Tag Archives: Christmas

My Christmas Internet Shopping Disaster

It’s safe to say that as December approached I wasn’t really in a good place, just ask my friends at my Connect Group, I couldn’t really explain what the issue was, it was just an amalgamation of a number of things. The last few years I’ve struggle at Christmas, it just seems there are too many bad memories that I dislike about myself and too many good memories that I long for once more. I know I was locked in my own mind and I was struggling to get out, my poems reflected this from time to time, none more so than The Cave.

By the time I got into December things hadn’t really improved, but my birthday did bring some relief, it was probably the best birthday I’ve had in many years. The next day for a brief period a big cloud that loomed large over Christmas was lifted, the money I was owed by the Architects came through. This was a big deal for me, it was money that was owed from the beginning of the year onwards, it was difference between my kids having the Christmas presents I wanted to give them and us just scraping through Christmas once again.

But then later that evening the clouds came back, I received a phone call from my Dad, his younger brother had finally lost his battle with lung cancer. Just before Christmas last year he had surgery to remove part of his lung, they also found the cancer had spread to his ribs, so they removed a number of them too. Earlier this year they found they hadn’t stopped it and gave Andy a year to live. Unfortunately he never made it that far.

A couple of nights later I dropped in to see my Dad on the way home from work, he said he was okay, but deep down he was struggling, he kept calling me Andy, he did it a number of times until he realised what he was saying. Andy had accepted his fate, he had prepared for everything, all my Aunty Sue had to do was register the death and arrange a date.

Andy’s cremation took place on Wednesday 23rd, just two days before Christmas, which was hard, but the family wanted to bring closure before Christmas and not have it hanging over them during that period, I think Andy would have wanted it that way.

The Online Nightmare

So with two weeks to go before Christmas, the money in my account I went onto the Internet to order presents. I logged on to the Argos website, chose what I wanted, arranged to collect in store and tried to pay for everything, then it all started to go wrong.

Firstly my bank got in the way, they stopped the payment, flagging it as fraudulent, so I responded to their security procedures and tried again, same problem! So this time I called the bank, they said it now wasn’t them, but Visa who were now stopping the payment, they sorted that for me and I tried again.

I should have by this point, just arrange to pay in store, but I persevered, this time though something was not right, after confirming payment details and my security details, nothing seemed to happen, the web page just returned to the home page and there was no order confirmation, something was not right, I tried again, same problem, so I called the bank again.

This time they said they weren’t stopping it, but as I was on the phone to them the transaction flagged up on their system and the money was reserved for Argos in my account, they gave me the authorisation details and suggested I speak with Argos, but at that time of night there was no one available to speak with.

So next morning at work I called Argos, no one could find my order, to be honest they didn’t seem that helpful in getting to the bottom of it all, I spoke to a guy who promised he would fax my bank and ask them to release the funds back into my account as they would not be collecting it, it he blamed their website timing out!

Later in the day I dropped into the bank to see I f they money had been released back into my account, it hadn’t and the woman there was totally unhelpful, it wasn’t a small amount to me, in total it was over £1000 that was tied up in my account, she suggested they give me a temporary overdraft, which she then said I would be charged for! Hang on a minute this isn’t my fault and I’m not paying for it, if they hadn’t blocked the transaction this probably wouldn’t have happened, I wasn’t happy when I left the bank, until I got that money back, Christmas was on hold!

I rang the bank when I got home and after about three phone calls and numerous different people, I finally got through to someone who made sense and could explain the situation. He explained the money was held for Argos and if they didn’t claim it, it would be back in my account sometime on Monday, as it was now Friday, that wasn’t that bad, why couldn’t the woman in the bank explain this? He in the end put £50 into my account as a gesture of goodwill from the bank. He did say if they received the fax from Argos they would release the money immediately, but as yet there was no fax.

Later that evening I checked if the money had gone back in, it hadn’t, so I called Argos to see what was happening. Once more I was passed from pillar to post, finally I got through to someone who seemed to be interested in sorting the problem. She agreed that I could called her on Monday when the money was back in my account, she would put the order in for me with discount and free delivery, I couldn’t argue with that, now I just had to wait for the money to be released back into my account.

