Tag Archives: Alive.

So Now I’m Unsocial

For an alcoholic the Christmas Season brings it fair share of obstacles, it hard to turn around and not hear about anything that doesn’t involve alcohol.  Needless to say the TV is full of adverts for beers, wines and spirits and the hot topic of discussion around work is the work’s Christmas do, it seems the whole world looks to go into party mode over the Christmas season.

For weeks now there has been on and off discussion about where to go for our work’s Christmas meal and drink, these have been discussions that I haven’t been involve in, firstly because when talk has started I’ve laid low and kept out of the way, but mainly because nobody has bother to ask me my opinion, the “in crowd” have been making all the decisions as usual.

In truth it’s not that I mind about not being involved, because pretty much after last year I had already made the decision I would not be going anyway.  Last year in the run up to the Christmas meal I was called “weak” by a work colleague for choosing not to drink, not strong for resisting temptation, but weak for having the problem in the first place.  This was repeated earlier this year also, I was absolutely livid then, it took some calming down that night when I left work and some strength to go back to work the next day and carry on as if nothing had been said.

Last year I almost pulled out of going in the days up to the meal, I was still struggling with the depression I had fallen into the month before and the medication was just beginning to take effect.  Even on the day of the meal I still really didn’t want to go, right up to the last half an hour before I needed to leave I still hadn’t decided whether I was going or not, but in the end I reluctantly set off and met them at the pub/restaurant for the meal.

As the night went on I felt more and more uncomfortable and was largely ignored through the evening, not that I really wanted to be part of any of the conversation that was going on around the table anyway, I just wanted the meal to end so I could go home and the others continue with their drinking and as soon as it had I said goodbye and went home with a sense of relief.

So this morning I was back at work after a long weekend off, it seems that over the last few days further arrangements for this year’s meal have been made.  A few weeks back when the one time the tentative meal arrangements where mentioned to me, I stated I wasn’t going anyway and no more was said.  So this morning it was clear that arrangements had been finalised and my Boss turned to me and told me the details and asked if I was coming, to which I reply no!

I was asked why I wasn’t going and I was honest and said I didn’t want to go last year, but forced myself to and was uncomfortable all night, this year I’m still not comfortable with these situations and wasn’t prepared to put myself through it this year and it was left at that.

Obviously through the day discussed were made by other members regarding the arrangements and I one person came to me and asked why I was being “unsocial”!

I tried to explain, yet this is the sort person whose opinion is the only one valid, also the main source of conversation topic which I tried to avoid last year, so needless to say he didn’t really want to listen and understand.

“You could still come and have a soft drink!”

Oh really, they sell those sort of things in restaurants, I never knew!

It didn’t matter I wasn’t comfortable about the situation, he pressed on.

“My friend doesn’t drink, he just comes to the pub and has a coffee!”

My reply was “that’s your friend, not me, I’m not comfortable with going, so I’m not going!”

He then asked “Why are you being so aggressive about it?”

My response was that he was the one pressuring the situation and not listening to or understanding the answers, I stood my ground, reiterated my decision not go and broke off the conversation.

I don’t expect everyone to understand what I have gone through to get so far with this sober life, I don’t expect anyone to fully understand what was causing me to drink the way I did back then, all I would like is that they accept my reasons for doing what I am doing and decisions I make.

I may have to face further awkward conversions over the next few days, until the meal has passed by on Saturday night, but trust me, I will be far more comfortable and far happier sat here at home with a soft drink and my kids around me, than sat listening to those who like the sound of the own voices, which get louder and louder after each drink.

I am thankful for everyday that God has given me since I found the strength to get through that first day without drinking, so far I found that strength for the last 985 days and nobody is going to stop me adding to that number.

 ALIVE by KIM WALKER-SMITH
You breathe Your life into my lungs,
You bring to life these dry bones,
I know that You’re alive

You call me one of Your own
In my heart You made Your home
I know that You’re alive

I’m coming alive

You call me one of Your own
In my heart You made Your home
I know that You’re alive

I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive, He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive, He’s alive

To all the dry and weary souls
Take joy, take heart, be filled with hope
I know that He’s alive

To all the ones who have no home
Get up and run, we’re going home
I know that He’s alive

I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive, He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive, He’s alive

It may get loud
The grave is empty now
It may get wild
His love is like no other

It may get loud
The grave is empty now
It may get wild
His love is like no other
It may get loud
The grave is empty now
It may get wild
His love is like no other

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive, He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive, He’s alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive, He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive, He’s alive

Two Days To Two Years!

This week can’t go fast enough, I’m just counting down the days, they seem to be passing by so slowly, not in that they are dragging, but just won’t pass quick enough, Saturday just can’t come quick enough!

As it stands tonight at 104 weeks or 728 days, since that night I will definitely forever hold as a defining moment in my life, 29th March 2012, the date of my sobriety.

