I never wanted to be defined as an Alcoholic and the few times I did say “I’m Barrie and I’m an Alcoholic” at AA meetings I really didn’t like how it felt.
It isn’t denial. I’ve fully accepted that I was a binge drinker who then started to rapidly become dependant on alcohol. I was sectioned and completed a detox so I’m not going to sugar coat or play down the severity of my drinking, but now that I don’t drink alcohol and have moved on with my life I’m certainly not going to call myself an Alcoholic. I prefer to say that I’m in Recovery (which to be honest, I’m even questioning that term now that I’ve closed the door on my time with alcohol) but I guess I’m still in recovery from the huge mess I found myself in (both alcohol dependency and severe mental health deterioration).
You may be wondering why I care so much about the terminology but for me it’s a big part of my day to day. I’m active as Happy Daddy on social media and I write regularly on this Blog. I do public speaking occasionally and I’m also a Guest Co-Host on a popular Twitter Space Meeting every Friday. I’m talking about my past and my present alot and the usual buzz words within this community are used again and again – AA, Alcoholic, Higher Power, Sober, Dependent, AVRT, Recovery, etc.
Therefore it’s important to me that I can define who and what I am and feel comfortable in my own skin. I’m open minded and willing to listen to others, taking on board opinions and feedback along the way but ultimately I am my own man on my own journey and I’m not easily influenced.
I’ve met and connected with a lot of people within the Recovery Community in the last 20 months and many of them describe themselves as an Alcoholic. Many of them use Alcoholics Anonymous and are invested heavily in the programme. I wish those people well and I’m so happy that they have found something which works for them and keeps them sober but for me I just can’t subscribe to the principles and workings of AA. This is why I’ve been so vocal about Rational Recovery and the Addictive Voice Recognition Technique (AVRT) which I’ve found to be a perfect fit for me in aiding my prior relationship with Alcohol and being able to teach myself how to overcome the desire and interest in consuming it.
I used to drink when I was stressed or anxious (which was quite often!) so like many others in recovery this is when we are at our most vulnerable to picking up again. It’s not been the easiest couple of months for me and I’ve had days when my anxiety was heightened, I’ve been fatigued, unwell or pissed off. Previously I would’ve had a drink without even thinking about it – I say drink but I mean drinks. Now I don’t even think about turning to alcohol 90% of the time I’m feeling that way and when the 10% occurs I have the tools to keep my addictive voice in check.
When I talk about not drinking anymore I get challenged (quite often by people in AA) who say that you can’t look beyond today but why not? If I take my sobriety one day at a time I’ll never overcome that period of my life. I’m 36 years old – Do I literally want to focus on staying sober EVERY day for the rest of my life? How about not focusing on alcohol and getting on with my life? I can go weeks without thinking about booze and then when my addictive voice does make a noise I can deal with it and normally I can shut it down within minutes of the voice stirring. If I base every waking day on being thankful for abstaining and counting the days I’ve stayed sober I’ll be continuously focusing my existence on something I no longer want to be part of my life. That’s how I look at it anyways, but as I’ve already said – each to their own.
Finally I just wanted to give OpSec Security a brief mention. I used some of my volunteering time that I get from my Employer to do some Mental Health and Addiction Speaking at their local site to me and then delivered a second online session to their global workforce. It is never easy to talk in detail about my personal journey but I want to do it because I know how important it is for people like myself to share and try to normalise the fact that we can really struggle at periods in our life and if we don’t address it things can go downhill very quickly. I won’t be giving up my day job anytime soon but I’m pleased to hear that it had a positive impact on those I spoke to and even if it helps just one person, it was worth every minute.