In the space of two years I’ve gone from:
Wishing the next drink would kill me,
Losing everything and wishing I was dead,
Professionals and people trying to convince me life is worth living but I’m not listening,
Getting sober and Professionals and people trying to convince me life is worth living but now I’m listening,
Convincing myself life is worth living,
Lapsing and cursing myself, professionals and people trying to convince me life is worth living but I may try listening again, just might,
Surpassing and smashing my previous sober time of 7.5 months and life is good,
Getting even lower than I did prior to my lapse but used all my tools, stayed sober and started volunteering with a plan and life is scary but great,
Sticking to the plan no matter how frightening and keeping my nerve and life is great and exciting,
Being trusted and respected enough that the plan is becoming a wonderful dream, but it’s reality because I made it reality and life is fantastic,
My son telling me he loves and is proud of me!
A lot can happen in two years. At the moment I’m loving life, no matter how frightening and terrifying and there’s not enough time in the day to fit all this amazing stuff in. And I’ve not even started yet!!!
It all started with, wishing the next drink will kill me.
If you think you can’t do it – you’re dead wrong! You can and you will!!!
Stay strong brothers and sisters
Doodle of my rehab, during rehab.
What happens when you’re a struggling addict and you’re stuck in hideous traffic jams on a packed, smelly, noisy bus and your anxiety is lifting the top of your head off? Get creative! I wrote the following on my phone in my rehab days. I ain’t Keats or Yeats. But they ain’t me either. Writing these two pieces stopped my head exploding into slime on various bus rides home. The picture is one of my drawings from when I was in my twenties.
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THROUGH DARKLY EYES
Praying this glass is the killer,
The TNT in the heart,
The body gets sicker and slimmer,
The explosion is waiting to start.
Dulling takes more and more poison,
Much more than a human can take,
The blood paints its walls with ‘NO CHOICE,’ on,
No matter the soul is at stake.
I shamble as the puppet strings snap, creak and fray,
Clawed fingers no longer life-sleek,
The master looks down, unable to say,
“Don’t pray to me I am too weak.”
The hope of that second heart beating,
Beneath the smile of my son,
His eyes slay my death that is cheating,
His wings take us up to the Sun.
Actually. Strike that.
The Beginning!!!! 🙂
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Essentially, life is like concrete. Hard, unyielding and tough to crack. Some chip away, others take a pick axe and tear through it. Many just walk over it without a second thought because it’s there, it serves a purpose and necessary. But one thing’s for sure, you can’t sprinkle it with pretty glitter and hope the winds never blows its false beauty away. Dig, chip and smash. We do whatever we can. Because it’s underneath, beneath the cracks and the filth and the darkness were the diamonds and the stars truly sparkle. And behind filthy curtains that hang down like the rotten, tattered, bloody wings of long fallen angels – new born wings unfurl behind. Ready to guide and fly with us – if we dare to look and hold out our hand – and trust. Then we will rise and rise and rise. Because that’s what we chose, because now, we can. I’ll meet you at were we all want to be, not were ‘others’ want us to be. We began with the hope of choice. Our one and only prize. . . life!
I wrote this on my Facebook page over the Christmas period. Our first Christmases sober can be utterly terrifying and laced with relapse-filled landmines. The pressure to drink over the festive period can be crushing.
To non-addicts, the following might sound like a series of jokey and slightly crass paragraphs. But to us, it’s how we have to skew our re-programmed brains in tough times. We have to do this in order to get through another day sane, another day sober and another day alive! Basically, whatever it takes psychologically and physically to get you through any public drinking/fighting/arguing/vomiting event such as Christmas, and come out the other side sober – keep doing that! No matter how seemingly ridiculous.
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How do you stay sober through the Christmas period during recovery?
The same as any other time of the year. Dig in, grit your teeth and talk to/ignore the appropriate people. And don’t murder/maim anyone.
Grit your teeth so hard they almost feel like they’re going to shatter in your mouth when somebody says something crappy to you. They won’t shatter, but it will stop you shattering their face or saying something you regret when you’re about to go postal. People will mistake gritting your teeth for a smile (or wind). We know better. They will think we’re just being happy and joining in the fun, or holding in a dangerous fart. But we’re actually stopping ourselves from nailing their face to a door, thus us avoiding jail time. Everyone’s a winner!
Dig in so deep you almost feel like you’re burying yourself when you’d rather be burying the person giving you grief. But the hole we dig for them is called a grave. Us ‘digging in deep’ is our impenetrable fortress. Our safe place were nothing bad gets in. I’d rather spend time in my fortress than picking up the soap for ‘Mr Big’ in a prison shower for digging a grave. With my fragile physique, everyone in prison is ‘Mr Big’ and my botty is a temple. So, fortress of safety is the way to go! Virginity intact! Hurrah!
Talk to everyone you need to talk to that makes you feel good about yourself. Everyone who has got you this far! You didn’t bug them before and you wont be bugging them now. And who knows, they may be needing you! Don’t limit it to humans either: pets or farm animals are good allies. I recommend goats. They don’t talk much but they are fantastic listeners and they will never judge you or talk shit behind your back. Especially if you have lots of food. Lots and lots of food!
Ignore negative people. If you can’t, grit your teeth even harder and make more excuses to walk away from them. What’s a good excuse? Tell them you’re visiting a goat in you’re secret fortress to save your virginity. Granted they may breathalyse you for fear that you’re pissed as a fart but at least you’ll proudly blow a big fat zero! That’ll confuse the crap out of them. Hey, new Christmas party game – Breathaliser Bingo! You’ll win every time!
