Join Date: Jun 2015
My Story, sowhatsnext
If you are struggling in sobriety this might be for you?
I deal in words and the human condition, observations of the latter, unlocked by combinations of the former. These two occupations are the bases of my life, I exchange words for remuneration, they house and feed me and have allowed me to find personal freedom. The order in which I choose to assemble the written form of language is rooted entirely in teachings of my own addictions. The vessel of my freedom sailed the Sea's of booze for twenty seven years, short periods of land based excursions had been experienced, mooring ropes were tied to bollards on the shores of Sobriety. Every attempt to stay on sober land was overruled by the call of the Sea's, my maritime wonderings were not deemed to be over, the solid ground of Sobriety was always waved away from the bow of my boat, as I rode the waves once more. No matter how positive the experience proved to be, the deep longing to remove the stability of standing on sober ground was enforced by addictive power. The turbulent and unpredictable waters of alcohol beckoned me to set sail again, a few weeks of sobriety always gave me injections of health and vitality, with the hangover's out of the way, motivation to pursue my passions returned, days filled themselves with action and clarity. The Sea's of booze lost their turbulent natures, I would stand on the metaphorical beach as I healed, watching the calm waters lapping gently on the sandy shores, inviting me in, begging me to climb back on the boat and untie the ropes for a pleasure cruise. The shipping forecast told me the storm was over, that this journey would be one of delights on the newly tranquil waters. The tides had turned and those days of being thrown around the decks, at the mercy of waves and winds I could not control, were over. This time, the Sea's of booze would be kind, still and pleasant. Watching these waters from the beach and hearing promises I wanted to believe, seduced by the denial of future storms in the settled weather of temporary sobriety, I dutifully boarded and sailed into new sunsets, always certain the hurricane had spent its energy and the Sea's had been tamed. The next storm always hides beyond the horizon, invisible as I embarked once more into settled waters and clear skies but it came, in time, in the wake of a tornado, a cyclone always brewed.
The nature of addiction is a mirror of nature herself, there are sunny days to be enjoyed but when the storms do hit, which they always do, excessive abuse of any substance steals your shelter. There is no solace from the raging winds and rain, you stand alone, exposed and battered, stripped of the protection needed to ride out the inclement weather. The constant barrage of facing this task alone does not cease, freezing cold and wet to the bone of your character, soaked by addiction and exhausted by the demands it places on you, just to survive the weather it brings. One day, somewhere down the line, the storm is too fierce, the shelter that has been taken from you is needed or your own nature will kill you. This ferocious storm is not raging for those around you, their day is a Sunday stroll on a beautiful afternoon. The forces at work are the nature of your addiction, tearing the core of your being into shreds of tattered fabric, clinging desperately to the flagpole of your character as it stands alone and is slowly deconstructed by the substance of your unravelling. That substance can be alcohol, drugs or behavioural obligations, addiction is not fussy about the delivery method or the merging of weather fronts that create the storms, your addiction is the storm, it lives in your core, is personal and refined just for you. When your own perfect storm hits, the nature of addiction has consumed all sensibility. That shelter must be found or you lose the ability to stay upright in the vortex of swirling misery, the storms of your own making, they will consume you, their power is too great to be endured.
My perfect storm rolled in, I attempted to face it but of course, I could not. The coping tools had been removed, my shelters had collapsed and I was naked, exposed and engulfed by the damage of my storm, isolated on my lonely boat and fully at the mercy of addiction and its power to destroy. There was no more island hopping for pleasure on this voyage, the other passengers had left, my storm had broken through personal barriers and the winds of torment that I housed spilled into the lives of those around me, one by one, they had to leave, to protect the shelters of their own sanctuaries. The lighthouse had been obscured in my storm, my boat was obliterated on the rocky cliffs, the foothills of the land of Sobriety. If I chose to carry on with this voyage I would have to swim in the Sea of booze, until I drowned, for my boat was broken beyond repair. Having stripped myself of all personal worth, respect and self esteem, left with a choice to climb the cliffs or drown, I chose to climb, it was not an easy one.
I have done this alone, one AA meeting was enough to make me realise that was not for me, it was not a bad meeting, I just knew that format would not help me, personally. The first six months were mainly a terrible affair, some good days sprang up from nowhere, I lost weight, concentrated on a fitness program and my health improved, massively, but... I was so desperately lonely, my personality had vanished, I spent the vast proportion of my time on my own and the days were long, often tortuous and I experienced such undiluted boredom that there were times I felt I had lost my mind. Concentration was a rare commodity, simple tasks took effort, reading a book was often impossible, pages went by without the words sinking in, I would get to the end of the story and have no idea what had happened to create this outcome. People had become alien entities, I could not function around them, interaction had been removed as an option, my loneliness found no solace in company, my isolation had become complete. Difficult days. I had made an absolute commitment to being sober, even in the darkest depths of personal torture, guilt, shame, regrets, blame, depression and anxiety, I refused to falter. Temptation was huge, I knew a few whiskeys or a couple of bottles of wine would bring release from the torment, on a temporary basis, this battle was ever present for months. I held on to the fact that my boat was smashed and if I went for the shortest dip in the Sea of booze, the storm would come again, it would drown me eventually, I had accepted that alcohol no longer had any positive aspects left to offer me.
