Monday, 4 October 2010

Ouch, My Head Hurts (Day 1)

So once again,
here I go again.

I have no idea how long it has been since I started drinking again - too long by all accounts - but I know how long I haven't: 1 day.

I feel like shit again, I have lost contact with family and friends, neglected all my commitments and finances.

Today I have just tried to keep busy, eat good food, and stay in the company of others. As it is quarter-to-midnight it appears to have worked. Tomorrow means finding a meeting and admitting to what happened. God I hate doing this. Again.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

All Quiet on the Western Front

Just a quick note really, as I haven't written anything for a while...

Things continue to go well!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

(Don't) Do the Hockey Cockey!

Over the last few years I have been in and out of the rooms, once staying dry for a year but for the most part weeks months or perhaps days at time.

On of the things that has always puzzled me about this is the determination with which I stop and yet the ease with which I pick up. There hasn't been much 'white knuckling' or deliberation. While I have wanted to not drink I have found it easy, and when I have decided to drink it has been a whim, I just think why not and do. Normally it has been around 11 or 12 at night, and I think 'hell, why not?'

Two days ago, Friday night, I had such an urge - and the normal thought process began - why not, on the way home, pick up a few beers, it doesn't matter, and so on...

But I didn't. For the first time in recovery I didn't. I mulled it over, thought of the consequences, of what I have been building and decided not to.

This may not seem much, but for me it was a really profound moment. For the first time it wasn't just not wanting to drink, it was deciding not to even though I wanted to.

Day 42... (and still here!)

So it has been a while since I last wrote an entry, but for once no news is good news!

I have done Step 3, and have been living it for a couple of weeks, praying and just observing life.

I have had three very manic, and fulfilling, weeks of teaching. As it was my 1st job there was a lot of planning for me to do, so I had to put in a lot more hours than otherwise would have been necessary. I also housesat for my sister (a house, 3 cats and 5 foreign students!), so I really was keeping busy.

It is not very long ago, 43 days to be precise, that I wouldn't have been able to do this, or moreover couldn't be relied on to.

It is wonderfully to be able to be a constructive, helpful, giving member of my both family and my community. For all changes I had to make and battles I need to win, I also had to add to my self-esteem and sel-confidence; working, having people look up to me, being responsible for others has been a revelation.

Not only have I enjoyed what I have been doing I have thrived at it.

Step 3


I offer myself to Thee - to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.

Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.

Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.

May I do Thy will always!

Saturday, 17 July 2010


I did Step 2 on Sunday. I got offered a job on Monday. (There is a God!)

The day after the world cup ended, which for me couldn't have been more perfect, I get a job!

So the last week has been satisfying busy*! I am now teaching, and next week I will also be hosting 5 students on behalf of my sister.

The downside, is that I havent been to a meeting for a week, and will struggle for the next week too. That said, I will be meeting my sponsor tomorrow, and we will be tackling Step 3.

So happy - if rather busy - days. I know I need to remain grounded, but I am so pleased that for once things are coming together. I can look back over the last couple of weeks, of the progress, and be truly thankfully for what this program and its members have given me.

*In fact rather manic - my first teaching job, there have been hours and hours of lesson planning, and a fair bit of nerves!

Faith, Hope & Gratitude

Something occurred to me soon after doing Step 2: it is the faith that is the most important part of step 2; at least to me (at least at the moment!)

If I have faith that there is something somewhere that will help me, guide me, and support me, I have something that can both be there for me when times are hard, but also something for me to pin my gratitude to when things are going well.

In a way, it does not matter if there is anything there - moreover that I remember to be grateful when things go well, and that things will get better when they are difficult.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Step 2

Ok, I have finished reading We Agnostics, which was my suggested reading for Step 2, and I had a lot of identification.

I have just re-read what I wrote under 'We Agnostics', and I was amazed at how much there was in common. From my intellectually mocking of organised religion and blind faith, to my faith in reason and what can be empirically deduced. Also, having been open-minded, or had exposure to spiritual/ religious experiences earlier on in life, but having rejected them in later life.

So far, my recovery has been rooted in knowledge and understanding of addiction. I know about relapse cycles, old behaviours, I have had a chance to analyse my feeling and my past. Yet this, so far, hasn't got me very far. I need something extra to help guide me, give me the strength, and instill a sense of purpose. I have come to strongly believe that I will find this through a higher power. It is not something I can switch on, but it is something I can open my heart and mind to.

And I have. So last night, I got on my knees and prayed: as it says in the book "Some of us grow into it more slowly. But He has come to all who have honestly sought Him."