I checked numerous times over the course of Monday, the money finally came back into my account about 9pm, too late to call Argos, so the next morning at work I tried!

I couldn’t get through to the woman I spoke with Friday and once again no one seemed interested, I was passed around the phone system and not one person would help me out, so after losing my temper and swearing at the guy on the phone I hung up, livid.

As Argos weren’t bothered, I decided to try Amazon, I logged on and ordered the same items and proceeded with the order. I thought it odd that the website hadn’t taken any security details for my card, but appeared to proceed the order. Then later that afternoon I got an email saying they couldn’t process the order, they needed further security details, until then my order was on hold, I emailed back saying to cancel the order and decided to give Argos one more try.

After getting passed around once more, finally someone took my order with the discounts promised, everything was now sorted. Then later that evening, there was just one more thing I needed to order from the Internet, but once more the payment failed, here we go again, I called the bank to find I was overdrawn by over £300, no way! It then transpired that both Argos and Amazon had had their payments accepted and reserved in my account which technically left me overdrawn. I was mad because I couldn’t see how Amazon could do this with no security information, surely this was wrong, unethical and possibly illegal, how wonderful the banking system is that it allows for this loop hole, technically the money does leave the account until they claim, so once more if I got Amazon to fax the bank it would be released immediately, otherwise it would return into my account in three days, which would be Friday, one week before Christmas.

Next day when I got to work, there was an email saying my Amazon order had been dispatched, what? The order that had been cancelled, the one they couldn’t confirm the payment details, the one that required security details was now on its way and would be delivered later that day. The last thing I wanted was two of everything and no money, so I contacted Amazon and cancelled everything, which they did, but they wouldn’t contact my bank and wouldn’t explain how they could process the order without my full banking security information, surely this wasn’t right!

As the day progressed there was no sign of my Argos order, so at the end of the day I called them, only to find that they had cancelled the order because they couldn’t confirm my security details, they said they tried to call me, but at work I certainly don’t answer calls on my mobile with 0845 numbers I don’t recognise, so they cancelled the order without informing my. So I had gone from believing in the morning that I had two orders on the way and no money, to now having no orders and no money.

So I called Amazon, surely if they have that money, they can reinstate the order, no such look, not even interested, they wouldn’t contact my bank and wouldn’t do anything with the order, they said their complaints department would contact me within 48 hours, yet at the point of writing this they never bothered. To say I was livid was an understatement, I was back beneath the dark cloud which was my dread of Christmas, for the first time in years I thought I could get things right and now everything was going horribly wrong. All I could do now was wait for the money to drop bank into my account and then hope I could still get everything in time for Christmas.

By Friday afternoon the first payment had dropped back into my account and the by the end of the evening the other one was back too. In a small town like Newark, there aren’t many shopping options, I don’t drive and I was working Saturday morning, so going elsewhere wasn’t possible either, so I gave in and went back to the Argos website, reordered everything and arrange to collect and pay in store, not going through this Internet payment nightmare again. So Saturday afternoon I finally collected everything, all the money was back in my bank and things seemed to pick up. The other item I wanted I was too late to order, so I managed to pick up an alternative from town, everything was back in place.

So far I haven’t pursued either complaint with Argos or Amazon for their performance or treatment. I decided for my own peace just to order the goods from Argos and leave it at that. I’m still undecided whether to contact both parties or just leave it, I think I will just leave it, move on now, but I certainly won’t be ordering anything over the Internet with either of them ever again.

In the end my Christmas was the best I have had in years, members of my Connect Group made it so much better, one couple give me a gift that was unbelievable and another family insisted I join them Christmas Day, rather than be alone at home, I had a great time with them, it made my Christmas.

I’ve been wanting to write this rant since all this kicked off, but managed to resist, I think it would have been pretty angst ridden and I didn’t want this blog to be used for such purposes, but now I write just to bring closure to the situation and hope that as the New Year approaches all the darkness that led up to Christmas is a thing of the past and the New Year is going to bring some amazing things, not just for me, but for everyone.

