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  1. #41
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Tuesday, April 18th (A Sincere Apology)



    I keep thinking about what Ferrari John was talking about at the weekend there when he mentioned that his home group had come up with a new idea whereby members talk about a specific tool for recovery one week and then go out and try it throughout the week before coming back to the meeting and sharing with each other their experiences of trying to work that tool into their daily lives throughout that week. It would be something very different. It would be keeping things in the here and now, as opposed to SMART who talk about tools ever so briefly but never about putting them into practice; and AA which essentially just talks about the past the whole time. It's something I'd be willing to travel for. As long as I have this concession bus pass I have free reign of the country. Scotland is literally my oyster (well, it's not literally an oyster to me, but you know what I'm trying to get at) and for the next eleven months I can make my way between any two points in the land of haggis, bagpipes and shitty sports teams as often as I like at no cost whatsoever. It'd be a travesty to waste it.

    I still have that little trip up north I wanted to take to Thurso (one of the world's surfing hotspots, yep, here in chilly Scotland) and I will be making the most of my chance to make my amend with my old school friend who still lives, I think, in my home town of St. Andrews. I think that it's probably time I started looking at this amend a little more closely actually for it has annoyed me and frustrated me ever since I had initially considered doing it way back into last year. With my sponsor I had worked through many of the people, places and things that were on my twenty nine strong amends list. At first I did really well and got close family struck off the list, except my brother, he proved to be quite difficult to get one to one so that I might say my piece and I had to be careful not to let further resentment build as a result of this. I had to remember that it was in God's time that this amend would present itself to me, not in my time. Eventually the time did come.

    I made my amends with my deceased father by visiting the Book of Remembrance on the anniversary of his passing (on the eleventh of October last year) and I went around doing favours for friends to help amend relationships with them. I paid Gillon back the one hundred pounds I'd borrowed a year before on the promise that he'd get it back the following week. When working the amends good intentions were not enough – I had to follow through. I contacted my debt collectors and creditors in a bid to ease my financial worries and make amends for all of the money I hadn't paid them that I'd agreed to. I even went to the council and asked for them to work out what the total combined debt of mine was from previous addresses and my two main stints in homeless accommodation. All of this was likely to come to thousands of pounds, more than could ever be considered a realistic amount for me to pay back, but the homeless stints were so long ago that they, similarly to one or two of the unpaid tax return forms from my days as a drunken business owner, were so out of date that they were off the system. Irretrievable.

    My list of amends shrunk considerably as 2016 progressed but when the time came for Stu and me to part ways it left me with a list nonetheless. There are still some I have to finish. Amends I have to make. Only by making these final amends can I find out if this spiritual awakening actually does happen, but then I guess that the die-hard AA members would say that you only get it if you keep moving, if you progress continuously through the Twelve Steps and don't complete it in three separate sections over three different years. In 2015 I went through Steps One, Two, Three, Four and Five, stalling at Six because of my reluctance to give up on some of the defects I wanted to hold onto mainly because to get rid of them would mean having to make the life changes I knew I would have to in order to get well. I broke away from the program for several months. I took it back up again in the spring of 2016 and sailed through Steps Six and Seven. Finally I was ready to make those changes and have removed from me all of those defects I was clinging onto for so long. I started working through the amends Steps, Eight and Nine, getting much of the way through the Ninth before breaking away again, this time for seven months up until this point.

    Stu did make changes to my life, helped me see some things differently. Many in AA seem not to like him, some even seem afraid of him, and he does carry with him an air of pomposity that I don't think he can see as being there, but he does teach a good program. I remember one time when I was really new to sponsorship, we were working through possibly Step Two or maybe Three, and Stu was discussing someone from within the fellowship, as we often did. I guess it's hard not to. We were talking about a bunch of emails being circled around members of Intergroup. Even at this early stage I was involved in this (farce that it is) and received a copy of the emailed ''conversation''. I couldn't believe that someone would make such a childish and scathing attack on my sponsor over emails which could be seen and read by dozens of members. I was looking to others with longer term sobriety for guidance and inspiration but here was one of many years, a time-served AA member, acting like a dick head.

    Stu gave me a little background on this guy plus his little friend, also in AA, and told me a little of the story. The thing was, Stu wasn't telling me in the same way as this other guy was handling things over email. Stu explained to me that he realised his own part in this situation with these guys, and that in order to release this resentment he was going to have to make an apology. This couldn't just be a little meaningless apology in order to get rid of this problem – Stu had to get into the position where it was a sincere apology. He had to mean it. Getting yourself into a position where you can apologise, and genuinely mean it, to someone who you do not just not like but also that you believe is working against the fellowship you love is something that doesn't seem as though it would come easily. Hats off. It's something that most people in AA could really benefit from.

    Most of all myself.

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    Stevie

    It's getting colder again.

    1230

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  3. #42
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Wednesday, April 18th 2017 (Lifted)



    That's the name of our new college project, names after a Pixar short film which we've to create a sound design for. It's a ''fun task'' so the tutor keeps saying but I keep casting one eye over to Barry the Bullet and wondering when I might be able to make contact with him. If I wanna work over the summer then he and I are going to have to come to some sort of agreement as to what's happening and stick to it. I have Scottish Power people coming out to my cave at some point over the course of today and then I'm supposed to be visiting with English Sara and Old Dennis this evening so I guess I could go tomorrow after college. Meet Barry and discuss all things window cleaning related.

