It’s a long and complex story this one. It wasn’t just straight forward change. There were lots and lots stagnation points in my life. I have a lazy streak that’s absolutely horrible and I can end up doing next to nothing all day. However, I have learned to try and fix this when I notice it happening. So this will be the most detailed explanation I have ever given on how I changed my life around from the spiralling mess it once was. I’ll start at the beginning.
Life for me at 26 was up and down. I had a job, one that paid the bills and allowed me to squander great amounts in the local boozer so I was happy. I shared my house with a flatmate and split the bills down the middle. It was on the easier side to afford stuff than before. I was slowly coming out of a deep depression and had spent a good three years on sickness benefit beforehand. Yeah, these were the days when the doctors would write you off on the sick for a year.
People didn’t understand when you were on the sick. When you had just came out of a deep deep depression, nearly committed suicide and spent a year in hospital. I looked healthy. I should get a job. And boy were people straight talking when it came to their views. Mind you we’re talking nearly 20 years ago now so this will be on the cusp of the dark ages of Psychiatry.
Anyway. The flatmate that I lived with at the time was very self-destructive. The less I say about him the better. The only solitude I could seek from him was at work. I enjoyed work and I had recently taken up a position cooking and serving breakfasts to the staff at the local Nuclear Power Station. Sizewell, if you must know. However that job turned sour in the sense that the cooks decided that they did not like me. And talking to management; she was a hateful bitch. Her ideas of positive management techniques were to shout at us from the top of her voice and shame us into the work we were doing. It was a very negative working environment there; partially because the cooks were angry, spiteful women and management only listened to the cooks.
So my job was starting to go down the pan, I could feel the tension at work. I’m very emotionally intelligent and back then that extra sensory data I didn’t know how to compile it. And me like the normal man I dealt with my difficulties by getting blasted at the pub and at home. This escalated and I ended up being let go from my job. This is where the shit truly hit the fan. Mainly because I needed to pay rent, bills and bills for the fun stuff. It was a scary thought.
And I remember sitting down at the job centre speaking to the disability advisor, she had motioned me over whilst I was sitting waiting to make a claim for benefit. She told me that there was this place a few miles away that specialises in the troubles that I’ve been through. And whilst I get help I can return the favour by doing admin and other work. It seemed a good idea, but I was somewhat sceptical because of the whole mental health aspect of it. I had been heavily involved with these services. They were bad news. Yet, I thought what the hell. I might as well give it a try. She arranged me to meet with a lady soon afterwards.
That night I sat in a darkened room, my life in tatters. I had no money. 0. Nil. I couldn’t buy alcohol, I couldn’t buy electricity, and I couldn’t use my second love – which was the Internet. I remember sitting that night, close to tears, thinking, I’m never going to drink again. So I sat there. Thought to myself, Saturday night I will have a drink because I’ll have some cash then. And then, that’s it. One last blow out. Bam. Done.
I met the lady on Wednesday morning. I remember wearing my best clothes and looking reasonably presentable from the basic wardrobe that I had. We talked. I told her how I was hurting, my life story. Actually, it felt good to talk to someone that was actually ‘listening’ to me for a change. It felt as if she understood my pain, understood where I was coming from. I hadn’t actually met anyone like this before. She had me sold. I told her that really all I want from life is a happy family a good job and a mortgage. That was it, nothing else. She knew exactly where I was coming from.
So the Saturday came and I blasted four pints down me. I didn’t really feel like drinking that night. Perhaps it was because I was giving up. I remember telling all of my acquaintances what I was doing.. all the while they were edging away from me. Of course they would; addictions work greater in numbers you know! I went home, I remember the night. I fell asleep, and waited to start volunteering on Monday.
Monday came. And went. I remember feeling nervous there. I remember realising that there was a lot of people with very visible disabilities there. I didn’t know how I felt about that. It was scary, scary trying to be non-judgemental. I’ve always tried hard not to judge, it’s not good. Judging comes from a place internally. It shows who you are rather than who they are. I’m happy to say that I did enjoy it and I did feel good being there.
