Archive for November, 2012

I seem to be doing better at life. I may well have a writing job that will prove regular and pay a decent amount.

Now, I have to start getting busy. All my life I’ve coasted and got by on a certain amount of natural ability and even charm. Now I need to start to take this thing seriously, not accept my usual excuses and make the most of this opportunity. I also need to leave a lot of things behind; the blame, the bitterness, the jealousy are all worth nothing if they hold me back. Wasting time looking at the freelancing profiles of my competitors and thinking, ‘I could do better’ or ‘how did you get all this confidence when you can’t even write a coherent sentence’ is doing me no good.

So, bye-bye bitterness, bye-bye blame, on with cleaning up this office and starting to make something of myself.

I mentioned that I had a lot of long-term goals that merely impede my progress by their impossibility. Well, it’s time to start taking the small steps.

To be a succesful writer – essentially a small business (jeez, all this seems so alien to my usual mindset) – I need to get organised. So I’m going to log off and start cleaning up.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.




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I’m trying to look on the bright side today. The weather is not on my side. Grey, cold and wet.

But, I’m sober. I’ve walked past The Spread, soaking wet and weighed down with shopping, and didn’t feel the pull.

My health is getting stronger.

I mediate every day and have been to tai chi twice. I practise tai chi to some extent every day and I’m already feeling the benefits: my posture is better, I’m starting to get some of that energy I’ve been missing. The posture thing is interesting and a real change. I noticed it the other day, I look up more and started seeing things I’ve never seen while walking familiar paths.

My counselling homework this fortnight is all about focus. I’ve been given a wheel of life to look at. You can see something similar here. The task is to look at where I’m putting my energy. This feels like a good, positive and practical thing.

I have lots of long-term aims. (Don’t laugh). I’d like to be a popular and successful writer. I’d like to write songs and have an outlet for them. I’d like to be fit and strong. I’d like to wake up early every day and get on with exciting things. I’d like to be financially independent and even comfortable.

And, I undercut all these things and make no steps towards achieving them because I put up barriers. The chief barrier is – how can I do this when I’m a 41-year-old loser without proper employment who scrounges off his family and partner to survive. (You’ll remember I tend towards the negative when it comes to judging myself).

And, that stops me. The massive and inchoate ‘problem’ defeats me.

So, I need to start prioritising.

That’s the plan. Let’s see how we do.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.


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At the relapse prevention course last week this idea came up. We stop growing emotionally when we become addicts. That makes me a teenager (it makes own of my fellow course attendees eight, but theirs isn’t my story to tell).

I can see some truth in that. I was scared of growing up and drinking helped to keep me a child. All I had to worry about was when I would next be able to get drunk, free myself from the anxiety and the fear. There was no need to engage with the problems of despised ‘real life’ with all its responsibilities and obligations. Now they are here.

And, in watching a YouTube video the other day (you can see it here, it’s rather long but quite interesting) I recognised myself. The speaker – a psychologist – remarked on how a loud noise might affect someone who suffered with anxiety, someone who sees the world as full of danger. It’s a noise that a settled, calm soul might not even register. I would register it. I’m constantly scanning for threats. In some senses I see this as a strength. A writer is supposed to observe, and my antennae are twitching 24/7.

Narcissism? The Wikipedia page for ‘addictive personality’ used to redirect to ‘narcissistic personality disorder’. So could I, who spends so much time loathing myself be a narcissist? Well, this is all about me. Even the loathing is all about me.

But the good news.

When I wrote my thoughts on counselling I didn’t give it much thought. It was honest and considered but fairly automatic writing. To Counsellor Mike though things jumped out that I had given little thought to. Describing myself as ‘evil’ was one – I have a cape and a lair and everything – which to me means little but to him seemed important.

We talked about it a little. Like talking about killing myself it’s something that comes to me very naturally and which doesn’t concern me greatly. But having it questioned made me look a little more closely. I have a deep core belief that not thinking of others first is selfish and that selfishness is a Bad Thing. My lack of connection with my emotions means I often think I’m cold and calculating, that my natural reaction is to do what enables me to drink.

