The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter 3
Posted: February 24, 2018, 4:43 AM


Posts: 10
Joined: February 22, 2018



The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter 3




Saturday, February 24th 2018 (A New Start)


It is indeed. Or at least this would be as good a time to make one.

I'm not completely new to these addiction forums. I joined my first one in 2014 when I was trying to stop drinking, smoking weed, and taking speed (although the latter was under control by the time I found the forums). This was called WQD and unfortunately it ceased to be on the 03rd January 2017 – being replaced by another site (Ryver WQD) which isn't nearly as good. I am still a member of the Ryver site and post in there every day (this will be going straight in there once it's done) but find the whole thing very uninspiring. I joined another forum which had the exact same layout as the WQD in its original form but it was a disaster and I was recently banned from there for life. Too many rules to follow and things that you're not allowed to talk about. Essentially it was a forum designed for the new snowflake generation where politics comes into play far too much.

This is why I am optimistic of finding my way using a different forum. The platform and design of the pages doesn't matter as much to me anymore. I've moved on, am willing to try something new. One thing I really love about the rules page on the SoberRecovery website is this little section:

We moderate our forums using a set of rules. 
If a post is not against the rules, we take no action. 
If a member's posts annoy you, you can use the ignore feature. 
If you don't use the ignore feature, then please don't complain. 
Disrespect toward Admins, Moderators, and Members is against our rules. 
Use the ignore feature or scroll past a post that triggers you.

That's really cool. I really dig the idea of members being asked to be responsible for their own reading on the site. The ignore feature is well cool. This would have stopped all of those problems I faced on the My Way Out forum where people seemed to just moan about everything. I did get it a little as well back when I was on the old WQD forum but my nerves were a raw back then, I was very new to quitting and didn't like being sober. I can only hope that members of the other forum I'm going to try simultaneously – Addictionrecoveryguide.org – has a similar way of approaching things.

I don't consider myself at all to be controversial but I do like to write in my journal and this covers a wide range of topics. I write between 1100 and 1200 words per day, every day, and so you can imagine I'll cover a bit of ground. I would just like to say right now that I am not goading anyone, or even really looking for debate, when I offer an opinion or two, I'm just writing for writing's sake. I don't ever post anywhere else on the sites other than in my own dark little space and so kind of keep myself to myself. It's the way I like it. So – some information about myself before I go:

Personal Information:

Soon to be forty years old male born and bred in Scotland. It doesn't mean I walk around all day wearing a tartan man-dress, know of a sea-monster names Nessie, run around the mountains and hills of the Highlands chasing after haggis; but it does mean I am mostly cold and wet when I'm outside, grumpy, surrounded by s*** teams in all sports – and prone to a drink or twenty if I allow myself. Which brings me to:

Abstinence: Quit drinking alcohol on 07/02/2015 and haven't had a drop since. On 07/02/2016 I stopped smoking weed – the only drugs I was taking at the time (although I did use some Class A's on new year 2015/16). On 07/02/2017 I stopped smoking and this has been successful too. This year – on 07/02/18 (yep – same quit date for everything, only a year apart) I decided to drastically reduce my sugar intake, which I have done and continue to do. Who knows what's next come 07/02/2019)?

Living Conditions: I live with my girlfriend in a flat having just moved in with her recently. I met her in AA and we've been seeing each other for eighteen months now.

Study: I study radio at college. I have just started the second semester of the first year of a two year Higher National Diploma. I find it a mix of being entertaining and fulfilling one moment to uninspiring and poorly managed the next. I have no idea where it will lead.

Work: On days off college I clean windows for a living. I sometimes get the help of my pal Barry the Bullet but yesterday was solo again after he failed to turn up. When I work hard, as I did yesterday, it can be pretty lucrative.

AA Participation: I used to rely on it and went every day. I attended 235 meetings in my first 218 days of sobriety. Last year I found myself leaning on it a little too much and so left for 90 days and found the benefits to be fantastic and very healthy. I haven't been to a meeting since Christmas Eve and have no idea when I'll show up next.

Psychology and Professional Help: I've tried most of the help out there but have been finding working with a psychologist doing schema therapy very helpful. The problem is that he leaves for a new job in a few weeks so I only have two sessions left. After that I'll be getting someone else as a replacement. Not sure how long that will take to come through.

So that's about it. I have an interesting day ahead of me. I'll be nipping to the hospital in an hour or so. One of the guys from college had an epileptic fit at the bus station on Wednesday afternoon and face-planted the concrete. He's suffered a triple broken jaw. It was pretty scary. I've been helping out since I live pretty close to the hospital. I'm expecting him to be pretty swollen when I see him this morning having had his operation yesterday.

Then I'll be coming back here to meet my girlfriend's son for the first time. Things are a little complicated there and I'll talk about that at some other time. But this is a big day for this tiny family.

Then we're off for lunch with her family as it's her birthday tomorrow.

I've still to get her card.

Typical alkie.

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Stevie

Has joined some new forums.

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Posted: February 25, 2018, 4:43 AM


Posts: 10
Joined: February 22, 2018



Sunday, February 25th 2018 (Meeting Leon)


Morning! I'll be heading off to church in a while but wanted to check in before I do. I hadn't been inside a church for years until I started to attend AA meetings in early 2015. This led me to the Twelve Step program and since going through my Step Two I have been dropping in and out of Sunday morning service. It's just that you catch me at a time when I am dropping in. There are many reasons to go and so very few reasons not to.

It's Lindsay's birthday today and I'll be cooking a roast for her this afternoon for dinner. We went out with her family yesterday for something to eat and it was decent. In order for this to happen I had to meet her son for the first time. It went well.

I met my girlfriend in AA and so you can probably imagine that she has her own torrid past with family as I do with mine and you perhaps do with your own. Despite us been dating now for eighteen months and me living here since November last year I had yet to meet her only child. This was because he was removed from her care. She wasn't abusive. She was just unwell. Unwell enough that it was decided by the court that her son be removed from her care until further notice. Well this further notice has now arrived. I turned three years sober earlier this month, Lindsay will reach this milestone on August 10th of this year. We're doing okay. In order for the decision to be made as to when this fifteen year old lad should be reunited with his mother on a permanent basis this meeting between he and I had to take place.

So there were four of us. Lindsay and her son; myself and a social worker. Together we sat for an hour and made the formal introductions. I can see straight away that her son, let's call him Leon, shares many of the same traits I did when I was a boy of his age. He becomes easily withdrawn. I know – ''That's just teenagers for you!'' and I get that, but I mean that it is exaggerated. You can tell that, unless worked on, it will, as was certainly the case with me, become dysfunctional. I don't want to turn every post and everything into something about me – that would be a little. . . what's the word?. . . oh, I don't know. It would make it seem as though I hold myself in some sort of high regard or something. But I can definitely see a withdrawal within him that reminds me of my younger self.

Why wouldn't he sometimes withdraw? His father died of a drug-induced heart attack when he was seven and his mother was an alcoholic. Like I say – she wasn't abusive, but she admits to being completely emotionally unavailable. This is where other similarities between us can be made. My father was killed in a car crash when I was five and it kind of screwed me up a little too, but what my psychologist and I now reckon ****** me up even more was my mother's (and other carers at the time) decisions not to tell me that this had happened and let me find out at school. I learned from a young age not to ask questions about serious matters and sweep things under the carpet. My mother then went to train to become a nurse and went off to work. I don't remember seeing her much during childhood; my brother and I spending most of our time at our grandparents'. There was a lack of emotional attachments when I was a kid. This has happened with Leon as well. I guess it's only happened to him because it happened to Lindsay. Just like I've repeated this cycle with my own children who I never see, but that's another story.

My psychologist (Dr. Bacon) says that I developed a couple of coping modes to deal with things when I get triggered by something happening around me. One of these coping modes is known as the Detached Protector and I have covered it in great detail in my posts over the last year or so. This is the part of me that shuts down and would rather escape reality than deal with it. Essentially it is the part of me that ''liked'' to lock himself away and drink and use on my own. It's the part of me that tells me all the time that I am a lone wolf; that I work better in isolation; that I am supposed to be alone; that I like being by myself all the time. That's how you get things done.

I think that all of us these coping modes to some degree but that many of us, especially when there is trauma in childhood or adolescence or where parents and carers have been unavailable to meet our emotional needs early in life, develop them, hone them into becoming dysfunctional, until we rely on them. Dr. Bacon tells me last session that these coping modes, these schemas, effectively become filters of reality – a lens for us experiencing the world that often becomes confused with reality. So when I tell myself I am better off alone I believe it when in this mode. I have to always be vigilant when it comes to my detached protector. I understand that it's been created by the child in me to protect me from what he believes is a nasty and unsafe world out to get him but it so often goes too far. I am working on other, more healthy adult ways of coping with situations I find uncomfortable.

I say this because I do worry about this situation with Leon coming to live with us so soon after us meeting. This is a small property we live and we have become used to it just being Lindsay and I living here. This will shake things up for sure. It's a big change. I don't like changes.

It's important that I use all of the understanding I am now showing myself with the information I've gained while attending sessions with Dr. Bacon to form a positive relationship with Lindsay's son. There may be times when he is unresponsive, a challenge, and it's important that I remember where he has come from when it comes to me having to deal with some of the situations that will crop up.

