Playing Out Proverbs 11:14

Yesterday evening I sat down to catch up on my journal, I had failed to make an entry for Friday night, so I completed that entry and then last night’s.  That’s when it hit me really, how the events of Friday evening hadn’t really bothered me.

My past issues with drinking are no secret and form the basis of this blog, the recovery from struggling alcoholic, who when everything fell apart became so desperate to end his own life, only to find a way out through turning to God.

For about a year after I quit drinking I was still going to my local pub, quite happy in the same company of those I had previously drank with, but happy to enjoy just a lime and soda.  Eventually those friends drifted away and I just stopped going there early last year, around the time of my first sober anniversary.

Then around this time last year I began to sink into a depression, things began to change, everyday situations became that little bit harder to deal with, things that just weren’t right were almost impossible to deal with, I found myself spending time in tears for no reason at all.

As Christmas approached there were a few events that I was previously invited to and had agreed to go to, the first being the work’s Christmas dinner and the other being a good friend’s 40th birthday party.

Then a few weeks before the Christmas dinner, someone at work called me weak for having a drinking habit and deciding not to drink.  Obviously this person’s life is in such great shape they have never had to struggle at all and fell into a trap which they could not escape, the endless cycle that being an alcoholic involves.  So when it came to the day of the dinner, I had a massive panic attack and really didn’t want to go.

I couldn’t bring myself to get ready, I had made it clear well before the incident at work that I was only going for the meal and then going home, but now I didn’t want to go at all.  I had no fear of drinking, I just didn’t want to be there.

It was a last minute decision, but I pulled myself together, got ready and walked there, got myself a coke and stayed for the meal.  There was a sense of anxiousness all the way through the evening, it was like I was just watching the clock, not really involving myself in any conversation, just passing the time.  Then when everyone else left to carry on drinking around town, I walked home alone, the way I had always intended, but happy to be away from there.

Then when it came to my friend’s birthday I cracked once again.  He was one of the first people outside of those at Church that I told about my drinking problem and was extremely understanding, we had known each other since school and when I needed money, he gave me a few days work here and there.

But come the day I caved in, my panic set in and this time, I just hid.  I didn’t go, I couldn’t even bring myself to text or call him, to explain, I just chickened out, the fear had set in and I was hiding away from the world.

On both occasions I had no fear about drinking, I had no problem with being with people that drank, yet the fear of going into one of these places was so great I couldn’t do it, not without a deep internal struggle.  I made the decision a long time ago that I wouldn’t be going to this year’s Christmas Dinner, I don’t want to go, I don’t want to feel uncomfortable again, regardless of what anyone says, I won’t be changing my mind.

Yet all that being said, I’ve found myself in a pub twice this year and on both occasions I’ve had no fear, no worry, no panic, nothing.  Last night made me wonder why that was, that these two occasions were no problem, yet still the other ones are and I found the answer.

Proverbs 11:14

Proverbs 11:14

Both occasions I have been in the safety of my Connect Group, an abundance of Counselors.

I joined my Connect Group back in January last year, some of those people in the group knew my testimony and my problems, some were new friends that I have come to know that story as the weeks have passed.  I think I have the dubious honour of since January last year, being the only ever present, certainly in our Connect group, but in all the Church’s Connect groups too, that’s how much being within the company of these people means to me, I never miss.

So when a social night was arranged for not only our group, but a couple of others to come together for a quiet summer drink by the river, I had no problem with saying yes.  Even though that even back then I was definite that I wasn’t going to Christmas dinner because I didn’t want to be in that atmosphere, I was more than happy to sit with my Coke whilst my friends enjoyed a beer or a wine, my two old friends, with no fear, no panic, none at all.

Then a month or so ago, the idea of the group entering a pub quiz to raise money for one of the local schools came up, my reputation of being the quiz master of our group and indeed the Church meant the idea was welcomed with enthusiasm.  Once again, I had no problem with saying yes, because I felt safe with these people, even though a new couple who know very little about my testimony,  had agreed to go with us, I still had no fear at all, I was looking forward to it.

We had a great night, granted we were in the lead until the very last round, just missing out by two points, with a dubious double point picture round to finish, but we did well.  Once again I had no problems sitting there with a Coke whilst the others drank, the company meant more than anything else.

These people of my Connect Group have stood beside me all along, they’ve prayed for me when I’ve been struggling, they have become more than just friends.

My decision regarding Christmas hasn’t changed, I still won’t be going, nothing is going to change that.  It’s not that I dislike the people I work with, it’s not even that I fear drinking or don’t want to be around others drinking, it’s just that I feel far more content in the safety of those that I know that have my back.

Today is my 934th SoberDay, my 1000th SoberDay will be on Christmas even and that is definitely one anniversary I won’t be missing.

DON’T BE AFRAID by GREEN RIVER ORDINANCE
There’s a ringing in my head, there’s a ringing in my heart
That don’t belong
Drowning desperately in red
I know all the things I’ve said that don’t belong
And heavy hearted, I hear it calling

Don’t be afraid, any longer
But don’t be afraid, you’re so much stronger
Than this

There are lines we haven’t crossed
Aspirations that we tossed along the way
Even though we said we could
I just shook my head and stood there
In the way
And heavy hearted, I hear it calling

Don’t be afraid, any longer
But don’t be afraid, you’re so much stronger
Than this, know my love is here

There’s a spark in the way, of the dream that will no fade
It’s a light, in the dark, and you cannot find your way
Whoa, whoa.
There’s a spark in the way, another dream that will not fade,
There’s a light in the dark, that’s found your way

But don’t be afraid, any longer
But don’t be afraid, you’re so much stronger, you’re so much stronger
Than you used to be
You’re so much stronger, you’re so much stronger
Than you used to be
Know my love is so much stronger

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