    I've planned to visit people this week. I like to keep busy but that doesn't mean going to an AA meeting every evening. It means seeking out those I know who do not drink and will not mention recovery or sobriety any more than just asking me briefly how I'm doing. On Monday night after college I went back through to Lindsay's for dinner and to check in at Slimming World. Last night I went straight from college to visit with my nieces, brother and Scottish Sarah. Tonight it will be English Sara and Dennis. Tomorrow I am visiting my friend Gillon and we'll watch the second leg of the Manchester United Europa League tie against Belgian side Anderlecht. On Friday I will be back at Lindsay's for the weekend.

    English Sara popped into the charity shop on Friday morning while I was working and we had a coffee. I don't see her as much as I used to and it unsettles me. Dennis is always there now that they live together. That's okay but I used to like when Sara and I would have our little one to ones. Dennis nips out for a cigarette and I tell her exactly that.

    Stevie – ''How is he?''

    English Sara – ''Yeah, he's fine.''

    But he isn't exactly domesticated.

    Stevie – ''I noticed when you moved in the place got the woman's touch it had been so desperately looking for but that since you broke your ankle......''

    English Sara – ''I know. He started to help out around the house more when I moved in but now he leaves it all for me again.''

    I guess he's just like I was while I was living in that cave over that period, maybe from a couple of years before I stopped drinking up until Megs came to save the day by helping me declutter my surrounding, in that he just does not give a flying fuck about his surroundings at all. I can relate, but then I did my utmost to keep people from entering my cave back then whereas Dennis seems to be passed that and doesn't care whether others see his or not.

    She also, English Sara, mentions at how she'd been up to see her son the day before and how she got that little pang of home sickness. She misses it but doesn't want it back. I get like that too sometimes. I think that from the outside people think I'm probably doing a lot better these days. Those who are still stuck in their addictive ways (people from SMART and Restoration) will likely see what's happening on the outside (Lindsay, college) and that's all they'll really see so they make up their minds about me based on that. I don't think I'm as far away from my addictive thinking as all that though.

    English Sara – ''You ever get that?''

    Stevie – ''I do. There are times when the football is on and I think back to the days when I'd visit Fuzzy and all the guys would be there and we'd each have our coupons on and the whole day would pass by. I tend to just watch football on my own now, on the rare occasion I actually do.''

    That's not all I miss either. In a much more sobering way I miss the wasted times. Those times when I'd be able to just throw on a movie I wasn't even that interested in and drink just to punch out and not feel. It's only natural that I'd miss that as it's a part of my Detached Protector, it's a habit ingrained through years of sustained practice and ritual. I don't overthink it and view it, as AA might, as being danger signs that I haven't accepted my fate as a sober person. I competed my Step One better than to think like that. In fact, yesterday there were a bunch of us from college walking for our lunch down the town and two of us have gone back to smoking cigarettes over the Easter holiday. One mentions that it's only a matter of time until I start it back up as well but another says that she doesn't think so. That she can't see me smoking again. How lovely that is to hear but it's more a case of how much I believe it to be true. There's something very solid sounding about my quit, all of my quits as things stand. But yeah – there are times when I miss just not being able to punch out and not be present. That's the past now and sometimes that makes me a little sad. Not really sad or sad enough that I might give it any real thought. Just.......a little sad from time to time.

    I should get on the college case at some point this afternoon and use Lindsay's voice recorder to create some recorded samples. In the Pixar short there are literally dozens of potential noise makers and I have a list of one hundred and fifty one sounds that I'll have to try to come up with to fit in with the video. These range from the banging of the human's head into the wooden wall to the moving of the bed sheets; from the ambience of the calm outdoors to the tractor beam of the spaceship. There's a lot happening in the short, and we only have to create a sound design for the first two minutes. To be fair to us though we are very new to all of this and we only have until a week on Friday to submit our finished versions. With Lindsay's voice recorder (the same one I used to capture the sessions with Dr. Bacon) I can get as many of these sounds as possible today while I am off. Tomorrow morning we have a unit on radio broadcasting but I'll stay back in the afternoon and put in some time. I might even head back in there on Friday afternoon instead of Restoration. The successful students will be those who give up some of their own time to the cause.

    It's fun, if a little hectic at times.

    But this is what I asked for.

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    Stevie

    Sampling and recording.

    1194

  4. #43
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Thursday, April 20th 2017 (Lindsay gets an A)


    I'm real proud of her for it too. That was her last essay of her degree as well. Another A. She's only an exam to go (the week I return to AA so not long now) and a few other little bits and pieces and then she's graduated. Well, she still has twelve weeks of placement to go and to make up all of the hours that she missed while an active drinker so she's still got a bit to do but the essays are done with. She's a step closer to graduating and becoming that nurse. It's such a shame that her mother isn't here to see it. Her mother was an alcoholic who never found recovery and so left us, as we do if we don't get well, while in her mid fifties. Reminds me of Gillon's father. Watching him die of alcohol and smoking related illness while in his fifties was my motivation for getting help in the firt place. I was already in counselling but it wasn't going well. I upped my game, committed to a quit, found WQD Forums, then got into AA.

