and what not to have – a sure sign of lack of preparation – and so ended up skipping breakfast (not something I will be making a habit out of) while promising myself I'd be getting some eggs in (which I have done) and starting off the next day with a couple of boiled ones. At around 0.5 grams of sugar per egg this is a good morning option. Lunches are going to be a little tougher when I'm at college and out working. Usually we head to the town and go to one of the bakeries or suchlike. I have been astonished by the sugar content of some of their products (anything between 19.5 and 27.5 grams for a fudge doughnut depending on which website you consult). One thing I will probably start doing is taking my flask in. This'll have boiled water only. Then I can make up things like Mugshots and other low in sugar type things that I got into when I was at Slimming World around this time last year. I'll be on the water at college rather than the coffees and lattes.

      I already know how much sugar I am saving myself by not taking any in coffees and by generally drinking less coffee. As I was doing before I have been weighting and measuring everything out and spooning it into a tub so that I can keep track of the daily amounts at this early stage and so that I can physically see what I am consuming. I think it helps even though it is a little extra work. Maintaining this when I get lazy will be the important part of it all. So on Thursday I consumed (I hate that word) around fourteen grams all in. Yesterday it was closer to twenty. Today hasn't happened yet so I've no idea how it will end up but there's a pattern here whereby I'm taking in a lot less and so far it hasn't been very difficult. Not taking any sugar in coffee has saved me a fortune in sugar granules. Not going to bakeries for lunch while at college and work will do the same. It doesn't take much, just small differences, to make big changes.

      Scottish Sarah contacted me through the week to congratulate me on my anniversary off the booze. This is also perhaps her way of trying to reach out to me considering that it is, or rather has been, my oldest niece's birthday recently. Given what has been happening with regards to my family over the past twelve months I should not mess around here. The ball is in my court. I would be foolish not to try to make the best serve possible. I'm going to the next town to see them all tomorrow afternoon. I'll probably make a day of it: getting the bus through at midday and then walking the nine miles back later on. It'll be the first time I've set foot in my brother's house in almost a year – by far the longest time since we've been on this earth.

      I saw English Sara and Dennis the other day for the first time in 2018. They were coming on the bus as I was getting off it in the morning before college on Wednesday. I used to rely on her friendship to get by and she was a pretty big influence when it came to me getting sober in the early days. Keeping me out of trouble and always having somewhere I could go to get something to eat. She's been living with Dennis since January last year and I'm always in the next town these days with my new life and not being able to visit as much is something I admit to regretting.

      I don't see Gillon much now either. Gillon and English Sara are perhaps the only friends I have left although I recently got a message from Fuzzy asking me to go round and I've penned that in for next Thursday after work. I think I'll reach out to Gillon that day too. Wish him all the best for the new year we are already ploughing through. I need new friends though. I'll be the first to admit that. One option is one of Lindsay's pals' husbands. When Lindsay goes to visit them I tend not to always go. One time I went to AA instead, another time I stayed at home. There's always an excuse to avoid feeling vulnerable.

      Anyway – the word count is here.

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      Stevie

      The mighty word count. . .

      1179

    5. #355
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Sunday, February 11th 2018 (Eleven Assignments and a Graded Unit)


      We're hoping that next weekend I'll finally be introduced officially to Lindsay's son. Her birthday is two weekends from this and we're hoping that her family can all go out for dinner to celebrate. As things stand it would be awkward with me not having met Leon so we're trying to arrange this for next Saturday. It's perhaps about time. There's an interesting development happening at the moment regarding this whole situation. There is a court hearing scheduled for the end of next month and, according to one of the workers on the case, Leon will be moving out of his grandmother's and into a sort of temporary foster home for a period of six weeks while arrangements are made for him to move back with his mother.

      What's happening here is that while Lindsay was in the latter stages of her drinking it was not in the boy's best interests to be living with her and so he was relocated into his grandmother's care. There are so few foster homes and care opportunities available that this was pretty much the only option available at the time (around two and a half years ago). Now that Lindsay is closing in on three years sober and looking unlikely to relapse and the grandmother that Leon has been living with has proved to be completely incapable of looking after him it looks as though the social work department now feels as though his needs are not being met by remaining where he is and so he should be moving back in with his mother within six weeks of this court hearing at the end of next month. I wonder what the actual role of the social word department has been in all of this to be honest.

