Monday, 12 March 2012

Does is take longer to get better?

I was reflecting this weekend.  In a couple of months time I hope to be celebrating 8 years sober, don't want to count the chickens and all that, and I need to remember the programme is only a day at a time but at the moment I have no hint of any compulsion to drink and I intend to keep on the same plan for recovery that has been working so far.  8 years - suddenly this seems to become "a while", if you get my drift, it was "I've only be sober xyz" now I suddenly think, there is some real time served here.

I had a phone call from the guy who I shared a room with the most whilst in rehab.  He called out of the blue around Christmas and we reconnected and I had been thinking I ought to call him, but I'm terrible at that stuff.  Then he calls me Saturday - sadly he has been drinking again, and clearly it was out of control quite quickly, otherwise why was he calling me and also saying he'd looked up local AA meetings?   He moved a while back out of London to a new area in the country and broke any connections he had with meetings then.  He was asking me things we've spoken about in the past "Do the groups work for you?"  I explained I go to the 2 regular home groups and others as and when, I do some service and really it is just habit.  It is Monday I will go to my local meeting - I just do, I rarely think about it.  Having a wife who expects a certain regularity in life as well helps if only as she says "Are you going tonight?"  The answer is always yes, it is a prompt for me, maybe others in other situations don't have that family support and encouragement.

We talked and I said it was almost 8 years since we'd met at the rehab.  Got me thinking... I drank badly for about 25 years, from the age of 16 to 41.  I have looked back and start about 16 when I used to go to the pub with friends on Friday and Saturday nights.  By the time I was 18 we had my 18th birthday do in my regular pub - so let's face facts my drinking wasn't right already...   So going on that by the time I was 8 years into my drinking life I was 24.  I'd been married a couple of years and had moved to working in London at a publishing company.  I was drinking badly out of control by then really - I know I was making excuses to drink on my own, had spotted one young Irish guy in the team who liked a few and made a b-line to be with him at anything we organised out of work etc.

So 8 years sober - I wonder if my recovery has progressed as much as my drinking had? Do that makes any sense?  Probably an odd thought but it was there.  It is roughly equal to a 1/3rd of my drinking time that I've now been sober and like I say I have only just thought I ought to stop thinking of myself as a newcomer. I am lucky and my local groups do have several people with 20plus years in so far and maybe I'm judging myself against that.  Judging against others... wouldn't be the first time would it?

Also the disease is progressive - at least that is the belief in AA, my own experience in a year of trying to control/stop on my own I did find that my drinking ratchet up another level everytime I started again so I don't doubt it for myself and many who I've seen go out there again it does seem to get back to ridiculous situations bloody quickly, or maybe that is just an artifact of having already acknowledged being an alcoholic so when the damn is broken the response is "I have to drink like this, I am an alcoholic after all".  Who knows different for each person no doubt.  But this progression probably means recovery from drinking is longer than the degeneration into it.

Whatever after 8 years I still often think I'm none the bloody wiser really.

Rest of the weekend was good.  I have a new pupil for guitar lessons and he seemed happy with the first one which is always key to getting to know what they want, what their level and likely speed of intake is and setting the stage for "if you learn this we'll be heading in this direction with it".

The swimming on Friday was brilliant - Becky Addlington's 800m was a fantastic swim to watch.   Here is a picture my wife took - my daughter reckons she looks like me in this one... 

I said "What you have that have-I-had-my-breakfast-yet bewildered look about you then?"  :-)

Have a great week everyone!


  1. I drank heavily for many years, and after a few tries (with the ratcheting effect you mention!) packed it in on my own end of 2004. Since I took the final decision it's been actually very easy. I just don't drink and I don't waste any time or thought on it (unless people ask or in conversations like this). Too busy with my (much-improved) life! That's what made it easy, that I had discovered that life overall was SO much better if I just didn't drink at all. So I don't.

    I had no 'rock bottom' (my life was functionally fine at all times, I was just often miserable). I am not a 'recovering' anything - I just don't drink - and if you ask me why I'll tell you that it's because drinking alcohol makes my life miserable. Simple.

    For me, AA would be like getting together each week with fellow ex-es of a toxic girlfriend to talk about her/how we are over her/how we are staying over her.... it doesn't strike me as 'moving on'. For me, it's just over and that's it.

