Archive for the ‘The Spread’ Category

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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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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Jiffkriff is coming round in a bit. Since I stopped drinking he’s the only one the Spreadheads I’ve really seen.

There’s a great scene in The Wire… (I became pretty obsessed with The Wire last time I was on the waggon and one thing I can tell you is that it’s not always easy watching for a recovering alcoholic, boy do they film drinking well and boy does it look fun). But, anyway, there’s a great scene in it when Beadie tells McNulty (who’s been on the toot again) that the people he’s drinking with won’t be the one’s who turn up at his funeral.

She’s right.

Not that there’s any fault in that. We drank together because drinking was what held us together. Now it’s gone for me and I’m gone from where it’s done.

I’ve seen it myself and done it myself. We’re all full of good intentions standing at the bar, but stuff which involves actually leaving the bar seldom happens. Lom, a lovely old guy who everyone in The Spread knows and has a great deal of time for, had been seriously ill just before I finally left The Spread. Now, it would be wrong of me to tar everyone with the same brush, but only a couple of people (not me) went to see him in hospital.

It’s probably for the best. Last time I was sober, I continued to go to The Spread, staring at the beer taps and the whisky bottles while slurping my squash and sober. I don’t know, but it wouldn’t be ridiculous to suggest this is why I didn’t stay sober for longer than a year.

It’ll be nice to see Jiffkriff though. He’s probably my closest friend in The Spread. And, he’s one of the few Spreadheads who doesn’t fit into the “almost certainly has what medical professionals would call a drink problem” category. He has a cannabis problem. Well, a problem in that he has to smoke it every day, which to him isn’t a problem, which is cool.

Anyway, he’ll be here soon, for a cuppa so I better log off.

Thanks for listening. Leave a message.


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Another Sunday, another binge. I’m not sure how much exactly that I drank and I’m going to have to work that out for my drink diary.

It was enough to make me throw up when I got home though. (Although, GBDUSD’s famed cannabis tincture might have had some play in that.) It’s unusual for me to throw up while drunk, it’s usually morning after stuff for me. I’m glad in a way. I had a lot of booze in me and then I had a lot less. Worryingly though there was blood in there – a big snotty looking, clotty looking red warning sign. I don’t know if that was stomach related or lung related, but it came from a place where blood does not come from in healthy people.

So, I don’t feel as bad today as I deserve to in many ways.

I’m up and writing, I’ve eaten, I’ve washed up. Mag is due back this afternoon, but I’ve already been texting Jiffkriff to see about meeting up this afternoon – I’m still terrified of not having a good excuse to go to the Spread.

Time to get busy I think.

Take it easy.

Thin City Citizen.

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After a decently successful trip to Thin City Addiction Services yesterday I made it home safely. Mag was out, and when Mag is out I feel the tractor beam of The Spread most strongly.

I decided to cook instead and that worked but then Mag went out for the evening and so did I. It’s unusual for me to be out so late, I’ve generally been on the afternoon shift with the OGs or join the after work crowd. I had arranged to meet Exact there to watch the football, he cancelled but I didn’t.

I drank too much; more than I intended. Four pints, a double whisky and a shot of some holiday liqueur the landlord’s parents had brought back from holiday. Earlier, at my meeting, E had asked me if I’d got drunk when I’d binged at the weekend and I’d said I had. I’m not sure I did last night. There was very little pleasure involved, it was just habitual and there were none of my usual crowd there.

I’ve noticed how I – and other Spreadheads who probably have drink problems (I’m not in a position to judge) – make these plans that drag us back there. Offering to loan books and films, “Are you in tomorrow?”; finding sporting fixtures, “Are you going to watch the game?” and so on.

I got home – not late – to find Mag still out so I sneaked a sneaky spliff out the back door too.

