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!