This Too Shall Pass was written by a dear friend of mine who will remain anonymous for the duration of their writing at Stop The World. A very important part of this post and the future of STW is this statement: ‘These are my views and experiences as an individual and do not represent the views of Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole on any level.’ Please respect my friends privacy and anonymity and enjoy the post.
The Man Who was Full of Fear
After offering to write this and putting myself out there – I am suddenly overcome with fear. I am sweating, my stomach is doing somersaults and, quite frankly, I feel like I need to do a nervous poo!
Hello all! I hope whoever is reading this is doing well – if not hang in there – one of my fondest sayings in AA is ‘this too shall pass’ – and though it may not feel like it – I’ve found it always does.
I am going to try and share some of my experiences and journey over the course of this year and a bit. It is mainly on the often controversial, and somewhat misunderstood side of mental health, being alcoholism and drug addiction.
I offered to do this for a multitude of reasons – mainly to do my part for the amazing entity that is Lauren and the Stop The World guys. This site helped me through some very tricky and pretty dark times a year or so ago, knowing that I wasn’t alone. For that, I am eternally grateful!
I also want to reach out to any struggling alcoholic or addict – there is help if you need it, it doesn’t ever have to be the way it’s going for you, I am living proof of that- and believe me I am not that special! It is always said in AA: ‘try and listen to the similarities to a story and not the differences’.
Finally, I am hoping to possibly reach those that may not have substance abuse issues- but are just struggling at the moment.The alcohol and drugs were not my problem, they were my solution. My brief escape from all kinds of emotions – depression, anger, loneliness and the worst of all – the growing feeling of the futility of life.
Often I have found myself enjoying any kind of activity- then that niggling voice in my head says something like “and this is fun is it?” By the time I have finished arguing that it is fun, I am somewhat deflated again. That might be just me though! The point is drinking and using allowed me to escape all of that – but whatever it gave back, it took back twice as much- and today I am not a prisoner of the merry go round that brought me to my knees. For today I am over 13 months clean and sober (+ 5 days but who’s counting right)?
For the purposes of brevity, I will only share from what I was like at my complete, personal rock bottom just over a year ago. But, rest assured I did not give up the game so easily – I had 13 years of progressive anti social, abusive and pitiful behaviours on my part towards friends and loved ones especially.
Alcoholism and addiction is a family illness that destroys the lives of all it comes into contact with – I go cold when the memories occasionally come flooding back of past wrongs that I have pushed on others. However, I try and make amends for these daily. I do not have to be a prisoner of my thoughts and emotions anymore. Today, my actions go towards making up for the person that I had become.
Let’s rewind a year ago.
I had hated everything about the person I had become. I was unreliable, self-pitying, aggressive and a liar (I heard the phrase – I was telling my lies. Lies – which is very apt to the situation). This was because I woke up every morning with a belly full of fear.
Most days, after a bender, I’d wake up dazed and confused, without memory of the night before. Sometimes, I’d be in the shower ready to drag myself to work and some snippet of memory from the night before would hit me.
Then would come guilt, shame, remorse and terror at what I might have done. That my friends, is a feeling I would not bestow on my worst enemy. It is one I do not miss not having to feel, hopefully ever again.
I’d wake up and do the Star Trek damage report– i.e. Wallet -check, phone –check, did I call/text someone I shouldn’t? Had I been to places I shouldn’t? The list can go on.
I remember calling people apologising for my behaviour and they informing me they weren’t even there! I lost my car after a black out and had to go and ask the police if they would run the plates. Only to find it near a field over 10 miles away. I had a tricky time explaining that one!
The problem is, and it can still be that my head takes me back to funny stories, and camaraderie that drinking in the early days brought for me. It doesn’t remind me of crying on the floor of my flat, screaming in my wife’s face (who without I’d certainly be dead), smashing up my flat or seriously trying to hurt a friend.
