Category Archives: Sober inspiration

Friday Sober Inspiration: Is there a formula for happiness? (Come As You Are)

TheHappinessEquationI read this article a few weeks ago because of the subject but also because one of the writers is an old friend of ours who we’ve lost contact with.  It was lovely to connect with her again through reading her words.  Plus the first contributor is also in recovery so it felt doubly apt to share it here.  It was in The Telegraph and looking at whether there is a formula for happiness.

A new publication, The Book of Joy, written by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has sparked debate over their theory that joy can be achieved by embracing “eight pillars of joy” – these being perspective, humility, humour, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity.

Here, four writers discuss their own rules for happiness.

‘I found happiness when… I learnt to be unhappy’

Bryony Gordon, 36

A friend of mine in recovery once said to me that to be truly happy you had to hit rock bottom. I didn’t really understand what she meant.

Perhaps that’s because I was drunk or high at the time – it was many years ago, when I would self-medicate my obsessive compulsive disorder through alcohol and cocaine, and everyone wanted to be my friend ‘because you’re so fun!’.

I thought fun equated to being happy. I was wrong. It’s only after five or six breakdowns (I lose count) that I have realised that the real key to happiness is to embrace unhappiness – to allow yourself to go to that rock bottom my friend mentioned without trying to shoo it away.

You don’t take your unhappiness and try to water it down with five pints of strong continental lager. You don’t run away from your unhappiness towards the nearest drug dealer.

You sit with your unhappiness, no matter how much of an arsehole you think it is. You talk to your unhappiness, however creepy it makes you feel. Maybe only for an hour each week, with a therapist there, but you talk to it all the same.

Try to at least make an acquaintance of it. Get to know it. Attempt to work it out, so it doesn’t keep getting the better of you. I did this last year when I wrote a book about my mental health, Mad Girl.

It made me very unhappy. Depressed even. Sitting with your unhappiness day in, day out is difficult, like scratching away at a scab. 

Even when the book came out at the beginning of the summer, I had not learnt properly how to deal with it. How to cope with it. But being able to cope with unhappiness is, I realise, all that happiness really is. It is nothing more complicated than that.

To find yourself in a real bind, wondering how you might get out of it, and to realise that you do not have to. You can just ‘be’ and not beat yourself up for just being.

And one day you catch yourself, maybe when you are having lunch with your family or watching someone you love run free across a park, and you get a pang of a memory of the misery you once used to feel all the time. You don’t freeze. You don’t panic. You say, ‘Hello unhappiness, my old friend. How are you?’

Then you smile, and you get on with your day. 

The other contributors are:

  • Elizabeth Day
  • Kerry Potter 🙂
  • Laura Powell

I particularly liked the last box:

It’s okay to embrace your darker side

Learning to cope with emotional states such as anger, envy and boredom can boost happiness, according to Dr Tim Lomas, psychologist and author of a new book, The Positive Power of Negative Emotions. He argues that allowing yourself to feel darker sensations boosts those feelings of joy and elation and can spark them too.

“Often people will think that if they feel pessimistic then something must be wrong with them and they shouldn’t be feeling like that, but negative feelings can send a useful message,” he says. “For example, if you feel lazy it might be more pleasurable to stay at home, but if you go for a run, in the long-term your wellbeing will be better served.”

Dr Lomas says the same is true for more complex emotions. “Take guilt: it can be unwarranted, but it also tells us important information about ourselves, ways we have gone wrong in the past, and make us be better people in the future.” Accepting negative emotions can make you more appreciative of positive experiences.

And in that spirit only Nirvana fits 😉

 

Making a difference to the child of an alcoholic

nacoa-webWhile the battle about Minimum Unit Pricing rages on this for me is the most important progress being made.  As Liam Byrne promised the Government now wants to “put every child of an alcoholic drinker in contact with help that would make a difference.”

As the Institute of Alcohol Studies reported in September: the National Association for Children Of Alcoholics (NACOA) held their first All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Children of Alcoholics.

Who are NACOA?