Two weeks into the program I nearly had a slip up. I faked being sick and I went down to the local store and bought myself a big bottle of vodka, some coke and a large bag of ice. I started to miss the alcohol, I was feeling tension. I wanted to get so drunk I could just taste it. Somehow I managed to pop into my friends house to tell them what I had done. Perhaps I needed to justify it before I went and done it. Maybe I really knew what I was doing was a big mistake
Sue, my friend did an excellent job in convincing me to hand over my stuff. She knew I was making a big mistake. She knew I was off on the path back to the gutter. She held out her hand and gave me the choice. Told me that she didn’t agree with what I was doing and said she’d take it off me. I knew she was right. Deep inside I knew she was doing this for my good. So I handed it over and sheepishly strolled back to my place. Obviously they had an epic party that night! Haha. I actually don’t know. I don’t think I ever asked what she did with the alcohol.
I talked with my manager the next day. What I had intended to do and why I had intended to do it. I felt ashamed, felt a failure that I had done what I did. But the good point to take away from this was that I had not taken the steps. I was on my first route to complete sobriety. I was advised to seek counselling after this. My manager thought it would be an awesome idea. I had never had it before. So I did. I went to my doctors and sought out an avenue. I was applied with six sessions.
Anyone who takes counselling would say it’s a double edged sword. One day you could walk out feeling as if the world was your best friend and the next day the world could come crashing upon me. I had six sessions. We worked hard and I took a main point away from these sessions. On the second to last meeting with my counsellor I went back home and thought very hard what she had to say. She had asked me if I thought women appreciated “the piss being ripped out of them”. That was my terminology for a laugh and a joke at their expense. The usual pushing the girl that you like in the playground nonsense because you can’t properly communicate how you feel.
I went back home that night and thought about that question. Thought hard. To be honest this question was fucking me up the arse with a high speed train. The thoughts were negative. Seriously negative. It was like shit, holy fuck negative. To be fair to me I hadn’t thought negatively in a good few months. This was new again. After a good few hours rolling the thoughts over in my head like a tumble dryer I had an epiphany. A Eureka moment.
I’m just like my Dad. In every way.
Jesus. This was serious. The tears started to come. I cried and I cried and I cried. And I cried some more. In the fetal position. I wept. My dad was a fucking arsehole. Does this mean I am too? Then the positive thought started to roll back in to me. Well, I can change this. Now that I’m aware of how I am like my Dad I can change it in every possible way that I can. After a messy night of tremendous thoughts I took myself to bed. I was tired. I was weary. I needed sleep. Surprisingly I didn’t need a drink.
I had a fair few Epiphanies whilst at that voluntary place. I was like my Dad, My Mum and Dads troubles are between them and not me. Women are actually just like me, trying to be nice and make sense of it all. I am a good person as I always try and do good. I’m not a bad person. I have a huge amount of potential.
I didn’t learn all those through counselling though. Counselling is an expensive game and that’s why I was only allowed six sessions on the NHS. If I wanted more then I would have had to pay. I learned through a continual development plan. I had weekly, sometimes daily talks with my Manager. She helped me lots. She understood. She had an idea what I was going through.
About six months into my volunteering and the exact same time sober I had what I like to call “The Great Awakening” I was sitting minding my own business when I overheard people talking about some life related stuff. I thought about it for a while and I realised that were I presented with such a situation I would really struggle to deal with it on my own. And again, it hit my like a train. I’m just like a child. All those years binge drinking. All those years pickling my brain with alcohol has led me to learning nothing since High School. Absolutely nothing. Just detailed inventory of what’s in a boozer. I haven’t drank since that Saturday night. I don’t feel I need it now.
It was there I also completed my NVQ 2 Business Administration. It was the first actual qualification I had since high school. I was mightily proud. And then I took myself to college to do a GCE in Applied ICT. Basically that college course taught me about the effects technology has had on society and the change it has brought. After I finished that course I began paid work at the Charity I was volunteering at. Looking back I probably wasn’t ready to do the work that I was doing, but they had me on a change program called “workstep” – an initiative to help people with disabilities into work with support.