I hope and pray also that everyone had a great Christmas and the New Year is an amazing one.

I am going to post this song today, normally I used Christian songs or songs of encouragement, this one though is the one my Uncle Andy chose to be played at his service, I thought I would share it.

MANY RIVERS TO CROSS by UB40
Many rivers to cross
But I can’t seem to find my way over
Wandering I am lost as I travel along
The white cliffs of Dover
Many rivers to cross and it’s only my will
That keeps me alive
I’ve been licked, washed up for years and,
I merely survive because of my pride.

And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s such a drag to be on your own
My woman left and she didn’t say why
Well I guess, I gotta try.
Many rivers to cross but where to begin,
I’m playing for time
There’ll be times when I find myself thinking
Of committing some dreadful crime.

I’ve got many rivers to cross
But I can’t seem to find my way over
Wandering I am lost as I travel along
The white cliffs of Dover
Many rivers to cross and it’s only my will
That keeps me alive
I’ve been licked, washed up for years and,
I merely survive because of my pride.

The Story So Far – Chapter 14 – The First Christmas

CHAPTER 14 – THE FIRST CHRISTMAS

As December approached and discussions at work turned to Christmas parties and how much alcohol our customers would give us all as tips.  I kept myself distant from any discussions, normally our Customers bring in either boxes of cans or give an amount of money as a donation, which is then used at the Christmas party.  The arrangements were made for a meal at an Indian Restaurant and then the obligatory pub crawl around town afterwards, I agreed to whatever arrangements, but made it clear I would not go on the pub crawl, which they accepted.

I wasn’t looking forward to the meal itself, I went and I joined in as best I could, but I felt uncomfortable all night.  Everyone knew the situation apart from the partner of one my colleges.  Obviously everyone else had a beer or a glass of wine, then there’s me with a coke and water, then you get that rather obvious question of why am I not drinking!   I have to say that I didn’t feel like explaining myself, not that I need to or not that I’m afraid to say I’m an alcoholic, but just at that moment in time, when I already felt uncomfortable, I really didn’t want to go through it, after a couple of rather awkward answers to her questions, her partner had a quiet work in her ear, she then left it, she looked rather embarrassed as she sat there.  Don’t get me wrong she was a generally nice person, ordinarily the none drinking would probably be the designated driver, asking those questions would have been fairly appropriate, but my reasons where deeper than that, maybe any other night or anywhere else I would not have had a problem answering them, but on this night I wasn’t in a comfortable place and this made it no better.

I made it through the meal and then left them all and walked home alone.  Thankfully I don’t live far from town and at the speed I walk, it only took about fifteen minutes, I still got home in time to watch Match of the Day with my son.

Although it was rather an uncomfortable evening, by the time I got home I was actually pretty pleased with myself.  I saw this as a big test of my sobriety, a big test of my will power.  The year before I had joined in and followed them all uncomfortably around town drinking along with them, although not enjoying it, I never liked pub crawls after all, I drank pints until I felt full and then went on to glasses of rum, the only spirit that I ever liked.  That time I got home a little worse for wear and had the hangover the next morning.  The funny thing was I could sit at home and drink more, much more and not feel anything the next day, I always had that kind of fuzziness, that permanent hangover I guess, but it was only when I went out like this that I got what most people would consider a hangover.

So I knew that getting through the night and once again walking home alone, getting through even being extremely uncomfortable, but still not being tempted by the drink was a victory.  It’s strange that although being apprehensive beforehand and uncomfortable throughout, I do not remember ever being tempted by a drink, all around me were drinking, but I knew I couldn’t, I knew I didn’t want to, I was enjoying this sober life, everything was going well and to give in now, would be to let down the Father who had given me the strength to overcome situations like this.