That night my prayers from the previous week were realised, I found that strength to resist, the strength to fight against an addiction which was ruining my life, an addiction which had driven away those close to me and left me on the brink.

It hasn’t been an easy ride, at times it been painful, both physically and mentally, but it’s been worth walking through that pain.  Although I don’t have everything I want or wish for in my life right, there are still things that haunt me from my past, but if I’m really honest, life is still so much better than it was before.  If I hadn’t have stopped and fought my instincts to call Gareth on that March morning, in turn starting a journey with God which would just ten days later provide me with the strength to put behind the past and walk towards freedom.

In those two years there are so many times where I can say that God has definitely had His hand on my life, where I have felt His presence.  In the dark times, when the pain is there, it knowing that God’s personal touch has been with me through it all which has been a comfort that has helped me through.

So this is the start, it may be two years, but it’s the beginning of an amazing journey, I know there is something amazing in store for me, it may not seem it at the moment, but things are turning around, the great times will come, I continue trust in His promise.

ALIVE by KIM WALKER-SMITH
You breathe Your life into my lungs
You bring to life these dry bones
I know that You’re alive

You called me one of Your own
In my heart You’ve made Your home
I know that You’re alive
I’m coming alive

You called me one of Your own
In my heart You’ve made Your home
I know that You’re alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive

To all the dry and weary souls
Take joy, take heart
Be filled with hope
I know that He’s alive

To all the ones who have no home
Get up and run we’re going home
I know that He’s alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive 

It may get loud
The grave is empty now
It may get wild
His love is like no other

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive 

The Day I Came Alive, Simply The Best Day Ever

Daily Prompt: The Best Day Ever

Let’s just say in my 40 years I’ve had some great days, some really special days like the birth of my two kids and meeting Victoria, then memorable days like the passing of my black belt, winning the National Championships twice, competing at the world Championships in Australia, these were all great days that will be treasured forever, certainly a lot better than today anyway, this has it’s fair to say been my worst Christmas Day ever, without fail, but that’s another story.

But as for being able to enjoy the best day ever, well I’ve believe I’ve already had that, all of the above where indeed unbelievable days, but the day of Sunday 8th July 2012, will never be beaten for me, it was just perfect, that day I can honestly say that God spoke directly to me and for the first time I heard Him loud and clear.

Sunday 8th July 2012

It was just your normal Sunday morning, but there were a series of odd things that were to happen on this day, as I got ready for Church, I looked out of the window to check the weather, well it was overcast, it looked like it could rain, I had just my jeans and a t-shirt on, so I checked the weather on my phone, overcast and a chance of rain, so do I take a coat?

As I walked through the kitchen towards the back door an odd thought came into my head, “I not taking a coat, I don’t mind if I get wet today!” Okay, so no coat, it wasn’t that cold, but a bit of an odd thought, but that’s it no coat, let’s go then.

I walked to Church in my usual, slightly odd looking power walk, well okay freaky looking, walked into Church, hugged a few people on the way, hang on a second, did I just say hugged a few people, yes, yes I did, but that’s not usually me, I surprise those I hug, just as much as it surprises me, this day is getting stranger, but it’s about to get even weirder.

I take my seat, at the back left corner as usual, if you walk into our Church, you will find me quite easily. Today wasn’t a normal service, it was Baptism Sunday, this had been announced some weeks earlier, I had thought about it, but as I had only been in Church three months and still felt like I had a lot to learn, feeling that I wasn’t ready yet for that step, I had decided to put it off until later in the year, when I had more time to prepare. The service starts with Worship as usual, three lively songs, then Gareth our Pastor takes the stage, he announces it’s Baptism Sunday, but then makes a statement he says he has never made before, at this point everything changes, the weird, just gets weirder!

Gareth challenges everyone, that in this Church today someone will make the decision to get Baptised today, an on the spot decision, it had never happened before, but Gareth had a belief that something amazing was going to happen today in the presence of God.

Now at that point everything changed, I froze, I literally froze, I couldn’t breathe, my lungs, my heart, my chest had just frozen, everything felt cold, the air was gone for that moment, then it went. I knew then that He was talking to me, not Gareth, he just mouthed the words, God was talking to me, he was calling me out, he was telling me it was my time to stand up and be counted. Gareth proceeded to say that they would find a change of clothes and a towel, he didn’t know where from, but they would provide somehow.

I stood frozen to the spot as Gareth left the stage, we sang one more song and then a break for a short time to meet and great friends, I stood there absolutely still, oblivious to anything going on around me, having a conversation with myself in my own head. “He’s talking to you, God is talking to you, what are you going to do about it?” “Are you doing this or what?” There was only one answer, “YES”. I looked around the hall, spotted Gareth and set off, ignoring every face I passed, I was on a mission, I interrupted Gareth, he turned and I just asked “Okay, where do I get a spare set of clothes?” He realised what I was saying and it was all agreed, too late to back out now, in for a penny in for a pound. I went back to take my seat, I had a grin bigger than a Cheshire Cat, I couldn’t believe what I had just done, I’m never that impulsive, I don’t work that way, but things were happening here that at the time I couldn’t understand, but I was going with it.