    I try not to get too down on myself for not feeling this warmth of gratitude that I feel I should be feeling as I effectively saved myself and my family from putting us all through our own version of Lindsay's mum and Gillon's dad in fifteen to twenty years. I don't even think it would have ended like that to be honest. I think suicide would have stepped in there long before I reached my fifties yet somehow I don't really feel any gratitude about not being there any longer either. Gillon's dad and Lindsay's mum would probably have loved to have quit like I have when I'm the age I am (one week until I turn thirty nine) yet for some reason I seem quite unable to appreciate it as I feel I am supposed to. Maybe the gratitude and appreciation comes later. I've never been one to post these inspirational quotes that plague social networking and places like this because they are just meaningless words on a screen. They don't mean anything to me unless they do, you know!? They sound all nice and trite and all that but if I don't really connect with it then I'm not going to pretend that I do. One day I'll have my spiritual experience and it'll be up to me not to let it fall asleep again. But Lindsay has an A – well done Lindsay!!!

    She was at the Relationships Scotland meeting on Tuesday night and we've recently talked about what happened there and what was said. There's a six week waiting list for sessions to start and they come at the price of twenty pounds per session. This might seem cheap and inexpensive to Americans who have to pay for everything themselves, and it is very cheap and inexpensive, but for someone born into a Nanny State like the United Kingdom who is used to having everything covered by taxes it seems dear. I don't mind paying – I just find it very strange that addiction counselling which in my opinion and experience does not really work comes at no cost to the client; nor do my sessions with Dr. Bacon cost me a thing (Ferrari John had told me on Saturday that he attended sessions with a clinical psychologist at a cost of ninety five pounds per session, so he only attended three times, but they seemed a little further on that I am with Dr. Bacon – we're still at the assessment stage but then I guess we can take our time and do things a little more thoroughly), yet here we have relationships counselling coming with a price attached to it. Just seems inconsistent, that's all. I'm happy to pay.

    Lindsay tells the guy who is running the Relationships Scotland triage all about herself and her past. The guy actually works next door at the FASS (Fife Alcohol Support Service) headquarters and his main job is an alcohol counsellor. Lindsay says that she found him to be really pleasant and supportive, easy to be around. I get that little pang of worry when she tells me that it's a guy, it's something I still don't think about enough. You hear the words ''relationships counsellor'' and you assume ''woman'', I do anyway. I made the same mistake with my clinical psychologist and it has turned out pretty well in the end. So far anyway. Lindsay says that she'll get a call in around six weeks to book her.....or rather – our!!.....first session but it will not be this guy whom she spoke with. I don't think I'll be all that fussy to be honest. I'm changing in this respect. No longer so eager to take the female option if it is available. I'll be okay either way.

    She mentions to him all about hers and my experiences with alcoholism and how we are both mid-term sober. I wonder though. Are we? Are we not still sober babies? Lindsay is currently twenty months sober and I am sitting at twenty six months, but only fourteen off the weed, and both of us had events and situations in our histories and childhoods which made us a little more (to say the least) withdrawn than our peers, a little less likely to succeed from the get-go. Our defective thinking and behaviour starts from way back when, right at the beginning. But anyway, she tells him all about that. She tells him about our various different support methods and how we both used to use AA all the time but no longer bother. He says that he is aware of the fellowship and accepts that there is a place for it in the recovery world but that he doesn't agree with all of their practices. I don't know what his experience of this actually is though. He's not a former addict or anything so it'll most likely be clients of his who tried AA but found that the FASS rooms are much more forgiving of a relapse and encourage drinking, better enablers than AA will ever be.

    She tells him about our communication issues and problems in the bedroom. That while we do not argue she worries that we might soon start and that we seem like the sort of couple who would keep going once we'd started. Ouch!! I guess she could be right about that though. But then our recovery teachings show us that we should not hold onto resentments and so we should, on paper, be better at this part of our relationship than other less informed couples. But then it comes more naturally to them, the ''well'' couples. They don't have the dysfunctional behaviour and thinking that we perhaps do. I think we are past that though. There hasn't been any ill feeling on my part for some time. My Detached Protector is out of the box and I've asked Lindsay to call me on it if she ever feels I'm trying to use it against her, which she does. Maybe she feels as though there's a bigger issue than I do. I am a guy and so I guess stereotypes come into it a little. Am I that dumb about things like this that I fit the male stereotypes? I guess we'll find out from six weeks on.

    On the way to the hospital to catch my bus this morning I could see a guy walking towards me in the distance. Well – I more could hear him than see him. He was coughing his fucking head off!! A smoker, no doubt. But then when he gets a little closer I can see what it is that he really is – a vaper!! I'm so glad I am becoming more and more impervious to the effects of human weakness mixed with advertising – a recipe for complete disaster. Fair enough – he might have a chest infection or something – it might not be the vape alone that is causing this quite violent episode to disturb our otherwise lovely and sunny spring morning. Unlikely but possible.

    Thank fuck I just quit – he actually looked like he might soon rupture something!!
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    Stevie

    Well done to Lindsay!!