Nacoa (The National Association for Children of Alcoholics) is a charity founded in 1990 to address the needs of children growing up in families where one or both parents suffer from alcoholism or a similar addictive problem. We provide a a free and confidential telephone and email helpline that is open to people of all ages, from all walks of life, to offer support and advice to anybody affected. Professionals or concerned others can contact us for information, advice and support. Soon, we will also host an online message board service, where users may record their thoughts and share experiences online. Nacoa aims to promote research into the problems children of alcohol dependent parents face and the prevention of alcoholism developing in this vulnerable group. It is exciting therefore to be connected with the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) as part of the government’s new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Children of Alcoholics, which wants to put every child of an alcoholic drinker in contact with help that would make a difference.

The problem?

As the IAS report Alcohol’s harm to others shows, prevalence of alcohol harm on others in the UK is high, and younger people are more likely to report having experienced a number of harms than older age groups. Research suggests that approximately 1 in 5 children in the UK are living in a household where one or both parents drink hazardously (Manning et al., 2009). Nacoa’s survey of over 4,000 respondents also found that those identifying as children of alcoholics, when compared to a control group, were six times more likely to witness domestic violence, five times more likely to develop an eating problem, three times more likely to consider suicide, and four times more likely to become dependent on alcohol themselves.

How do we help?

Since 1990, staff and volunteers have seen profound changes to the way that children of parents with alcohol problems are discussed in the public domain. As well as providing a national service, Nacoa aims to break down social taboos and afford young people the agency to address their problems rather than hiding away. While alcohol problems are often associated with deprivation, Nacoa also hears from young people suffering in families who, to the outside world, seem functional and successful. These individuals can feel stranded between maintaining the family secret and seeking help for themselves. In these cases, more often than not, young people fall between services and feel totally isolated. Nacoa’s helpline offers the opportunity to discuss problems confidentially with trained helpline counsellors and make plans for a better future. Our nationwide service delivers help to those suffering in silence to all corners of the UK. Through our campaigns with prominent patrons – such as Calum Best, Elle Macpherson and Liam Byrne MP – we aim to share stories, break down stigma, and let people know they are not alone.

NACOA and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Children of Alcoholics

From September 2016, Nacoa is hoping to use its breadth of experience to influence major policy change in the UK through the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Children of Alcoholics. Since the APPG’s inception, Nacoa has worked hard to encourage people in the public eye to take part as well as facilitating case studies for press and media to change how parental alcoholism is addressed at a national level.

The Group’s first meeting took place on the 15th September at the House of Commons, and the committee heard evidence from IAS, Nacoa patrons – Calum Best, Lauren Booth and Nacoa supporter Kim Woodburn – as well as other charities and research specialists. Nacoa’s Chief Executive and co-founder, Hilary Henriques MBE, presented to the committee and argued that government could and should do more to provide vital lifelines direct to children who may feel scared to speak out and compelled to ‘keep the family secret’. While locally provisioned adult treatment services and support are in need of reform and further assistance, services also need to be provided directly to young people in their own right. On the ITV Good Morning sofa, Liam Byrne said that he hopes this parliamentary attention ‘sends a message out to the 1 in 5 children who are children of alcoholics that says this is not your fault, you are not alone, and there is help available to you, like the brilliant Nacoa helpline.’

Call for evidence

To provide evidence to the APPG from your personal or professional experience, visit: liambyrne.co.uk/coa/. Together, we will be able to reach out to the 2.6 million children living in the UK with a parent who drinks too much and let them know that they are not alone and Nacoa is here to help. Our helpline number is 0800 358 3456 and email is helpline@nacoa.org.uk. You can find further information and research on our website nacoa.org.uk. For regular updates please follow @NacoaUK and like us on Facebook.

This was picked up by The Mirror newspaper:

The Mirror reported shock as 2.6m British children with alcoholic parents are left with ‘no hope and no help from authorities’, as MP Liam Byrne seeks to raise the profile of the harm to children from parental alcohol abuse | Alcohol Policy, UK

This truly swells my heart that the Govt is now seeking to make a difference for this silent and truly vulnerable group.  Now we need to extend that support to include offering restorative therapeutic relationships for these young people 😉

Edited to add: a new resource to add to my list is the blog coa is a thing and this is just one of their many brilliant blog posts:

7 myths about alcoholism, through a child of an alcoholic’s eyes. 