Mike doesn’t believe I’m a psychopath. This is a Good Thing.

More later.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

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I love this song. I’m slightly – make that hugely – obsessed by The Beatles.

Anyway. Tiredness is the chief problem in my life at the moment. I’ve got no spark, no get up and go (yes, it’s got up and gone).

This is frustrating.

I’m also a little stuck. I’m not quite taking the steps I need to take to become a bright, shiny new self-sufficient person. This is frustrating too.

But, it’s relatively early days. My meditation is helping me to become more focused, which is wonderful. I’m actually learning to do one thing at a time.

And today I’ve made a list to help further that progress. It goes a little like this.

  1. Tea (actually, two cigarettes)
  2. Meditate and Qi exercise (yep, I did that. The Qi exercise is a short simple deep breathing thing.)
  3. Breakfast and shower (this is where the tea appeared, along with a load of washing up, and another ciggie. I didn’t have a shower.)
  4. Take recycling bag up to the office. Check emails for work and then blog (which is where I am now)

I have a problem with lists. I tend to make them and consider the making of them to be the do-all-and-end-all: I’ve written it down and that’s enough. This is what I’m trying to change. And, although my focus is improving I’m still too easily distracted. Logging on to the computer can mean firing up a whole host of browser tabs that just have to be checked and before I know it I’m following a 400 post comment threat on Israel and Gaza.

So, I’m hoping to pack in the rest of my list today. Here’s how it goes from here on in.

  1. Work on paperwork filing (my life is a chaos of piles of unsorted but allegedly important sheets of paper.)
  2. Bank statements (chief amongst the often amorphous fears I face is my tax return. I need to get my hands on lots of missing (binned) bank statements to sort that out.)
  3. Lunch. Fifteen minutes Tai Chi practice
  4. Work.
  5. Antabuse and counselling.
  6. Make dinner for Mag.

Let’s see how we go then. I’m at the office in FIA all day tomorrow so can’t blog but I hope to be back on Friday.

If you’d like to leave a message it’s always appreciated.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.



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I’ve been getting counselling for a looooong time now. As I went for my detox I changed counsellors in an attempt to make it something more, not positive, but concrete for me. I used to toddle along every fortnight, enjoy sharing my innermost doodahs, feel much better for it, then go home and NOTHING WOULD CHANGE. That wasn’t the fault of the counsellor, it was the fault of me. But I want counselling to be more than that. That was the focus with which I started meeting Mike. He’s been very good in following that and given me home work, which is what I’m doing now.

This time I’m to look at my counselling review form and write what it inspires.

So, the form is a series of questions. Hell, let’s just do it.

What first brought you into counselling?

I had a drink problem and I was offered it. I suppose I know there are things ‘wrong’ with me and my personality that need addressing. I had hoped it would be an answer and free me from the things that made me drink.

What main areas have been focused on in counselling?

Many. My relationship with my parents and my childhood. But more recently, how to change and make that change stick.

What changes do you think you have made since counselling began?

I’m now abstinent. I’ve also started to make some more changes, taking up meditation and tai chi and I’m more committed to change. Previously, I hadn’t been making changes, just wallowing around in what caused my problems and essentially looking for an excuse for my depression and alcoholism.

What further changes would you like to make?

I’d like to take control of my life. I’d like to lose the ‘blocks’ that stop me communicating and stop me changing and keep me in fear and stasis.

What would need to happen to take this forward?

That’s a tough question. I think I need to learn to leave a lot of things in my past behind and start to look forward. I need to believe in myself (I have a terrible view of myself, I often refer to myself as evil, and I mean it.)

Do you feel you would like counselling to continue?



If yes what will the focus be?


How would you know you no longer need to come?

That’s another tough question. I think I will have lifted some of those blocks and not be living in fear.