Thursday, 8 July 2010

We Agnostics

Ok, I am doing Step 2, and I have a query: What about We Fully-Paid-Up-Richard-Dawkins-Brand-of-Atheists?!

How have other people, atheists, got beyond this point? (I think this is where we Brits differ from our American cousins: church attendance in this country is a minority rather than a majority.)

As a child I was very spiritual. My mother was into Buddhism when I was very young, and this is something that has stayed with me, but this is more of a philosophy, a way of life, than religion (i.e. the idea of a god in Buddhism is somewhat irrelevant*). Later in life I grew interested in Hinduism, but in my early 20s I rejected it - along with any other god based rhetoric - and have ever since rejected any notion of god.

So how do I get past this point? As the book says "we found ourselves thinking, when enchanted by a starlit night, "who then made all this?" There was a feeling of awe and wonder, but it was fleeting and soon lost". Well no, not really - I just thinking big-bang, hydrogen, light waves… ('wow, bet he's romantic'!!!)

So how do I get in touch with that lost sense of spirituality I had up till my teens? Haven't got an answer for that, but one thing is for sure - I am willing to try. And as someone once said**, he was asked "what you would like God to be?" He wrote down a lists of things, was then told "you can begin with that!".

So that is what I will be doing - write a list of what this higher power will be to me. My list, my god. I just hope I can rekindle that wonderment of yesteryear…

I would love to hear from anyone who has struggled with the idea of a god, or a higher power, and how you came to move beyond it.

*At least that is my reading of it, I do not profess to be an expert (and indeed I refer to Theravada Buddhism, other strands do have more 'mystic' elements, e.g. the more well-known Tibetan Buddhism)

** Charlie and Joe do an excellent read through and interpretation of the Big Book, it can be found HERE.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Pearls of Wisdom #2

"The odds are good, but the goods are odd"

Relationships with others in recovery. Yes, there will be plenty of opportunities to get together with someone else from the rooms, but that ain't a good idea.

I know I personally have co-dependency issues, and prior to coming into recovery I had never been out of a relationship. I had jumped from one failing relationship to the next 'ad infinitum'.

The feelings that arise when I am looking at myself, my past, and my behaviours are difficult to deal with, and I am going to have a difficult and challenging time. I am aware that being in a relationship is a brilliant way to avoid, or fix, this feelings, as well as giving me security and companionship in an otherwise daunting time for me.

So for the time being, I shall be steering clear of any relationship, in the long-term of any relationship from within the rooms...

Pearls of Wisdom #1

One day at a time.

I thought I would add little nuggets of wisdom as and when I hear them. Every meeting I have ever gone to I have always come away having heard something that I am grateful to have heard. So I take no credit for these, they are merely things I heard that make sense to me!

When I look into the future, things can seem very daunting, the further I look ahead the more uncertainty there is. It is very easy for me, especially when I end up back at 'day 1', wanting to be back on track with months, if not years, of sobriety behind me. There are all the plans I have that I am itching to get on with again that suddenly, with a clear head, it seems imperative to get on with. So I have to remember to live in the moment, take each day is it comes and not get carried away.

Little Fluffy Clouds

Things are going really well at the moment. I am not sure if this is what people refer to as a 'pink cloud', but I am certainly at a point where I still remember how grim it was, yet feel pretty good, mentally and physically. (This has in the past been superseded with feeling pretty good, but forgetting how bad it was....)

So, I havent written anything for a couple of days, and have been itching to (I say too busy, some might say a small matter of priorities!)

So, I met up with my sponsor on the weekend, and did my step 1. In a nutshell, it occurred to in much the same way as a beautiful lake would become pretty grim if left to stagnate, and in much the same it will drastically improve with a bit of TLC; if I drink I stagnate - in pretty much every sense of the word.

Also, after I went to a meeting, and as my sponsor seems to know every one (or as someone said, everyone worth knowing) I got to meet some more people. After 4 of us went for a coffee (joys of recovery) from which I only got back at 10.30. It might have only been something simple and casual, but how much I enjoyed the evening. Spiritually I progressed, I put work into myself, socially I got out and about, and I enjoyed a pleasant evening with friends without drinking (nor indeed thinking about drinking.

The meeting, saturday's, was one I had been going to regularly, was one I had been doing service at and I have slotted back into greeting there - so I have now got pretty much all of it in place: sponsor, plenty of meetings, service and steps...

Can't fail, surely!?

Thursday, 1 July 2010


What is pride? Or more importantly for me, what is pride to someone in recovery?

'Pride' is something I have always thought of as a good thing: taking pride in something I've done, and so on. Yet pride, in this stage of my life, is now deemed a negative thing, and I can see why.