      Lindsay said to this worker on the phone that this would not be happening. That the deal was that there was to be a rebuilding of her relationship with her son after all the time they've had apart from one and other in recent years and that this hasn't really been happening. Last weekend they were supposed to be meeting up for lunch but then this was cancelled due to one of Leon's workers scheduling an appointment with him – an appointment which was later cancelled at the last minute meaning that Lindsay and he could have met up after all. It's all stops and starts at the moment. Speaking with Lindsay last night the general feeling is that she should be jumping at the chance to have her fifteen year old son back in her life but it's not as simple as that now.

      I don't know how I would feel to be honest. If something had happened to my kids' mother and they had to move back in with me suddenly and after not seeing them for such a long time. I wouldn't be into the sudden disruption without a settling in period to get to know them a little first. It's perhaps a little different in that I haven't seen my children in more than ten years whereas Lindsay and Leon have had contact every now and then ever since this all happened. Where I stand on the situation with Leon I am glad to say that I seem to be involved in Lindsay's thinking. The way that the whole feminism movement seems to work these days is that women make the decisions regarding the family and the man gets no say. If he says anything then he must not be a feminist and should be completely disregarded. That's not to say that I should be allowed to act as any kind of barrier to this happening. The eventual outcome here is that her son will be coming to stay with us. This I have accepted. It's just now a case of us trying to find the right time for it to happen without it all being about making the social workers look as though they are doing their jobs well.

      At the college I seem to have twelve pieces of work to carry out in the second semester. One of these is the Graded Unit – which is pretty much a way of deciding which grade we end up with at the end of the year. There are four assessed shows as there were last semester; two assessments on law; two on a class called Producing Online Content; and three for whatever will be replacing the scriptwriting classes from next week. It works out as something like one piece of work per week and then a month left over to complete the Graded Unit. We started looking at this in class last week and I couldn't think of anything. This is where it is interesting to note my change in confidence at times. Many students have ideas about what they will be doing for their Graded Units whereas I have no clue. What I do feel, however, is that was I able to jump six months into the future and take a look at whatever it is I end up submitting will be decent. I'm confident that when the time comes I'll produce something that gets the seventy marks I'll need to get the A Grade.

      On top of these assignments there is also the sport show every Monday morning to consider. This is starting to take up some time. With me block-booking myself a midweek radio slot on a Tuesday afternoon from this coming week until further notice I will now be on-air three times a week. At the start of the semester I was the only student scheduled to be on twice a week but now I have added one to that. It means quite a lot of preparation time is required (we're no longer allowed to just go on-air and wing it – we must plan our shows to a decent standard) and so I'll have my hands busy for the next few months (although if I feel the heat I can cancel this Tuesday slot at any time).

      Think about how challenging all of this will be. Juggling work and college now that I have three on-air commitments per week. Meeting Lindsay's son with the mid – long term plan being for him to come live with us. These are huge steps considering my three year sober state. And to think that my old AA sponsor didn't want me to do any of it. He wanted me to throw myself into AA and the Twelve Step Program. To live in meetings. To do nothing with life other than to sit in meetings and wait for someone to ask me to sponsor them through the program.

      I'm glad I jumped when I did.

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      Appeasing social workers.

      1151

    6. #356
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Monday, February 12th 2018 (Window Cleaning For Ten)


      Ten years ago today I set out with my heroin addict friend to start up a window cleaning business and it's still going to this day, just, (my friend died from an overdose in 2011 so it didn't quite work out for him) although it is run these days as an illegal hand-to-mouth kind of affair rather than a business – what my late grandmother would have called a ''fly by night job'' meaning that there is no real future or hope for it. Without it I would not have had such a good time of it these last few months though.

      I was supposed to be working last week but snow kept us off on Tuesday, Barry the Bullet not answering his phone until late on Thursday kept us off then too, and then on Friday it was my fault that we didn't go out. Another week of potential work squandered. Fair play to the Tuesday – it had been snowing badly and I doubt any window cleaning companies would have been out on that day – but they would all have been out the rest of the week. We're throwing away a great chance to earn some cash and keep a business alive and kicking. This is a new week and whatever happens I am making it my priority to get out to work. It's even more important than college this week.