    Just my 2ps worth - an example of a different approach/experience (because it's one that's not often mentioned/highlighted/acknowledged).

    1. Thanks Anon. I'm very glad for you - I remained pretty functioning up until the last bit when in that year I became really a binge drinker - and frankly I was frightened to hell of where it was going to take me. Having tried the "I'll do it on my own" approach that was failing repeatedly AA worked for me and has done since. For me the reminder of why it is a bad thing and trying to help others out of the same predicament is what helps me stay sober. Well as I state here - why change what has been working for me to date.

      But there are many ways to crack the problem - I have a friend who I talked to a bit about it once. They just stopped and have been dry since - no issues supposedly, no meetings etc. As I say in the post "different for each person no doubt"

  2. Er, with all respect about the similarity, she's a damn sight prettier than you :)

    I've been a bit ill these last couple of days and I have had one day completely off the drink (yes, I know how silly that sounds, to count it as an accomplishment, but it really is). Apart from the horrible dreams, even after just 24 hours I feel a lot better. I wish I could remember this feeling more.

    1. *nosing in here*
      looby - please don't sell yourself short. As the wife of an addict and as a recovering addict myself "one day at a time". Sometimes it's even one moment at a time. Best to you.

  3. Your daughter is stunning, and yes, she does look (a bit) like you, too! I'm curious, when you and your wife go out for a meal, would she drink wine with it, or does she prefer to avoid alcohol altogether when you are both out together?

    Eight years IS a long time, and I am in awe you still attend AA meetings - although now your visits there appear to be for a different reason than from when you first started, in that you are now "giving back" the help you yourself once needed from the good folk there.

    1. If my wife wants a drink she will drink whilst with me - but frankly she hardly ever bothers, esp wine as she doesn't really like it that much. I'm ok with others drinking around me in situations where it is "normal", that wasn't easy at first now though the habit of not drinking is largely fully engrained. Just every now and then when I'm not in a good space it might be an issue, but very rarely.

      Well I hope I do try and give back but I get much more out of it, I worry I have a "selective memory" and over time my head will start to believe my bullshit that there were these great times on booze, there were but very few and very far between esp at the end. Therefore being reminded that I can't safely drink is even more valuable for me now as it was in the early days. As I say my home group has some people who have over 20 years around AA and I look to them and think "seems to work for them, why not try that route rather than my own unproven one"

  4. As they say "The eyes (ayes) have it". I can definitely see the similarity between the two of you in your eyes. Glad you guys had another great time too.

    As usual, you provided another thought provoking post for me. It seems you always do, Furtheron. I love your insight into yourself, it's quite valuable for me (selfish, I know).

    This is what got me this time:

    "I wonder if my recovery has progressed as much as my drinking had? Do that makes any sense?"

    Yes, it does. Because I found myself placing that type of thought towards my husband. As in, "If you spent as much time on your recovery as you did on your addiction, you'd be so much further along"

    Then I read further into your post and I understand better now. The progression aspect of the addiction, the same thing happened with him. For me, I found a substance, got hooked then quit cold turkey two years later. So, I didn't have progression like you guys did. Okay, I'm rambling. I'll stop

    Thanks again and be warned, you may see this as an inspiration of sorts on my blog.

    Take care!

  5. Love the picture!
    And regardless of the drinking, the second you think you have everything figured out is the second you're a complete idiot. My opinion, of course. :)
    Eight years, though, is a long time to have stopped something that was absolutely as habitual as your Monday meetings are now, so that's awesome!

  6. That's a lovely photo of you both.

    Such an interesting insight into what it's like to come through something so huge and regain ones self the other end. Thanks for your honesty. 8 year IS a long time.

  7. happy almost 8th birthday! 'one day at a time' is a very effective way to take on something so daunting. and to pile on, your daughter is quite beautiful - and i can see that your family is an important part of your motivation. congratulations! onward!

  8. 8 years is definitely something to celebrate! Now, I thought 7 years sounded pretty good, but there is something about 8.

    Always find it scary that someone can have a good chunk of time and go back out expecting things to be different. And I've never heard of anyone who actually found it so.

    Lovely picture of you and your daughter!

  9. You do have that look about you!

    Congratulations on 8 years, a brilliant achievement. Avril is off to rehab in April. She's been off heroin for a few months now so I hope the rehab reinforces that.