“But what about books?” I hear you ask. After all it does say at the top of this blog “A lifetime of music, books, addiction and recovery”. So where are the books?
Well they’re here, on my desk and on my bookshelves and, most of all, on my Kobo, my e-reader. I read addictively, which is to say I start another book as soon as I have finished the one I am reading and I always want more books, even though I have far more than I could read if I live to be a hundred.
At the moment I’m reading The Restless Generation by Pete Frame, about the birth of rock music in Britain in the 1950s. It’s fascinating, and Frame goes into great detail about the trad jazz movement, the birth of skiffle and its eventual mutation into rock-and-roll. Being quite old I remember a lot of the performers and songs – Mary Wilde, Billy Fury, Skeeter Davis and many others. Pete Frame, if you don’t already know his work, is the originator of the Rock Family Tree Continue reading
I started writing about this in my previous post which you can read here.
So I ended up sitting on Sandylands Promenade, between Heysham and Morecambe, on the morning of April 22nd 1984 (I always thought it was the 21st until I checked on Google Calendar).
Called Sunshine Slopes on the photo but known to me as Sunny Slopes
Anyway, there I was, no money, nothing to drink, not sure if I had any baccy or papers but I certainly felt as though I was at the end of something.
And it was then that things changed. Continue reading
I thought I would cover this in one post but I realise that I’ve quite a bit to say about ‘Why Me’. So I’ll be writing more over the next few days.
I sometimes think about the question “Why me?” Why did I recover from my addictions and others didn’t? I’ve seen enough people die along the way, people who seemed to struggle with addiction as much as I had, and had gone through worse experiences than me; who had gone to 12 step meetings, dropped out, come back, gone into treatment (something I never did), taken overdoses, walked into Morecambe Bay and drowned, or were just found dead in bed.
So what was it about me? What did I do that made me different? The answer? I don’t really know. Honestly. That’s not some sort of false modesty or attempt to be enigmatic. I genuinely don’t know.
I can look at how it happened and make a stab to some answers, at what I believe led to my recovery. Continue reading
One thing I remember from my time in AA is the phrase “A bridge to normal living”. As to how far my life is ‘normal’ is not for me to judge. I certainly do lots of normal things like washing up, cooking, cleaning, shopping and providing a taxi service for my 16-year-old daughter (she’ll be 17 on Monday and at the moment has some school friends round for pizzas and drinks and Denise’s brother sent a bottle of champagne for them to drink to their successes at GCSE and the start of sixth form – for me it will be coke).
For pleasure I read (voraciously), play my guitar (not as much as I should), write this blog and spend time with my family.
That’s me with the bald head. We were at Superspirit Camp which I’ll write about at some point
Addiction doesn’t take up a huge amount of my time today, except when I’m thinking and writing about it for this blog.
So these other things are, in a sense, my recovery. I didn’t recover to spend my time thinking about alcohol and other drugs; I spent enough time doing that when I was using.
No, today I’m on that ‘bridge to normal living’, not that I believe I’ll ever get to the other side. But I’ll tell you something, the view from here is pretty good.
I need to make clear at the start that I am not a member of any 12 step fellowship. I did get my recovery through AA and NA and went to meetings, on and off for about 5 years before I got into recovery, and then two or three times a week after that. I haven’t been to a meeting for, it must be, 15 years, so that will be around the time this story starts.
I wanted to clear that up because I don’t want anyone to think I am breaking my anonymity (a very important 12 step principle).
So, on with the story.
My job as a drug and alcohol trainer
In the late 90s I started work as a drug and alcohol trainer with a local NHS Trust. One of the reasons I got the job was because of my experience of addiction and recovery. On my first day I met with my manager. She said that, as this was a new post, I needed to visit local drug and alcohol agencies to get some idea of what training was needed and how I could be of use.
So I did, and it was an interesting experience!
I’ve always been pretty open about my addiction and recovery so I had no hesitation about telling various drug and alcohol workers and managers that my recovery was due to 12 step fellowships.
The response was striking. As soon as I mentioned 12 step I could almost see them looking around in panic for cloves of garlic and wooden stakes! Here was this brainwashed religious fanatic coming in to poison their minds, and those of their clients. Continue reading