Part of the Baptism service is that, each of those who have made a decision to be Baptised, prepare a statement of how they came to God and tell their story on stage, so Gareth called out the three people who had made the decision some weeks earlier and were prepared, I don’t think I was supposed to go up there, I hadn’t prepared anything, I was still reeling from what had already happened, but again impulse took over, I stood up, marched to the stage, took Gareth completely by surprise and joined the other three, I was literally lifted from my seat to that stage, my normal self would never have done this, but today was quite obviously, no normal day.

Speaking on stage, in front of a couple of hundred people, is not easy, the three before me had written statements that they were reading, but they were struggling with nerves, they were quiet, losing their track, even unable to read their own writing, as each one got more nervous than the previous one, I stood waiting my turn. I am out of my bubble here, this is not me, I don’t act impulsively, I don’t push myself to the front in places I’m not comfortable, but it wasn’t like that today, I wanted that mic, I wanted to speak, not sure what, but I had something to say.

I took the mic, looked out to the crowd, not down, not avoiding the gaze of the crowd, I was looking them in the eye, I told them how my life had collapsed, I told them I had been an alcoholic for the past 3 years, I told them how I made the hardest phone call of my life back in March when everything had felt lost, how I had met Gareth and Alex, telling them just about everything.

I had prepared some words to send to Gareth in text when the moment was right, but the moment was now, these words just came out

“That night I took from them an hour and half of their lives, in return they gave me the keys to the rest of my life and the strength and courage to unlock the door and go through it, to a better life”.

I say these words with strength and passion, the response from the audience is fantastic. I proceed to tell them when I quit drinking and how things were getting so much better, then passed the mic back to Gareth, then it’s back to my seat and relief.

The response from everyone I meet as I go back to my seat is unbelievable, I don’t think at this point they know I wasn’t supposed to be there, they had no idea that I had answered the call.

The word is next and then the Baptism at the end of the service, we are called up, I remove my shoes, socks and the contents of my pockets, ready to enter the Baptism Pool, firstly the three who were supposed to be there, then me, then another man who had made the decision after I did.

It’s my turn, I climb the steps, then just jump in, no dignified climb down into the cold water, like everybody else, not for me I can’t wait, I just jump in and take Joss and Alex, who are carrying out the Baptisms today, totally by surprise, then I’m in position, I relax, then I’m under, it’s a total rush, a moment I can’t easily describe, if you’ve been there you will understand. I was soaked, I had no spare clothes, but who cares, it’s was alongside the birth of my two children, the most glorious day of my life.

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur, I know I just couldn’t stop laughing to myself, I was in amazement at the things I had done throughout the day, things I would not normally do. I had made my mind up, I wasn’t ready, but that didn’t matter, it wasn’t a case of I didn’t think I was ready because the Lord did!

I think I was called because of the faith I had shown the previous day, that was my test, that was a test of faith, I had hopes and dreams, I had failed, but my response was, I trust you, I will follow your plan.

I wasn’t to worry about getting wet that morning, he would provide, I would be getting the greatest soaking of my life, what was a little rain compared to that! He did provide, I had clothes brought to me, I don’t know where they came from, but they appeared.

There will be great days to come, the day I dream of, the day I hope and pray for, if that comes to fruition it will be another day to remember and treasure forever, but Sunday 8th July 2012 is the day when I came alive, for that I will be forever thankful.

ALIVE by KIM WALKER-SMITH
You breathe Your life into my lungs
You bring to life these dry bones
I know that You’re alive

You called me one of Your own
In my heart You’ve made Your home
I know that You’re alive
I’m coming alive

You called me one of Your own
In my heart You’ve made Your home
I know that You’re alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive

To all the dry and weary souls
Take joy, take heart
Be filled with hope
I know that He’s alive

To all the ones who have no home
Get up and run we’re going home
I know that He’s alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive 

It may get loud
The grave is empty now
It may get wild
His love is like no other

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive 

Depression: Pain, Emptiness & Suicide

Most of my posts on topics like suicide come from my recollections of my feelings, from a period I call my dark years. The pain of these memories I had learnt to live with and see as my past, or so I thought.

I managed to sleep for five hours or so last night, it seems that’s my maximum, after five hours sleep I wake whatever the time, last night or this morning I should say, it was shortly after 4am. I prayed for a while and then just lay there hoping to sleep again. But that’s when the contents of this post began to write itself in my head, it continued to do so throughout the morning, something tells me I had to get it out of my head and out into the open.