There were a number of other things bothering me about Christmas, usually Christmas is a time of drinking more than ever, usually I would have more alcohol in the house than normal.  I also had a tradition of going into town and buying a bottle or two of sparkling wine to go with Christmas dinner, normally my everyday bottles of wine were fairly cheap, the more I could get for the less money the better, but for Christmas dinner I would normally treat myself, something a little more expensive, not that expensive, I didn’t have that much money, but a little treat to myself, being as I would be the only one that would drink it.

Also I would get an amount of alcohol as Christmas presents too.  If people didn’t know what to buy me, they would usually resort to a few bottles or can of beer, a bottle of wine or a bottle of rum.  It was a safe bet that I would get alcohol at Christmas, plus there would usually be a box of Chocolate Liquors.  Most people I knew had probably heard by then that I had quit drinking, but in all honesty probably did not know the reason why, they didn’t know how it had taken over my life, my thoughts, my actions, my everything.  I had been fairly open and honest about it over the previous nine months, but it’s not something that you are really going to broadcast to the whole world.

Yes I started a blog, I put it on there, but I had been careful as to which circles I put that content out to, I posted on Twitter, but not Facebook.  I came to realise that most of the people I knew on Facebook broadcast every part of their life, striving only for comments and sympathy or used it as a political soapbox to force their views on others or ridicule others.  Although I wasn’t ashamed of my story and my problem, I was careful to avoid what I deemed to be a negative place.

I had lived in such negativity, that I was keen to cut out anything that I deemed negative, that even included beginning to distance myself from those around me that had a negative outlook.

So when it came to Christmas Day, I was surprised and somewhat relieved when all I got was the obligatory shower gel, socks and deodorant!  Okay not the most exciting of presents, but I was actually pretty pleased with the haul as I didn’t have to face my biggest enemy.

Even that fear of chocolate liquors was all in vain.  I researched them on the internet in the run up to Christmas, but still couldn’t make my mind up as to whether they actually contained any alcohol or not, I guess some did and other’s didn’t, but regardless I had made my mind up that I wouldn’t touch them, even if they didn’t.  Out of principle and peace of mind, it was easier to just refuse them, than to just never be sure, in the end though, all this was unnecessary as I didn’t get any anyway!

Getting through Christmas Day itself was a bit of a victory too.  I was dreading being alone, I could have gone to my Mum and Dad’s for dinner, but chose not to, my Mum means well, but she can’t half pester and question you to the point you really want to snap!  In the end Victoria’s Mum asked if I wanted to join them for lunch, I agreed and after Church I set off there.  It went okay, it was good to see Victoria’s brothers again, we always got on well, also it was good to spend at least part of Christmas day with the kids.  Mid afternoon they all went to Victoria’s Nan’s and I went home.  I have to be honest and say I cried a little when I got home, the silence of the place seemed more intense with it being Christmas Day, but I soon fell asleep and slept it all off.  They came home earlier than usual and I spent the evening with the kids, which made for a good day in the end, far better than I was actually expected, I really didn’t want to face my first Christmas Day without the kids or without alcohol for that matter.  But apart from a few tears in the afternoon, I got through it.

By Christmas my blog had really began to take off.  I was really enjoying writing all the posts and exploring the blogs of other recovering addicts and followers of Christ.  I was gaining regular followers and receiving some pretty amazing comments, commending my fight for sobriety and my testimony.  I had even begun to branch out, to included photography, mainly of all the amazing sunrises I encountered during my morning walks, but interestingly I started writing poetry.

It came from ideas and thoughts that I had whilst walking, in time I just decided to start writing them down.  When I look back now a lot of that earlier experimentation with poetry I now really dislike, many I never really connected with, I was just trying something new, I went with it, but never felt comfortable posting some of it.  The only ones I seemed to find comfortable posting were the ones that were primarily between me and God, eventually my poetry became all faith based.

I found that in the low times, when I was struggling, I would just put it all down in a poem, like a written prayer.  Then I would get a feeling for what God was saying to me in response and I would write that down, into a poem too, like a conversation between the two of us, but all in poems.