It is pride that stops me asking for help, it is pride that stops me admitting when I am struggling, and it is pride that hinders my return to the rooms after a relapse.

Over the last few months I have had cause to contemplate why I have kept ending up in the same place: drinking once again.

Its not for lack of knowing better. When I very 1st came into recovery I spent a year in rehab, and I have now spent months and months attending meetings - I have knowledge, I am self aware, of both my behaviours and their consequences, in short I know right for wrong.

I was talking to a friend last night, explaining as best I could the recent pattern (revolving door). When I said I wasn't good at being open and talking about my problems she disagreed. Then and there it occurred to me, I can in hindsight very happily exclaim how I felt why I did what I did, but at the time is when I struggle: I hate to admit I am finding things difficult, that I am struggling, or that I need help.

And that is where my pride has fine from being a good thing to a bad thing. We all need help from time to time, I would be there for someone if they put their hand out to me:I just need to learn to put my own outonce in a while.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Step 1

For step one, I will read The Doctor's Opinion, and I have been asked to list 20 incidents, results of drinking, that show how unmanageable it got. (Is that the same for everyone, do different sponsors/sponsees do things differently? Who knows, here goes...)
  1. Alcohol = the months at a time of isolation, hopelessness, and depression - not speaking to anyone, holed away in my room.
  2. Alcohol = poor health, terrible physical well begin: poor diet, diarrhea, random aches and pains.
  3. Alcohol = waking up every morning with brutal hangover, both mind and body, which only recommencing with drinking again will cure.
  4. Alcohol = anxiety and stress (especially during 1.) for my family and loved ones.
  5. Alcohol = drink driving / damage to car.
  6. Alcohol = criminal damage, being arrested (and -> 4. -> 1...)
  7. Alcohol = no degree / no career (no maintaining anything!)
  8. Alcohol = lost property: lost mobile phones, money, untold valuables.
  9. Alcohol = waking up with people I shouldnt have (e.g. K when going out with N).
  10. Alcohol = losing many people I care about, through my poor behaviour and choices (e.g. L/ N/ C/ M...)
  11. Alcohol = disastrous interview for M&S.
  12. Alcohol = 1/3 of my life 'wasted'.
  13. Alcohol = lying & deceit (e.g. 'Laura'/'Emma' to G).
  14. Alcohol = over sleeping. (When plastering, BT, Pub...)
  15. Alcohol = no control of my spending/CC use - just booze booze booze, money or not.
  16. Alcohol = losing job, cheques bouncing, arguments with C, fleeing to Wales.
  17. Alcohol = fleeing from Wales - as opposed to 'place to get head together'!
  18. Alcohol = being abusive and snide and nasty, e.g. M in Kingston.
  19. Alcohol = embarrassing and inappropriate flirting (with C @ Illusions, K.C. end of year, C.T.)
  20. Alcohol = stealing drinks when staying round peoples' houses. (L's, M's, N's, Mum & Dads...)
So there are some of my cringe inducing moments, although somehow at the time I could have explained them, or rather though it somehow normal. Or at least a few more drinks and I would have forgotten in no time.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Honesty & Gratitude

Somewhat unrelated, so bear with me!

First of, I have a bit of a dilemma. When I returned to 'the rooms' 8 days ago, one of things I really struggled with was coming to terms with the fact I had relapsed, again, and see the people I had met from before.

When I bumped into my sponsor, with whom I had previously met up with just the once (he outlined the requirements for step one, and then I relapsed before we met up again), he didn't really remember me, and assumed he had agreed to be my sponsor, but we hadn't met up yet.

This for me is a relief, as it allows me to avoid the feelings of having started, stopped, and failed. I feel a little dishonest letting this self-serving assumption slide: so I shall point this out when we meet tomorrow.

Secondly, last night when I was t a meeting, a few people mentioned the benefits of a gratitude list. So this is my gratitude list, all the things I am thankful for today:
  • My health. There isn't anything wrong with me today, I have my health and all my limbs. Can't ask for more than that.
  • Where I live, I live in a lovely house, in central Hove, with lovely people. It is warm, secure, and has everything I need (except hot water at the mo!)
  • My parents, and my family. Who have stuck by me through thick and thin. They only want the best for me, are incredibly patient and forever understanding.
  • My friends. I have a wonderful support network that - should I choose to, and I should more often - will be there for me whenever I need them
  • My education and skills. I am fortunate enough to have qualifications that mean I can go out and find work. Many people come out of addiction with a lot of catching up to do. I have now got my TEFL qualification, with which I can teach, and even travel the world.
  • I am financially secure. While there are a couple of problems I need to sort out, they are solvable.
  • I live in a society that is able and willing to help me. I can get support from both the government and groups like AA, that will help me get my life back on track.
  • I have a car, and a clean license - I have freedom, and even better job prospects because of this.
  • The weather is stunning at the moment. Which makes living by the sea especially wonderful.
Well there is more I can add: I have the internet, a phone a watch and so on; but I think that is the most the biggies: all in all I am pretty lucky.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Wow 2 Posts in 1 Day, what the...