    1405

  5. #44
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Friday, April 21st 2017 (The World's Nursery)


    Do you not think that it's slightly amusing when one of our fellows who thinks of himself as being a little higher up the social ladder than everyone else who might happen to be present acts all confident but it isn't all that convincing!? I find it humorous, I have to say. He feels as though he's supposed to come across as fully and supremely confident and self-assured. That's what he's been told probably ever since birth and he really believes it, expects it of himself, lives by it. Only this time it isn't coming across as all that convincing. Instead he appears to me to be someone who feels as though he should seem at all times to be confident trying to appear confident. It isn't quite working and his fears set in a little. Others here might sense that he is not all that he is trying to fool us all into believing that he is, see the real vulnerable self, and this will not do, so he tries even harder to be confident. This just makes him seem more like an actor.....and so on.

    I was probably staring at him for some time while finishing my breakfast at the Charity Shop Cafe this morning after my volunteering shift because he leaves the counter and sits down for a moment but then looks up and catches eyes with me. Rather than turn instantly away from my gaze he fixes on me for a moment before pretending that something else has caught his attention so that he can break away without feeling as though I have beat him in some sort of staring contest. Most people don't practice the art of confidence and so look away instantly the very second they catch eyes with someone else, indeed they spend almost all of their waking life trying not to make eye contact with other people, go out of their way to avoid it. This guy has some training in the art because he holds my gaze for a little while. It's easy to hold it at this distance though, he's way over the other side of the cafe, but were we right up close in person I doubt he would manage this without trembling. It's pathetic.

    The truth is that now that I am working on my Schema Modes with Dr. Bacon and all of the other tools I have my social observation has started to go through the roof. I find it almost completely impossible to not watch people. The thing is – now I don't see them as adult humans, or as intelligent creatures capable of greatness in the way that they would love others to look upon them. No. Now all I see when I look at my race, and this includes that member of this race that looks back at me when I look into my mirror, the Triangular Glass, are the little children they used to be. Only now they are older. I don't see them as adults though, just children who have grown into taller and older looking bodies. I'm starting to see humanity for what it really is.

    I think if you were to get anyone into a psychologist's chair and get them to start admitting their life stories then almost all of us would have the same things going on. None of us are at all that different. We all want to be different, unique, our egos demand that of us on a minute-by-minute basis, but we're not. We're all just lost little children clinging onto what we've got all the while trying to gain extra love from the world to fill our needs for acceptance and a place to belong, a sense that our lives are worthwhile. We are all positively terrified of our own shadows, even through the bravado, this ''confidence'' thing that we have to fake to pretend that we are more sure of ourselves and our surroundings than we'd ever want for others to know.

    All of a sudden the entire world is just like one massive nursery to me.

    Susan phoned me to talk about this apparent guitar class for addicts and alkies that Marshall and I are supposed to be starting up under the supervision of Susan from local addiction agency DAPL (Drug, Alcohol and Psychotherapies Limited). It seems to be taking a while to get started up and every time we get close to beginning something happens or goes wrong and things get delayed for another week or so. This time it is the signing of the volunteer forms which I must do before anything can become official but again the meeting we were to be having has been cancelled, this time without rescheduling, and Susan is away on a week long spell of annual leave so I'm sitting in limbo.

    It was supposed to be starting up on the nineteenth but Marshall and Susan have decided that Wednesdays are a no-go due to no one being able to sit in with us. We drew up a risk assessment and agreed that we should run the class at a DAPL office with a paid member of staff present in the building the whole time. This way it's all above board. It means that both Marshall and I are protected from anything that could potentially be thrown at us in the early stages of something like this. I'm not trained to take the offloading of other people's problems either so should a punter turn up at the door with something to get off of their chest then there's someone there to deal with it properly.

    Hopefully it will get started and that we can get it up and running within the next few weeks. First thing really is getting those forms signed and my proof of identification handed in but this seems like a difficult arrangement to keep this month so far. Maybe it would be better if it dragged on until the college finishes up in late June so that I could give it more time. But then I'm hoping to get working with Barry the Bullet over the summer so I'll be even busier than I am at the moment.

    Fuck it. There's nothing can be done about any of that just now.

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    Stevie

    Enjoying the world's nursery.

    1048

  6. #45
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Saturday, April 22nd 2017 (Blood Money)



    I was at the Credit Union making a cash withdrawal on Thursday. I also asked for a statement showing my current balance and all transactions in the last month. Since Wednesday the Link's Market – a local travelling funfair – has been visiting this town and Lindsay and I will be making our way there this evening. There are a couple of things to do between now and then.

    One of them is my walking training for June's Walk the Walk double marathon, the Over The Moon Walk, for breast cancer. This weekend I have more miles to walk than last weekend. Sixteen miles today and fourteen tomorrow. It's a heck of a lot of walking and I often struggle to be arsed with it but I said I was going to do this and so I kind of have to. Things are okay once I get moving. I think I should use the bus pass next weekend to travel to different destinations so that I can make the walk a little more interesting. There's only one real way between my town and Lindsay's that you can make on foot and I am becoming bored getting up on Saturday mornings and walking through to my town and then back here again. I need something different. Sixteen miles is a surprising distance to plan a walk for.