I have a thing about not going over my word count though and for today it is almost maxed!

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Stevie

To be continued. . .

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Posted: February 26, 2018, 1:26 PM


Posts: 10
Joined: February 22, 2018



Monday, February 26th 2018 (Semester Two: Week Four)


The Shaman won't be in class today. He suffered an epileptic fit on Wednesday afternoon and fell like a tree onto the concrete breaking his jaw in three places. I was one of the folks at the bus station when it happened who was there to help. It was pretty scary until he came out of the fit and started to regain consciousness. I did my part and went with him to the hospital in the ambulance and have been visiting him while he's been in there. He gets out today. Makes a nice change from people having to come to hospital to visit me.

I'll be in class though. When I was finishing up my drinking career I was living off the profits my window cleaning company was making. There were four workers would go out each day and clean windows. At the end of the shift they would bring the takings to me (usually post them through my door as I couldn't answer it) and I would be left with whatever was going spare after they had been paid their wages. This often was not a lot and this is why my rent arrears and council tax arrears from previous addresses are so high and I am in such high debts with them. It was enough to get me my bottle of Frosty Jack's cider and a few cans, a gram or two of weed and a packet of tobacco and I was happy. Maybe if there was enough for a chippie as well I would be loving it. Generally it was the booze, weed, and fags that were at the forefront of my mind though.

When I sobered up the business started to fall apart. My brother left my side in this and went to study at university (he's in his final year as we speak) and without him it nosedived. Staff left and I didn't really care. All I was bothered about was getting to the next AA meeting and having that day count rise by one each day. First to thirty, then to ninety, then one hundred. Were it not for Barry the Bullet keeping on going solo cleaning windows there wouldn't be a run left to work. For that I am grateful to him.

As I worked through the Twelve Steps with my sponsor at the time it became clearer and clearer that I wasn't going to be able to make a living from going to meetings every day and night of the week. Sooner or later I was going to have to spend some time thinking about what I wanted to do next and where exactly it was that I wanted to be heading in life. Being sober is one thing but I can't make a career of it. I started to look at my options. Going out and cleaning windows – the thought alone made me sick. I was sober and so now too good for something like that. I wanted more. I spoke with my sponsor about going back to school and studying. He thought it was a good idea – WHEN I got through the Twelve Steps. Not a moment sooner.

In the end I dropped out of sponsorship midway through Step Nine and spent some time on sickness benefit. During this time I applied to college to study sound production and was accepted on a National Certificate level and so started this in August 2016. I was a good student and finished the course with room to spare the following June. I had considered what I might do next. There seemed to be four options:

1) Continue with the sound production and commit to three years further study to get the degree.
2) Apply to Dundee University to study psychology – something I was very interested in at the time but am glad now I didn't go for.
3) Try practical journalism at the college and go for the degree in that.
4) Apply for the degree program in radio and media broadcasting.

I went with option 4. I think the lecturers did a better job in selling their course to me than the others. Don't get me wrong – there are times, pretty much every week – when I wonder if I perhaps made a mistake and wished I'd picked one of the other options but I feel I am committed to this now and so at the very least I will be finishing this year. That means finishing this second semester we've just started.

Most of the work is done in classes but twice a week I get to go on air – broadcasting live to the college and Edinburgh University. I know not who is listening at any given time but I do know that local stations stay tuned every now and then to listen to the up and coming talent. This is not the sort of thing that I would have thought myself capable of doing when I was newly sober and not really able to talk much in front of other people (my detached protector would force me into that withdrawn mode in order to protect myself from the awkward feelings) and so this is one area where I feel studying this particular course has been good for my confidence.

So this morning I will be joined by three of my peers and we'll be broadcasting the fourth episode of our Monday morning sports show BSN (Boom Sports News), Boom being the name of the college radio station, and I think I'm to be hosting it again this week. After a rough start the show has been getting better as the weeks have been passing so there are high hopes for this week's episode. Lots to talk about as well with a cup final yesterday and Scotland beating England at rugby for the first time in ten years, plus the end of the Winter Olympics. Our schedule is all planned and we know exactly what to talk about and when.

It's a good course but I was expecting it to be a little more difficult. I don't think it's been the challenge I was expecting a course of this level to be. Hopefully next year will be more taxing. It's good to know that I can commit to something these days and see it through to the end though. That's another huge improvement in my life in recent months I've noticed. Everything seemed to fail really quickly when I was an active drinker/drug user.

Unsurprisingly, it must be said. . .

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Stevie

Enjoying the challenge.

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Posted: February 27, 2018, 1:35 PM


Posts: 10
Joined: February 22, 2018



Tuesday, February 27th 2018 (Working)


Tomorrow I have the day off college to go on a field trip to Edinburgh for some radio convention. I think that the whole class is going to be there and that there is a minibus that will be arriving at the college at some point early morning so I hope no one is late.

Tuesdays are the first days of the week I get out of the classroom and radio studios and into the workplace. I get to go and clean windows. My attitude towards doing this as a means to make money has changed significantly during my time being sober. When I first cleaned myself up the thought of cleaning windows made me want to puke. As I got more involved in AA the thought of cleaning windows made me want to puke. When I started studying sound production the the thought of cleaning windows made me want to puke. Things started to change around a year ago and I contacted Barry the Bullet to find out if he was still going out and working. He was, but the leftovers of the business were sinking. There wasn't much left of it. I started going out with him again in June last year and we bought some new equipment and started rebuilding. We had a good go at it for the next few months.

At the start of this year I found it difficult getting back into the swing of things but have managed to now and I wouldn't change it. The compulsion to dry heave at the thought of cleaning windows has somehow been replaced with a creepy hunger to get out there and get it done. Like I mentioned in another post – it can be quite lucrative. By that I don't mean that I'm making a ton of money or anything but I left the house with nothing last Friday and came home with one hundred and twenty five pounds if that tells a story. I had to work for it, and work hard, but this is not something I am quite to afraid of anymore. The weakness that plagued me during my drinking – the physical and mental restraints are no longer there. I feel both mentally and physically stronger and so am more able to go out there and earn myself a day's wage. The days I am able to do this are the days I am not in college – Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. I like the weekends off.

Another area in which I can clearly see improvement in my life since sobering up, even in the last few months actually, is in confidence. There was a long time there when I relied on Barry the Bullet to come to work so that I could. For the majority of my free days last year Barry and I would go to work but there were many times he would let us both down and not turn up. On these days I would not be able to go out myself and would tell myself that I needed him to help hold the bottom of the ladder for the difficult ones, or that it was supposed to rain this afternoon anyway, or some other crap I would lie to myself so that I did not go out on my own. I would just wait until the following day and then both Barry and I would go out together. I was pretty dependent on him. Actually I was completely dependent on him, or at least thought I was.

Then there was a time in November last year when he failed to meet me in the morning and I, for some unknown reason, decided that I was going to risk it. I was going to battle the fear, fight the urge to quit and wait until Barry next came out with me and I actually went out on my own and worked a full shift. That night he called me to apologise for the day (as he always did) and explain to me that he would be at the meeting point the following day. I wasn't up for it though. I wanted to test myself out and said to him that I was just going to work myself for the rest of the week. He wasn't happy but didn't argue. I went out for three days and did really well. I made some cash, got through some of the workload and, most importantly of all, I taught myself that I am not actually dependent on another to help me do my job.

We had a great November and December but things have been slow to get moving again this year. Barry has been out with me for a few shifts in 2018 but last Friday he failed to meet me at the arranged time and place. I didn't hear from him and he wouldn't answer his phone. I looked inside for that same courage I had found last November and prayed for the strength to go out and work on my own again. Like I said – I came home one hundred and twenty five bucks better off than when I left. That's not bad going for a guy who relied so heavily upon a co-worker for so long.

So I have decided that I am going to ignore Barry for the rest of this week. He's tried to reach me but I am not going to respond. I want to try it alone again for the week. He'll be out next week when he realises once again that he is not needed and that his constant no-shows will only cost him in the long run. My biggest battle this week will be with the weather. It was so lovely last week but has been a little on the bitter side this, with is supposed to be getting very wintry later on in the week. I'm stronger now, there's no doubt about it, but cleaning windows in the blizzards is a no go. I'll just have to hope that the forecast is really just the government trying to get us to go out and panic-buy and will not actually get all that snowy.

Later in the week I will have my penultimate session with clinical psychologist Dr. Bacon. I'll also review the month of February and why it was much more successful than January and what I reckon I need to do to make March even better still.

I look forward to seeing you there.

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Stevie

Enjoying February.

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Posted: February 28, 2018, 2:23 PM


Posts: 10
Joined: February 22, 2018



Wednesday, February 28th 2018 (2018: Monthly Review Episode 2)


So how did this second month measure up after the disaster that was January? Pretty well, if I'm being honest. I left one forum and joined two others. Things seem to be going pretty well with the new ones except for one issue on the addictionrecoveryguide.org where only one post can be planted online per twenty four hour period in the journals and drinking stories sections. This will see the odd post not going onto the site since I can't promise I'll be in at exactly twenty four hours from last posting (and I tend not to use the internet all that much if I'm not in the house) so sooner or later it looks as though it will obviously be that site that falls by the wayside. So SoberRecovery already looks like being the new forum of choice for me at this early stage. Hopefully I can be a member there/here for a long time to come. I was on the My Way Out forum for eleven months and have been on the WQD/Ryver for nearly four years.