Just got back from a meeting, a very cosy meeting in Kemp Town, which I hadn't been to before.

I thought I would add something as i am feeling very positive at the moment, in a way that has been missing for a number of months. In short, I am back on track: if only at the very beginning once again.

One thing I have done (hence why I had no excuse to not go this evening) is add all the local meetings to my diary. They are included in the bottom of this page, so if you do find yourself in need - there you go!

The meeting itself was a 'step meeting', this one on step 6. The steps, twelve of them, go as follows:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The only ones I can get my head around at the moment are:

1. I know I cannot drink, I can not do it socially, intermittently or anything like casually.
2. I have turned to others for help - I cannot do this on my own.

4. I have faults, and need to work on them.

8. Bit of a toughy - but I can see the point, to draw a line under the past, and let go (and in turn not make the same mistakes again!)
9. Say sorry (and again, do not make the same mistakes again!)
10. Don't make the same mistakes again!

You may notice that basically any with something along the lines of 'god' in them I am struggling with. I need not worry about that now though, that much I know. I had started 1 before my relapse - but that is as far as I got. (Which reminds me, I still haven't got on to my sponsor about restarting where we left off.)

"They are in that order for a reason" I have been told, so hopefully, by the race of 'whatever' it will all work out in the end.

An update

Today has been pretty bizarre so far. But before I get to that...

The last few days have been good. I have returned from London and had a few very pleasant and (from the point of view of not drinking) easy days.

I was at a meeting the other day (last Wednesday) and just before, while smoking outside, a lady explained how she'd had a drink, and hated it, and was coming to her 1st meeting since to get back on track. Something occurred to me then, and it might sound obvious but it was a real epiphany. I have been struggling with the fact that I have relapsed, over the last few months, so often: stopping and starting every few days. Each time with a new resolve, yet equally tempted back so easily.

(To try and put this in perspective: I hate drinking, or at least where it leads me, and when I try to stop I desperately want to so much. Yet I repeatedly, despite this, pick up a drink at the drop of a hat - with no internal struggle.)

Frankly, I still want to drink. I like a lot about it. Lets face it drinking is popular for a reason. It does things to people which people like. It gave me confidence, helped me let my hair down, it made me feel good, relaxed and (to a degree) to forget about my worries.

When I have been drinking, a relapse, I get to the point when I desperately want to stop, so when I do it is relatively easy: the cost clearly out weigh the benefits. Yet give it a few weeks, then there will come a point where I am back to wanting the relaxation, the confidence, the toning down of feelings.

I realised that, basically, rather than hoping that some sort of permanent state of not wanting to drink will somehow kick-in, I just have to accept that there will be desire to drink. I just have to live with it.

Oh, and I nearly forgot: why today has been bizarre. This morning I spoke to a friend. She is a devout, and somewhat evangelical christian, who I prayed with. In AA people talk a lot about passing one's will over to a 'higher power', and also the benefits of prayer (there is a humility in this, in asking for help). Well anyway, we prayed.

And somehow it was a really special moment. In so many ways. It was a difficult thing to bring myself to do, but I put my pride aside and with humility got on my knees.

And I can thank my higher power that there was someone will to do that for me.

Friday, 25 June 2010

No News Is Good News

(I am a bundle of contradictions!)

Really should have added this a few days ago, but went to a meeting on wednesday, saw my sponsor there, which is good - can start the steps again, and yesterday I came to london to see a friend.

Today I have woken up happy, positive, and most importantly sober.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

No News Is Bad News

Well I have't written anything for a while which is isn't a good thing - I haven't been to any meetings and yesterday cracked and had a drink (at a bbq offered a glass of champagne...)

Well not exactly one drink...

Champagne was the hardest thing for me to get my head round giving up - it has so many associations (luxury, celebration, success...) that I always worried how I would deal with a situation where it was about (e.g. a wedding). Well I guess I know now.

That said, its not as if the choice of drink was to blame, more my state mind.

So once here I go again: Day 1...