I guess waking at that hour or earlier has been something of the norm over the last six weeks or so, to wake and have things on my mind has been common practice. The middle weeks were the hardest, when I really couldn’t get a grip on what was happening to me and why I felt the way I was or why I was acting like I was, I couldn’t understand it and didn’t know how to change it.

Then one night I started praying, not for sleep or peace or help, this would be my usual prayer in the early hours of the morning, but not this night, my prayer was to die.

I actually found myself praying that I no longer wanted to feel this way, that I would rather die than live this way, I felt useless and empty, just like before in those dark years, I felt I would rather be in heaven than here feeling like this, I even prayed to be cast into the lake of fire, rather than be this way, I felt I was failing, letting everyone down, more importantly letting God down and there was no way back.

This wasn’t a one off, this happened a few time over a couple of weeks, not just at night, but at day times too, when things were tough at work or when I was just so low.

Obviously this drew parallels with my thoughts of suicide before, those feelings of uselessness and emptiness, those days when I stood with a blade in my hand, contemplating drawing it across my wrists. I even thought about raiding Victoria’s room to see if I could find the penknife I placed in her trust on 18th March 2012.

I believe a few of those prayers were desperate, I wanted out of where I was, I couldn’t take it any more. But having said that a few of those prayers were more figurative, I knew that I needed to die again so a new me could walk free.

On that Sunday, 18th March 2012, the day I put the blade down, that day I gave it away, I may never of carried out the act, but I now realise that day the old me died, that day the old me picked up the blade, but the man that put it down was different. Obviously the next day I made the phone call to Gareth that changed or maybe I should say saved my life, a cry for help definitely, the new me found a voice.

This morning my prayers were for rest, peace and strength, to move forward, to rebuild and keep growing. To remove the dark spaces which remain in my heart and my mind.

Thankfully apart from sleeping issues and the odd bout of jitters, I feel far more positive, I feel I am moving forward again and getting through yet another test, the pain has gone, the emptiness is being filled and I’m alive again.

The kids are back with me now, after the weekend at their Gran’s, we’ve got another DVD tonight and tomorrow they want to put up the Christmas decorations, that’ll be interesting as that’s usually Victoria’s speciality, she’s very particular about her tree!

So things are getting better by the day, the kids are doing really well and Eve keeps reminding me how many days until my birthday, like I really need reminding I turn 40 on Friday!!!

ALIVE by KIM WALKER-SMITH
You breathe Your life into my lungs
You bring to life these dry bones
I know that You’re alive

You called me one of Your own
In my heart You’ve made Your home
I know that You’re alive
I’m coming alive

You called me one of Your own
In my heart You’ve made Your home
I know that You’re alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive

To all the dry and weary souls
Take joy, take heart
Be filled with hope
I know that He’s alive

To all the ones who have no home
Get up and run we’re going home
I know that He’s alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive 

It may get loud
The grave is empty now
It may get wild
His love is like no other

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive 

Resisting Excuses

I had every excuse in the world available to me this morning and I chose none.  Did I ache this morning, tired muscles and few bruises, it reminds me of my old squad days when after three hours of hard training, then a 125mile trip home on a train sat on my bag on the floor next to the doors of a train.

A week ago I would have rolled over and gone back to sleep, awaiting a second alarm, this morning I got up, got changed and got out.

It was certainly an odd walk with a bit of a limp, but just as good as any walk I’ve done in a while, despite it being another mist filled, overcast morning, the sun did begin to break through eventually.

Breaking Through The Mist

Breaking Through The Mist

Morning Rays

Morning Rays

Swimming In Gold

Swimming In Gold

Shining Through

Shining Through

Reflective Glow

Reflective Glow

I actually started this post about 2½ hours ago, but I fell asleep, regardless I feel alive again.

ALIVE by POCKET FULL OF ROCKS
There was a time I was dead inside. 
You’d call my name and I’d try to hide. 
My heart was dark and so full of shame, 
Full of shame. 
But like the dawning of a brand new day 
Your love has chased my shame away. 
How amazing, now to hear You singing over me! 
Over me! 

Loudly, I sing 
Loudly, I live 
Giving You all I have to give, 
Until the world knows the Love that’s made me so alive 
I’m alive, I’m alive! 

Well, every day I find Your mercy new. 
And every moment that I spend with You 
I am overwhelmed by Grace I can’t keep to myself! 
To myself! 

Loudly, I sing 
Loudly, I live 
Giving You all I have to give, 
Until the world knows the Love that’s made me so alive 
I’m alive, I’m alive! 

Loudly, I sing 
Loudly, I live 
Giving You all I have to give, 
Until the world knows the Love that’s made me so alive 
I’m alive, I’m alive! 

Out of my sorrow, out of my night, 
You called me into Glorious Light. 
Where all of the lost, lonely and broken 
Find Your Light. 
Shine Your Light. 