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To answer that big old rhetorical question, I’ve been here. Sober as a judge. Sort of moving on and sort of standing still.

The big question is are you drunk? No, I am not drunk. I haven’t been drunk since 9.45pm on October 14, 2012. This is a good thing.

What else has changed? Well, I now meditate every morning. I know. You could have knocked me down with a feather if you’d have told me I’d be doing that a couple of months ago. It is both the hardest and the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Easy, because all I do is sit quietly and count my breaths from one to four. What could be easier? What could be harder? Given free rein my mind is a spiteful, jumpy, free wheeling sort of a mind. But I am trying and I am persisting in trying. This is new. I’ve not often persisted at much. I’ve taken things too easy. Been too kind to myself.

I’m also doing tai chi. Or rather I have attended one tai chi class. I intend to keep going on this.

I’ve also started reading a self-help book. It’s called the Barefoot Doctor Manifesto. It’s a fairly random pick. I was in the library looking through the health section – actually in search of tai chi or yoga books – when it jumped out at me. A quick flick revealed it to be based on Taoism of a sort so I picked it up. I’m reading it slowly and already doing some of the visualisation techniques within.

I didn’t blog last week because I was too busy. Every day I toddled along to the Addiction Team HQ for a course designed to prevent relapse. I learned some interesting things, drank some free tea and ate some free biscuits. I may well expand on this in future.

I have counselling tomorrow, for which I have some homework, which I will share here.

This has been an unfocused rambly sort of a blog.

If you spent it, thank you for your time. Leave a message.




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USGBD came round the other day. A cup of tea, a chat. Much of it about alcohol and The Spreadheads. USGBD used to be an addiction counsellor and was speculating about who was an alcoholic in The Spread. It wasn’t territory I felt particularly comfortable in.

I’m sure there are a lot of alcoholics in The Spread and I can think of three or four straight off. But it’s not for me to say, it’s for them.

I lied. Lied by omission but lied nonetheless. USGBD thinks I just stopped drinking, he doesn’t know about the detox or the antabuse. “That’s good,” he said, “it shows you can control it.” I should have corrected him I suppose. I should have told him that I couldn’t control it, that it took 70mg of diazepam to stop me drinking and it takes an antabuse tablet a day to keep me sober.

I just didn’t want to go throw the whole thing. And, I suppose it made me feel better that someone thought I’d done something involving self-control and discipline. (I have, but I don’t think I could have done it on my own).

I was more honest with Jiffkriff on Friday. He, in the course of our conversation admitted his addiction to cannabis. He smokes every day (and I used his visit as an excuse to join him) and recalled the only time in the last four years when he hadn’t. He was in ‘a dreadful state’, mainly insomnia.

He also told me about someone he knew who gave up drinking and then started again but was able to do so in moderation. His friend had been drinking a bottle of whisky a day and then had stopped completely.

Jiffkriff said, “But it was always a battle.”

“He said ‘every time I went past the pub it was a battle not to go in’. Now, he was drinking a can while he was saying this, and he told me: ‘I decided I wasn’t going to let it win, that I was going to have two cans or four cans, but I wasn’t going to let it be on ‘its’ terms.'”

That’s the dream isn’t it. I can’t imagine there are many recovering alcoholics who don’t wish they could do that (we’re in that ‘what is addiction’ territory again). I do. I miss it awfully. For the moment I’m committed to abstinence. How long that will last we will see.

I lie to you (anyone who reads this) by omission too. I don’t tell you my real name or the names of anyone I know, I don’t even reveal where I live. There are good reasons for this. I need to find work freelance and I don’t want anyone to Google my name and come up with ‘alcoholic’, but I also know there’s an extent to which I want to avoid publicly making that ‘I’m an alcoholic’ statement because one day – deep down – I hope that maybe I won’t be. Maybe I’ll be able to make all the changes in my life, my personality, that will enable me to drink with discipline and restraint.

History suggests that will never happen, but who ever learned the lessons of history?


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