    The other thing I have to do before Lindsay and I are free to do whatever we want to for the weekend it attend the ACA meeting this afternoon. I said I'd do as they suggest and attend six consecutive meetings and today's meeting will be four in a row. They say that you are well on the road to getting better if you can handle what comes up at six meetings in a row but nothing really has come up in the three meetings I've been to in April so I am expecting a little more this week and next. After these two things are done then we'll be making way to the Links Market for a hot dog and a ride on the dodgems or whatever.

    There is actually one other thing we have to do. Lindsay really wants to go away this year. By ''away'' she means travel abroad, or at least visit a different country for a week. You guys call it going on ''vacation'' – us lot call it going ''on holiday'' – but whatever you call it Lindsay and I are going to the travel agents to check it out this afternoon, probably just after the ACA meeting. This'll be a whole different experience for me. I was absolutely not the sort of drunk who would ever dream of being able to get out of the United Kingdom for even five seconds let alone be looking at a week in Spain. This is something completely different from how I normally spend my time. If you'd said to me two years ago that I'd be going on ''holiday'' with my girlfriend I genuinely wouldn't have believed you. It seemed ludicrously impossible. I have been abroad before, I've been quite lucky in that my mother always made a bit of cash (Florida: 1996 when she sold the house in St. Andrews; United Arab Emirates: 2002 when Gary and I visited mum for a week when she worked through there; Menorca: 2005 when mum, Gary and his girlfriend and myself with family all went away for a week) so this won't be something that is completely alien to me but it'll be the first time I've been away without my mother being there, or paying for it all.

    But this will still be something out of my comfort zone. Most people seem to, even when they claim to be going through the worst of their drinking, go away on trips like this every year. Lindsay herself has been away four of the last five years and it hoping this trip will make it five in six. This is when it starts looking a little down though. It's the way the money has been earned that makes me feel down. This is not at all working an AA program of recovery.

    The government have made some sort of mistake, a technical error with my situation and the whole time I'd been at college, from late August right up until around six weeks ago, they had continued to pay me my sickness benefit (or ''welfare'' if you are one who says ''vacation'') while I was also receiving a student bursary. It wasn't that both were going into my Credit Union account at once and that I deliberately manipulated the system. No – I had no idea as the student bursary was being paid into some third account but in my name, not an account opened by me though. It was all a little complicated. However, the Indian woman who works there alerted me to this and transferred the extra payments from this third account into my account. I am now being paid only my student bursary but I withdrew immediately one thousand pounds from the overpayments of sickness benefit and Lindsay dumped them into her ISA. The remaining few hundred stayed put.

    When I get my statement from the Credit Union on Thursday I notice that there is around nine hundred quid still in there. I look carefully through my statement. My Christmas loan only has around eight weeks to go until it's done with. With me not having to pay for transport and with me no longer spending thirty five pounds per week on cigarettes I notice that I am actually not spending quite as much. Last year (and most years prior to this) I was very much living from day to day, from one payment to the next (my old WQD journal is filled to the rafters of examples of this and there were many times when eating was simply not an option – shoplifting chocolate even happened a few times), but now I notice that in the six weeks or so since I was made aware of this blunder by the Department of Work and Pensions I have actually not been spending the full amount of college bursary each fortnight. This is even with me paying thirty bucks per week to my gas and electricity companies to help clear off some of the debt I have with them. Even taking this into consideration I am spending less than the tiny amount I am earning.

    If only Barry the Bullet was easier to reach. Then I'd really be on easy street. The thing is – this trip away, this ''holiday'' won't be covered by the student bursary. I'll have to dip into the money that has been paid to me by mistake. The error money, the blood money. This is the only way it will happen. The trip itself will cost around four hundred bucks all inclusive and I'll need a passport as mine ran out years ago. This'll cost around eighty bucks with a further ten to the Post Office so that they can check it. Apparently more than ninety per cent of unchecked passports are rejected. So we're looking at nearly one hundred quid just to think about leaving Scotland's shores. It's valid for ten years after that though.

    How much it costs after that is up to Lindsay and I. She's currently into her overdraft and so isn't made of money at the moment either and she does have a few things coming up that will require her to pay something towards. Although the NHS pays for her university fees and gives her some living allowance she still has to pay to get onto the nursing register so that she can be licensed to work in the sector which costs around as much as the passport will cost me. She still has three or four years to run on her passport though so that's something we don't have to worry about at least. I suppose that the main worry is that the only reason I can afford this is due to the fact that although I have notified the DWP of their mistake I have not declared that there has been an overpayment and so it feels like I'm stealing, feels like I'm going against everything that I learned through my Step-work with Stu. When I'm wrong I am supposed to be promptly admitting it.

    I don't know really how this AA absence thing is going. Maybe I'll reflect upon that as I trudge the sixteen miles to and from my town and back to Lindsay's this morning. The football analogy I've been using hasn't been touched on for a while but I'll add more to that when I get the chance to figure out how it's all going. Today is day seventy without an AA presence in my life. This means that I'm in the seventieth minute of my football match. We're currently sitting at a one-one draw with me scoring just before half time (forty fifth minute) and them scoring not long afterwards. It's hard to know what life would have been like had I been in AA meetings every Saturday and Tuesday nights as they were the meetings I was most involved with.

