We continue on in lockdown, living out the routines we have created and aside what we have for dinner, not much changes.
Turbulent weeks have become a norm, but this week instead of recapping on my week, I want to take you back to a specific day, to live in a moment.
I have mentioned before that I keep a little yellow book where I scrawl things down, usually when my head runs wild or I feel I need to let something out. The below is from said book.
I feel a little more unsettled pushing ‘Publish’ on this one, a bit nervous putting it out there. Probably because it exposes my immediate, unedited, brash, flipping thoughts, but I think it’s an important insight.
Here are my jottings from Wednesday morning moments after I woke up, word for word and unedited.
6am – 15 Apr
Drink dreams are coming hard and fast. I can’t control them. I don’t know why they’re coming either.
People say it’s because your mind isn’t occupied, or you’re not using your brain, but I am. It’s not like I’ve turned into a rock over the last 2 weeks.
But whatever it is, I wish it would stop. I’m sitting here in the dark with anxiety & panic.
Feels like I’m back in my addiction due to a fucking dream. A vivid one, but still.
I can almost taste the booze from the last gulp just before I woke up. I can taste the shame when I drank it. Even in my dream I know it’s wrong, it feels like I’m naughty, but I still dream it and do it.
My head feels heavy, like it’s bored of all this. I can recall everything, it’s so vivid, accurate and there’s no doubt when I woke up I questioned if it was real.
But it’s not.
Now write it out.
I was back in Cambridge, going into my old house with the blue door. I open it, stagger into the kitchen and flip the kettle on. I slammed a bottle of Glen’s vodka down on the counter and took particular notice of the RRP – presumably thinking whether I could get another bottle. I take a swig and the kettle flips off, I go to pour the water in my Pot Noodle and miss completely. I sack that off and go for a piss.
I’m now at Cambridge railway station – the old one before it was done up.
I stand in the ticket hall, but the barriers are open so I head for the toilet. I go in a cubicle and get out a Ribena bottle, take a swig, gag, and take another. I read “Lets get fucked!” on the door, and I actually see myself cackle – probably because I was fucked. Idiot.
We’re back in the house, my mate has just left. I open a can out the fridge and call him. I make up excuses for him to come back and that I’d get him a cab to the station.
After what I can only think was a big weekend with him, I did not want to be on my own – the realisation of being alone with your addiction, no thanks.
I know I’m doing something wrong and searching for someone to normalise it.
And now he’s gone, I’m not normal, I’m an addict.
I fucking hated being alone.
I felt it. I felt it in the dream.
*Why can I not shake that? When I think about booze, a lot of it comes back to this – the guilt, shame, embarrassment – but from who, myself? Talk to therapist about this*
Then I’m in the shower, drinking. Somehow a thought of visiting dad comes in – he’s always home. But I immediately realise how much harder it will be to drink there, where can I hide it?
I’m in a cab now, drunk, but trying to act compos-mentis. I ask the cab driver to stop at a shop for something. I come out with 3 Ribena bottles and vodka. I’m trying to fill them up in the back seat. Cab driver keeps looking and I tell him it’s not going anywhere. I’m now swigging vodka in the back of a cab out of Ribena bottles.
*Is this a flash back to the tube days? Ribena bottles every morning? Things are getting mixed up – London with Cambridge.*
Now I’m on a train, but I don’t have to get a train to Dad’s. Doesn’t matter. I’m still drinking the Ribena bottles, but I’m paranoid, there’s a family who is definitely on to me.
The cart comes and I order GnT’s – what fucking train am I on?! Certainly not Thameslink or Greater Abellio.
I drink the Ribena and GnT together – which probably brings more attention to it.
*Fuck, I bet I tried to hide drinking so much that I often brought more attention – not so clever, hey.*
This is a bit nasty but … I sat on the train toilet and liquid just fell out my arse like battery acid. But that’s what happens when you haven’t eaten more than 2 bits of bread in two days, or a few Oreos.
Christ, I don’t miss liquid lava shits. I heard the call for my stop, I opened the door to a woman staring at me, she looks me up and down. Not sure why.
I’m back at Cambridge, but now the station has been done up – seems I’ve gone round and round.
I called dad, waited 2 mins, calculated how long he’d be and ran to that shithole of a pub next to the station.
I’ve got my bike with me. I’m wheeling it round like a dog. I don’t lock it up, it’s always with me, even when my mate was here, I always had it.
*I always got that panic when I had to travel anywhere. Like now when I smoke before any journey, no matter how small. I needed a drink right before any journey.*
I sit with a Guinness, neck it, barman comments (they always did – twats), get a GnT, phone rings, dad’s here, finish it, get in the car.
Blank – that’s it, all I got, dream over
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
Can’t shake the reality though – often have dreams, well every night, but they’re often in places I don’t know, people I don’t know.
This was one of my best mates, my shared house, my dad, a station I knew, and the worst thing – I feel it now.
“When your brain isn’t used…” blah blah blah – Fuck that, it’s happening for a reason.
Need to shake this off, this will mess my day up.
The bike is significant – during the last of my drinking days, I’d always say I was going for a bike ride to mum and I’d ride round the corner, stop and get off – otherwise I’d probably be hit. I’d wheel it all the way to the shop, up the old railway path and then home.
Why didn’t I just lock it up somewhere and then get it on the way home?
^ oops, trying to be a better alcoholic right there.
This one has rattled me.
12pm – 18 Apr
It’s now 12pm and it’s still sitting heavy and my mind is still spinning it. I haven’t had these feelings in a while, these are the feelings I had when I was 2 months sober, not 14 months. But it just shows you what a situation like lockdown can bring.
Call more people today and reach out to stay active. This is all stuff to talk through Friday with my therapist
This dream has really gotten to me.
I know they’re not real and they’re all in my head but it both fascinates and scares me how strong that addict brain is. That’s how much this addiction is steering my life; it’s taking over my dreams.
There’s no doubt someone could easily be triggered to reach for the bottle by this in the morning – hell I was, the first thing I thought was of happiness, back to my drinking days, feeling content – I just didn’t act on it. But someone in a different place might have.
Doesn’t matter though, I didn’t act and I AM SOBER.
I’m grateful for everything. My life, support, people, love, care, health, SOBRIETY.
505 days ago I was fucked, probably blacked out face down on a plate of food at my parents house.
505 days ago my mum thought I wasn’t going to wake up most mornings and hovered outside my room until I made a sound.
505 days ago I would not be writing and reflecting.
505 days ago I had a brain that didn’t think I was an addict.
But today I know I’m an addict.
A proud recovering addict.
I’ve worked fucking hard for this and no shitty dream is taking that away.
Or lockdown for that matter.
And it shouldn’t for any of us in recovery.
Addiction is no easy road and recovery is even harder, but it’s the road I’d rather be on. Anything to not live out that dream, again.
I’m strong enough to have dreams like this and while they scare me, in time I can rationalise and reflect on them.
While a dream ruined that day, there’s plenty of days ahead and they will be sober ones, just like today.
Your addict brain will come and go trying to tease you back, but you’ve got to recognise that and just gently, but firmly, put it back in its cage.
Stay safe and keep talking.
Love, Ben x