And would you credit that on my very first day of work I met my soon to be wife, that would bear my only child. It was absolutely fantastic getting to know her. Those were the fun days; getting to know each other. Talking excitedly about one another. It was awesome. We made our first date on the last day of her program, obviously there were strict rules that prevented us from any sort of contact until after she was gone and that’s the way that it panned out.
Natalie was a teacher and it was from here that she helped my manager and I achieve our teachers qualifications. So when Natalie and I were fully dating I was a tutor in the community. I also learned to drive. I had never thought about driving before because my wallet was always empty after a weekend, but it was being fully paid for me. How awesome!
So I learned to drive. From there life sort of stagnated a bit and we were all made redundant because of sector cuts. Which was understandable given the harsh government that had just risen to power. Cuts Cuts Cuts. They expected us to do it all for free. But how do we live? You just don’t happen across this specialised help. It’s not readily available.
I spent two years basically unemployed. It was harsh, it was rough but I filled a great deal of time researching and learning things. I learned about the History of Britain. I learned about the Industrial Revolution. I learned about GrecoRoman times. I basically learned a great deal of history, where we came from, the factors that influence us today and where we’re headed. I learned Psychology. And I also took myself to distance learning University. I learned Business with IT. It was my bachelors (with honours) degree. I’d like to say that I didn’t complete it though. Because of the pressure at my next job.
My next job was a BIG step up in responsibility. I didn’t realise that. To me I was going to set up a few services in the Community and bam. I’ve done that before. I knew all the detailed theory behind it all. Applying that theory was a different story all together. It was a whole different ball game to me. It was a HUGE learning curve. One thing that was completely strange to me was working in an office with people that were so diverse and so opinionated it took me aback at first.
The Charity I worked for prided itself on self-development and striving people to meet their potential which included allowing staff members to voice their own opinions loudly. I wasn’t used to that. Especially when it conflicted with mine. I was used to working in places where everyone agreed with the Manager and that was end of story. This was definitely a new avenue for me.
Yet working in that environment really, really helped me in more ways than one. The most important lesson that I learned was that you can be your own worst critic. Yeah, people can say things to you but it’s how you let those words react in your mind that counts. If you know your faults to the finest detail, why let it bother you? If you think it then obviously it’s known to others. It’s fine. You have good points too. I also learned that I had far more good points about myself than I had initially imagined. I learned them all, and my failures. And I didn’t give my failures the air to breath. Everyone has failures, no-one is perfect.
I also learned a huge huge deal about the human ego. When you learn to navigate the human ego you have human interaction absolutely sorted. People are driven by their ego. Some people have absolutely massive egos, other people have small egos. It’s how we play to them that makes a difference. I learned to drive from the back seat. I learned how to cut my ego out and save it for back home with the wife. It’s a great lesson to learn.
I achieved my Project Management qualification from there too. It was top notch training, and actually a cut above the rest. The methods we learned were far more productive than any other I had came across.
I learned that probably the best thing about me is that on initial meetup with people I have never met before I instantly like them. Everyone. Everyone I meet. And that really helps with non-judgementalism. It’s hard to judge someone when you understand the reasons behind why they are acting the way they are; that and you like them. It’s a good quality. I find it hard to dislike people. I also understand that people have a background and they act the way they do because of certain circumstances that have led them to behave that way.
We’re all a victim of circumstance. Even the President of the United States, The Queen and David Cameron. Circumstantial. They could have easily have been born to a crack dealer and they wouldn’t be where they are now.
So now I sit blogging my story to you. I’m actually not too sure where it will take me next. I’m self-employed now. I write for a living but barely surviving with that. I have a really good feeling about it though. I love what I’m doing. I have a passion for this. I think we will be going good places together. Stay strong readers, stay positive.
“There is ALWAYS a light at the end of the tunnel”
- Originally blogged on https://epicjournalofmylife.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/my-path-to-change/