But February. . .

So the main problems I had with January and the start of 2018 was that feeling that nothing was getting done, almost like the year had started to slip away from me all too soon. This didn't start me catastrophising or anything like that – it just made things feel a little uncomfortable, a tad frustrating. It was important, then, that I made up for this in February. I think that because 2015 – my first sober year – was so much better than the years that had preceded it, what with my AA participation and all the people I met; and the fact that 2016 was even better than that (quitting drugs meant that I was fully free and clear-thinking, then I started dating Lindsay and got my student life started); and then the fact that 2017 was even better than that (moved house; quit smoking; started working again; completed one course of study and started another) there was this sense within me that 2018 would have to do the impossible and somehow managed to top even that! Getting rid of this idea as part of my belief system is one of the best things I've done in February. The pressure is off. I'll try hard to make it good but I'm not going to freak out about it.

I guess that meeting Lindsay's son will turn out to be one of the bigger things that happened this month when I look back on it come the end of the year. At the moment it doesn't really feel like all that of a big thing but once he starts coming over more often and I get to know him – which will all be starting pretty soon now, I reckon – we will think back to Saturday as being the moment that started it all off. Family has to play a bigger role this year than it did last and I am somewhat involved in Lindsay's family. My own family had a couple of memorable moments this month also. After a 2017 that saw me being estranged for one reason or another from my brother and his family I visited them at the beginning of the month for the first time since last summer and played with my nieces for the first time since Christmas. If there's one thing that has to be improved upon from last year it's the contact I have and the time I spend with my brother and nieces.

All of my quits have made it through another month intact. I haven't had a drink, drug, cigarette, or antidepressant pill of any kind for another month and this is always cause to celebrate and look upon a month in a favourable light. This month I celebrated my anniversaries (3 years off booze; 2 off drugs; 1 off cigs and meds) and added another to the list. Well – I didn't really, as this isn't a quit as such, just more of a reduction, but I decided I would limit my sugar intake per day from the day I made it to one year off the cigarettes, which happened on the 07th of this month. So now I no longer take sugar unless it is necessary. No mints, no sugar in coffee and tea, and I nothing chocolate or such like. I have been able to do this for the duration of the month without any real hiccups. It's not a case of me trying to lose weight or anything like that (I am just under six foot tall and weigh just under twelve stone so I am fine that way) but my teeth are developing some problems and I know of the other health problems that excessive sugar consumption can lead to and so I am making a decision to live a little more healthfully.

When I quit smoking last year I started walking. People said I would gain weight and so I began walking as a way around this. I actually ended up losing ten pounds after quitting and although have put three or four of that back on I am still much lighter than I was when I extinguished my last cigarette. In 2017 I clocked up a fair number of miles and I am still keen to beat this total this year. Last month I walked, according to my Endomondo account, 226 miles and so that was a decent little start. It works out as over seven miles per day (which isn't bad when you consider that I don't walk every day). February has seen me walk a little less than that but still manage my third highest total for a month in the thirteen months I've been doing this. Not bad considering this was only a twenty eight day month.

I worked more this month than last and I attended college more since we have started the new semester so things are starting to take shape this year now. It's feeling less like I'm sitting around waiting for something to happen and being more proactive in making things happen. I've been to Sunday service more in February than I was in January too.

The sleeping problems I had early in the year are gone and I am now back into a healthy regular pattern. It's like clock-work again.

And I feel a lot better for it all too. A month always ends better if I've done something during it to make it feel as though it has served some part of the bigger picture. A month with nothing done makes a year feel disjointed and out of place, like it doesn't belong.

Anyway – we've reached that bloody word count limit again, which is probably a good thing or I'd ramble on until the cows come home. . .


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Stevie

Month two a relative success.

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Thursday, March 01st 2018 (Introducing the Lion, GF, the Consultant, and Lunarer)


The highlight of the day would most probably have been my second-to-last session with my clinical psychologist (Dr. Bacon) which would have been taking place at the local hospital at half past three this afternoon had this snow not have started up yesterday. There will be no work; the college was closed yesterday and again today; Lindsay was sent home from work; the football games for tonight have all been cancelled; and the weather warnings are now red rather than amber. In the UK we have this thing where we hand out bus passes to people who have mental health issues and my own is set to run out on the twentieth of this month. I have with me my application form which Dr. Bacon has already agreed to sign (he signed the last one) and so I should get a renewal when I see him next week. Another twelve months of free bus transport. It's a very small and in-exhaustive list of professionals who can sign these forms and so this could well be my last time at getting a pass. After this one runs out (fingers crossed I am successful) then I won't be (hopefully) seeing any mental health workers of any kind and so will be well on the way to being mended. Good mental health comes at a price and that price is the lacking of a concession bus pass. I like it – but I'd rather have the positive mental health, thank you very much.

One of the moderators here (assuming that you're reading on the SoberRecovery forum) has gently reminded me that this place is actually easily searchable through the general internet. It makes me wonder. I don't really care about people knowing my business and the lengths that these journals of mine can quickly become means that most people just get lost in a sea of words with no hope of ever finding their way out again if they're not careful, but I do wonder about perhaps trying to protect those who share this story of mine but are not aware of it. Lindsay knows that I write on an addiction forum (as do some others) but doesn't seem interested in actually finding it and reading any of it, or how big a part she plays in the overall narrative. I do wonder though.

Would it be better if I didn't have names and aliases for individuals involved in this story? Dr. Bacon is known as this only because he reminds me of Kevin Bacon and so changing his name to ''The Psychologist'' wouldn't change the fact that he is the psychologist character in this story. But what of others I know? Those who are more personal to me? Lindsay, for example? Could I call her ''GF'' instead (Girl Friend)? It's possible but anyone reading this who knows me would still be able to work out who I am talking about very quickly. Her son ''Leon'' was recently named and as he reminds me of a Lion with his long mane of hair and so I recalled that Van Damme film ''A.W.O.L./Lionheart'' and went with Leon – the character's name in that movie.

It's something I've wondered about ever since starting writing this journal. When I joined AA I wondered if I might be breaking their anonymity rules by talking about anything that goes on in a meeting. Main Man, AA Gangster, The Philosopher. Would anyone be able to guess who these people actually are if they are members of AA in this part of the world? It's possible.

But then others do like to play these little name games as well, don't they!? Whenever someone wants to talk about their AA participation but know that they probably shouldn't be doing so then they say that they belong to a ''Twelve Step Fellowship'' rather than mentioning any names. We all know what they mean and what they are talking about but we turn a blind eye. I guess it comes down to the possible harm that might be caused by someone reading in here who might know me or those I speak of in here.

So I am going to change up some names. This might be confusing to anyone who follows this journal sporadically but happens to miss out on this particular post but here goes: I'll keep Dr. Bacon as this name since I only have a couple of sessions left with him before he is replaced with his boss – I have already named him the Consultant. This won't break anyone's anonymity, but then I don't think ''Dr. Bacon'' really would either. Names of those who are close to me? I think changing Lindsay to GF would be to make her sound less like a person and more like a possession so I'm a bit stumped on that one at the moment. I'll change her son to the Lion. As for friends and family I will keep Scottish Sarah and English Sara as they tend to play less and less a part of this story and I'll keep Gillon as Gillon for almost the same reasons. Everyone in AA was given names that I think suit them (AA Gangster; Captain G; etc) so I doubt very much their anonymity is at risk by me continuing to refer to them as their aliases in here.

It's just Lindsay then. Hmmm. . . How could I name her something that will protect her against the possibility of her identity being discovered should someone who knows us find this place and be interested enough to trawl through the thousand of word it already has become after just a few days (it will become enormous as the weeks pass by) all the while not mentioning her in a context that suggests we live together? It's a tough one. For four years I have gotten away with writing in places such as this because I am confident that the people who know me would not bother to read on forums like this. You never know – I just can't see it. GF will have to do as Lindsay's name for now, as cold as it sounds.

The old WQD forum (and most of the others) seemed to have a thing where only members could find their way into journals but SR seems not to have any such filters and I notice guests are given access to any part of the site. I don't like that, and I thank the moderator for bringing it to my attention, but other than changing up the names of some of the characters I don't feel as though I want to do much else different. I guess I've always been taking a big risk in writing publicly about my life, thoughts and fears, online. I don't know if the name changes protect anyone at all since if you already know me then you'll be able to work out quite quickly who they are.

Should probs start referring to myself as my username rather than as Stevie as well.

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Lunarer

Changing things up.