      Things were very different when I started this company up ten years ago. It was a Tuesday. I had the month before moved into a house with my brother and Kung fu Pandis. My brother had not long started dating Scottish Sarah, Kung fu had started college, and I had started a business, so we were all a little strapped for cash. It made sense that we moved in together for another year. It dawns on me how I've never really tried all that much to get this business up and running and turn it into all that it could have been. I guess it's hard when you don't have any passion for something to give it the care that it needs to grow and flourish. Add to that the need to take booze into your body every day and you always have a clock ticking away, telling you that it's time to stop working and take your well earned rest.

      Fast forward ten years and you find me with the exact same attitude. It's not as if Barry and I don't have good reason to be working either. He is back into his downhill biking and has equipment he'll need for the spring if he wants to do all the things with it he claims to. I have a holiday booked that now needs paid for as well as an upcoming college trip down south that I'd like to go on and many other things. It's not just that either. I never have any money on me anymore. When I was working last year I always had some spare change in my pockets and a couple of notes in my wallet. Since January I have noticed this vanish and I never have any money for anything. I have to use Lindsay's bank card. It's not cool.

      One other thing I dislike about not getting out working all the time is that it always feels as though the clock is ticking. The run works on a monthly basis. We go around all of the customers and then try to get round them all once every month. When we go through weeks when we're not out a clock starts to go off in my head. A reminder that there can never be too long a holiday where window cleaning customers are concerned. Many customers haven't been cleaned since before we broke off for Christmas and so until we have been round them all at least that first time I will be filled with an ever-growing insecurity regarding them perhaps moving on to another company. It would be a shame when both Barry and I are capable adults able to run this business and keep up with this workload but just don't seem capable of doing it right now for whatever reason.

      I was at my brother's yesterday to see my niece for her birthday (which was actually last week) and got my exercise in for the weekend by walking through there (around nine miles) and then walking back via a window cleaning customer who had left money he was due to us lying under a gnome in his back garden (around eleven miles) so totalled twenty miles for the day (19.12 really) – the most I've managed in a single day in 2018!

      Besides this the actual visit was as decent as I might have thought it to be. My nieces were keen to show me their new room (actually just the old room but with a few notable changes) complete with new bunk beds and extra toy and book shelves. We did the usual things as though I had last been there the day before and not several months before. Scottish Sarah was in when I arrived but disappeared at some point along the way without me actually noticing, which I thought was a little weird but wasn't about to get offended by it. My brother was himself fairly chatty, mostly about his university work and how he's now struggling. I hope that Sunderland University doesn't work in the same way as Edinburgh does from what I'm hearing.

      I didn't know what to take as a present so gave her an I.O.U, meaning that I'm going to have to go there again soon so that I can take her shopping for something herself. That has left the door open fr another visit. Dr. Bacon will love hearing about all of this when I see him through the week. I've made a bit of effort and reconnected with family, actually arranging another time to see them although no official date was ever planned.

      Tomorrow it will be back to work (hopefully) and we'll start off the beginning of our eleventh year. How likely we are to see another year is unknown. We'll certainly not see another ten. This 'business' is serving its purpose at the moment though. Barry and I just have to find some consistency and get back into it like we did throughout November and December last year when we battered through it three and four times a week.

      I'm really looking forward to getting out to work tomorrow which is probably actually the biggest sign that it's likely to happen.

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      Stevie

      Has seen his nieces in 2018

      1132

    7. #357
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Tuesday, February 13th 2018 (Appetite, Sleep and Sex: The Three Major Challenges)


      I'm up and ready for work. Barry the Bullet is game too and so this could be the start to the working year I've been waiting for. There's time to salvage things yet. We haven't been out much at all since that fantastic run we went on through November and December where I went out even when Barry let me down. Those seemed like much happier times. It's really important we get started again and get round all of the customers for the first time this year.

      So it does look very much like I will be meeting Lindsay's son for the first time this coming weekend. It won't be a big thing. Just lunch at the Golden Bite (I'll have to be careful with what I order and make sure that I check out the sugar contents of any items I might have prior to this arrangement) for a while and then we'll be going our separate ways again until the following weekend when we meet again for Lindsay's birthday dinner. I am quite relaxed about the whole thing. I've written about this sort of thing in the past – how usually when you start seeing a woman they have you meeting the children within a couple of weeks of dating and how I always feel this to be far too soon. This time it has been nearly eighteen months I've been dating the mother and have yet to meet the child although there are very interesting circumstances surrounding this one. All will be revealed in a few days.