Friday Sober Inspiration: Drama to No Drama

karpman-drama-triangleSo I read a Veronica Valli post about recovery red flags recently that really resonated.  And then as happens I was watching a video series from Ruth Buczynski looking at shame, anger and conflict and suddenly I found myself taking a very sharp breath in as the two subjects collided in a way that caused a psychological shift in my thinking.

The expression that Veronica used that has been rattling around my brain ever since I read it is this:

If I’m okay with me, I don’t have to make you not okay

Ouch.  The above image explains it all really well I think.

And then Ruth’s video’s were talking about the Karpman Drama Triangle that Jean over at Unpickled has discussed before here and which I knew about from my time working with families as a school nurse.  And as is the way with the magical internet rabbit hole one thing led to another and I found myself looking at this image.

avoiding-the-drama-triangle So much of recovery from addiction is about moving from fear to love and I am very aware that the Karpman Triangle is alive and well in my way of interacting with others close to me!  So like recovery from booze and reading sober bloggers ahead of me on the path I wanted to know what a healthy way of relating looked like and in my quest I found the work of Tina Tessina 🙂

This is what she has to say:

One profound way to intervene in the Drama Triangle is for family members to learn not to rescue each other. The other is to stop allowing others to rescue you.

Recognize a Rescue While You Are Participating In It

Learn to recognize that you are rescuing when you:
– Do something that you do not want to do because you believe you have to, and feel resentful later.
Do not ask for what you want.
Inappropriately parent another adult (giving unsolicited advice, giving orders, nagging, or criticizing)
Don’t tell your partner when there’s a problem, or when you feel resentful, ripped off, rejected, cheated, depressed, disappointed, or otherwise dissatisfied.
– Contribute more than 50% of the effort to any project or activity that is supposed to be mutual, (including housework, earning income, making dates and social plans, initiating sex, carrying the conversations, giving comfort and support) without a clear agreement between you.
Feel your role is to fix, protect, control, feel for, worry about, ignore the expressed wants of, or manipulate your partner.
Habitually feel tired, anxious, fearful, responsible, overworked and/or resentful in your relationship.
Focus more on your partner’s feelings, problems, circumstances, performance, satisfaction or happiness than on your own.

Whenever you realize you are rescuing, tell the other person what you’re tempted to do or not do for them, (how you want to rescue them) and ask them if they would like you to do that or not. Once you’ve offered and the offer has been accepted or rejected, (even if your partner is not honest about what he or she wants, or makes a mistake) it is no longer a rescue, it is an open agreement, and can be renegotiated if necessary.

Learn to recognize that you are being rescued if you:
– Think you are not as capable, grown up, or self-sufficient as your partner.
Find that your partner is doing things “for you” that you haven’t requested or acknowledged
Feel guilty because your partner frequently seems to work harder, do more, or want more than you do.
Don’t ask for what you want, because your needs are anticipated by someone, or because your partner will not say “no” if he or she doesn’t want to do it.
Act or feel incapable, childish, irresponsible, paralyzed, nagged, criticized, powerless, smothered, or manipulated in your relationship.
Act or feel demanding, greedy, selfish, out of control, overemotional, lazy, worthless, pampered, spoiled, helpless, or hopeless in your relationship.
Contribute less than 50% of the effort to any project or activity that is supposed to be mutual, (including housework, earning income, making dates and social plans, initiating sex, carrying the conversations, giving comfort and support) without a clear agreement.
Feel your role is to be fixed, protected, controlled, told what you feel, worried about, ignored, or manipulated by another adult.
Habitually feel guilty, numb, turned off, overwhelmed, irresponsible, overlooked, misunderstood and/or hopeless in your relationships.
Focus more on your partner’s approval, criticism, faults, anger, responsibility, and power than on your own opinion of yourself.
Feel controlled, used, manipulated, victimized, abused, oppressed, stifled, limited or otherwise dissatisfied by your partner.