Loudly, I sing 
Loudly, I live 
Giving You all I have to give, 
Until the world knows the Love that’s made me so alive 
I’m alive 

Loudly, I sing 
Loudly, I live 
Giving You all I have to give, 
Until the world knows the Love that’s made me so alive 
I’m alive, I’m alive! Yeah, 
I’m alive, I’m alive, yeah!

Decisions, Part 2

After posting earlier today about my decision to retire and the doubts I now have, it got me thinking what decisions I have taken to get me where I am now, both decisions that took me through darkness and decisions that have brought me out into the light, the problem is all the major ones weren’t really conscious decisions.

I cannot pick a decisive moment in my life where I decided to become an alcoholic, it was one of those things that just escalated, but with each bad decision I made or more precisely failed to make the problem got worse.

From my late teens and my early twenties I wasn’t a big drinker, a few pints,a few nights a week would be around my limit and drunkenness would only occur at parties or nights out.

By the time we had Ben in September 2001, I was still an occasional drinker, I had beer in the house but not in significant quantities. In the summer of 2002 we moved house, to a row of terraced houses between a pub and an Off Licence, not that much off a problem at first. But as Victoria became more of a supermum and Ben was her priority I began to spend large amounts of time alone, that’s when the Off Licence became my friend, I didn’t drink large amounts or have a problem, but I did start to drink on most days, after all I was only minutes away from another drink should I run out!

We had some tough times at that house, we almost split up one Christmas, but we gve it another go, that was when I first heard the words that almost destroyed me:

“I love you, but I’m not in love with you!”

These words later haunted me, in my darkest hours I could hear these words repeating in my head, I could feel my heart break every time and as our relationship started to drift and the drinking became heavier, I was so afraid to hear them again, I let it all slip away quietly, I let her go without a fight, until it was too late .

We moved again in 2004, we lived there until early 2009, this house I still believe was a good house for us, we were truly happy, the blip in our relationship was forgotten and we had our second child. I was still drinking most days, but not excessive and not waking in the morning and continuing with what I hadn’t finished the night before, I had control still, I had two great kids, a crazy dog and the woman I loved and wanted to spend the rest of my life with, even though we weren’t married, I knew that’s what I wanted, if I’m honest I still do and I pray for the day that we can say we are together once again.

In early 2009 we took a big decision to move to the house we are now, the rent was a big increase for us, but the pull was getting both our kids in the same school, one of the best in Newark, had we stayed where we were that wouldn’t be possible.

By the end of 2009, my work had disappeared, we were struggling and I started to become withdrawn. Days upon days at home with nothing to do started to bring the worst out of me. I guess from that day in November 2009 when I went to the Job Centre to sign on, I slowly became the alcoholic I hate so much, there was no conscious decision to throw my life and my love away, it just evolved.

Over the coming months it all started to collapse around me, it wasn’t so much the decisions I was making, it was the decisions I wasn’t making. I became lazy and withdrawn, depressed, unable to lift myself, only going to karate did I feel any sense of normality, unless I had a drink that is.

By July 2010, I found myself sleeping on the settee, no instruction from Victoria to get out, remember I was avoiding discussing the issues through fear of those words, it just happened a few times and then evolved, I’ve used that word again, evolved into the norm. See, our kids were still young and we would often end up with both of them in our bed with us. But as they grew there was less space, I found myself on the edge of the bed and with a foot or something wedged into my back, one night I took to the settee and eventually ended up there, three years later, I’m still there!

I guess in doing that I turned my back on Victoria, as I say it wasn’t a conscious decision, but nevertheless it wasn’t a great move on my part, something I regret now, I long to sleep in a bed again, but unless I sleep alongside Victoria, I’m willing to sleep on this settee forever.

Victoria urged me to make decisions about work, she wanted me to look for a job, she wanted the security, but I couldn’t do it, I tried applying for a few things, but got no response, there wasn’t a lot around that I wanted to do, so I just gave up and took the few days work here and there as they came along.

But as I said the more time I spent doing nothing the more I descended into darkness, I spent my days stuck on Facebook, illegally downloading music and watching porn, whilst everyone was out and then as the day passed by, I would yearn for that first drink.

This sorry episode continued, in October 2011, I was offered a job, it was mine if I wanted it, I had first refusal, I just had to say yes. It made sense from all angles, regular money, regular work and some stability. But still it took me nearly a month to a consider it and then make a decision to accept it. I took so long, I almost missed out on it, but eventually I made a decision, this time a conscious one which was right for all of us.

With the job, the money and the stability it would bring, I thought things would get back to some sort of normality, with some of the tension over money removed, we could get things back on track.

WRONG

Let face it I had been so useless over the previous two years, between us we had amassed well over £30,000 of debt, I had left Victoria to deal with it all, to sort it out with the debt agency, to negotiate with the electric and has suppliers before they cut us off, she dealt with all of that whilst I carried on spending money on drink. I even had bailiffs at the door on behalf of the Tax Man, ironically he turned up on a day I was working, but she had to answer the door to him, he was only interested in repossessing a car, but as I don’t drive he went back empty handed! But I still was no help at all.