      I'm really dreading tomorrow night. Sex has become such an overrated 'thing' in my relationship with Lindsay now and tomorrow we will all be 'celebrating' love and sex (if that's what we actually are supposed to be doing – I get really confused with what all of these annual events are supposed to be about other than feeding chain-stores more cash) and with Lindsay and I being in the situation we are in it is causing a little anxiety, perhaps more than a little. I think that there have been many reasons my constant headache from early sobriety has returned: sleeping problems returning for 2018; not getting out to work so having the fear of losing custom; Dr. Bacon leaving for a new job meaning that we don't have many more sessions together; the whole anxiety about whether the course of study I am currently doing is anywhere close to being the right one; not seeing much of my family anymore; meeting Lindsay's son for the first time this coming weekend and the possibility of him coming to live with us suddenly in a few weeks; and this sex problem Lindsay and I have and have had since the start of our relationship.

      I know – I should put things into perspective, right!? Three years ago my problems were different but more immediate, more in tune with Maslow's bottom tier. Where will I get food for today? How can I secure my home? Or even tidy this place up? How will I be able to stop drinking? To stop taking drugs? To stop smoking? Will I really be able to go through with a suicide and where will it leave my family (in retrospect I needn't have bothered wasting all of my thought energy on that last one). All admittedly much bigger questions and more difficult situations to try to get out of. I would do well to bear in mind that what I have going on at the moment is very much a luxury situation – a product of my own success.

      Nevertheless – if I want to move forward I am going to have to earn it, as is always the case I have learned. I'll talk to her about it tonight when I return. I'll probably be out of the house for the full twelve hours today by the time I go to work and then college for an hour and then I plan to walk the nine miles from the college back here which will take me until around quarter past seven this evening, around the same time I leave for my bus this morning. Then I'll get the dinner on and we can sit and have a little discussion about where our sex life might be going. Sleep, appetite, sex. Those have been the three biggest issues I've had to face in sobriety I think. The first two I managed to find ways of defeating. Appetite isn't a problem anymore. Sleep has returned back into something of an issue but I'm working on it. Sex is something Lindsay and I will hopefully have an open conversation about this evening.

      So I have work and then will be in college from four until five as has been prearranged. I don't like the idea of leaving work early just to fuck around on student radio for an hour but I have a block-booking now and I made the choice. In the long run it will be for the best as I'll now be on air three times a week – once for the Monday morning talk radio sport show; once on a Wednesday with my allocated student partner, Evana; and this extra session I have booked on a Tuesday that affords me time in the studio by myself so that I can work on my assessed shows and a niche show. Each of the three times I am on air is under very different circumstances which is a good thing. Like I say though – it is annoying having to leave work at half past three for anything at the moment.

      I actually have to leave work early on Thursday as well since I have my Dr. Bacon session – what will actually be my third-last session – and Barry the Bullet is off this coming Friday and so here is a week where we can't just get on it and get all caught up. I'm not going to freak out and focus on the negative but it does sometimes feel as though, where work is concerned at least, 2018 is slipping away from me already.

      So that about sums it up for another morning. I'll be spending Valentine's Day in college and then the evening with Lindsay. I should be using the mental tools I have to bring myself back to today first though. I have a day of work to get through before any of that Valentine stuff happens.

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      Stevie

      Bringing himself back to today.

      1114

    8. #358
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Wednesday, February 14th 2018 (Going Overboard)


      I'm writing this on Tuesday night actually but will post it in the morning so that it looks as though it's a post for Wednesday, which it is, it's just that it hasn't been written on that day, which is cheating a little bit, but fuck it – this is my journal and as such I make the rules!!

      Lindsay mentioned to me the other day that she had only bought me a card for tomorrow and so don't go getting her a present or anything. She's right – I haven't been working much and we don't have all that much extra cash but have dentist bills and a holiday to pay for right around the corner, we should watch what we're doing. It's her birthday in a couple of weeks too and so we're supposed to be going out for that. We'll be taking it easy during the season of love. Apparently British people spend more money on Pancake Day than they do on Valentine's Day – a statistic I don't know quite what to make of.