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Posted: March 6, 2018, 8:45 AM


Posts: 10
Joined: February 22, 2018



Friday, March 02nd 2018 (Thinking Psychological Needs)


Thanks to everyone who has posted something nice to me on the SoberRecovery website. It made me want to set a little time aside for reading around the site. It is very large but thankfully I am used to navigating my way around forums such as these and so I can find my way around quite quickly and easily. Reading through some of the posts, journals and stories from members at all stages of recovery – especially those still in the very early stages (although at three years I am admittedly no old-timer) – has been a stark reminder of what it used to be like when I was in a similar situation, a lesson in what was then but what is not now. Since I don't go to AA very much these days (haven't been since Christmas Eve) I am reminded that I no longer get these reminders. I should try to remind myself of the importance of remembering to seek out reminders of what it was like. . . if I remember. . .

So the work that I have been doing with my psychologist so far has been something a little like this:

Firstly we established my thought and behavioural patterns that could be considered dysfunctional. Those thinking patterns and behavioural routines that I get caught up in despite them not having my best long term intentions at heart. Dr. Bacon believes (and he's speaking for the whole of psychology when he says this, I think) that people get caught in these types of behaviours, behavioural patterns that don't work long-term, because there is always a short-term pay-off. This continues to make sense. It sums up smoking perfectly for me. When you realise that there is no actual short-term pay-off to smoking then it becomes very easy to quit. But that's another story.

Psychologists also believe that the every human action is based on trying to get a need met, a psychological need met. We looked into my family situation when growing up and how my father died suddenly when I was five and my mother and grandmother chose not to tell me and let me find out at school and how they didn't ever speak about this to either myself or my little brother. I learned quite early in life that my emotional needs were not really important. There was always food on the table and Santa always brought us what we asked for but there were no emotional connections with members of my family when I was young.

This created a couple of coping modes within me from a young age, coping modes I have worked on, honed and perfected for years now (I'll be forty in a couple of months) and so they are pretty well established parts of my personality now, very ingrained into my psyche. But coping modes they are, designed to protect my younger self when he feels threatened by a world that isn't really safe, but that have taken too much of a hold of my life that they have controlled much of it and stopped me from doing things I might otherwise have done. They've stopped me from taking risks.

So the main two coping modes I have are Bully and Attack, and the Detached Protector. Anyone who knows anything about Schema Therapy will know exactly what I'm talking about as these are two very common coping modes, especially among people who suffered some kind of trauma as a child. What happens is that the younger part of me, Little Stevie, or Little ''Lunarer'', starts to feel threatened by something and so, as has been the habit of a lifetime, brings out one of these two modes. He either attacks or retreats. Either mode stops any chance of connecting with people dead in its tracks. I can be quite nasty when trying to stop people from getting close to me and the Bully and Attack mode does an excellent job of keeping people at an arm's length or two, or the Detached Protector forces me to give up plans and seek isolation. Either way – connection is next to impossible.

Dr. Bacon and I reckon that while Bully and Attack causes me problems both in our psychology sessions and in the real world as I go about my day-to-day business it is the Detached Protector that has been the main ''go-to'' coping mode for Little Lunarer over the last thirty five years or so. This is the part of me that sought to be by himself for so long; the part that encouraged him to drink and take drugs in isolation. When people say that they drink to forget or use to escape I think they are probably doing exactly that. They are triggered by something they are too frightened to face and so bury their head in the sand. It's not the best way of building connections with other people and this is basically what Dr. Bacon and I have been looking at during our time together. One of my main unmet psychological needs is connection building.

There's more to it than just this but I am aware of the word count limit drawing ever closer. Just a couple of hundred to go and that's my Friday quota. I shouldn't waste them. Basically we are looking ahead to what happens now. I have a decent understanding of what triggers me and why I am triggered, as well as my coping modes in action, and so we are now looking ahead to how I can go about trying to make the changes I will need to make in order to me these unmet psychological needs of mine. The idea is that I should be trying to take more risks. By that I don't mean jumping out of a moving vehicle or trying to forward roll through a ring of fire – I mean to do things that force me into situations where I am emotionally vulnerable. Situations like this force me into having to face fears.

We're also asking me to think about which direction in life I would ideally like to be heading. A kind of ''Begin with the end in mind'' philosophy. For so long I have been defined by my habits. Even in recovery I have continued to be defined by these habits with the AA philosophy of me being an ''alcoholic'' and feeling as though I have to call myself one at meetings to fit in. Things are different now and I realise that it is up to me to decide what my identity will be for the remainder of my recovery.

A pal of mine, albeit an online one I have never met, said to me once about an old saying in recovery where if we're really lucky, as alkies and addicts, we'll get into recovery, but if we're really, really lucky, we'll get out of it.

I hope you understand what is meant by this.

It's the way I'm looking at life when I think about this new identity I am shaping for myself.

Have a lovely Friday, fellow travellers.

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Gone over his word count.

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Saturday, March 03rd 2018 (Everything Will Be Okay)


The clock change happens three weeks on Sunday and while this doesn't automatically mean that there will be a sudden and abrupt (but incredibly welcome) end to this despicable cold and snowy weather it certainly gives off that sense that it will be coming to an end soon. A sort of confidence that spring really is just around the corner. I love Christmas. Really, I do. But aside from that I cannot think of much I like to do with the winter months. As soon as Santa packs up his things and leaves it all becomes just a case of waiting for the first sight of a leaf on a tree. This hasn't happened yet but just wait until that magical day when the clock changes just that one tiny hour. . .

Next week at this time I will be sitting in a counselling room. I have had bedroom problems ever since sobering up and last summer was referred to a sex therapy clinic through Relationships Scotland. The referral has taken some time to come through but we are now to be attending sessions every second Saturday morning beginning next weekend. I'm looking forward to it a lot less than Lind. . . I mean – GF – as she's been pushing for sex for a while now but it will be another big stepping stone in my recovery and so I shall try to give it my all. Apparently things start off with a serious grilling of our past sex lives and some extremely personal questions (I am told to expect this therapy to be very difficult but extremely rewarding). I will, obviously, want to write about some of this stuff in these pages and so I would like to clear up before next weekend comes around that this does not mean that I will be discussing ''pornographic'' content and I will be very careful not to break the forum rules.

By mentioning this I am hoping to avoid some of the things that went on over on the My Way Out forum when people would jump at the opportunity to complain and have my posts removed. I would urge those who may be sensitive to the issues of sex and intimacy to remember the rules of the SoberRecovery website that state that if a rule is not being broken then there is no action taken and also to remind you of the Ignore List that you can add me to. Or you could always not read the posts every second Saturday from next week onwards. I don't have to mention anything to the folks over at Ryver WQD since they allow anything non-threatening to be posted and the other forum I started using (but will likely drop soon in favour of SR) – Addictionrecoveryguide.org – I am less sure of the rules and so don't know if next week's post will make it there or not. I don't know if I'll still be copying and pasting these writings onto that website come next week.

So the week just passed was bad. It sucked. The falling of the snow (which is still going on out there at the moment) has hampered my efforts at work and even managed to stop us from getting into the college on Wednesday. There's even talk about it being closed come Monday. As a result of this I have been forced to stay indoors and it has been pretty bad. I get bored easily, become restless. It's not as if it's been possible even to get out and walk these negative feelings out of me. There has been far too much time off for me this year. I don't know how the unemployed handle it. I still have work though. I'll get back to it again soon. College too. Everything will be okay.

I believe that now. That it will all be okay. I probably shouldn't as it goes against every grain of common sense one might have. I will end up dead regardless of what I do in this life and everyone I know will end up the same. We might see major war in our lifetimes. Things will definitely not be okay for the duration of my stay on this earth. But I guess I'm saying that that is okay. I ''like'' to think back to my drinking days fondly sometimes. I wonder how much time must pass before a period of our lives may be looked back upon nostalgically. Do we have to wait many years or can it occur almost immediately after an event? I know that when people break up with their partners they begin to think about the relationship and all of its past pretty much instantly. It hasn't been like this for alcohol, drugs and me (and I never really think about tobacco at all because there was nothing to be gained out of smoking – with booze and drugs there was a short-term pay-off at least but with nicotine there was nothing) but now that a little time has passes I think back to it fondly.

I'm not saying I want to go back there. Not at all. I'm just saying that sometimes I hear of the guys at college going home to relax with a joint and I think back to when I used to. I think that I can sense the warmer weather coming in and this is stirring memories. I don't know why but I tend to get nostalgic when summer time comes and the warmer weather arrives. Anyway – I'm getting sidetracked.

When I was drinking I figured that life was ****, had always been ****, and so was inevitably always going to be ****. Back then I figured that the way of life I had at that time was the only one possible for me. Like it was my destiny somehow. Like I was simply playing my designated part in the Lord's sick nativity play. I was so important that I had been specially selected by Him to be a forsaken one. Somewhere along the line things seem to have changed and I now see that things are not so set in stone, that there are choices, and that by making the right choices won't always mean I'll get to the right results. I now have a belief system, or am certainly working towards having one, that does not see the world through such black and white lenses.

So the weather has improved (it's still freezing though) and we have another weekend to be thankful for. The weeks are starting to rack up in 2018 and going into March the year seems to be starting to take shape. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

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It'll be okay. . .

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Sunday, March 04th 2018 (Being Rich)


Waking up three weeks from today and the clock change will have already happened signalling the end of the darkness and cold and the beginning of the spring and the coming of the warmer weather. By that I mean warm weather for Scotland, so around 18 degrees Fahrenheit / 65 Celsius. Anything would be better than what we've had here over the last few days. I often talk about how once we get to the end of February and into March we are safe from the crappy, snowy weather. You would think I would know better by now. When the clock change comes we are definitely safe. From now on that is my guideline. Until then, in Scotland, pretty much anything is possible.