The more familiar these feelings or actions are, the more frequently they occur, the bigger the habit you have of being rescued in your relationship. Rescuing is a habit that you learned early in life that seems “normal” and is habitual, so it is often difficult to be aware of it. Rescues depend on secrecy or ignorance. The antidote to being rescued is making an open agreement. So, if you suspect you are being rescued, suggest negotiating or talking about it, or just say thank you, if the help is truly OK with you.

How to Avoid Rescues
1. Recognize that what’s going on doesn’t feel good. It’s the best indicator of dysfunctional interaction.
2. Stop and Think. Don’t react automatically. If you have a dysfunctional habit pattern, you’ll need to make a different choice than your automatic behavior. Use the following checklist:
a) Does the situation feel fair?
b) Are you reluctant to say what you want?
c) Do you know what the other person wants?
d) Do you feel uncomfortable?
e) Are you resentful, angry, scared or upset?
f) Are you trying to control someone else’s reaction or feelings?
g) Does this feel similar to other interactions that ended badly?
3. After you’ve taken a moment to think about whether you’re rescuing or being rescued, and what clues you are aware of, either ask for what you want, or ask the other person what he or she wants.
4. Offer to work toward a mutual decision.

Taking the rescues out of your relationship removes the drama. Learning to talk about what you want and don’t want, and to offer help instead of just stepping in can make a really big difference in the happiness level of your relationship

Source: Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”) psychotherapist and author of The Real 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the 12-Step Programs

Wow is all I can say.  If I feel like I’m about to say something that I might later regret I now find myself uttering Veronica’s words to establish if it is indeed me who is struggling with something, and therefore not feeling okay, and looking to off-load it onto somebody else to make me feel better and in the process make them not feel okay.  I have said a great deal less and taken responsibility for an awful lot more as part of that process in the few weeks since I made the realisation.

Maybe this work will help you too? 🙂

Friday Sober Inspiration: Date with Destiny

date-with-destinySo recently I watched Tony Robbin’s documentary film ‘I am not your Guru’ because I’d read some of his books and have always been curious about his seminars and conferences.  So this documentary follows him during one of his 6 day Date with Destiny seminars.  It was fascinating to watch and he certainly has a unique coaching approach!

What I didn’t know is that he was, and continues to be, driven by a desire to both progress within his own life and help others as part of that process because of his own childhood.  His mother was both an alcoholic and addicted to Valium and he talks about this briefly during the film.  And there was much about the seminar programme that resonated with our sobriety journey hence why I’m talking about it here and now.

The 6 day event is both long and intense and the format runs:

  1. Preparation
  2. Evaluation – push will wear you out
  3. Discovery – we all get what we tolerate
  4. Relationship
  5. Transformation
  6. Integration

He understands the human condition because of his own experience.  He asks great questions such as what are the beliefs, behaviours, emotional habits, story you tell yourself or conflict inside of you that stops you living your best life?   And there were some great take aways such as:

Stay in your head and you’re dead

Another of his quote’s in Fortune that I read and really liked was:

‘Be in charge of your life. You’re going to have reward and risk wherever you are, but be authentic to what you want to be and what you want to do. Don’t be worrying about what somebody thinks about you. Don’t flatter yourself. They’re really not thinking about you.’

All of these stages and questions fit the drinking and sobriety conundrum really well and he acknowledges that people who attend his days are looking to change a behaviour or way of thinking which again fits our battles with booze perfectly!

And wouldn’t you know he’s one of us 🙂

He’s also fastidious about his diet. Robbins doesn’t drink alcohol or caffeine, or eat red meat or chicken (source)

Here’s a TED talk given by him where he motivates in 20 minutes:

PS The second trailer for T2: Trainspotting is out and you can watch it here – can’t wait for January!

You’re an addict so be addicted, just be addicted to something else – choose the one’s you love, choose your future, choose life” 😉

 

Friday Sober Inspiration: Abundance

abundance-scaleSo this image is taken from the book Money Love by Meadow Devor who was interviewed by Tommy Rosen as part of his Recovery 2.0 online conference in September.  She was talking to him about financial sobriety and some of the things she said had my mouth fall open in recognition.  So I thought I would share a few key points from what she shared about abundance, compassionately observing and noting our thinking and moving on from the ‘please like me discount’.