      It hasn't been nearly as difficult to get my sugar intake down to under my daily recommended levels and keep them there. That's been a week now and each of these days have seen me consume between ten and twenty five grams of sugar per day. Without the addition of any sweet extras in the diet it is surprisingly easy to keep the levels low. Not taking sugar in my coffee alone has done wonders for my daily totals. This will be pretty easy to keep up, I think. Difficult times will likely be when on holiday and at Christmas time. I'll be a combination of vigilant and relaxed during these times. I don't want to overdo it but at the same time I have to also remember that I don't absolutely need to be doing this with the sugar – it's just a healthy lifestyle choice I've made (and a bid to try to keep my teeth beyond the age of fifty, which gives me ten more years to slog through). The dentist said that the trick was not to have any sugar in between mealtimes and so I have taken her advice. We'll see how I get on over the next ten years.

      Today work was punishing (this is still Tuesday, remember!?) as it was cold and icy and all the things I associate with being shit where window cleaning in the winter is concerned. Anytime I am struggling at college (which hasn't been at all in the last year and a half since I started to be fair, but anytime in the future when it does inevitably start to happen) I would do well to think about days like today and try to remember the pain in the fingertips at some points this morning when they were so cold they felt hot and I couldn't feel them warming even when I dipped them straight into the bucket full of hot water. That's when you know that things are pretty cold. Next the water will be freezing to the glass. When that starts happening we usually call it a day, at least until things warm up for a few hours in the afternoon. Thankfully it never got to be that cold today but it got bad enough. I'll try never to take the comfort of the cosy radio studio for granted. I'm human though – so I will take it for granted at some point no doubt.

      Another thing I try not to take for granted is Barry the Bullet. He was keen today and I think there won't be any issues with him coming out again on Thursday and Friday. This is hopefully the beginning of a run of weeks where we are out at least twice to three times a week, weather permitting – there's little we can do about things when it rains and so on – and really start to make up for lost ground in 2018. It's been a slow-burning year for sure but I am keen to kick start it and get it moving in a direction that feels as though I won't reach December filled with regret.

      At college tomorrow I will have to suck up a couple of little changes that have been made to the class timetable and they are not exactly to my liking. My partner has been changed and now I am with the youngest in the group. That means that the youngest and oldest have been paired together. It's fine. I'm all good with that, but it does mean that the direction of more mature, talk-based radio content is out the window and unlikely to happen. The other big change is that the Edinburgh students come through on a Tuesday rather than a Thursday as was planned and so I won't be able to keep a hold of that extra slot I wanted to start doing on a Tuesday late afternoon. Sure – I could change it up and do it on a Thursday instead but then this would clash with my sessions with Dr. Bacon every second week. I am booked into this time-slot for next week and then every fortnight after that. When the Bacon sessions end in a month's time I can probably take that slot every week but I think that by then the time to get working full-time with every hour I can get will be upon us and I won't have any more assessed shows to do at the college. At least this is the plan. We all need a plan. This one is mine.

      One thing I think that my first semester has done (by that I mean how I didn't fuck about and had it all done and dusted with weeks to spare) is that I've single-handedly upped the work ethic of the entire class. Everyone seems to be keen to get on with their work for a change. There are bets going out as to who will get the semester finished before me. While I am flattered I am more concentrating on handing in work that is as good as it can be. Rather than hand it in just because I feel as though I'm finished it I think I'll hold onto work for a while longer and let it sit with me. I have noticed some things I would like to have changed regarding my earlier work but it had already been submitted and graded.

      So tomorrow will be Valentine's Day. I don't know how things will end up, if anything will end up happening. There's a part of me looking forward to it and another part thinking that it wishes the whole thing would just be over – that such a day doesn't exist in the first place. If anything it gives Lindsay an opportunity to assess where we are with our relationship. What could be better and what is going well? That sort of thing. Things could definitely be going better in the bedroom, that goes without typing, but there are some things we have that are going well.

      Shit!! Is that the word count already!? I've gone overboard!

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      Stevie

      Gone overboard.

      1221

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Thursday, February 15th 2018 (The Nineties!!)


      I didn't even get to finish my question before Barry the Bullet answered me with the title of this post.

      So I'll be meeting him to go working again this morning. It's a much better life when I'm out there and mixing with the world. It's felt like a pretty isolated and slow start to the new year but this last couple of weeks has seen my mood perk up a little. I've started a new semester at college and so have new tasks to be getting busy with and now I am motivated to get back to work. February is already shaping up to be better than January was but that wasn't ever going to be all that difficult to do.

      We've just had Valentine's Day and I'll get to that in a moment but first I'll quickly mention that Lindsay has been successful in one of her interviews and so now has a job to start once she has finished her sign-off placement – pending successful references. All going well she'll start working soon. It's another reason for celebrating February.