That was quite the week of weather from hell. I was at the college on Monday and then the snow started to fall. The college was closed from Wednesday until the end of the week and there were no chances for me to get out to work. I've been pretty bored. Sometimes I feel trapped in a prison called 2018. This year just will not let me off my leash for a run, set me free to follow my dreams. There must be a reason for this, if I should choose to look at it that way. The reason is possibly just something as simple as gratitude. I am perhaps to use these quiet months to motivate me for the rest of the year, to make sure that I am grateful for having a job, being enrolled on a college course, having things to do with my time when the weather is good. So gratitude I have been searching for.

Yesterday I had to get out of the house and so went on a mission to find bread and milk. This turned out to be a difficult task – at least more difficult a task than it usually is. I managed to find both in the same shop on the eighth attempt. Seven stores I had tried around the town before I located these common household items. Some might say that it's the lack of deliveries. That's what store assistants were telling me anyway. There is no bread or milk because their deliveries haven't arrived yet, they've been delayed with the weather and so on. It's more likely people just buying more than they need. People are like this, I have noticed. We hate the thought of being without something they have become accustomed to and so feel it our right to have it. In this case milk and bread. I am sure that people will have bought more than they would have needed to but got all scared about possibly not having milk for a day or maybe two and so had to make sure.

I believe this is one of our problems in life in developed countries. We no longer ever really suffer and so we miss out on some of life's lessons that I feel we are supposed to learn all the time. Things like appreciating things we have and being strengthened through loss and struggle. I can remember the final months of my drinking when I lived in a cave that was most unkempt (not an actual cave – a council bungalow, but it was in such a state that some caves may have felt more comfortable and hospitable) when there was often nothing to eat. Sometimes it was tinned potatoes from the Food Bank eaten from the tin using a spoon and then back to smoking weed to keep me going. But often there was nothing to eat.

I think that this is why I feel us to be rich nowadays. If you ask anyone at random whether they consider themselves to be rich I am betting that they will tell you they are not. The truth is that I live in a country that means that, barring extreme weather such as we've been having this past week, we can walk into a store and buy a daily loaf for practically nothing really. Even those on benefits can afford it (I just chose not to be able to afford it by spending everything I had at the time on other things I needed much more than food) and so when you really think about it we in developed nations really have very ''glass half empty'' attitudes if we are to consider ourselves to be poor. People think of being rich as meaning that we are financially wealthy in that we can buy palaces and sports cars and so on. The truth is much more straightforward than that.

While it's true that I did make choices that essentially forced me into poverty when I was drinking (and even when I sobered up but still chose to buy weed every day from July of 2015 until my first sober anniversary the following February) and while you could also say that when I was in the throes of this alcohol and drug emotional dependence my body and brain probably didn't hold things like food and heat in as high regard as your average person making it a little easier for me to tolerate being without – I still think that those periods strengthened me to some degree. The thought of being without something or another doesn't fill me with fear as much as it might some other people. I think that once you've been through something it makes it easier to go through again in some cases.

Right now though? Right now I have milk in the fridge and bread in the cupboard. In this I believe myself to be rich. I got what I wanted out of the day. As a result I managed to rake in twelve miles of walking in the snow and so March is up and running with regards to my mile totals for the month. In January I walked 226 miles and in February I managed 169. These are decent little totals. With the weather being as it has been and with it looking as though it's going to get a little wet from now on I would like at this early stage the thought of getting somewhere between those totals come the month's end.

Right then – I'm off to church and then will be coming back to watch the Scottish Cup game between Motherwell and Hearts. Then I'll make dinner, have a warm bath, and head to my lovely warm bed for college tomorrow.

Sounds like the life of a rich person if you ask me.

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Feeling rich.

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Posted: March 7, 2018, 1:44 PM


Posts: 10
Joined: February 22, 2018



Monday, March 05th 2018 (Ten Weeks Later)


Morning all! I can only hope that this week will be much more than last week was. Snowy and blizzarding(?) weather meant that the college was closed for much of the week and that work was a no-go on Thursday and Friday. Here I am again talking about how I hope that this week will signal the beginning of a new era, the proper start to the new year. How often on a Monday I have found myself saying this recently? The sky isn't as white this morning. For the last few days it's been almost like a mirror image of what's been happening on the ground, like they say that the sea is clear but looks blue as it is a reflection of the sky. This morning it (the sky I mean – not the sea) looks more like a Scottish sky. By that I mean that I can see rain clouds looming. This is what usually happens next: rainfall washes the snow away and we have flooding issues for a few days. College is on this morning though. It'll all be over soon and come next week at this time this weather will all be little more than memories. Temperatures are up to almost freezing from the minus ten we've been getting over the last couple of days.

Hard to believe that it's ten weeks since Christmas already. Hard to believe, but a fact nonetheless. Ten weeks. That means that it was ten weeks yesterday that I was in my last AA meeting. It also means that I haven't spoken with my mother, even on the very unfulfilling social media, for nine weeks and six days – me not seeing her since we sat around the Christmas dinner table on Boxing Day. It's the same every year. We'll make more of an effort this year. But we don't. Ever. And so another year will slip away. This is one thing I feel hasn't improved in the time I've been sober. My relationships with family. With regards to my brother and nieces things have actually managed to get worse as I see them less than ever in the last year or so. Even though I made my Step Nine AA amends with all of these guys I find myself in their lives less than when I was actively drinking and using. It's my sobriety's biggest disappointment.

My oldest niece had a birthday at the start of last month and I went to visit them without a present. Instead I arranged a follow-up meeting where we would go shopping and she could choose what she wanted herself. This was a way of me keeping my options open. Providing I can end each meeting with them with some idea of when we will be meeting again then I feel a little more connected with my family. I wasn't expecting the snow to fall as it has done and effectively close the roads for a few days around the time that we had arranged to meet up. I'll have to pick up the phone again and make that call. If I don't then it could be some months before I see any of them again.

At church yesterday morning the service was moved from the main hall to the room where we normally have tea and biscuits after the service. I say ''we'' but I usually just make for the exit door and walk back home as quickly as possible. Better that than all of these people starting to approach me and asking me about my business. With the service being in the small room there is a much more intimate feel to it. I don't know if I really like that. I enjoy things being all churchy and me sitting on my pew while others are kept at a safe distance. Here in this little room our chairs are so close together we are all buy touching each other. Yuck!

The service was short and afterwards there was the usual, ''We'll be having tea and biscuits after the service'' thing and with us already being in that little room I was caught before I had the chance to escape. Then followed twenty minutes where I had to put on my sociable cap and indulge in some small talk. It wasn't actually that bad to be honest. There are a couple of students at the college who don't understand why I go to church and one of the reasons I give (almost in a bid to defend myself and my decision to attend every Sunday) is that it gives me the sense of community, and yet, I barely ever actually interact with my church-going peers. So it was about time that I stayed behind and tried to soak up the sense of belonging that churches offer.

They are asking for people to put their names forward as Bible readers and since I came back from the service I have been wondering about whether my name should perhaps be on this list. All it would mean would be the possibility of me having to get up in front of everyone every now and then and reading a verse. I can read, and I can stand too, so I guess I am as qualified as anyone else. The only thing missing is nerve, desire, a willingness to put myself forward. I'm supposed to be taking risks, I remind myself – putting myself, Little Lunarer, if you like, into situations where he becomes emotionally vulnerable. This is perhaps an opportunity staring me in the face. I shall put my name forward next week if they are still looking for names.

So we're ten weeks on from Christmas. Ten weeks from now and we'll be into May already. People telling me that life is short and so we shouldn't waste any time we have may have had a point after all. I'll be in my forties come the end of next month and I while I do possess the insight to realise that age is a relative thing and so I am still fairly young (in that there are millions of people older than me still) I do think that it is natural to freak out a little about hitting this milestone, especially if, like me, you are emotionally immature for your age and are professionally miles behind your age and peer group. It gives life a sense of urgency I would do well to ignore and just get on with what I'm doing. I'm heading in a decent direction and I should try to remember that regardless of how far through a year or a decade we might be.

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Looking forward to the new week.

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Tuesday, March 06th 2018 (Bye, Bye, Beast from the East)


Heavy rain is forecast for later on today and so the snow will be on its way out soon. Flooding will likely follow (almost definitely follow) and so we shall have more problems but then after that we should be looking at spring. It's not really been a long time in coming although the temptation to put it that way feels strong. In truth it has been another extremely mild winter and if it does have to snow terribly at some point over the season then it is best that it happens at this time of year when the days are too long for it to lie for more than a few days. And that is all that we've really had here. A few days of snow and bad weather. November was mild and December was really mild. January and February were cold as always but nothing special. There were some days last month when the sun was really beautiful and temperatures were really comfortable and so when I hear people moaning and saying that the weather is getting much worse and that this is a result of global warming I don't really know what they're talking about. It's just likely something to moan about. The weather has been bad this last week, of course, but this winter was incredibly mild.