I still write that way, I often write in prayer and answer, sometimes separate poems, sometimes the conversation runs through a single poem, a verse of prayer, then a verse of God’s response and so on.  Over time in my lowest moments, I would find myself awake in the middle of the night, writing it all down in a poem, then I would put it straight on to my blog and post it, in a strange way it lifted much of the pain, somehow in doing that I found a peace, I let go of the problem, it’s a formula that works for me now.

As the New Year came around I was doing really well, I was still walking every morning, whatever the weather, in fact my best ever walk took place on a dark morning in a snow storm in the middle of January.  There was no one else to be seen, the street’s were deserted, but the old the cycle track was alive.  My footsteps weren’t the first ones in the snow that morning, they may have been the first human steps along the path, but the hundreds of rabbits and hares scampering around me, seemed to be enjoying the snow.   Also for the one and only time, on my walks down the track, I caught sight of a couple of foxes running freely along the track in front of me, they didn’t seem to bothered by me, as they ran along ahead, but I had never seen them before and alas I’ve never seen them since.

The cycle track takes me by a small lake, it’s an old gravel pit that was flooded some years ago, the track passes it and I walk by it every morning on the way to work, but if I time it right the lake really catches the sunrise.  I often found I would sit there as the sun rose, reading the bible and taking pictures of the scene before me.  It didn’t matter how cold it was, I would sit there in the early hours of the morning, maybe the odd dog walker would pass by, some of whom I became friends with, but mainly just me, the birds on the lake, the sunrise and God, it was an amazing way to start the day.

I found when I was walking in the morning, the days were always so much better, that time with God set me up for the day.  The odd days when I didn’t get out walking, then for some reason my days just didn’t have that same balance, things just didn’t seem as good and I knew why, so the next morning I would do everything I could to get back out again.

MERRY CHRISTMAS HERE’S TO MANY MORE by RELIENT K
I made it through the year and I did not even collapse
Gotta say “Thank God for that.”
I’m torn between what keeps me whole and what tears me in half
I’ll fall apart or stay in tact

With tired eyes I stumble back to bed
I need to realize my sorry life’s not hanging by a thread
At least not yet

So look at me now
it’s finally Christmas and I’m home
Head indoors, to get out of this weather
And I don’t know how
But the closest friends I’ve ever known are all inside
Siging together
Singing merry Christmas, here’s to many more

It always hurt to be all by myself this time of year
A cold and lonely Chirstmas Eve
And living out my days alone
Well that had been my deepest fear
But You promised You won’t leave

I look towards the east and see a star
Jesus Christ, has blessed my life to know just who You are
You are my hope

So look at me now
It’s finally Christmas and I’m home
Head indoors, to get out of this weather
And I don’t know how
But the closest friends I’ve ever known are all inside
Singing together
Singing merry Christmas, here’s to many more

Deck the halls with mistletoe
May all your heavy burdens go
Up the chimney in a cloud of smoke
The fire’s burning bright
Strike up the band and play the tune
‘Cause Christmas will be here and soon
You’ll hear oursong in every room
This merry Christmas night

Singing merry Christmas, here’s to many more

fa la la la
fa la la la

Singing together
Singing merry Christmas, here’s to many more

It Was A Little Late, But…

It may be over three weeks now since Christmas Day, but in a way my Christmas Day happened today.  I barely got out of bed on Christmas Day, the virus had got me big time and really did take me of my feet for a number of days.  In fact the virus is still going fairly strong, it still here, dragging me down a little, drawing me into coughing fits and making my throat and eyes still pretty sore.

It does seem to ease a little, then all of a sudden it comes back a little stronger for a few days.  I had a prescription review with the Nurse this week, I told her I was still suffering with this virus, which she then informed me could last another three or four weeks, well that was good news!

But this morning I finally manage to get some of the money owed to me by the Architects from before Christmas, so I was able to get my two kids the Christmas presents I really wanted to get them, but couldn’t afford.  I spent the afternoon setting them up with both of them and they are both extremely happy.