When I started the job, I had hopes to turn it around, but as I lived with fear of words I couldn’t face it, I turned away and walked to the shop every time, I drank more and more, I woke in the mornings at 6.30am, finished off what I was drinking the night before and got ready for work. I would get home from the pub at gone 1am, drink whatever I could find in the house, fall asleep and then get up for work. Nobody knew what I was putting myself through, maybe Victoria, but I’m not sure she knew the full extent.

Then one night in March 2012, something was said at home that made me realise I had to make a decision, I had to face Victoria to sort this out, I had to talk with her.

I heard those words I feared so much, instantly they broke me, they threw me into a drinking spiral that started to spin out of control. I stopped eating, I had no appetite for food, only drink.

Two days after that conversation, I had a brainwave, the most selfish idea I have ever had, I still feel guilty about my initial intentions, but the way it eventually turned out I wouldn’t change for anything!

I had the idea to speak with the only person I knew Victoria would actually listen to, I came up with the idea of speaking with Gareth, her Pastor, I wanted to tell him how sorry I was, I wanted him then to tell Victoria how sorry I was, to put things right, she would listen to him, so if I could convince him how sorry I was, he could convince her and we would be sorted!

So I told Victoria I was struggling and I wanted to speak with Gareth, there was an element of truth there, I was struggling, I was a mess, I wasn’t eating, I was just drinking and existing at that point.

Then on the Sunday she spoke with Gareth and got his number for me, I found myself with a blade at my wrist, in a complete mess and full of hate, hate for myself, for what I had become and allowed myself to do to those I loved.

That Sunday night was the last time I brought alcohol into the house, after five pints at the pub, I came home with two bottles of wine and drank almost both of those too!

Then the next morning I made the decision to call Gareth, I fought it or should I say the addict in me fought it, but I made the call. I was a mess, I broke down almost immediately and when we met that night I broke down in floods if tears over and over again.

When I called Gareth I had no idea of the path I would take, by the time he arrived the emphasis had shifted from convincing him how sorry I was and letting him sort it out, it was now about sorting me out, I couldn’t go on like that anymore, I was ready to kill myself, if not this damn disease was going to do it for me anyway. I needed change and quickly.

Following that meeting I began making some conscious decisions about change. For the first time in a long time decisive decisions. I hadn’t stopped drinking but I had reduced it, I wasn’t drinking at home, just a vastly reduced quantity at the pub, I started to exercise control over it, the only thing that controlled my drinking before was a lack if money, see my post “Begging, Borrowing and Stealing” for details on that.

I hadn’t gone into that meeting with any notion of becoming a Christian, far from it. But over the weeks my decisions to change brought me to a turning point. On the 29th March 2012, I made the decision to take my last drink, I would try one pint, if I didn’t like the taste, I was done. Thankfully I didn’t like it and the decision has stood since that evening 478 days ago, I haven’t drunk since and never intend to again.

The following day I made the decision to go to Church, even at that point I wasn’t really sure why, I was praying daily by that time for strength, I made the decision to first speak with Victoria about it, to ask her, after all it was her Church and her friends, then the decision to actually go, I was do nervous when I walked into Church, but as the service went on I knew I was in the right place, I cried over and over again whilst sat there that morning. If it was a conscious decision, it was probably the best one of my life. A week later I raised my had to accept Jesus as my saviour, I was home!

I have well and truly made some real stupid decisions, but the decision to quit drinking, the decision to go to Church and the decision to follow Christ are definitely the biggest and most important decisions of my life, they really have changed everything.

I’m still on this settee, things between the two of us are still as that dreadful night in March last year, but of late it has been pleasant, not that it gets nasty, just short and tense from time to time, but at the moment it is alright.

I still pray about Victoria and myself, she is still the one I want to spend the rest of my life with, I made that decision on 10th May 1997, the day we got together and I still hold to that decision, it hasn’t changed, even though I lost myself for a while, I may have buried that love for a while, but I never lost it, I allowed fear to stand before it.

It’s hard to tell whether the decisions I’ve made were right or wrong, even whether the decisions I never made had any consequence, I walked a path that has made me who I am now, it was a rough one at times, it was hard, but this path has brought me to where I am today.

I’m free of any desire to drink, God’s grace has allowed me that!

If there is anything I need prayer for it is for the restoration of our relationship, I pray daily for it and believe God can do this for me, but I would also appreciate your prayers too.

I know I’ve used this song before and I’ve also slightly over used songs by Kim Walker-Smith, but I love just love this lyric in the song:

“To all the ones who have no home
Get up and run we’re going home”

I feel like the way I was living I had no home, when Gareth came into my house, he brought me to Everyday Champions Church, where I found my home.