So bye and good riddance to the latest snow storms and bad weather. The Beast from the East, as it were. I hope not to see you again for a few years.

Hopefully Barry the Bullet and I will be working on Thursday and Friday but I'm definitely off this morning – the rain has already started and so by lunch time I expect most of the snow to have cleared up. This leaves me with a day of relative freedom. I'm thinking college stuff. Yesterday was a day of success where college work was concerned. Half of the class used the weather as an excuse not to come in which left the rest of us with use of the equipment. As a result we knuckled down and got some shows done. Now I feel more relaxed about the semester. I aim to have everything besides the Graded Unit done by the end of March. This will only be possible assuming that other classes run on schedule and there are times when the whole thing almost seems at the mercy of the slower students so I know not if this is a realistic plan I am formulating but at the moment this is the hope I have, and a man needs hope.

The Graded Unit is the one thing that's really ******* with me though. It isn't a huge project by any means (rather disappointingly) and the lecturers are very flexible when it comes to the content we can use. I just don't know what to base it around. One obvious choice might be to do a piece on recovery from addictions but there are one or two reasons I can think of for not doing this. One is that I don't think I'd be able to fully do it justice at the moment and would perhaps be better saving that idea for next year when I am doing the diploma. I think this because I feel as though I could get plenty of content and interviews from those in the field. I could possibly interview people from FASS (Fife Alcohol Support Service) and DAPL (Drug, Alcohol and Psychotherapies Limited) – both of which I am relatively well known as a former client. I could also possibly get the guys who run Restoration as I am known there too. Addiction Services; SMART Recovery; AA; Fife Council Homeless Service – all of these places I have used before many times and so if it is a case of it being who you know then I might be able to produce something of quality using that idea as a platform.

I really would be best saving the idea for next year when I am a better all-round student and have an assignment fit for the task. I also think that one further year down the line I will be better able to present such a show with genuine interest and less of a ''I've been here – it's all about me!!'' attitude. I'd be one further year away from each of these services and so would my knowledge and experience in each of them would be further outdated. I think it would make for a better show. This is one of my problems though – talking too much about what I'm not going to be doing and not enough on what I actually will be. For the time being I am stumped. We have a little over three months to complete the project in its entirety.

I was hoping to perhaps get the Lion to come into the studio during my sports show one Monday morning. Despite him being fifteen and us only just having met I was thinking it would be a good idea to get him in there and we could chat to him about the local ice hockey team which he is a season ticket holder. He's a shy boy (as you might expect given what his life has been like so far) but he really opens up a little when talking about the ice hockey. On a Monday morning he should be at school but he hasn't been in a classroom for months now, despite the social workers' best efforts, and so the main challenge in this idea is probably getting him out of bed and into the college at that time of the morning. I really wouldn't like him to go down the same road I did in life and for it to only start clicking for him as he approaches forty and so by having him in the studio talking about ice hockey I might be able to show him that education is not all about sitting in a classroom doing maths. You can actually have fun while you learn. It is but worth a try.

I am to be discussing college related stuff online with a couple of my peers this afternoon and I have the house to myself all day today. It's not all doom and gloom though. There are things I can be doing.

I think I'll go and get started on doing them.

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Waving goodbye to the horrible snow.

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Wednesday, March 07th 2018 (Day One Thousand, One Hundred and Twenty Four)


Or more simply known as thirty seven months away from a drink. This also means that it's been twenty five months since I smoked a joint and thirteen months since I last smoked a cigarette or took an antidepressant medication. Oh – and a month since I started closely monitoring my sugar intake. That's a few reasons to look upon today positively.

It also means that I've now been dating my girlfriend for more than half of the time I've been sober for (will actually be exactly eighty two weeks each way come the last day of March. I know – I'm a sad man for working things like this out) which is very interesting. I don't know why I find this interesting, I just do. Perhaps it's because it felt as though I was sober for ages before yet it doesn't feel all that long since I've been dating Lindsay. It also kind of makes me think about how well I've done and how far I've come since living in that cave surrounded by bags of rubbish and hiding in the bedroom, sleeping on the floor with no food and wondering when my heating was going to be cut off and on and on and on. These were very much issues of basic human needs. Those were the things I was struggling with in those days. Now I seem to take these things for granted (I actually think that writing sections of posts like this is my way of trying to remember those days and try not to get lazy when it comes to appreciating what it is I now have in life) and it is other things I am focusing my efforts on.

I'll be turning forty next month and am looking forward to it. By that I don't mean that I am looking forward to turning that age, to flipping the page on my thirties and peeking ahead to the next chapter, but more that Lindsay and I are going away for it. This is why the trip was planned in the first place. Had you told me back in 2014 when I joined the old WQD forum and I was drinking all the time that I would, within three years, be living with a woman I had yet to meet and that the two of us would be travelling abroad to celebrate my fortieth birthday, having already been to Barcelona last year, I don't really know what I would have thought. To be honest though – many of those guys DID tell me that things like this were possible.

I just couldn't see it being possible for ME. I had that thing we alkies so often have, that over-inflated sense of self where I thought that I was SO bad a person and SO screwed on the drink that I was completely irredeemable. Fancy that. It's true though. Talk about filters of reality. I was constantly looking at life through my schema modes. I just didn't know what they were at the time. So much has happened in the time since.

The differences between the first half of my sobriety from the second half is staggering. People on the old WQD forum used to always bang on about this huge internal change that would happen to each and every one of us if we worked hard and kept our eyes on the sober prize. They called it the ''Staggering Transformation'' and one of the reasons I decided to write my journal in the way I have been doing for almost four years now (long posts written every day with huge emphasis on personal development and self-exploration all while trying to be as honest and open as possible) was that I wanted to, assuming it would happen to me, document the full extent of this transformation. I think that because it has happened so gradually and over a period of time this has perhaps been lost in the writing.

It's also important to remind myself that this is by no means over. In fact – it's only really about to begin! Who knows what on earth happens next? I've been looking into this actually. Dr. Bacon got me thinking about this idea of me trying to find a new way of defining myself and shaping my identity. I'm sober, yes, and some people in recovery choose to define themselves in this way. I am sober and that is the most important piece of information you need know about me. That's not really what I would consider to be recovery if I'm being honest. I think more along the lines of not drinking not being a ''thing'' in my life at all. It'll always be in the background and I'll always be vigilant in social situations and when going through the highs and lows of life, but being ''in recovery'' is not how I want to design and define and shape my future. It has to be much more than that.

Other things Dr. Bacon would talk about during our sessions together was choosing a lifestyle that fits in with our values and belief systems. In other words – if I would like to get back into playing music again then I should do so less to be a great player and more to fulfil my value of being creative. I am advised to try to select hobbies and interests to attach myself to less in order to satisfy my self-seeking nature – looking to fill a hole inside me as I have been guilty of with hobbies in the past – and more because they are in tune with my values. In this way they are satisfying psychological needs and that it, after all is said and done, what this is all about. I think that there's much more to me than simply being a ''recovered alcoholic''. That would not be meeting my needs.

I'll be heading for the bus in a few minutes to get myself into the college. I'll be back at work again tomorrow with any luck and so this is now, I feel, the month, and year actually, starting for real. There hasn't been much happening up until now but it's routine I've been seeking. This year has started slowly, however, so that I could be reminded always to heed the lesson of gratitude. Be grateful to have a job, a college course to attend, and a home to come back to when all is said and done. It's been slow so that I could take the time to allow myself to see how lucky I have become.

Be well. . .

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Lunarer

A lucky man.

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Posted: March 9, 2018, 2:41 AM


Posts: 10
Joined: February 22, 2018



Thursday, March 08th 2018 (Some Twelve Step Thoughts)


It's not very often that I type out posts in the evening (it's usually done when I get up in the morning, when the house is quiet save perhaps for the cat munching her breakfast) but I felt the need to this evening. I've already posted today so I will store this piece of writing somewhere and dump it online perhaps sometime through the week or next when I don't have time to write something out or when I can't be bothered. To be honest I have found myself more eager to write and more motivated to post since joining the SoberRecovery forum (a place I am quickly falling in love with and getting to know people) and the Addictionrecoveryguide.org site. I've always posted daily (and almost always it's within my word count guidelines of between 1100 and 1200 words) but there are times when I feel as though I am writing for the sake of it. Like I'm writing only to fulfil my routine of posting every day. At the moment I am going through a resurgence and feel as though I am writing because I want to and that I also have some things to say as I do.

Reading through some of the posts from members on the SoberRecovery website (and there are a metric **** tonne to choose from) I found myself wandering through threads dedicated to AA's Twelve Step program and how people work it in their lives, and how they went about going through them with a sponsor; tried doing them on their own (I wouldn't think it possible to be honest); and how people work them now that they have some sober time under their belts. There is a barrowload of information on the subjects on SoberRecovery. As I was reading it brought to mind my own experiences with this program. I only wish I had continued to tell my story on this forum from the beginning.

