Day 290: It’s thankfully been a better week for me after last weekend’s wobble. Working from home, yoga class, running, continuing my Xmas shopping and getting some nice feedback at work. I’ve been active on Twitter via my Happy Daddy account and find it inspiring to see so many people within the #RecoveryPosse reaching sobriety milestones whether that is a day, a week or a year. It definitely help me ongoing.
I was asked at work earlier in the week what advice I could give to a family member of theirs who lives abroad, is married to a recovering alcoholic and thinks he is drinking too much.
It’s a difficult one to answer because in my experience the defining moment is when you finally realise you are unwell, you know you need to stop drinking and you WANT to stop. I can’t speak for the whole world of teetotallers but I had so many false dawns and spells ‘off the booze’ but in my heart I always knew I’d drink again. I wasn’t prepared to give it up and have a lifetime of abstinence. That changed when at my lowest point I was sectioned during a scary dissociation event and after a few days of being confused, scared and feeling empty – I finally realised I needed drastic change in my life. For my family but most of all for me.
I think once you are accepting and wanting of change it becomes easier to discover the tools to support your recovery. I have written this blog since my early days in hospital and it helps hugely to get the feelings and thoughts out of my head and onto virtual ‘paper’. I read so much more than I used to. In fact, I only read two books in the whole of 2018 yet this year I’m already onto my 14th book. I’ve started yoga, running is consistently part of my week and I listen to a lot of podcasts about recovery and well-being.
I could tell others to do the same but it will be pointless if they don’t have the desire to quit alcohol. They might go a day, a week or even a month off the booze and feel better for it. The sad reality is that for most, as I found with myself in the past – if you are not fully invested in sobriety in your soul you’ll relapse. You’ll find a reason in your head to go back and have a drink. Whether that is consciously treating yourself at Christmas or on your birthday, because you’re on holiday or in many cases – because something really shit happens and you think ‘fuck it, I need a drink!’
Look, I don’t want to become preachy and certainly don’t want to be dismissive of other people’s journeys because I can’t guarantee I won’t relapse at some point but I’m pretty clear in my mind as to what has worked for me and what was different from the other times I said I’d stop drinking. I was invested this time and knew that if I didn’t quit alcohol it would eventually ruin me. I’d lose everything and possibly my life. My behaviour was becoming more and more erratic, I was having more frequent dissociation episodes and my wife was scared for herself and our little girls. Maybe if I hadn’t been detained under the Mental Health Act and treated as an inpatient I wouldn’t be where I am now but that is irrelevant to me. It was the point in my life where I accepted and wanted change.
Not everybody needs to experience the extremity of my journey to want change and I’m sure there are people out there who have been closer to the brink than me (not that it’s a competition!) but I do believe that before we can begin the road of recovery we need to want it and be prepared to invest 100% in it.