Although her book focuses on money so much of what she said is applicable to so many other areas of life too, including booze.  Interestingly Meadow is also in recovery from alcohol.  So without giving away too much – these were my key take-away points from her wisdom.

When you engage in a behaviour whether it is spending, eating, drinking, internet surfing, etc ask yourself:

  1. What are you feeling?
  2. What are you trying to achieve/avoid? Why are you doing this?
  3. Can you afford it? In terms of money, time or emotions

And to weigh up the value vs the cost (again talking about financial, time or emotional).

She also talks a great deal about how we act from either scarcity or abundance as represented by the scale illustrated at the top of the post.  I definitely grew up with a scarcity mentality and mindset and have been doing some serious work around reframing how I view the world in a more abundant way.  Part of that work was leaving behind my own ‘please like me discount’ which, because of my own issues with co-dependency, was a big thing that I knew I did but had never before heard it put so succinctly into words!  I have a post it note above my desk that reminds me:

You do enough

You have enough

You are enough

You can listen to her being interviewed by Laura McKowen & Holly Whitaker on the Home podcast here:

If you are struggling with feelings of worry, frustration or lack how about trying this abundance meditation to see if you can start to shift your way of thinking too?  I can promise you if you begin to practise gratitude, and try to engage with the world from a place of empowerment and abundance soon the ‘fake it till you make it’ approach will shift becoming not just a desired hope but your reality.  Why not give it a try?

PS As if our cup wasn’t overflowing enough with abundance today this news broke this afternoon too! Go Scotland!! 🙂

Plans to set a minimum price for alcohol in Scotland have today (21 October 2016) been backed by the Scottish courts.

“We are satisfied that the Scottish courts have concluded that MUP is legal, as we have argued for many years, and we now call for it to be implemented without delay.” (Herald Scotland)

 

Friday Sober Inspiration: Love Warrior On!

love-warriorSo just over a week after I hit 3 years sober I share with you this little nugget of wisdom from Glennon Doyle Melton founder of Momastery who I saw interviewed by Marie Forleo recently.  Instead of sharing a tune tonight I’m going to link their interview for you to enjoy and boy it was a aha-moment fest!

Glennon knows addiction well having been in recovery for 20 years and some of her shared insights during this interview were exceptional.  I won’t spoil your enjoyment of the interview by sharing too much but here are the three that had me hastily reaching for a pen!

I am not what just happened to me, but I might be what I do next.

As you may have noticed ‘doing the next right thing’ was my mantra for year 2 in recovery and I was looking for one for year 3.  I think I just found it! 😉

Plus if you’re drinking, worried about it and reading this then this one is for you too.  It reminds me of that saying that ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got’.  Why not do something different?

Shame is not true.  It’s a lie and it tells us that our experience is different than everyone else and we’re bad.

This one gave me goose bumps!  We’re not different and bad *nodding head furiously in agreement as she said the words* That critical shame voice in our head just wants us to think so.  This quote will be linked and added to my most popular blog post about drinking shame.

Writing from a scar and not a wound.

This one was both very personal and rang true because it spoke of how I share things out here in the sober blogging world but that I do so once I have processed the experience first.  That I’m not still caught up in the heat and the emotion of the triggering event as that is a safer approach for both me the writer and you the reader 🙂

So without further ado here’s the interview.  Enjoy!

I Did It For Me and Everyone Around Me (Guest blog from Andy at 8 years sober)

gratitudeOne of the things I most love about having this blog is that many people contact me and wish to share their story here.  It seems so fitting that I was contacted by Andy in the last week who wanted to share his story at 8 years sober with everyone here and when I’ve just celebrated 3 years that felt really serendipitous 🙂

Over to Andy:

I Did It For Me and Everyone Around Me

“For a star to be  born,

There is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse.

So collapse.

Crumble.

This is not your destruction.

This is your birth.”

-n.t.

Hi, my name is Andy and I have been sober for 8 years. Eight years. Wow. As I write these words I feel a kind of euphoria. I feel like climbing the world’s highest mountain and screaming them out for all the universe to hear. I did it. I can’t believe I did it. But it’s been no walk in the park to get here. I collapsed, I crumbled, and I’m finally here.