I am a year sober now, tapping in to quite how dark the first few months were is not easy, not because I cannot cope with thinking about it and turn away, it is down to the simple fact that I am different now. My ability to function mentally has moved on, as I heal and progress in sobriety, the unbalanced mix of chemicals in my brain has stabilised, the concoction of imbalance released by confused neurotransmitters has gone. This toxic soup of brain chemicals, manufactured by booze, had created all those feelings. They were very real at the time and felt hideous but in their absence, my brain now sends the correct mixture into my system and I feel good, it is worth the effort, I promise. The days of lonely abandon, torture and self loathing were diabolical, they took me to the brink of endurance, sometimes beyond that and I collapsed under the weight of the burden. I did not give in. I sat with the horror, forced myself to be present in it, explore the pain of genuine emotions, understand their secrets and listen to the lessons they held. Alcohol or drugs are the great nullifiers of these lessons, as a drunk I did not care or listen. The storms of which I speak, the ones that rage inside the practicing addict, are the result of this ability to ignore the warnings of your emotions, listening to the warnings they provide creates the templates on which positive decisions are made. Shutting out the teacher of your own lessons, by drinking or drug use, only serves to submit your emotional responses, to imprison them in servitude of your addiction. When the lessons of your true emotional response to any given situation, or set of circumstances, become so deeply hidden from yourself, no accurate bases for your choices can be established. All decisions become a product of the addiction, not a personal choice, the storm has you locked in its eye and destruction prevails. Initially this devastation is internal but the power it holds cannot be contained, it will spill out and wreak havoc in your actions and relationships, once your storm is unleashed, the people who care about you sustain damage too. There are no exceptions to this, addiction destroys lives, the deeper you explore the realms of an addiction, the worse this gets, in every case. You are not the one true addict of such high substance that can pull off the miracle of living a happy and meaningful life, in harmony with self abuse, this state of being is a fallacy, it does not exist. If your life has not yet been decimated by addiction, forcing you to live in misery and manipulation, waking up every day with the physical symptoms of the hangover, only cured by the administration of your poison of choice. The day will arrive, if you are an addict, a true addict, this addiction will steal your life, at some point. If you choose to abstain from using the drink, drug or behaviour that causes this imbalance, you will heal, chemical stability will return, your life will improve, all the tricks your inner addict plays on you will soften, recede and maybe one day, no longer rule you.
I distinctly remember feeling that all my happiness had been used, there was none left, ever, all gone. If I had to live without drinking booze I might as well not bother with the living part, there seemed little point. This is nonsense, this is addiction clinging on to its own twisted version of hope, the hope that you will not beat it, mind trickery through chemical imbalance, nothing more. Happiness, fulfilment, enjoyment, satisfaction, self esteem, personal worth, optimism, hope and energy will return when your brain has been given adequate time to regroup, find balance and send out the correct mixture of chemicals that allow these feelings. If you are in early recovery, listen to these words, they way you feel now is temporary, it will pass, dedicate yourself to achieving this, give this process every ounce of energy you have, throw your entire being into it, be selfish in this goal, put it before anything else. Your addiction is far more selfish and destructive than a short period of dedicated selfishness to achieve the rewards of sustained mental health. These rewards might seem impossible but they are not, they exist for you, as they have for every addict that has managed to stick with recovery. Refuse the seduction of temptation and the gift of healing will arrive, guaranteed. It is mind numbingly difficult at times, you will travel through despair and hatred, shame and guilt, these are your lessons, if you learn from them, the good stuff does await, the brokenness you feel can be fixed, will be fixed, if you persist.
The human body does not provide a hangover for no reason, the banging headache, dehydration, lack of any motivation, sickness, shaking, sweating, depression, irritation and general feeling of despair has a biological function. Your body is begging you, please stop doing this, in return for the constant influx of toxins and poison, the hangover is nature's warning system, listen to it, learn from the demands of your body Are all the symptoms listed above not enough to take the biological prompt? The combination of the above are not requesting that you add more poison, they are screaming for you to stop, in glorious protest. A hangover is not an imposter to be mastered and tamed enough that you can function with its presence, it is a clear demand for a ceasefire.