It doesn’t remind me that I am lucky to be alive, sane and not incarcerated. It in fact often tells me there is nothing wrong with me – such is the nature of the disease- cunning, baffling and powerful.
The problem was, I often drank to escape, I also have an allergy to the substance. Whether it is alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy etc. once I have one, I need more. This means if I take a drink, sniff or pill – although I may be okay and can put it down tonight, in a week, 2 weeks or month, I will be back to where I was last year and worse.
I know of people who were 7 years sober – had a glass of wine at a wedding and within a week were back drinking 3 litres of vodka a day with the curtains closed. The length of time is irrelevant – it is inevitable, I’ll be back where I started and worse.
We alcoholics and addicts are destined for 3 places unless we turn things around. Prison, mental institutions and death. Last year, I was ready for the latter. I didn’t want to kill myself per se- but I needed the pain to stop. If I could walk out, and a bus could hit me I honestly would have welcomed it.
I had come to a point where life was not possible with or without a drink. That is a loneliness that I believe few feel. I believe many reading this blog post will be able to relate.
If you feel this currently, believe me, I feel your pain; how the day is darkest and all that. From this pain came something that I would not trade for anything. I went in to rehab and found Alcoholics Anonymous. Here, I found people from all walks of life that suffered, thought, and most of all understood my anguish.
Alcoholic or not I believe that with mental health issues sharing your problems is not key. It is sharing them with someone who understands that’s paramount. Under their guidance, and that of the book alcoholics anonymous I begin to pick up the pieces of my life.
It was simple but certainly not easy. I began to understand the Jekyll and Hyde that resulted from drinking. I understood that a sober me was good enough.
I no longer had to hate myself 4 days a week from what I had done, then do it again and feel so perplexed as to how this had happened. The cycle of building peoples trust up and pulling it down on my head over and over again was finally broken.
There is a long way to go but my family and my beloved wife are finally starting to heal as well. She knows she can go out, enjoy herself and trust that I am going to be there for her.
This programme for living has enabled me to clear away the wreckage of my past and walk through a free man – though I will be cleaning the rest of my life.
When I feel fear, sadness, loneliness and the futility of life, I help another. I call them/meet them and try not to make it about me. I find this to be not short of a miracle, as it takes me out of my head for a while.
When I really struggle, I speak to like-minded people, as it’s rarely anything they haven’t encountered on some level! I have a higher power today, which is God. I know this is a scary word but it works for me – when literally nothing else did.
For a long time I used like-minded people as my higher power. I put my problems and aches and pains on them. And that really worked.
When shared with others, my problems really were far more manageable than when I was juggling. So, for a long time, my power greater than myself was the kindness of like-minded people. As when I believed I was the only one – there wasn’t much light at the end of the tunnel.
I thought in early recovery that I was just going to be lobotomised – meaning I wouldn’t feel anxious, low, depressed, bored etc. I find that today on occasion I feel all those things. But, this is natural – everyone does – today I am okay with feeling these things, and that makes them less painful.
As I said, what is key to me is harnessing these feelings into helping others – then 1) some good comes of them and 2) I start to actually make a positive impact on others- something I haven’t always been able to boast.
Today, I help other addicts and alcoholics in recovery, do work for mental health charities and volunteer at hospital wards speaking to alcoholics and addicts in serious conditions, to try and show them it doesn’t have to be this way.
I have a long way to go, but in a year, a month and 5 days, I have come out from under the rock (bottom) of being an addict. I have found a new way of life – infinitely better than I thought possible and all it really takes is helping others, being honest and doing the next right thing.
Alcoholic or not – the spiritual life, connection with a higher power and connecting with like-minded people can turn your life around. I promise, from experience, it’s not just hippy bullshit!!!
This too shall pass, one day at a time.
God bless x
Positive of the Day: Since writing this post, the anonymous writer has obtained a job. Their life is truly getting back on track. Please comment, share and show the love that our writer deserves. We love you!