ALIVE by KIM WALKER-SMITH
You breathe Your life into my lungs
You bring to life these dry bones
I know that You’re alive

You called me one of Your own
In my heart You’ve made Your home
I know that You’re alive
I’m coming alive

You called me one of Your own
In my heart You’ve made Your home
I know that You’re alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive

To all the dry and weary souls
Take joy, take heart
Be filled with hope
I know that He’s alive

To all the ones who have no home
Get up and run we’re going home
I know that He’s alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive

It may get loud
The grave is empty now
It may get wild
His love is like no other

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive

Fathers Day Fun

I can safely say this has been my best ever Fathers Day, but to be honest I can’t really remember my previous ones, despite the fact my Son is 11 years old now.

I can vaguely remember last years, only because I’ve just checked my journal for that day, although I got a card and DVD off kids, whilst I took a bath in the morning before going to Church, they all went out leaving my present on the settee, I left for Church and spent most of the day without seeing my kids, not until later in the evening that is.

But having said all that I wasn’t disappointed last year, I still enjoyed my day at Church and it was a Max & Paddy DVD that I wanted, which when the family returned home later in the evening I watched with Ben, we laughed our way through it.

Before that I just can’t remember any of them or anything I received other than the obligatory card made by the kids at school, they would all follow the same pattern, I would wake at some point during the morning, jump on the laptop and play some stupid game, whilst they all left for Church, I would then see them all after tea, once I had been to the pub, downed four or five pints, returned home via the shop with a few bottles of wine, etc, etc, they all followed similar routines, just the drinking got heavier as the years went by.

But today was so different, I haven’t walked in the morning for the last week, all the extra work has left me so tired, so after a bit of a lay in, well if you can call 6.50am a lay in, I went in the bath and got ready for Church, Eve did try to bring my card and present to me in the bath, but I managed to persuade her I would come down and see her.  I still had to be in Church to get the cameras set up, even though we weren’t live streaming today, so I asked Ben if he wanted to come and help, he jumped at the chance, so we both got ready, Eve brought me my cards and present, a cubed box like a big dice with a number of games inside, chess, backgammon, etc, she wanted to play with it right there and then!

Ben helped me set up the two cameras at Church, I sure he thought it would be a lot more glamorous than it was, not sure if he’ll jump at the chance if I ask him next week, but it was nice to do something together, especially something Church based.

Despite the fire alarm going off shortly before the service and the prompt evacuation of the building, it was a false alarm after all, the service commenced a few minutes late, but as usual it was a great service.

After the service we had some Fathers Day fun outside, with a BBQ, bouncy castle, inflatable sumo suits and an inflatable pillow bash!

I’m not sure how, but somehow I managed to find myself in charge of the pillow bash, with almost all the kids, young and old lining up to have a go, including a rather lively fight between Gareth and his wife Leanne, but thankfully there were no injuries, a few tears from a couple of the kids, but nothing serious, each one that cried got back up for another go straight away.

Pillow Bash

Pillow Bash

A few of the smaller kids were a little frightened of falling at first, as my daughter Eve when she had a go against her brother, they may have aborted their first go, but they came back for more later, in fact the queue never died and as everyone was leaving we were still trying to get down it, but eventually we got there!!!

So I left Church with Ben and Eve in tow, came home and whilst the kids played with my Fathers Day gift, I had a quick nap!  I know, I’m getting old now I need an afternoon nap every now and again!

Regardless of today being Fathers Day I just love my Sunday’s now, I love my Church and the family there that I have become part of, next Sunday we go live with ECTV, which is exciting but before that we have the launch event One Big Weekend on Saturday, which will be a great celebration for me as it will also be my 450th day of sobriety!

So for now I finish this post with a song as usual, before I get myself immersed in a game of Go FISH with Eve and Ben!

ALIVE by KIM WALKER-SMITH
You breathe Your life into my lungs
You bring to life these dry bones

I know that You’re alive

You called me one of Your own
In my heart You’ve made Your home
I know that You’re alive

I’m coming alive

You called me one of Your own
In my heart You’ve made Your home
I know that You’re alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive

To all the dry and weary souls
Take joy, take heart
Be filled with hope
I know that He’s alive

To all the ones who have no home

Get up and run we’re going home
I know that He’s alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive
I’m coming alive

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive

It may get loud
The grave is empty now
It may get wild
His love is like no other

We will make Him known
Jesus is alive
He’s alive
We will shout it out
Jesus is alive
He’s alive 

Peaceful Steps I Prayed For

So I stepped out the house at 11.45am, out into glorious sunshine, spring has finally landed and summer is definitely on the horizon.  I know early I said I was going for a steady walk, no pounding the pavement, so I took a leisurely pace and took in everything around me.

I also said I was going to offer a my troubles to God as I walked, but there’s where things didn’t go quite as expected!!!