Just being able to do that has lifted me, with this virus rumbling on I’ve not been able to get into the routine I wanted to at new year.  It hasn’t stopped me from working, but it does mean that when I get home I am absolutely shattered, I eat and then pretty much sleep.

I have some work to do for the Architect’s, but I haven’t got around to doing it yet, as I say when I get home I am so tired and generally my eyes are so sore that I can’t really face staring into a laptop screen for a few hours, but I’ll have to get to it pretty soon.

Over the last week I have felt a little distant from things and people, maybe it’s the virus, maybe not, but I must say over this week there has been an improvement.  My daily posts at the moment are formed by a series of linked poems, which tell a story as such, this current series which started Monday evening and will end tomorrow evening is based on my feelings when I was falling into depression back in November 2013, those feelings of unfeeling and emptiness and calling out to the Father to help me through.  Although I am sure that even though they are based on past recollections, there is also a little of how I feel now wrapped up in them too.

It has been a little better over this week though, it was a nice break at the beginning of the week, my work sent me on a three day First Aid at Work course, it was nice to get away, do something different with a group of people I didn’t know, but became friends with over the course of the three days.  Also the return to Connect Groups on Wednesday evening has definitely helped too.  I guess to top things off getting some money in and being able to treat me kids to what I had really wanted to do at Christmas.

Hopefully things will continue to improve over the next few weeks, especially this virus and then hopefully I can get my plans for this year back up and running (or walking I should say).

LET IT RAIN by POCKET FULL OF ROCKS
We feel the rains of your love,
We feel the winds of your spirit,
But now the heartbeat of heaven,
Let us hear.

We feel the rains of your love,
We feel the winds of your spirit,
But now the heartbeat of heaven,
Let us hear.

Let it rain,
Let it rain,
Open the floodgates of heaven.
Let it rain,
Let it rain,
Open the floodgates of heaven.

We feel the rains of your love,
We feel the winds of your spirit,
But now the heartbeat of heaven,
Let us hear.

We feel the rains of love,
We feel the winds of your spirit,
But now the heartbeat of heaven,
Let us hear.

Let it rain,
Let it rain,
Open the floodgates of heaven.
Let it rain,
Let it rain,
Open the floodgates of heaven.

Let it rain,
Let it rain,
Open the floodgates of heaven.

Let it rain,
Let it rain,
Open the floodgates of heaven.

It’s A Slow Process!

For the first time in days I managed to get a full night’s sleep last night, it was the first night since before Christmas Eve that I don’t actually remember waking up at any point in a coughing fit, yet I still feel absolutely shattered.

By the time I had walked to Church and set up the camera’s I really was starting to flag and it wasn’t even 10am.  Most days that I’ve been off work over the Christmas/New Year period I caught up on lost sleep at night by napping in the day, when I was at work I napped when I got home, but today even though I was shattered this morning I didn’t sleep this afternoon.  Hopefully that means I will get a good night’s sleep again tonight, before I’m back at work tomorrow morning.

Although my eyes are no longer bloodshot, they are still weeping slightly at night and do still feel very dry, despite the fact that I have drank plenty of fluids.  The haze at Church really didn’t help my eyes this morning, after completing my camera work, my eyes really were smarting, the first thing I did when I got home was put eyes drops in both eyes.

The coughing is certainly not so intense has been, when I have coughing fit they are still pretty intense, but they are getting less and less frequent as each day passes, so hopefully over the next week it will have gradually faded away.

My plan to get back into my walking on New Year’s day has completely gone out of the window, I had hoped to be back out walking each morning, but given the circumstances that hasn’t really been an option.  My plan now is to hopefully be shut of this virus by the end of this week and start the daily walking again next weekend, fingers crossed it all goes to plan.

It has been pretty much a Christmas to forget, but that is now gone and pretty much forgotten, so it’s onwards into the New Year and those new year plans, I didn’t make any specific New Year’s Resolutions, other than to start walking, get fit again and lose a few pounds, all with the view to competing again in the summer, yes it’s true I plan to come out of retirement at this Year’s National Championships and attempt to win my title back, I felt I needed a few goals and targets and that was one of them.