    It's hard to see how I could have learned anything I don't already know. Lindsay's Relationships Scotland counsellor said to her the other night that people come to use services like FASS and DAPL to help with their addictions but then quickly realise that the addiction is just a symptom. They then discuss and work on what the real problem is, once they have discovered it. AA kind of misses a trick here and just keeps talking about the addiction all the time. Even though many of us are years and years away from our last drink we love to walk into rooms and go all the way back into our pasts and talk about the drinking. It seems very strange come to think about it.

    Anyway, I should get going, I feel like I've been rambling for ages. These thousands of steps aren't going to walk themselves. I'm missing a lovely morning. If I go now I might get back before Lindsay wakes but it's unlikely now with the distances of these walks getting longer all the time.

    Here's to sixteen miles.

    A fair distance but less than a third of the actual walk I'll be doing in June.

    Yikes!!

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    Stevie

    Lots of walking after lots of talking.

    1770

  7. #46
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Sunday, April 23rd 2017 (The Links Market)



    It's the London Marathon this morning. The top guys will be running this in just over two hours, which is pretty fucked up, as we have fourteen hours to cover twice this distance in six weeks or so. Yesterday I managed my sixteen miles no problems. I actually improved my speed quite a bit which was really what I've been aiming for. Normally I'm walking an average of just under four miles an hour but it's important to me that I increase this average and yesterday's walk saw me travelling at four point one four miles per hour over the course of the seventeen point one miles I walked.

    I can see why humans decided to move from Africa into Europe and America all those years ago. There's no doubt that part of their reasoning for this was greed but it's also pretty clear that much of their reasoning was nothing but boredom. Even on my little walks I have become bored with the limitations I've placed on myself through route choice. This weekend I move off a little further in another direction in a bid to find different scenery. I've managed to find the entrance to a coastal walk I wasn't aware existed. I didn't have time or distance to try it out yesterday but I'll be heading straight to it when I get moving again later on this afternoon. The only problem I have with coastal walks is that the are not covered on the apps or online resources I use and so I won't know the distance I've travelled. I can't even go by the time because the coastal routes are always a little slower than the four miles per hour I've been putting in recently. Where there's a will there's a way.

    I'll be turning thirty nine on Wednesday this coming week. The Twenty Sixth. I used to like birthdays (a wee bit anyway) but recently they have been something to fear. Too much time wasted has made me feel as though I wish I could go back to tell myself before taking that first alcoholic drink to not bother. Not gonna happen though. There is something that could come out of this latest birthday of mine though. I might get to see my mum. It's been a while. I saw her on Boxing Day when we had dinner at hers and then I saw her ever-so briefly at Oldest Niece's birthday back in early February. Not a cheep since though. I won't hold my breath but it'd be nice.

    I was talking about that at the ACA meeting yesterday actually. I was thinking on my walk at how chronic loss and abandonment has affected my life and how things might have been had I not sobered up and tried to work through these issues of mine. It's not all bad though I was also thinking about what I've been left with in my life now that I am approaching forty. My working history is one of the things that stand out. It's appalling. I don't have much of a working history outside of cleaning windows. All of these career people, those who called themselves ''functional drunks'' – it's difficult to communicate to these guys just how different it is and was for some of us. We often drank until we passed out at really unpredictable times of day and night. Often we'd wake up and go again, not stopping until that little spell was over. Then we returned to what we might call functional alcoholism briefly and we could almost have a normal life for a bit, maybe even clean up the house, and then we'd go back to passing out at unpredictable times. All of this with a reduced capacity for living life and with a mind that is more child-like than it is healthy adult. It would take a super human to have managed to create and continue with a career while having an addiction.

    Sandra (woman who runs the ACA meeting) approaches me at the end of the meeting and discusses my debts with me. She asks what the point is in me trying to pay them off over the next twenty or thirty years like I seem to want to. She explains about how this pertains to the Twelve Step fellowship's Step Nine amends and says that going bankrupt, but she called it something else, her having a background in law and all that, could be considered making an amend with myself. I wonder about this as we're not supposed to be too concerned with ourselves during this Step. We did enough of that while we were sick and this Step was all about repairing relationships with other people. She asks me if I want to have this reminder of my sickness for the next twenty to thirty years it would take to clear some of my larger debts. Of course I don't, but I have to be careful not to take the easy way out if it will come back and bite me further down the line. She asks me to think about it and give her a shout if I decide to go ahead with it. She'll help me fill out the forms. We'll see. I'll have to have a little think about what Step Nine actually means to me at the moment.

    But to go back to that point about my mum. I think the situation with her shows how child-like my thinking still is regarding abandonment and such like. She spends time with my brother as I can see on Lindsay's Facebook and the nieces were on some Easter egg hunt at their gran's the other weekend. I wonder if this is anything to do with it. Does she spend more time with my brother because he has children? I have children too but they have been out of the picture now for over eleven years. Then I realise that I am doing what little children do. I'm being very egocentric. What have I done to mum to make her so disinterested in being near her eldest son? That's a very child-like way of viewing it. She doesn't have an interest – deal with it!! Who really cares what her reasons for this might be!? It's not my concern. I've done my best in trying to build bridges and communicate with her since we had our Step Nine talks at the start of the summer last year. Perhaps it would be best if I spoke with Dr. Bacon about possible ways of accepting that I don't have any parents. My mother is effectively out of my life. She always has been really....

