As I am writing this post, the scale of the suicide bombing in Manchester is unfolding. I get unsettled by news like this, mostly because I have a deep hatred of innocent people being killed, one that is essentially fuelled by the injustice and confusion of it all. I don't care who it is who is carrying out these illogical acts and it all adds fuel to the fire of hatred that is causing rifts between cultures everywhere I look. On a personal level, I live in South Africa, a country not free from it's own past problems and pain, I see racism, violence and this overwhelming feeling of being lost about how to move things forward. It's stuff like this that makes me want to switch the lights off, get under my duvet and leave this world (the old method when I was struggling with severe depression and alcoholism). I didn't sign up to live in a world where people are so full of evil and unmanaged hatred that they can kill people in the name of anything, religion or otherwise. These people do need to be stopped but the mere acts they cause simply fuel the already burning fire of resentment and intolerance. So, today I carry on doing what I do which is essentially helping people with personal and individual problems that are ruining their lives and the lives of those around them. My thing is addiction treatment but everyone has something they can do that can make the world a better place. Find that, focus on just one person at a time, help them as much as you can and equilibrium returns. We all need a purpose and a reason to carry on breathing and I believe there is no better reward than doing something good for someone else. Simply put, be nice, don't be a arsehole.
It's been a while since I wrote anything here which is a shame as the way I understand it is that blogs are all about regular content and updates but I have half a dozen websites to maintain and in this day and age websites require just as much regular updating and new content so there really are not enough hours in the day anymore. Just being in that position is of course a blessing as when I started this journey time was something that I had far too much of and to be honest I used this blog as an outlet for all the anger and resentment that I had towards various things, my addiction, my marriage breaking down, just the predicament in which I found myself. I don't think that needs changing even though it's a bit embarrassing looking back between the lines because that was real, it was where I was at back then. The key is, something changed and, in the moments when I look back on the broken relationships and the chaos that ensued, I no longer feel any anger or resentment, only love tinged with regret. It's a strange phenomenon when that happens and it's hard to explain but I will try. As addicts we are treated with a mixture of disdain for the damage we cause to everyone and everything around us and sympathy as we are clearly not right in the head. Looking back, I don't think too much of either of these is helpful, I think a level of understanding is needed at the time of crisis but there must be a point where we stop feeling sorry for ourselves, make some changes and fight this thing. Being the victim gets boring and being treated as such enforces the negative core beliefs that we harbour. Sounds simple and it is far from it but what I refer to now as authentic recovery is in the heart of the individual. All the angry and resentful bits of a person are replaced by a genuine desire to be a part of something and to move forward, genuine love for others comes and we do actually become better people.
This is how CapeRecovery began and CapeRecovery was never about rehab, it was about authentic recovery and how we go about making that accessible for everyone.
First I want to mention AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and related groups as there is some confusion that it is just a free way of getting over an addiction issue be it alcohol or anything else. In reality it is a lot more than that but it is not addiction treatment, simple as that. It is a design for life and a framework for living that incidentally is brilliant if done properly and as a compliment to rehab and focussed care and counselling, would be my recommendation for everyone. The thing that annoys people, in my opinion, is when fundamentalist AA and NA members spout about it being 'the only way'. Now, even if they believe that to be true it is deeply unsettling and unhelpful to a newcomer in recovery, one who isn't comfortable with the way things are done (maybe it's just not for them?) to hear this stuff. When people cross the line and actually start believing that there is one true way and other specialized treatment is not required it is dangerous. To some people struggling, AA and NA can do more harm than good, not because of the program but because of the minority of hard-core members with attitudes of superiority, they become damaging and as a result, the polar opposite of what we are trying to portray, a place of humility and acceptance, occurs. (Sadly this happens with most religions as people lose focus on their part and start preaching. Being happy in the knowledge that you are in the right place is an amazing antidote to this, you have nothing to preach about or to prove which results in being at peace). When people are too full of themselves, other people are scared away and never come back. I love the rooms but I've learnt not to rely upon them 100% as there has to be more to life but as a network of people, addicts helping addicts they are unrivalled and I'm a fan for life as I've met some incredible people that way. Finally, addiction treatment with counselling and support and using the 12 steps as a guide to work through is so far, the best way to do addiction treatment, though I always keep an open mind. Today I love talking recovery, this stems from my own experience and my on-going amazement at the miracle of simply living a 'normal' life that I never thought possible, this doesn't mean that I'm not aware that many people in recovery just want to talk about other stuff sometimes and so do I.
In the rehab and recovery world I am always coming across people and situations that annoy me and at CapeRecovery I can only work with people I can trust. Trust in general is about honesty, openness, transparency and accountability, it's not about being nice to everyone. Inappropriate placement and extortion are still being practiced in this business, the latter based on greed with little consequence, the former is killing people and it's happening now. I'm no saint though and I do too easily get angered by any kind of bad practice. My problem is how do we tackle these agents that crop up, ones without a care for the people involved in their transactions, in a way that doesn't come across as aggressive and patronizing. Some of them probably lie to themselves that they are doing it for the right reasons and as with people who lie regularly, they may even begin to believe their own lies. My motivation to be transparent in all we do at CapeRecovery is so that we can highlight such things and the bottom line is, I don't care how much money these cowboys are making but I do care when they put people's lives at risk.
The biggest learning curve for me today is that I don't need to please everyone, I don't need to even keep contact with negative people because I can't fix or control them, I can however, simply drop these people from my life now.
I still feel a bit too much though and I'm still massively co-dependent but I am getting better at life! I hurt when a client re-lapses and that can become unhealthy in such an unpredictable and dangerous field. It happens a lot, people die all the time.
My dream was to have all recovering addicts and those recovering from associated things such as eating disorders as well as all rehabs, sober houses, social groups, charity organizations, etc. working together as one to make Cape Town the number one destination for an authentic recovery. It is and always has been about helping the still suffering addict. If we lose the personal touch we have no point anymore and we may as well seize to exist. The reality though is that this dream of everyone working together will never happen, too many people have their own agendas, usually these people are solely interested in the money. Sometimes they are driven by egos that mean that somehow joint working with others is beneath them. I just don't even start to try to form working relationships with these people. As we say a lot in this game, it is what it is.
With CapeRecovery International I'm not selling a product, I'm selling me, my story and that gives it an integrity and intensity that shouldn't even need selling and doesn't. It's a way of life, my solution to my problem and I am blessed now to be able to pass this knowledge on to other people. These days I speak the truth as I see it, my truth. It's authentic and yes it will upset some people along the way but we must be content to live with that alongside all the consequences of what we do and say, every word and every action. This is another learning point in my recovery, we have a voice and we can own what we say, good or bad and deal with the fallout appropriately.
There are new rehabs and sober houses popping up every week here in Cape Town and this is replicated all over the world, people know that there is money to be made out of people's misery. The worrying thing for me is that the more these places open, thinking that their way of doing things is superior to what already exists, the less places I am actually happy to work with. I work with places with a proven track record and the reality is, if I were an agent in this 'business' I could be coining it in sending clients to these new places but that won't happen because I have a desire that every single CapeRecovery client receives the best possible treatment for their needs and that they always pay a fair price for treatment. Financially I may be shooting myself in the foot but I don't care about money as morally and in every other way imaginable the CapeRecovery way of doing things is working and gathering momentum every single day. I am blessed to do what I do, to have a business that pays the bills and leaves a little left over for the odd meal out, anything more would be wasted on me and my money management skills, or lack of (ask my mum!).
I had the guy from one of these new places call me asking how I did things, didn't give his name but I knew from his accent who he was. He's developed this cutting edge way of doing addiction treatment that I can only accurately describe as the rehab equivalent of Scientology! I haven't got time to listen to that crap, I can't reinvent the wheel but I can take bits and bobs of what actually works and mix them to produce the finest rehab and recovery experience in the world. People wanting to begin something like CapeRecovery have their work cut out because it's unique, it takes daily work and huge sacrifices and it, like addiction, certainly is not a quick fix thing. People take interest in what we are doing, they even steal our ideas and pass them off as their own but they simply don't have the moral compass to find a way of making it work. Without a heart for each and every person, without an overwhelming desire for every one of your clients being successful, there is no way you are coming out of this with any integrity.
So how has my life changed as I approach 4 years of being clean and sober? Well, I won't use old clichés like 'beyond my wildest dreams' or 'I feel like a different person', though in terms of serenity and peace in simply living, both are true. I want to live now, that's a start! I want to get up in the morning and I thrive on my daily interactions with people. I have a busy life and my own business that I clearly love as I don't stop going on about it! Some days are still difficult, when these days crop up I deal with them. I go out to parties and weddings, mingle with arguably prospective addicts and alcoholics by choice, because I can. I sometimes think about what it would be like to escape into a bottle of vodka, then I remember the last time I tried that! It never ends well and it's weird because I have no choice, I look at an alcoholic drink and stare death and misery in the face and I'm ok with that! It's not been easy and some days I still don't know how I can go on but now I do and things always get better. The one thing I always look back on and smile about is feeling that moment when I no longer needed to escape life and to this day I cannot explain how it happened. I know the way I got there was by listening to other people and simply doing the next right thing. Thank you all who have been on this journey with me, I truly love you all because when I began and indeed through the relapses I didn't have a clue how long I could remain the alcoholfreeme.com!