Paradise Lost

My family and I were living in SoCal. After having fled from the internal conflict as well as the infamous drug cartel activity that plagued Colombia in the ‘80s. I was a happy kid and had a great childhood. My life was everything I ever dreamed of until the night that I first tasted Aguardiente.

Aguardiente is an immensely popular form of alcohol in Colombia. It’s strong and has the flavour of anise. My family was having a party at home, and if you know anything about Latin culture it’s that we love to party.The adults always seemed to have such a good time while drinking Aguardiente. They would dance, laugh and be merry. I was a preteen and I wanted to feel whatever it was that the adults felt. That night, I snuck some of it while all the adults were busy dancing. Then I snuck a little more, and a little more after that. Soon enough I was drunk.

I wish I could tell you that it went horribly and I steered clear of the stuff until much later in life. But the truth is that I enjoyed the feeling of being carefree and letting go. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I was just a cooler person when drunk. With that mentality I became hooked to marijuana when I was 14 years old, which was then followed by meth at 19. 

Steel Bars with a Silver Lining

I was sentenced to two years in prison for drug related charges when I was 22 and I still didn’t think I had a problem. I even joined AA meetings while in prison, but it was purely to spend an hour or so outside of my tiny, cold cell. During the first dozen meetings I would just sit there. I wouldn’t introduce myself, and I sure as hell wouldn’t share anything. It all seemed so worthless to me. I felt like everyone else had a problem whereas I was just so much better and in control of myself.

The only people that ever visited me during my time there were my parents. Those visits were both the highlights and lowlights of those two years. On the one hand it was good to get to see the people that actually cared about me, the people that raised me, but on the other hand I saw their disappointment. Pretty much every visit was tainted with the faint shadow of disappointment. They tried to hide it, but it was there.

What was worse was my mother’s guilt. During one of their first visits she started sobbing and listing all the things she thought she could have done to stop this from happening. But I couldn’t deal with that. I didn’t even properly comfort her. There was this coldness that rushed over me, a hardness, I just wanted her to stop talking. It was her problem, not mine. I had enough to deal with.

It wasn’t until an NA meeting much further into my sentencing that I was able to understand my mother’s guilt. An older man stood up to share his story and I felt as if I experienced a paradigm shift. His story was one of lost love. The woman he loved had always been there for him. She always supported him, covered for him, loved him. But then she started blaming herself for the fact that he wasn’t getting better until finally, after so many years, she realized that none of it was her fault and just left.

The only woman I ever loved was my mother. She had always been my rock. I couldn’t keep the thought of losing her, once and for all, out of my mind. Being locked up, the physical consequences and the emotional consequences made me realize that I needed to change.

Sublimation

That’s when I decided to recover. I dropped the alcohol and the drugs, and became completely focused on work. I found a job that I was actually really good at. The job was to sell discount perfumes and colognes. I got so good at it that people respected me for it, I got my own little office with a desk and everything. I was even in charge of training new salespeople. I got so wrapped up in my job that I became a workaholic. Little did I know that I wasn’t recovering at all. I now know that I was simply sublimating. I was still an addict, and my work was my new high. It was just a more socially acceptable high. And of course I relapsed. I relapsed hard.

I still remember the feeling. This time I knew something was terribly wrong. I could see how much I thought I needed something to make me feel better. I would lash out and felt like my insides were screaming at me. The moment I drank or smoked or whatever, I felt a sense of relief. But the relief was accompanied by a crushing guilt and I couldn’t take it. I begged my parents for help. I’m fairly certain that I would have died if they hadn’t admitted me into a rehabilitation center in Boise. They helped me work through the guilt, the shame, the anger, everything. They encouraged me to write letters to the people I love and bare my heart and soul. It’s because of those letters that I can proudly say that my mother is now my best friend. That place damn near saved my life.

New and Improved

My life truly took a turn for the better when I met my incredible sponsor at a local AA meeting. He gave me an ultimatum. Either go through the process of passing a college course, or find another sponsor. I gave in and enrolled in a computer course. I’ve always been pretty handy with the internet and computers so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, I was in love. Soon enough, I was swimming in textbooks about digital marketing, HTML, coding, online everything. I finally found my passion.