    So Lindsay and I were at the Links Market last night. We had waited until the evening to try to catch a little more of the festival atmosphere that the night offers. My brother and nieces had been earlier in the day and had said that it was really busy but I was actually surprised by how few people were there. Hundreds of people for sure, but we didn't have to wait in long queues to get onto the rides we fancied. I notice that Lindsay mentions the past quite a lot. Every now and then she'll tell me a little about how she used to do this and that with her mum and son. She did it over Christmas, she did it in Edinburgh, she's been doing it while we've been looking through online holiday brochures. This market was yet another place that they used to visit every year. With her losing her mum (and best friend by the sounds of it) to death (alcoholism and smoking while in her fifties) a couple of years ago and her subsequent drinking binges causing her to lose the right to have her son live with her there's little doubt that she's going to think about this stuff. I think she might have even been looking out for her boy with one eye while we were cruising around the streets. It was good fun though.

    Of course there is going to be a downfall to having something like this coming to town and the police are as busy as you might expect. The amount of underage drinking on show is alarming. Little girls looking around as young as perhaps fourteen (although it's hard to tell for sure these days since they're all waxing their faces with tons of that shit that makes them look orange and fake) puking all over the place and guys scrapping with other boys from different schools. Ten years from now and some of these young people will turn their lives around; others will do okay but act like this over the weekends way into their lives as adult children; but a large number of them will end up on the dole queue and spend their lives being looked after by the nanny state that is ''Great'' Britain, just like me. They don't bother us though so everything is fine.

    I have to say though – I'm perhaps getting a little too old for all of that upside down carry on that goes with sitting on most of those fairground rides!!

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    Stevie

    Hanging upside down.

    1559

  8. #47
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Monday, April 24th 2017 (Lindsay's Sleeves)



    I'm on the way to college just now and I'm in a little trouble. We're supposed to be adding sounds and effects to that Pixar short I mentioned the other day (Lifted – the first two minutes) and I've recorded a bunch of sounds for it using Lindsay's voice recorder. The only thing is that I can't find the cable that connects it to a computer and so barring listening to them through a set of headphones plugged directly into the recorder itself there's no way of listening to any of the recordings. Useless for a Pro Tools session the likes of which we are required to work with. This means that I am effectively just beginning my project this morning. I'm way behind the schedule set down by my own plan from last week. The thing is – I'm confident I'll get it done. I don't know how I'll do it, I just have this feeling that I can trust myself to get into college today and tomorrow, the rest of the week, and that what I have submitted by the deadline on Thursday will be more than enough for the unit. I like having confidence in myself.

    We (Lindsay and I) did a little clearing out in the spare room yesterday (in between all the sporting action – there was the London Marathon from ten, the second FA Cup semi final between Arsenal and Manchester City at three, followed by Real Madrid against Barcelona in the evening) and Lindsay showed me her AA box. I have one of these too. Just a box where we keep all of the mumbo-jumbo handed to us in our time in AA. My box consists of dozens of things I received from Jenna within my first six months of entering the fellowship and a few other things that I got from others. Lindsay has been in the fellowship a lot longer than I and so she has accumulated more mumbo-jumbo.

    Inside her collection we have quite a bit of literature. Being a woman she had all of her books given to her and they come complete with little notes inside the front cover. Little notes written by the group or person who is giving the book away. My Big Book has nothing written inside. Fair enough - I'm not exactly an easy guy to get along with but I would perhaps have been hoping to have been shown the same love and acceptance that anyone else is when they join. Lindsay was clearly better looked after than I was when I arrived.

    Besides her literature and all manner of little trinket and laminated quotes and so on and so forth is a binder containing plastic sleeves filled with notes. It's from her ex-sponsor. Lindsay hands it to me and I take a look inside. Her ex-sponsor (not Leader – he would never do this, the one she had after that, Karen) has printed off worksheets for each Step and placed them in their own little sleeve. I glance through the early Steps and notice that she's added a bunch of little exercises for her sponsees to complete. There are quotes from the Big Book and I noticed that Lindsay's Book itself has many highlighted sections in yellow and purple and red. I'm assuming that each different colour represents some different kind of meaning. Maybe the purple refers to God sections while the red deals with Steps, and so on.

    I get to nearer the back of the sleeves and reach Step Nine. I'm going to have to look at this in more detail later as we're trying to declutter this room while the sporting action plays in the background and so for now a little glance is all I have time for but in the not too distant future I will be checking out this pack in much greater detail. I notice a little section she's printed off about Step Nine and our debts built up through drinking. I'll have to check this out. After Step Nine follows, quite obviously I think, Step Ten. This is the Step I never reached. /I could have, but many members seem to rush into Ten without ever finishing Nine and so they never complete their amends lists. I wanted to finish off my list before going onto Step Ten. I never got around to it.

    I ask Lindsay. She agrees to tale me through the final three Steps as she's been through them twice already. It'll be a good little bit of insight into different ways in which the program can be taught as she'll likely adopt, whether she knows it or not, the methods used by those who sponsored her. I know that this might seem like a silly idea from the outside but she won't be an official sponsor of mine. She'll just be taking me through the final three Steps so that I might finish this program once and for all. I have accepted that the spiritual awakening is false. There is no magic or witchcraft involved in AA or its program. It's just a lot of pressure to conform and see things their way, or more accurately, the way of the old-timers. I could never quite find ways to connect to people who came from childhoods much like my grandfather's. So there is no spiritual awakening. The equivalent of this will come when I work through defeating my Detached Protector and Bully and Attack schema modes with Dr. Bacon.