GOLDEN BELL by BRADY TOOPS
There’s a land beyond the river that we call the sweet forever
And we only reach that shore by faith’s decree
One by one we all will get there passing thru the door of despair
When they ring that golden bell for you and me

Don’t you hear the bells now ringing, don’t you hear the angels singing out their tune
Tis’ the glory hallelujah, the light of heaven shining thru ya so very soon
Just beyond that shining river when they ring that golden bell for me and you

We shall know no sin nor sorrow in the harbor of tomorrow
When our ships all sail beyond the earth beneath
We shall only know the blessings, no more doubt and no more guessing
When they ring that golden bell for you and me

Don’t you hear the bells now ringing, don’t you hear the angels singing out their tune
Tis’ the glory hallelujah, the light of heaven shining thru ya so very soon
Just beyond that shining river when they ring that golden bell for me and you

Oooooooooooooooh

And when our days shall know their number, when in death we sweetly slumber
When the King commands our spirits to be free
Nevermore with anguish laden, we shall reach our final haven
When they ring that golden bell for you and me

Don’t you hear the bells now ringing, don’t you hear the angels singing out their tune
Tis’ the glory hallelujah, the light of heaven shining thru ya so very soon
Just beyond that shining river when they ring that golden bell for me and you

Dodging The Office Party

Every year Christmas time brings a number of tests, it’s a party season, a season of drinking, especially the office/works party, the talk around work tends to focus on getting “hammered”!

As I posted last week I was challenged, by an individual at work, for being unsocial for deciding not to go out for a meal with everyone at work. In subsequent conversations with others at work my decision has been totally accepted and they also condoned the behaviour of the individual in question, some even agreed that they probably wouldn’t go either if they weren’t drinking.

I’ve been off work since the weekend, as I have a few days holiday to catch up on before I loose them, so as far as I know the meal went on without me.

I on the other hand spent the night at home with my son, watching Lord of the Rings and Lizard Lick Towing with a take-away, which we both thoroughly enjoyed.

I certainly know where I preferred to be!

So I may have dodged what traditionally is the first test and I’m sure there will be others over the Christmas period, but for now I’m still counting down to Christmas Eve and the amazing figure of 1000 SoberDays, that the strength and grace of God has allowed me to reach!

JUST GETTING BY by TENTH AVENUE NORTH
Oh,when we were born
When we first arrived
We took it all in
Through innocent eyes

But we got jaded, cause the beauty faded
So now we fake it in worlds built in the sky
But we keep comin’ up dry

I’m waking up to what’s around me
I’ve lost too much to a fantasy
I’m tired living like I’m just getting by
Just getting by
I’m just getting by

Life can take a toll
Everyday demands
So much energy so many mundane plans

So we go digital, purely phisical
Hey, it’s just medicinal
We need to ease our minds

I’m waking up to what’s around me
I’ve lost too much to a fantasy
I’m tired living like I’m just getting by
Just getting by
I’m just getting by

I want to be all here now
Wherever I am, that’s where I’ll be found
Staying present even in the fear now
Life with open eyes
Please don’t pass me by

Life don’t pass me by, life don’t pass me by
Feel a spark when we look each other in the eye

I’m waking up to what’s around me
I’ve lost too much to a fantasy
I’m tired living like I’m just getting by
Just getting by
I’m just getting by
I don’t want to just get by

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

Surviving The Quiet Times

I wrote yesterday that this has been my worst Christmas ever, I guess I should explain, it’s not that it’s been really that bad, if fact it’s gone better than I actually expected, but a week ago I was dreading it, I just didn’t know what state of mind I would find myself in, especially in the quiet times and believe me there have been a few of them.

I saw the kids and Victoria for a few hours yesterday morning, before I set off for Church and they set off for Victoria’s Mum’s, that was it until they returned yesterday evening.  I wasn’t that great company in the morning, in fact at one point I had to remove myself from the room as I needed to cry, I didn’t let them see, I just took myself away.