Here I am now, and I’ve been completely clean for 8 years. In those 8 years I moved back to Colombia and co-created a website development agency right in the very city I was born. I’ve surrounded myself with good people, hard-working go-getters with good heads on their shoulders. And I know that in order to get to where I am today, I had to go through everything. I had to collapse, I had to crumble and become a whole new me. I still go to meetings, to always be mindful and always stay on the right track. My parents visit me whenever they can and one day I will get my Mom and Dad a place of their own here so they can back home.

No I in Recovery

Addiction is a selfish thing. Even though I’ve found addicts to be generally good people, our addiction makes us selfish without us even realizing it. I believe the true anchor to my recovery is the realization that it is not all about me. Of course it is somewhat about me. But it is also about the people around me and the people I love.

I have to stay sober for me, my job, my mom, and everyone else. Addiction is not a spectator sport, and I know that now, so I am grateful for every single person in my life and every opportunity that comes my way.

Hi, I’m Andy. I have been sober for 8 years and I will never let addiction hurt me or the people I love, ever again.   

Thank you to Andy and also thank you to every one of you who reached out to me via the comments or email yesterday.  It makes my heart swell even more with gratitude and love for this most wonderful sober community <3

Friday Sober Jukebox – Cups (Guest 3 years soberversary blog from MrHOF)

substitutionIt’s over a week ago that Mrs HOFL told me today I would notch up 3 years of no drinking and in something of a state of shock and awe I offered to write a guest blog. Unfortunately it completely slipped my mind again and I find myself now hastily tapping some words out. I suppose that I should consider it a good thing that I don’t count the days, or even the years, so that I’m blissfully unaware of such a thing, whatever it is. It’s a state of mind, perhaps? After all, it’s just a number and I was reading in New Scientist the other day that time doesn’t really exist anyway.


Time certainly seems to have disappeared into some kind of black hole this past week. I must admit to struggling with some of the thoughts that I have had, whether I was conscious of what time it was or what I was supposed to be doing. I thought that somehow life would be easier if I gave up drinking. I was sure that somehow I would be better fortified without fortification. What delirious delusion that consciousness would help!


So here I am trying to write a Friday Sober Jukebox blog, when previously I had imagined that music and alcohol were so passionately entwined, often on a Friday night, nay ALWAYS on a Friday night. Booze was often an integral part of my listening experience and an integral part of my own music-making process. The lyrics always seemed to flow better with the wine, in more ways than I care to list here. In fact, it pains me to confess that my own songwriting output has distinctly tailed off in the past thousand-odd days.


Mrs HOFL is now suggesting that we adjust our diets to the extent that we give up some previously integral ingredients – meat, dairy, fish, to name but three. I should make it clear that I am not averse to this idea and am keen to experiment, but the thing is, what do we replace these things with. I have given up meat before and so I know how difficult this can be. Substituting food often means just that – vege-burgers and bizarre baconesque confections spring to mind. Things to delude us that we aren’t missing out. Where is the ‘meat’ in the sandwich? What do you put in instead?


An hour ago I went for a walk. I needed to just get out and think of what to write in this post. It was then that I realised what I had to write about. If we don’t ‘use’ something, we probably need to ‘use’ something else. In lieu of hard drink we need something and lime and soda probably isn’t going to cut it. A walk seems to work for me. There are a few things that work for me, I suppose, but they’re not always obvious.  I’ve come to realise that they are quite necessary though, in order to be happy, whatever that is.


My selection on the jukebox tonight is Cups by Underworld. An old drinking buddy used to use the old term ‘in his cups’ to describe someone who was drinking. I don’t know if this is what Underworld had in mind when they wrote it, in fact I would be surprised if anyone, even Underworld knows what the lyrics mean, but I had an Underworld track in my head when I got home from work today and it may be a tenuous link but it’s Friday night, so there….

Unsurprisingly this is a tune I love to – just like the man himself who chose it tonight 😉 Similar and together in our choices in this journey we call life ….