When I was banned from the My Way Out forum last week I signed up to a few other addiction based recovery sites and when I tried to sign up to this one (SoberRecovery) I was surprised to find that I already had a registered account under the name ''boysdoingwell'', which I think sucks as a username and would much have preferred my names on other forums ''Lunarer'' or ''Stevie'' as I was known on WQD. I noticed that I joined this place in June of 2014 – a month after I joined the old and now defunct WQD forum. For some reason I ditched the other forums and started to write exclusively for WQD and deleted all of my posts here. So I have actually been a member here for close to four years but can't remember joining or even seeing the site before.

But anyway – I'm wasting words. So I started on the Twelve Step program back in May of 2015 when I was around three months sober. Some might say that's a little early for someone who arrived at the meetings as hazy as I did but others would ask why one might want to wait any longer before getting well. I ''auditioned'' sponsors in a bid to find a suitable guy and then we got to work, meeting up once a week to work through the Book and talk about my homework assignments. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.

I found all of the Steps to be helpful to me in the long term but since working with Dr. Bacon (my clinical psychologist) over recent months I have began to see how poorly qualified sponsors are in taking people through some of the program suggestions. With Dr. Bacon I have learned about myself that I am most likely to try to repair relationships where there is little promise of anything at the end of it. By that I mean that I tend to work harder to try to connect with people who are unlikely to be responsive. This is my Detached Protector at work and while a psychologist can spot this and stop me a sponsor just gets lost and can't rein it back in. I have this great knack of avoiding topics I feel to be possibly threatening by taking people on a scenic trip to other places. This way I avoid the subject. This also means I lose out on the opportunity to connect. My sponsor would often get trapped in these games of mine – games I wasn't even aware I played until last year.

By the end of 2015 I had worked through Steps One to Five. I had listed all of the people I was resentful towards, all of the fears I had, and my Sex Conduct Inventory, and my sponsor and I had discussed some of these lists. Rather than get all deep and personal in the way that psychologists do I found the quick and to-the-point manner in which we worked through the lists to be very helpful at the time. It forced me to look at how dysfunctional my thinking behind some of my resentments actually was. I noticed how I held onto grudges that just were not worth it. I realised that I resented most those closest to me. I began to realise that it was not so much failure I feared so much as it was success. Success would bring with it responsibility and I could not cope with responsibility. This is all good stuff and every bit of it I think I would have missed had I chosen to work through these Steps on my own.

By the end of 2015 I was smoking weed every day and my cave was a real dump. You would wipe your feet on the way out. Steps Six and Seven were asking me to look at removing my defects of character – these defects I had discovered in Steps Four and Five. So came responsibility again. If I was going to do these Steps properly (and there is no other way of doing them) then I would have to challenge my living conditions. So bad had they become by this point that I had little option but to quit the Steps. The lack of knowing how I would be able to clean up my house was enough to halt my Step work and AA participation. It wasn't until April of 2016 when a member of WQD contacted me to offer to come through to my town and aid me in cleaning out my cave that I was able to get my home liveable again and start working the Steps again.

My favourite part of the program (Steps Four and Five aside) is the part where we work on making amends. Step Nine requires that we go out there and actually physically, where possible, go out there and put the action in. I loved this at the time. Then I read a book called ''I Got Tired of Pretending'' by Rob Earll, and I started to get the impression that my motivation for working this amend Step so vigorously was rooted in sick behaviour more than it was in seeking solid recovery. I was trying to gain forgiveness from people I had wronged to that they would stop hurting me by removing the guilt I felt for my actions. This is known as false forgiveness. My belief systems at the time made sure that I did not make the most of this opportunity to make amends. With Dr. Bacon I have since learned that much of this seems to have been done with the best intentions from both myself and my sponsor but that the necessary due diligence might not have been carried out.

I quit midway through my Step Nine amends process. I started dated my partner and my sponsor was not happy with me doing anything like this (or going to college) until I had been through the whole of the Twelve Step program. After that I could do what I wanted to; until then I should put everything else on hold. I decided that the time for my sponsor and me to go our separate ways was upon us. Sometimes I think back on our time together fondly; other times I cringe.

So I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Back in the 1930's and '40's – even 60's and 70's – I have no doubt that this program would have been invaluable to those struggling. It was invaluable to me here in the 2010's. I was new to being sober and this at least seemed like something I could actually be doing. It felt like I was putting action into my life and so effort into my recovery. But I do feel it also has its ideas rooted in a bygone era, an era totally ignorant of modern advancements in science and medicine. I do like the ideas behind Steps Four, Five, Eight and Nine (I can't comment on the final three as I didn't get that far) but feel that they are better done in a psychology session than over coffee in a sponsor's house or cafe.

There's this belief that professionals don't understand addiction like we who have lived through it do. I say that's bollocks. We're what they do. We're about as mysterious and unknown to them as a cat stuck up a tree is to a fireman/woman. They have a box ticking just like AA's program has a box ticking system. Psychology realises, though, that drinking and using is just a small sub-section of the problem. In my case the addictions were just one part of my Detached Protector coping mode; which is just one part of my bigger problems. AA never claims that the program will solve all your problems though. It just says it will help you stop drinking and it does this very well.

I can't imagine what life would have been like had I not tried this program when I joined AA. Now I am looking for a new identity – something away from the whole concept of ''admitted we were powerless over alcohol; that our lives had become unmanageable'' and suchlike. Overall I would say that the Twelve Step program is not the be all and end all but is an excellent ''stepping'' stone onto other things which do help bolster a strong recovery. I still go to church, which I started doing during Step Two, and I still try to put a little effort into my days, which I learned in other Steps. It got me into the idea of meditating.

I also know that I can never drink again, which I'm cool with, which I learned in Step One.

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Way over his word count this time, but it's a special occasion.

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Friday, March 09th 2018 (Stevie Does Stand-Up)


All is good on the work front this week. Barry has been given a fright and he seems to be rising to it – afraid I might be true to my word this time and terminate our gentleman's agreement. This is something I would seriously consider now. I have relied on Barry these last couple of years. He single-handedly kept this company going for the best part of a year and a half and for this I will always be grateful. Still though – the time has now come for him to make the decision as to whether he wants to get up every morning (well – three times a week on the Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) and show up for work on time. If he continues to do this then all will be well on the working front for the both of us. Any more no-shows in the mornings and I shall have to make my mind up once and for all just what to do with our current situation.

Things don't look very good for my partner at the moment where her own work is concerned. She's had her issues with addictions in the past (let us remember that I met her in Alcoholics Anonymous) and so getting through this nursing degree has been an incredible challenge for her. She had to take a year out due to a nasty fall she had while drunk one night back in 2015 and she suffered a brain haemorrhage. This was finally the motivation she needed to stop drinking and she's been sober ever since waking up the morning after the night of the fall. I remember when she walked into the AA meeting after she was discharged from hospital. She walked into my old home group one town away in the opposite direction and had these huge bruises all over her face. I think we all jumped to the conclusion that she'd been beaten up.

So she took a year out to get herself sorted out and then went back for her third and final year for the 2016-17 term. There were problems with the work placement though and so things were dragged on a little. I went with her to the graduation party last August when she would have been finishing up and heading into the workplace but she has to complete the sign-off placement. It took until July to find her one and it didn't work out too well. So began a ten week spell where she was out of work while waiting for the university to find her a placement. On November 20th she started the placement she's currently at but there have been problems there too and she's been told that she won't be signed off for professionalism. This sucks. Usually students don't get signed off on their patient care but in this case it is her days off. It used to bother me until I decided it best just to support her. I know the shifts are long and hard going but sometimes I wonder why she can't just knuckle down and get it done.

There will now be an extension on her time and she now won't finish until after we come back from our holiday. This was supposed to be a joint celebration. Me turning forty and her graduating from university. It can still be both I guess.

I've never been to see a stand up comedian in my life. I've been to loads of gigs and things like that but never did I see any stand up. It wasn't my thing really. But things change when we get sober and already I have Russell Brand to look forward to next month and Kevin Bridges in September. On Wednesday the group at the college decided to book tickets for us all to go and see Frankie Boyle in August and so there will be a third stand-up comedian to see by the time 2018 is at a close. I like the idea of nine students heading to the capital for drinks, bonding, and some fun stand up comedy.

So the Lion. He who is my. . . what should I call him actually? What is his current relationship to me? I suppose he's my stepson but I've only met him once (despite dating his mother for more than eighteen months and living with her since November) and he doesn't live with me. But he will adopt this role at some point I think. Social workers tell me (through his mother) that he found me to be very likeable. This is good news. I was hoping to get him into the college studio on a Monday morning to take part in our sports show. The Lion is a very keen ice hockey fan and season ticket holder of our local team. It would be good for everyone involved if he was to come into the studio and take part. He'll get a look around the college and see that while school may not have worked for him the college is a very different environment. We have booked this in provisionally for one week on Monday. I really hope that this works. We'll see what happens.

I've been thinking about my Graded Unit. The lecturers are starting to put pressure on students to submit their pitch. I seem to be the only person who doesn't seem to know what the heck he's going to be doing for this. Let me point out that this is not because I suck as a student. It's just that nothing has really been jumping out to me shouting at me to get a pitch written. I have no doubt that when the time comes I will submit something of high quality.

I bumped into a guy I studied with last year and he got me thinking about maybe doing something along the lines of what it's like to study in the creative industries. What type of people want to study in these fields? It seems as though it is a big choice for people who are very non-academic. Perhaps I'll look into this. I'm not rushing things but, like I say, the lecturers are starting to breathe down the necks of those who have not handed in something yet.

