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“Who is this?”  I was phoning an unnamed number after someone left an alarming message on my mobile. Turns out it was an ex colleague who had phoned the wrong person in a moment of ethyl-sodden desperation.

I listened for the next ten minutes as he told me parts of his story; his descent into the pit of alcoholism; his tentative exploration of methods of recovery. As he spoke, his words painted a picture of a broken man, one arm outstretched, the other still grasping the bottle.

“AA?”, I tested. Careful.

“Tried it. Couldn’t get on with all the Higher Power stuff”

And suddenly, I saw the light! – How difficult it is for a person struggling to recover to open your mind to something different.

People who battle addictions, OCD and Eating Disorders so often have rigid patterns of thought, unbending ‘rules’.  Without realising it, our minds can be so closed to new ways of thinking, of seeing our world, of experiencing other perspectives. We give up quickly and often dismiss possibilities; “I’ll never be able to…”  “Other people might manage that but I can’t…”   “All that fluffy stuff… it’s not for me… I’m not LIKE that…”

It’s that dismissive thinking, that hopelessness, that makes the addict’s recovery process so difficult. Just like a horse with blinkers, the world is so small, so narrowed. How much do I miss when I refuse / can’t open my mind?

There’s a whole world out there, one which is, as yet, unfamiliar. We need to step through the wardrobe… A different world to the one in which we lived before, lies in wait.

Why not chance it? Dare to consider it? Risk NOT dismissing it?

Hold On – Paul Brandt.  Continue reading

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An interlude in my journey

Sometimes we have ‘enforced moments’… And they can be beautiful too! Don’t get me wrong… I huff and sigh at the flat – cap -wearing old bloke whose milometer hasn’t pointed to 50 for at least a decade.  And who hasn’t felt the sheer rush of triumph as they got served quicker than the person they picked as a ‘marker’ in a different supermarket queue…

But honestly, most days will contain an ‘enforced moment’ (or two) and instead of the tension at the steering wheel, or the unhappy shuffling and (internal) eye rolling when someone takes ‘too long’, we’d do better to discipline ourselves to look for some beauty and to take the moment as a gift. After all, what’s the hurry really? We’ve got our whole lives.

Moments Like These

Moments Like These

A moment of sheer beauty. I snapped this pic of the unfathomably blue sky, a backdrop for little daubs of white floss.
Poet W.H. Davies wrote the poem, ‘Leisure’, asking
‘what is this life if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare?—No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.’

It’s simple message stands the test of time. Life is a series of moments. In recovery, some of those moments feel like the jagged edge of the ripping saw, others like the sharpened tip of the sabre. That makes it all the more important to take the time to ‘stand and stare’. Catch the moments of purity, of otherness.
Mindfulness, CBT, DBT, NLP (acronyms on a postcard to…) I’ll take poetry over any of them.