      With Barry having just turned forty and myself set to hit this landmark in a couple of months I asked him what his favourite decade of the four he has lived through would be. Born in 1978 he would be allowed to pick any decade from the eighties right up until this current decade. He answered with no thinking time at all. I get it. I would say the same. I became a father in 2000 but these 'best days of our lives' wouldn't quite cut it for me I don't think and when I look back I have to agree with Barry about the nineties.

      On Monday at the college there were a bunch of younger students talking about some of the latest video games they've been playing. I think that young people these days do genuinely wonder what it was that people my age and older did with their time when we were kids and adolescents. Sonic the Hedgehog, lol? Well, yeah, I did have a Sega and did have Sonic the Hedgehog, but there were other things that we did too. We had more back then than our screens. I think that young people today are aware of this and can appreciate it, but I still don't think that they can understand it or fully comprehend it. I still feel as though they think we spent our time bored and don't seem to realise that we actually had more to do with our time. I struggle to build connections in my life now as an adult but when I was a kid I had no issue with making friends. I shudder to think of what it might have been like for young Stevie had he been born twenty years later.

      So a big shout out to the eighties as well. I think that it would be safe to say that the eighties was the golden age for toys. This, then, pretty much means that it was the golden age for kids gaining imagination. I don't see this much these days. Young people with imagination. I think that studying in the creative industries for a couple of years now has shown me that children these days are growing up being told that they are imaginative and creative but don't fit the bill at all. I see a lot of regurgitated shit – stuff that's already been done being rehashed and remixed and passed off as creativity, but I don't see any real imagination at work. I see very limited scope and, to be totally honest, a lack of thoroughness in the work of my peers. Just enough to pass and no more. That seems to be the attitude of my peers.

      Growing up in the eighties and nineties kind of forced me and my mates to come up with other things to do that did not involve screens. We learned to be creative from a young age. My nieces don't really care for screens all that much at the moment but the day will come when I go to visit one day and they barely speak to me – face down in a screen the whole time. I'll likely shed a tear when this happens. There will come a time when they will live on social media and barely leave it, all the while wondering what on earth their dinosaur family used to do before these screens were around.

      Barry reckons that the nineties was the time when all the best music came out from his lifetime. I would probably agree with that too. The UK actually had a music scene back then but it vanished pretty soon afterwards and has yet to return. This hasn't happened since the death of the industry and its replacement by screens. He reckons that there was a hope back then that we don't seem to have now. I don't know if he's trying to speak from his own personal viewpoint only or if he's sensing a loss of hope for all of us in that the screen is now our god and there appears to be no way back from it. I know that individually we can lose a little hope as doors close as we age.

      He reckons that the new town he was brought up in (same town I left last year – a town celebrating turning only seventy this year) was thriving and booming and so it was an exciting time to be living in the area. I do remember leaving St. Andrews at the age of eighteen and moving through to that town and getting that vibe actually – feeling as though things were on the up in the area. I don't feel that now. Perhaps it wouldn't have mattered what was happening at the time it's just that fact that both Barry and I started the nineties as eleven year olds and saw it out as twenty one year olds and that this is the main factor in our agreement that this is the overall best decade we've lived through.

      I was standing at the snack bar on Tuesday and the woman at the till was chatting with the school kid that was ordering chips for his lunch.

      Woman – ''You've got three days off school half-term now. What're you gonna get up to?''

      Kid – ''Sleep and play my Playstation. That's all I ever do.''

      Woman – ''You'll have to eat though. Do you have dinner with your parents?''

      Kid – ''I go down and get my dinner and then take it up to my room.''

      Woman – ''Do you pause the game or eat and play?''

      Kid – ''I'll play while I'm eating but I'll pause it to take mouthfuls.''

      Woman – ''What do you play – X-Box or Playstation?''

      Kid – ''I've got both but I mostly play the Playstation.''

      Woman – ''You're very lucky, having both.''

      Kid – ''Not really.''

      Oh dear!! I can't think of a boy who'd unluckier.

      How I sometimes miss the nineties.

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      Stevie

      Will talk about Valentine's Day tomorrow.

      1210

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      ** This post has been removed due to offensive content in violation of our forum rules **
      Last edited by Moderator 1; February 16th, 2018 at 08:36 AM.

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