Friday, 18 June 2010

Good Day/Bad Day II: The Return

Ok so pretty much the same again, very pleasant — saw my parents, played golf, even watch a dreadful football and still resisted the urge to drink! But not very constructive. So the 3rd day of 90in90, and still only 1 meeting. Guess I shall be doing 2 a day for a while then.

Been feeling very irritable this evening. It was ok earlier, but my housemates are really pissing me off at the moment — I shoved headphones in to watch the match earlier as just hearing the inane comments* was driving me potty.

Well there are positives. But I am aware of stagnating. In the past I have either been moving forwards or backwards, but never stood still.

* I am sure they weren't even, it's my stuff not theirs.

Good Day/Bad Day

Ok, on one front good day: for a start pleasant. Spent much of it outdoors, had a BBQ with friends (for all my faults, there is one thing I do well - cook).

Also, finally got round to sorting out finances, or at least one half of the problem.

And, I didn't have a drink.

Equally, another front not good day: didn't do meeting 2 on day 2 (of 90 meetings in 90 days).

So I am now going to have to try and fit in 2 tomorrow. Amongst a lot of other things I have planned (support meeting, see family (& dinner), plus there is a world cup going on people.

Hmmm, 3 on Saturday!?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Day 3

Wow - success, I made it to AA. A very nice local meeting in the Allen Centre, if you live locally, and ever consider going to a meeting — this one is highly recommended.

So I nearly didn't go. Managed to do the 'better just do this 1st' thing, and then was late, then drove around the block a bit — thinking of excuses why I should just go home instead. Nevertheless, I made it through the door. And even opened my mouth. Big gold star for me then.

It really is difficult to put into words how difficult I found it to go back. In part my confidence and assuredness previously, in part that each time I relapse seems harder to explain, or justify, to myself, and partly just the shame of drinking, and knowing I should know better.

There were 3 groups I was regularly going to - Saturdays, Mondays, and tonight's - and each will be just as difficult. However one thing I do have to remember is "Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints."

Which happily was being read out just as I walked in!


So, its Day 2 (although by the time I am now writing this is it 7 minutes into day 3, but what the hell - I won't tell anyone if you won't). Felt shitty when I woke up this morning. I dropped off around 10 am, and woke up 5 hours later.

I was supposed to go to an AA meeting today. My first this time round. I find it's really important to get to a meeting. I feel I should, if only to cement the agreement mentally. The 1st day I felt a little to rough - and let myself of - but I should have gone today.

But the local one is in a mental hospital, Mill View, and I had been once before, felt really uneasy and just left.

I know I need to, as I havent been for a month or so - and during that time have slipped in and out of drinking. The difference with other times when I have stopped, for longer, is meetings. By going I am saying 'enough is enough', and also I do genuinely get the support, care, and encouragement that I cannot do this without.

So I will go tomorrow (or rather today).


Monday, 14 June 2010

Oh yeah...

So having done my (in my head at least) ever so clever sounding intro, I thought I should actually explain how I feel.

Like shit.

In a nutshell that pretty much sums it up.

Ok, so firstly - I had my fill of beer last night: so my head hurts. My body wants it fill of beer now: so it hurts.

Not only that (and perhaps more importantly) all the niggling doubts and fears, worries and responsibilities which I have so far ignored are looming in the back of my head - all voices which I would much rather drown out with vast amount of ethanol.

A responsibility left untended becomes a problem.

Ok, so my personal finances - my unfettered pursuit of drink tends to lend itself to the poor maintenance of my personal finances. Which in other words means the cheques are about to bounce. I received a letter from the council about unpaid fines, a letter from my bank about unpaid bills, and a letter from a debt agency about unpaid fees. Not good.

Friendships (and indeed relationships) have been equally poorly maintained. Wow, that's an epic understatement. You probably know more for what I have written so far than my friends do of where and how I have been recently.

And lastly, this is the 1st time I have been here. Picking myself up and starting again, and therefore not the 1st time I have said "I'm not going back 'there' again". So it feels pretty shit, whether its to an old friend a room of strangers, having to go in and say "this went wrong, this is what I am going to do this time" and "it will work", (especially when I am struggling to believe it myself).

It kinda sucks having to hold my hands up and say - I fucked up, again. (But it won't happen again!)

Day 1

I woke up this morning feeling like shit, and thought I ought to do something about it. Mind you this isn't the fist time I have woke up feeling like shit, and thought I ought to do something about it.

So what shall I do differently this time? What do I need to do differently this time?

The first time, I thought I was cured (bye-bye alcohol, so long fair well), the next time cleverer (ok, so maybe AA is a good idea) the last time cracked it (sponsor - check, meeting - check, steps - check).

Yet here I am: Day 1.