    It'll be nice to be able to say that I've managed to get through the program though. It'll be my experience that I can share. It took me three attempts and two different sponsors (well – one sponsor and one Lindsay) to get through it. I think it's important that I don't tell others in the meetings over the years to come that I got a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps like everyone else does. It's much more important I think that I tell the truth.

    The truth of why I want to get through the final three and one third Steps of this program is still unclear to me, I guess it's just that I feel a pull towards it that I don't think will stop until I have officially completed the final Step.

    Of course I know that it is an ongoing and lifelong process, working these last three Steps, and although I don't expect anything wonderful to happen at the end I have to say that there were times when I was going through this program over the last two years where my life was dramatically improved as a result of working them.

    Damn – the bus is here already.

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    Stevie

    Off to college.

    1143

  9. #48
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Tuesday, April 25th 2017 (The Last SMART)



    I didn't go to Slimming World last night after my last ever SMART meeting but I know I weigh less than I did last time because I weighed myself at Lindsay's. I'm a pound down from what I was. I'll very soon be at my target weight which will mean that I can attend for free (providing that I make sure I pop in once in every month otherwise my membership becomes void and I have to pay fifteen bucks to rejoin). I can then attend any class I want to for the lovely price of sweet fuck all for as long as I remain at this weight. I'll have to start paying again if I go a couple of pounds above or below this weight. I'm not there yet though so I don't know why I'm mentioning it. This is for another post. But I'm nearly there, proving that it is the eating that puts on the weight when you quit smoking and not some biological event as a direct result of the act of quitting smoking itself.

    The last SMART meeting I'll likely (hopefully) ever be at was as poor as I've come to expect. We had no structure; someone walking out in the huff; someone lying about the length of time they've been sober for; someone trying to dominate the meeting by talking all the time; someone playing the victim to an absolute tee; you name it – SMART has it!! Apparently they are going to try to keep the meeting running even now that Lauren has left but it's off next week because it's the May holiday. The college is off too. Everything shuts down for a day with no reasonable explanation why. I still don't know if SMART works to help people of if it actually hinders them in many ways. I guess that it's different for everyone but I can't shake the feeling that some of these guys would possibly benefit from not having so many places to go each and every evening that drill into them that it's okay to relapse. That relapse is a part of recovery. I always cringe when I hear that. It's a dreadful message. My sickness used to love it when Margaret told me that – it meant I could drink that day without any feelings of guilt. If I just kept drinking then I am still in recovery.

    I was speaking with Gillon yesterday. He'd tried to contact me but my phone was on silent (English Sara has tried about eight times in since Saturday morning but hasn't managed to get through – I'll have to pay her a visit this week) and after that other week when we had booked out the studio at the college for a session he has been visiting with pals and (while probably drinking) mentioned this to others I know and used to drink and take drugs with. One or two appear to be interested in getting involved with some kind of musical project. I have to say that my guitar playing has seen better days. I don't know why I have played so little since sobering up. I played with that band for a few weeks eighteen months or so ago and we played one charity gig (on the eve of my first sober birthday no less – my one and only sober gig) and had a few meetings with some other guys around that time but nothing ever seemed to happen. Now I have this plus the DAPL guitar class looming somewhere in the background to get me in the mood.

    We're supposed to be getting sleet and snowy weather today and tomorrow. The cynical part of me would love to say that this is typical in Scotland but it really isn't. We are getting very close to May now and I used to always say back in my window cleaning days that the year began on the first of May. That was when we were sure to be over the snowy and chilly weather. This year my philosophy is being tested. When the sunny summer weather arrives I shall have to put some effort into trying to enjoy it as it won't stick around forever. It never does.

    In time for the summer I could really do with finding a regular and reliable way of communicating with Barry the Bullet but I've been saying that so much recently that I'm myself becoming bored with it. It's something that'll have to happen though.

    College is becoming a bit of a drag at times I have to admit. I think that Lindsay is feeling the opposite. She's for three years now (four actually after taking that year out to sober up) been studying and now she's into her second last week of university and facing life in the workplace – a fate that is eternal, so things are maybe a little different on her end. For me right now the thought of studying any more after this seems like a foolish idea and one that I'm not altogether certain I'll be doing, as things stand.

    I wonder how many will be in college today. Yesterday there were only five of the class turned up and in the afternoon only three of us. It made for an interesting experience but one I'm not too keen to repeat too often. I'll find out in around twenty minutes.

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    Stevie

    Arriving at his stop.

    924

  10. #49
    Forum Subscriber. abcowboy's Avatar

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    Stevie!
    Quitting and staying quit isnít easy, itís learning a whole new way of thinking. Itís accepting a new way of life, and not just accepting it, embracing it...
    Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. Just get through today. Tomorrow will look after itself when it becomes today, because today is all we have to think about.
    Friendship is not about how many friends you have or who you've known the longest. It's about who walked into your life, said "I'm here for you", and proved it.

  11. #50
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    Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

    Hmmmmm...

    Some missing posts.

    Luckily I can do this:

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