At Church I felt like I just wanted to cry and on the way home it was everything I could do to stop myself from crying.  When I got in I made myself some dinner and just settled down for the rest of the day, the tears soon dry up.

This was the part I was dreading, I was sure I would really struggle through this part of the day, but in the end, after having something to eat it felt like just another day when I’m home alone, it didn’t feel any different really, it was like Christmas wasn’t really happening, just a normal sort of day.

I could have gone to my Mum and Dad’s, but to be honest I just couldn’t face that.  They really don’t understand my affliction, they just don’t get it, when I told my Dad about my drinking problems, his response was “Do you want a drink now?”, when I said no his answer was “well you’re not an alcoholic then!”  It’s not that they are bad people, they just don’t get it or won’t accept it, my Mum will say things like “are you still being good?”  What am I six years old or what?

They don’t understand my situation here at home either, I just couldn’t face them going on about it all afternoon, I would probably lose it and really make things worse, which was the last thing any of us need this year, both of them lost their mothers this year and me, both my Nan’s, it’s the first Christmas without them, not easy for any of us, especially when traditionally they would have one of them for lunch and then we would go to my Mum’s Mum for tea.  I feel a little guilty as they are probably struggling with all that too, but in my current frame of mind, I’m sorry but I couldn’t face it, I felt it better to be alone.

I was okay with my own company, which surprised me, the only downside was that for the first time ever I didn’t have a traditional Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day, I’ve always had one, but I guess there’s a first time for everything, but I enjoyed my dinner regardless.  I did get a Christmas Dinner earlier today though, Victoria’s Mum sent me one home last night, so I warmed it up for lunch.

The kids and Victoria have been out again since lunch, so it’s been another lonely day, but again it feels like just any other day, not a bit like Christmas or Boxing Day, which is probably a good thing.

I’m just glad I sought treatment when I did, I really don’t think I could have got through these last few day feeling like I did a month or so ago.  It’s was when I met with Paul and Sarah that Sarah suggested I go to the Doctor’s for help, but as always I put it off, but as it got worse and then James insisting that I get help, that I went to the Doctor’s and was put on these Antidepressants.  The early weeks were awkward with the side effects and I still have bad days amongst the good ones, I still slip into the dark areas of my mind from time to time, I still have moments of utter despondency and I think none of this is worth it, but they are not that strong any more and I’m not chained to them like I was a month ago, so thankfully I’ve been able to cope, as I say I have been fighting tears from time to time, but on the whole I feel okay.

This morning I put some Worship music on and sang along with each one, which made me feel better, I can always rely on music to lift my spirits a little when I need it.  And as I do quite regularly when I’m alone, I seek out Bible verses that speak to me.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
James 5:13

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:6

It’s back to work for a few hours in the morning , which will be nice break from these four walls, it’s bit of time just to break things up, even though there probably won’t be a lot to do, plus it will be back to a little bit of routine.

MERCY TREE by LACEY STURM
On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree
Every broke and weary soul
Find your rest and be made whole

Stripes of blood that stain its frame
Shed to wash away our shame
From the scars pure love released
Salvation brought the mercy tree

In the sky, between two thieves
Hung the blameless Prince of Peace
Bruised and battered, scarred and scorned
Sacred Hands pierced by our thorns

It is finished was his cry
The perfect Lamb was crucified
The sacrifice, our victory.
Our Savior chose the mercy tree

Hope went dark that violent day
The whole earth ‘quaked at love’s display
Three days silence in the ground
This body born for Heaven’s crown

On that bright and glorious day
Heaven opened up the grave
He’s alive and risen indeed
Praise him for the mercy tree

Death has died. Love has won!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome.
He has risen from the dead.

Death has died. Love has won!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome.
He has risen from the dead.

One day soon we’ll see His face
And every tear, He’ll wipe a way
No more pain or suffering
Oh, praise him for the mercy tree

Death has died. Love has won!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome.
He has risen from the dead.

Death has died. Love has won!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome.
He has risen from the dead.

On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree