Hello again. It feels like it's been ages since I've commented on here but it ain't been that long really. My sober life is moving at a faster pace then at any time in the last three years since my journey began. The old adage about recovery being a process is true and it can be a very laborious thing at times but also hugely rewarding and if I just get through the bad days without picking up a drink, the following day I always have something to celebrate. Though drinking isn't an option for me now, the anomaly is that drinking is also always an option when not drinking becomes commonplace and, with that in mind, my life often gets a mundane and predictable feel to it. I guess that's just how life is for everyone? There's this phenomenon amongst addicts where they can be brilliant and excel in many complex things, yet really struggle to get the basics right. The basics or the ADL's as we used to call them in my nursing days, Activities of Daily Living. Addicts can be incredible at many things and overcome immense boundaries but put a simple daily task in front of them and they fall apart, making the smallest thing into an insurmountable blockage. For example, put me in the midst of a disaster or a medical emergency and my long hidden organisational skills and personnel management abilities come to the fore but give me a task of buying and putting up some curtains and I'm overcome with confusion and rage at what is a seemingly obscure and complicated task to me but straightforward to any other human being! I'm still learning to live everyday!
Simply because I am alcohol free and have been for some time now, it doesn't mean that I stop being an alcoholic, the disease of the mind still remains, I will always be an alcoholic. The thought processes, the obsessing and the constant self doubt and self loathing, expecting things to go wrong at any second even when everything is alright. So, how do I attempt to overcome this feeling of helplessness and impending doom that comes on from time to time? Well, I just try to get on with life. Doing stuff makes me happy and pushes me on to do more stuff. I just bought a car, as my business and the fact that the public transport system is unpredictable at best in Cape Town, requires me to have transport. It's cost me most of my savings and will be another thing for me to obsess and worry about but I'm convinced that it was the right thing to do as I can now be effective in running my business. I don't worry about the future as much any more because I am confident that God has a plan for me which I am now following rather than trying to dictate to him what should happen. There's no use panicking and despite the fact that about 90% of what we worry about never happens, life is too precious, a fact that I've only recently understood following the deaths and illnesses of family members and the near fatal stabbing that I encountered along my travels. It's a bit of a joke amongst my friends that I talk about the stabbing a lot but the truth is I don't, however, people are interested and drama is drama. At least we can laugh about it and not be haunted by it. Anyway, the reason I have this new found confidence in being exactly where I'm meant to be in life is because I am back doing what I love, helping others. For those of you who don't know, I am a nurse by profession and looking after people is all I've really wanted to do, it gives me purpose. I'm doing that now and beyond earning a liveable wage I don't want any more than to be able to continue. The rehab game worldwide is full of people only looking for profit, much like the care home game in the UK, which annoys me, I won't lie. My aim is to be ethically sound and to put the people first and the money will come in bounds or it will not, either way, I am alive and doing what I love. Sorry if I sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet, I hate that and I really don't mean to but I think some people just get so much from helping others and I am proud of that, happiness breads happiness. I'm just more content that way, it's the only thing that gives me any purpose, what is life without compassion for people? It's not even a selfless endeavour because it makes me feel content and whole again, I like the feeling it gives me.
Addiction to me is like many mental illnesses and one cannot require of, nor expect someone not 'suffering' to understand. People generally don't understand depression, schizophrenia or bi-polar illnesses, they are so varied and often symptoms are ambiguous, I sometimes become cynical about it all and believe that the whole circus of psychiatry is one convoluted guessing game, a shot in the dark, 'experts' throwing drugs like darts at unseen mental tumours. As well as being an alcoholic, I also suffer from depression and a lot has been said about links between addiction and depression. They become interwoven and co-exist perfectly in an unsettled mind.
I have a close friend who is struggling with depression at the moment. He has walked alongside me during my darkest times and has always been a source of strength and stability to me. He used to ground me when my behaviour would get too erratic though having said that, it would have taken a super human effort to ground me when I was at my most capricious (if memory serves me right I once dropped a quadriplegic girl out of her wheelchair following a drunken Stereophonics gig but that's another story!). This isn't your typical person who suffers from depression because there is no typical person who suffers from depression. Like alcoholism and addiction it does not discriminate and this bloke is the nicest person you would ever wish to meet and I think he has a heart of gold. I genuinely don't know anyone who has a bad word to say about him and that's not a cliché or an exaggeration. He has a loving wife and a beautiful daughter and he works as a vicar. You would think he would always be on top of the world, full of Jesus and beans and for the most part he is. There are a hard lined group amongst the Christian community that truly believe that with God there should be no depression, sadly it is those who do not suffer from this debilitating illness who hold those beliefs. Let's try and pull ourselves away from that fairy-tale land of happiness and peace and exist in the real world, a place where things go wrong and shit happens. A place where even the people whom appear the strongest are still beautifully yet precariously fragile. Where in the bible does it say that one cannot be depressed (it probably does somewhere but forgive me, I am just making a point!)? Surely it's not just a new age disease of the mind? Anyway, I feel for my mate because he is also in a caring profession and those involved in these types of jobs often neglect their own happiness. He is in my prayers and I am convinced he will come out of this with even more experience and tools to assist others. I am a little overly filled with empathy as a fellow 'sufferer' but I'd like to think that if I didn't have my own personal experience, I would still be compassionate. I've been able to practice this during my career where people have been suffering from things I didn't understand or have any personal experience of, yet the mere fact that they were suffering was enough for me to feel for them. During my fascinating time of seeing various shrinks and other professionals, I was accused of having this thing called 'exaggerated empathy', it's where you feel too much for the other person, they affect your feelings, they are sad so you're sad. I understand that this can be unhealthy particularly in a caring profession, it takes co-dependence to another level. I don't however agree with the diagnosis and think I am developing a healthy balance of care and detachment. I do believe that most addicts are co-dependent to a certain degree anyway.
Finally, the debate on whether addiction is a disease is an annoying one because despite my beliefs that it is (based on nothing other than facts surrounding the affects on brain chemistry and such like), and many others belief that it is a choice that is self inflicted, it doesn't even bloody matter! If a human being cannot muster up some compassion for a persons horrible situation despite their personal beliefs about how that person got to that point then, in my opinion, they should just give up trying to be a human being. I believe compassion is a part of being human, I don't believe it should have conditions. I feel for anybody suffering, even convicted criminals being mistreated in prisons, is this wrong? Should we stop caring the minute someone makes a mistake? I'm not having a go at people who don't understand and cannot picture themselves in another persons shoes, empathy is a different and much more compelling ball game altogether, I am simply saying that to be compassionate doesn't always require understanding of a situation. I don't know the ins and outs about many of the wars that take place and often can't decide which side I'm on but that doesn't stop me having compassion for the individuals and families of those who are dying on a daily basis. This is all I have to say on the matter. thank you for listening to the alcoholfreeme.com