A year on this journey, this climb, I am a living product of this process. I have found peace, my concentration has emerged from the fog of booze, I eat well, sleep well, my body is strong, fit and healthy, my thoughts are my own again, they do not spiral and haunt me, I have happiness and my emotional state is stable. Life is still a complicated mix of issues to be dealt with, the world has not suddenly become a utopian paradise as I heal. The difference is that in sobriety, I have tools again, ones that I can use to deal with problems effectively, not badly and drunk. My inner storm is over, there are still winds and rains but I have rebuilt a shelter in which I can ride these out, warm and dry, they pass without devastation. When I need to take solace in the comfort of emotional stability, that option is available, the need to be drunk and stand in the storm has gone. The decisions I make in this calm atmosphere do not injure me or those around me, it is a delightful new home. I had assumed that my capability to have fun was directly linked to how much alcohol I had consumed, zero alcohol being the provider of zero fun. This was incorrect, my capacity to have fun has exploded, an additional bonus has been, when I do have fun now, I appreciate it at the time and then remember it the next day, this remarkable ability had left me years ago as a drunk. This new way is better.
I had intended to post something like this on here some months ago. I decided not to, my own recovery was still asserting itself and I have waited, I needed to have genuine power behind my words. I needed to make sure I was not spouting off some pink cloud syndrome, that a particularly pleasant few days had not filled me with false promises. I posted on here at the six months stage, my writings were nostalgic and reflected a fondness of indulgent days, a sense that I was moving on but had not quite got under the skin of a sober life, I had not. I stated in my post that I would stay sober and I did, my days of drunken tomfoolery still make me smile, there were some really good times, they shaped me and are an essential part of me. In early recovery, I put myself through the grinder, really explored where I had been and why I went there. As terrible and painful as that process was at times, I now live with no regrets, I made some catastrophic errors, the consequences of these misguided and badly judged actions have not gone away, I have learned to accommodate them, apologise and move on. Old friendships have been re-established, not all of them, some are lost forever as a result of my behaviour at times, this saddens me but does not rule me, I offered my peace, if it could not be accepted, I had to learn the art of owning the grace to accept that myself. Some bridges that fall are never rebuilt, so it goes. New friendships have blossomed, I can not only relate to people again, I enjoy it, actively seek it, I have even found the strength to socialise with friends who have the luxury available to drink booze, without it being a problem for them. I have no temptation to join them, really and honestly, it has gone away. Accepting the harm that alcohol causes me and experiencing a life without it, one that has infinitely improved, has allowed me to live without demonising it. My personal choice is to abstain, this is now a fundamental principle of my character, the need, desire and addictive trickery has evaporated. I am fully aware of the need to stay vigilant, I have my rituals in place to assert the importance of my sobriety, I understand the power of addiction and that complacency is its greatest ally, I do not live with complacency.
On day one of this endeavour, the inconvenient business of admitting my addiction, making the choice to overcome it and heal myself, I did not know what to expect. It has been harder than my initial projections, certainly for the first six months, if you are there right now, I do feel your pain. What I cannot stress enough, the things that words trip over in their translations, is that when you emerge from your addiction and that chemical balance finds its feet again, you will heal, everything does get better, in ways that are impossible to imagine at the start. The depths you reach are necessary in the process, they are your guide, hear their wisdom, feel it, be with it, understand and overcome it. I have felt this way for months now, it is not a few good days talking, this is now my life and it is amazing, I love it, I cannot recommend recovery enough, the appreciation I have gained has been worth the torture to get here, easily worth it. I do not expect to have to go through it again but I would do, ten times, to arrive where I have. This is not a salesman's pitch, I will not reveal the title or my identity but during my recovery I have finally written the novel that drunkenness would not permit, it takes a dedication I did not have at the time, I was too busy drinking to write anything longer than an article. It is being published next year, money will arrive, my options will open up even more, there will be a sequel. My life is unrecognisable from a year ago, I am a different man, living in a new world, both man and world are such an improvement, I am an atheist but have moved from hell to heaven. AA and the twelve steps were not my vehicle but that works for many, your recovery is a tailor made solution, one you must fit to your needs, research all available options, make up your own, that worked for me, whatever it takes to start, do it. Commit to the process, endure the hardships, accept there will be many and rise to the challenge. If you go in search of this redemption the rewards will find you, they will arrive.
The aim of this has been to inspire some hope, if there is one person reading this, if that is you, now, in early recovery or thinking about needing to start, struggling with your addiction on a daily bases, imprisoned by it, controlled by the need it enforces, the demands it imposes and the wake of destruction it leaves in your path. If you are the one single person that these words reach and help inspire you to grant yourself the personal freedom, the choice to regain chemical balance and the gift of life that will bring, then the time taken to write them has been worthwhile. Get hold of your recovery, be your recovery, do not mess about with your recovery, do not deny the need you have to recover and you will heal, your life will be your own again. My recovery is wonderful, a magnificent gift, the most intense and difficult thing I have ever known, I cannot imagine a greater challenge than those first few months. Now I have this stability as my reality and reward. Take your own, dominate it, when the darkest days arrive, find that extra piece of yourself that addiction stole and apply it, a year from now, these words could be yours.
I wish anybody involved in this crushing struggle my most heartfelt best wishes, I hope my words do not fail my sentiments and prove to be of use. Knowing how this transformation can work out, I really recommend it to anyone brave enough to try.
Last edited by Opivotal; 12-11-2015 at 09:09 AM.