But anyway – there is bread and milk in the shops again and almost no sign that there was ever an issue with snow and the chaos that was happening a week ago. Things look good for another day of cleaning windows.

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Lunarer

Going to three stand-up gigs this year. Count 'em – THREE!!

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Posted: March 10, 2018, 2:42 AM


Posts: 10
Joined: February 22, 2018




Saturday, March 10th 2018 (Motivation Finding Me)


So I'll be going to the sex therapy session this morning. My first of a series that will take place every second weekend. I don't think I'm going to risk writing about any of it here on the SoberRecovery website though. I just don't know the rules here well enough to know what would be considered appropriate and what would be deemed pushing it too far (not that pushing it too far would be my intention). I don't know any of the members here well enough to know how they might take a post on this subject. I did find a thread and so some people seem willing to talk about these issues a little. There are probably others but this one I found:

https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...whatsoever.html

But something tells me still to be wary about the subject, as well as some others, on this particular forum. I'll post it in full on the Ryver WQD forum but think that I'll edit out any parts of the post that mentions this ''sticky topic'' on SoberRecovery and just take the section out and replace it with the missing word count in parenthesis. I think it's a shame as it's a topic that even AA feels very strongly about regarding recovery, strongly enough to dedicate a Step Four inventory to the subject, but I'm not willing to take the risk here. And I'm not going to waste any more of these valuable words I have to make sense of my thoughts this morning. So moving on.

Barry the Bullet (my co-worker) had a hot date last night. I think that he went about things the right way this time. It's pretty typical for men these days, and women too for that matter, to go from one ''relationship'' to another without so much as a cooling off period in between. We just go from one to the other straight away. It's almost as if we can't bear to be ''alone'' for any length of time or even as though being ''single'' is in some way defective. What he's done this time is stay single and work on himself. He's spent the last eighteen months trying to figure out little things about himself. Rather than forcing a ''relationship'' by meeting everyone who will reply to him on some website he has waited. He's allowed it to happen naturally. I hope it works out fine. It's just one date but it could be the start of him getting back in the dating game because the time is right and not as some disturbing way to fill some void that he feels. All the best to Barry the Bullet.

I was quite lucky with my girlfriend in that I met her in the rooms of AA and so we knew each other's bulls*** and past problems and personality issues before we starting dating. I hadn't been with a woman in a few years before I went to AA and it wasn't anything I was looking for but happened more because the time was perhaps right. I couldn't have held down a relationship back in the last few years I was drinking as I was pretty troublesome. I was always drinking and using and spent most of my days and nights, especially in the last two years, in my cave on my own with the curtains shut and the lights out – just the way I liked it. Now I am learning that there are still some aspects of myself (such as the one I'm going to therapy regarding in just a couple of hours) but one the whole I am in a much better situation.

The Lion, my soon-to-adopt-the-role-of-stepson, will be paying us a visit tomorrow afternoon and so this will be the second time I'll have met him. A social worker will be there, as is the norm. According to them our last meeting went well and the lad thinks quite favourably of me. This second meeting will hopeful see both he and I come out of our shells a little more. We communicated a little during the first meeting but he was sitting next to his mum for the majority of the time while I was sitting next to the social worker – a social worker who understandably wanted to know some things about me and so I spent most of the time getting to know her, or letting her get to know me. When we went out for the meal in the afternoon (the social worker didn't come along for that, fortunately) I wasn't sitting directly next to him and so overall there wasn't a great deal of communication between us that day. This time I expect there to be a little more.

I have started painting the bedrooms in the flat in preparation for this coming transition when he will be coming to live with us. I don't know when this will be happening for sure but there is a child court hearing thing on Thursday this week and I'll definitely know more after that. It won't be happening immediately but it will be happening in 2018. All I can really do is move the rooms around and paint them like I said I would. We're going to be taking the big room and moving in there while he'll get the room we're in at the moment.

This is a good thing, having this extra room. I'll hopefully have some space in there to set up my guitar amplifier. Shaun from the college studied sound production with me last year and has been talking about getting himself an electric guitar since around the time I first met him. He's booked me in to go help him purchase one on April 07th and so I am hoping that this goes ahead this time and he actually buys one. He's been talking a lot about the instrument recently and I think that it is starting to take my interest once again. I would love at some point to get back into playing again but so far the motivation has not found me. I am hoping that by having this bigger room I can set out my instruments in one corner and visit there with headphones and computer to practise, write, and perhaps even try recording again. Maybe Shaun can get involved with this too.

I feel that what I'm doing at the moment with college and working isn't enough. I 'need' to get some of my old hobbies back as well as perhaps finding a couple of new ones.

I am hoping that this will be starting soon.

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Lunarer

Motivation finding him from all angles.

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Posted: March 11, 2018, 4:04 AM


Posts: 10
Joined: February 22, 2018




Sunday, March 11th 2018 (Sex Therapy: Session One)


I was quite scared going into this if I'm honest. On one hand I was expecting something similar to a scene from Meet the Fockers while on the other I was at least expecting us to be given a female counsellor and have both women in the room gang up on me. None of this was the case. It was actually pretty relaxed.

The way it works will be like this:

Session 1: Introduction to therapy

Session 2: My partner will have a solo session to discuss her sexual history

Session 3: I will have a solo session to discuss my sexual history

Session 4: We start working on the problem

So yesterday was the introduction session, almost like a Step One, if you like. The next sessions seem like Step Five and then the final phase Step Nine. Putting action into it. I'd better do as I said I would and hide some of this for those reading on the SoberRecovery website.

(So I'm taking a chance on the addictionrecoveryguide in posting this. I don't mean to cause any offence but it would be nice to know what the boundaries are before deciding which of these forums I will stick with and which I will drop from the picture altogether. There's no need to be posting on both of them as well as Ryver.

Lindsay isn't too happy to discover that we're on a sex ban. This is to be the case the whole way through these sessions. If she was looking for a couple of quick sessions leading onto sex and then the whole thing to be a distant memory after that then she's made a mistake. This will very much be an ongoing thing. We'll be given homework from session four onwards and at any point during this stage should we feel aroused then still at no point should we be having sex. We are allowed to masturbate – but not each other – the sex ban is real and starts from now.

But then that doesn't really change anything, does it!? We could be the only couple in the world, or indeed the history of the world, who have been together for more than eighteen months yet never actually made it to a sexual situation. Lindsay mentioned in the session two occasions she believed the chance to have sex came up but external sources prevented it from happening. One of them was the night before my brother's wedding back in September of 2016 when we had been dating less than a month and I do remember the night she's talking about. I also remember the other night she's on about but I'm not so sure about that one.

That's no excuse though. There have been plenty times we've had the chance since then. We live together now for God (of my Understanding's) sake. With regards to the homework well be given from session four onwards we are asked to set time aside as the work can be time-consuming and we would do best if we scheduled it in. This takes away the spontaneity but is the best way to be sure of the desired results we are told.)

Besides all of this we are asked about our relationship in general. We have our moments as any couple does but we've survived the transition from seeing each other to living together really well. With both of us being very new to relationships of this kind it has been difficult at times. My relationship history consists mainly of really unstable women, most of whom drank to excess and injected drugs (and sold them) in amphetamines and suchlike and so there hasn't been much in the way of real intimacy. Some of us aren't capable, at least not when we're using. I would say that this is the first real relationship I've had. It's not quite the same for me partner but this is the first she's had where drinking hasn't played a part and there hasn't been any kind of abuse.

It's really interesting though. I responded to a post on one of the forums asking what the toughest times during sobriety were. Now I find myself facing a new challenge and it will no doubt be very tough. I guess that every phase of sober development brings with it a new and interesting challenge. I think that this is the part of recovery that most people never really come to appreciate because they aren't starting from scratch. When people have with them from day one a secure home, partner, job, health, see their children or their children live with them still, a history of healthy relationships, and all of the other stuff most of us take for granted, then they lose the chance, through no fault of their own, to go about their recovery in the way I've had to: from the bottom up. I've had to start learning about things in my late thirties that most people learn in their teens. I'm in my first real relationship; I'm back at school studying; I've still never had a real job.

It's bad for life in general but it's great for recovery. People throw the word ''alcoholic'' around so much that it has almost lost its meaning these days. It seems as though anyone who drinks a little here and there falls under the umbrella of alcoholism.

Right then, moving on. This home of ours is a mess. We've been decorating the spare room so that we can move all of our things in there and use that room and then the Lion (he who will one day adopt the role of my stepson, of sorts) can have the room we are in at the moment, and so everything is lying all over the place. I will be continuing with this at some later stage of the day.

I was supposed to be going to church this morning for the usual Sunday service and also to put my name on the Bible Readers list but Rangers and Celtic kicks off at midday and so I have to get my priorities right. I'll be in the pub for half past eleven. Later this afternoon the social worker is paying us a visit with the Lion and so I'll get to meet this lad for the second time. We're hardly close but we are definitely being given the chance to bond in some way. I plan on making the most of it.

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Lunarer

Still hasn't had his name changed yet.

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