Because you’re still sober!!!!!!!
So dig in, grit your teeth and avoid prison showers. Rinse and repeat. Job done! But most of all . . . have a good Christmas.
Ho, ho, ho!
Early in sobriety, it seems much of our time is spent trying to explain to non-addicts (family, friends, loved ones, work-mates, partners) what addiction is because they don’t ‘get it.’ It’s not their fault, I totally understand. It must be so frustrating for them.
But we are so busy saving our own lives every day and getting on with recovering that we don’t have the time to explain to everyone who doesn’t ‘get it.’ We are teaching by example simply by ‘getting on with it’ and living as well as we can. We begin with nothing! We are new-born. We are seeing the world for the first time. Our first steps are baby steps. They are terrifying.
It’s a twenty-four hour job just staying sober and holding it all together is stunningly hard. We haven’t the time to explain the massive can of worms that is addiction to everyone we meet just because they don’t understand why we couldn’t just stop for all that time. Couldn’t just drink ‘normally.’
Professionals have been struggling for decades to define, pin-point, track it down, research, treat and explain . . . so how the hell are we supposed to do it? The professionals are still struggling!
I mean, how do you explain: wishing the next drink would kill you. Smelling so bad but not caring. Running out of hiding space for bottles and cans until the floors are rolling in glass or tin. Wearing the same clothes for days, weeks or months. All control of bodily functions are lost but it’s ok just because that’s the way it is. Sobbing your heart out for no apparent reason. In pain and seeing your own blood so often you could identify it in a line-up. But it’s inconvenient to go to the doctor because waiting rooms cut into your drinking time. The phones are unplugged or switched off, the doors are locked and the curtains are never open.
Anything to do with the people you love the most are cancelled because they can’t get hold of you. Nobody can. You’ll stop drinking tomorrow but you don’t: it’s Christmas, new year, my birthday, your birthday, week off work, holiday – eventually you run out of excuses and it’s simply, just another day. Tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes. Ever!
Eventually you don’t/can’t even try anymore because your body is so chemically dependant, it won’t let you anymore. But your daily prayer is that the next drink kills you. But it doesn’t. But you still pray for it and you still pick up that bottle or the can, praying at the alter of alcohol, because all other gods have failed. Nothing else matters.
That’s just a mere fraction of what was, my daily life. My addiction/your addiction/our addiction! Everyone’s addiction! Whatever the substance.
How can you explain that to someone who doesn’t ‘get it?’ Life’s too short to even try. They should just be happy we’re alive and brave enough to stay that way.
So, why/how are we alive?
I’ve seen many people pushed back into active addiction by constantly trying to explain and justify it. If people don’t ‘get it’ it’s their problem – not yours! You’re way too busy living with addiction and ripping its throat out!
Just keep doing that! Every day.
The biggest steps you’ll ever take!
Just because we’re in recovery, doesn’t mean that we’re not allowed to get angry at the injustices around us. Especially when it negatively impacts the important services that we use to help us every day. Some things make the top of my head volcanic, especially the disproportionate (ridiculous) use of much needed money. I wrote the words below a few months back. My anger hasn’t diminished – I just word things better so my disgust is very clear. I’ve tweaked it quite a bit as my claws and teeth have sharpened over time.
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When I first came back up north last year, the town had a perfectly good bus station: you waited for a bus, you got on the bus, you went home or to wherever. Job done! Then one day, the powers that be, ripped it down for apparently no good reason whatsoever. Today I used the brand-new station. Again, it’s perfectly good – you wait for a bus, you get on the bus, you go home or to wherever. Job done! Exactly the same. The only difference being, it cost over fifteen million quid to build!
We still have homeless human beings freezing to death in shop doorways. This morning I saw two sleeping souls in the entrance of a bank. The irony is a humanitarian blasphemy.
Alcohol and drug abuse continue to kill, tearing families apart in ever growing numbers as addiction rips through society like a plague. But our recovery services have no money to employ enough staff to cope with the growing demand. The workload simply gets more and more insane as workers try to bend time to accommodate every client. There aren’t enough hours in the day!
Domestic violence and rape victims struggle to be heard, treated and stay safe because of massive cuts. Single mothers struggle to pay childcare just to earn a living every day.
Mental health and the NHS get kicked in the teeth on a daily basis.
Everything seems to rely on public kindness, charity donations and seemingly nothing at all runs without the goodwill, time and effort of unpaid volunteers.
Everyone around us suffers and goes through hell as a way of life because that’s just the way it is. Because everything is run on a shoestring so frayed it barely exists anymore. People are literally dying on their feet because money just can’t be found. Anywhere!
But hey! Nice, brand-new, shiny bus station nobody wanted or asked for, that does exactly the same as the old one did, which everyone was happy with in the first place!
Hope those millions were worth it eh!
One of the many, many benefits of recovery is rediscovering old passions. One of mine is creative writing. Here’s a little something I wrote when I was bored on a bus journey. The picture is one of a growing series of recovery memes I write for myself as backgrounds for my phone. I call them Word Noodles.
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‘We all hide our scars, pain and shocking darkness with the thinnest of fragile skin. But sometimes they bleed through as life catches us out. As the architects and artists of our own souls we build and paint with the only tools we have at hand. Our palettes may vary and the way in which we re-build and re-paint ourselves. But we are all one as we repair a worn and tattered spirit with striking new colours and washes of a new and stunning life. We are all so very the same and all so very strong in our fight. The world can be frightening. But the world is only a canvas and together, we will paint it with pride and love and joy and awe!’