I had a hangover this morning. In a way that’s good. Until recently, the only ill effects I’d have felt from drinking that amount would have been a continued craving from not getting enough alcohol down me. But, it has made me more likely to drink – and to drink more – today. I’m waiting for my phone to beep with a text inviting me down to The Spread – I’ve arranged to give a spare copy of a CD I’ve managed to end up with to GBDUSD.

It’s Friday, and I’d love to go for a beer when everyone else finishes work.

But, with the hangover vanishes all the positives I’ve found from cutting down – I start to brood, I become more acutely aware of what a mess my life is, how little I’ve achieved and how little time I have left.

There’s a crossroads feeling to this attempt at sobriety. I’m in my 40s and still, to all intents and purposes, dependent on my parents. I work, but not enough, and when I give any thought to my employment prospects it’s not encouraging.

If I can’t get myself straight this time I’m starting to think it really will be too late for me, that I might as well just give up and see what happens… essentially, the thought is, rather sadly that I might as well go and drink myself to death.

Thin City Citizen

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So, over the weekend I drank.

It came as no surprise to me. Why should it, when I’d planned it as soon as I knew Mag would be away.

I smoked dope too – see above.

Nothing too heinous. Nothing to break my resolve completely. But as I look at my drink diary now I see my three days of zero units followed by three of around 10 units. Nothing on my best efforts of course. But last night I felt I had to drink to see off the withdrawals – one bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale.

It’s a bastard it really is to be an alcoholic. I can’t – and never try to – speak for everyone who’s ever suffered or struggled with booze, so you’ll have to take this as it is, an honest personaly opinion:

I fucking love drinking.

I fucking love being drunk.

I fucking love pubs.

Today, I probably won’t have to drink, but I’d damn well love to. You see, those few days of cutting down and cutting out have left me wondering if I really do have so much of a problem (and, in fact I’ve never (as previously discussed) hit “rock bottom”) and surely I can handle things.

That thought takes no account of the wrecked relationships, lost jobs, serious ill health, wasted education and so on and so on and so on that I can rack up to my lovely friend alcohol.

I stopped writing too. I stopped visiting the Brighteye forums.

You see, I’m hugely afraid of being sober. Hugely afraid.

Tomorrow I’ve an appointment with the Thin City Addictions Team. They will assess my drinking and see about an antabuse prescription. I don’t feel ready. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

Take it easy.

Thin City Citizen.

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Consulting my drink diary for last night I note I’m down to 5.7 units.

I bought four cans of Carslberg last night. Normally I drink much higher strength stuff. Guinness is relatively OK at 4.1%. I haven’t touched spirits for seven days today.

The good stuff keeps coming. I eat breakfast. I clean up after myself. I’ve started to listen to music again. I’m starting to read again. I’m cleaner and smarter. I’ve cut down on smoking (just tobacco, I haven’t touched dope for a week). I’m less nervous. I’m taking at least a bit of exercise every day, usually just a walk, but it’s a start. I’m writing more (as you will have noticed if you read this here thing). My concentration is better. My night sweats are decreasing.

If I have to look for negatives, I can find them. Last night I was tetchy and irritable with Mag (that’s understandable in a way, not that she’s annoying, but her work takes her away for long periods of time and she’s just back after spending around five months away – it takes time to adjust to each other again). I’m extraordinarily tired in the mornings – don’t get me wrong it’s better than the hung over or still drunk states I’ve been used to waking up in, but it puzzles me as much as anything.

Now, I’m not sure I even ‘needed’ to drink last night. Yes, I had some withdrawals – headaches, irritability, anxiety – but they weren’t severe. That makes me wonder if I can go without tonight. That would be quite a big deal. Sunday is my traditional binge day. It’s a big day of music over at the Spread and all the gang’s there. I found yesterday afternoon tough, until I ate, and will probably find the same today. However, the sun is shining on Thin City and maybe me and Mag can get out into the countryside somewhere.

Over at Brighteye, they have a forum thread on challenges, the first seven days could be the one for me. I’m going to give it a go I think.

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