Last night was out Church Connect group, where we discussed the book of James,specifically the following passages:

But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.
But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind.
James 1:5-6

You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask
You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions. James 4:2-3

We discussed how we prayed and what we pray for ourselves, listing those things we need and the things we want, mine were:

 Needs
Strength to stay on this journey
Peace in this time of grief

Wants
Financial breakthrough
Relationship restoration

It was said by the others that I could consider my wants as needs, but to be honest, they aren’t immediate problems to be solved, I know at odd times I despair over them like the other week, but they will be addressed in His time, for now my continued recovery and rebuilding is my need.

We discussed what order our prayers take, I told the group I give thanks first for what God has done for me everyday of this journey, I said whatever I’m going through, no matter how painful these tests may seem, my life is still so much better than it was in March last year, nothing I’ve gone through since then can be considered anything as bad as where I was before I started this journey, so before anything I give thanks and praise.  For me last night I just prayed for strength and peace, that’s all I needed.

So when I walked this afternoon, I started to think about the other things I want, like my finances and relationships, but as I tried to bring those to mind, to offer them to God, they just went, my attention seemed to be on the peaceful beauty around me, I could not focus one single thought on what bothered me, I tried, honestly I did, but every time something came to mind, it just went.

Really I got what I prayed for, PEACE!  

It was like God was saying to me “don’t worry about that, I have it in hand, just relax and enjoy the peace around you, the peace I give you today”.

I found that peace, it’s the first time in a long time I’ve walked with no goal, with no time limits, no destination, just going wherever I wanted and in the time I wanted to do it in, I have never enjoyed a walk as much as this one.

Although I may regret taking my t-shirt off, I think my burning shoulders may tell their own story, but regardless I loved the walk so much.

God really came through today, answered a prayer, I found the peace I craved,
I left all my issues behind, He did that for me.

I have also taken a number of photos, which I will share over the next few days.

There was a time I was dead inside
You’d call my name and I’d try to hide
My heart was dark and so full of shame
Full of shame
But like the dawning of a brand new day
Your love has chased my shame away
How amazing, now to hear You singing over me
Over me
Loudly, I sing
Loudly, I live
Giving You all I have to give
Until the world knows the Love that’s made me so alive
I’m alive, I’m alive
(Alive by Pocket Full Of Rocks)

A Great Competition

Just got back home after a very long day at a karate competition near London, so tired now, but it’s been a great day.

After the roller coaster week I’ve had, I have to say I’ve been in two minds about going, but not only had I entered myself, I had also entered two of my students, one young lad was taking part in his first competition, so I was really obliged to go, although deep down I really didn’t want to miss my Sunday morning in Church, it means that much to me now.

But I’m glad I did, my young student did well for his first competition, although he lost in the first round of the kata (the performance of pre set routines), he beat the same opponent in the kumite (free fighting) before losing in the next round, a great start to his competition career, I was a proud instructor.

My other senior student, who entered, finished joint third in the kumite, narrowly losing his semi final to the eventual winner, another great performance.

Now to the bit I know you are all waiting for, how did I do?

Well I got through my first few rounds of kata this time, no first round exit, made it to the semi finals, then comfortably made the final later by winning my section. At this point whilst waiting for the final I had to get out, get some fresh air, well sort of, I really just wanted to cry, I was overwhelmed with emotion, I needed to shed some tears and in a hall with 300 plus karate competitors was not the place. Why the emotion? It wasn’t over yet, there was still the final, but at that point I was so happy to be doing well, to be competitive again, I just wanted to cry, the final was just a bonus, actually taking part was the victory.

Having said that I am very self-critical and I wasn’t overly happy with my kata in the final, it wasn’t my best, but it was good enough for second and a silver medal, behind the current National Champion, so after all that I was a little disappointed not to win, having come so close, but so happy to have taken part, still been competitive and in light of the past year done so well.

It was also great to catch up with old friends, some I haven’t seen for some months, the first thing that hit many of them was my new slimline figure, the little fat man was gone, I must admit I enjoyed soaking up all the great comments about my new look, I think I deserve to feel good about myself today, I’ve worked hard for it.

Some of my friends knew a little bit about my struggle, many of them didn’t know a thing, I spoke with a few people about it, I guess I was drawn to speak with these friends and each one had similar stories from their past, they gave me so much encouragement, I feel blessed just to know them.

Once again this week, despite all my self doubts, everything turns out pretty good, it’s been a fantastic day, if only for meeting old friends.  Just to compete again was a great feeling, to get a silver, well it actually feels great.

Everyday is a new day
I’m thankful for every breath I take
I won’t take it for granted
So I learn from my mistakes
(Alive by P.O.D.)

I feel good about myself today, the last ten days have lifted me so much, but I’m sorry I feel a little selfish here, a little self-centred, but I’ve loved all the fantastic compliments, I think for once I deserve to feel this good, because these comments do not just praise how far I’ve come, but they praise the glorious work our God has done within me.