Excerpt from Brad’s Recovery Story: A Spiritual Awakening

stories-04Here’s an excerpt from Brad’s Story. Brad was in the process of breaking away from a life of drinking, crime and violence.

‘3. Starting with The Breakfast Club
In 2006, Thames Valley Police informed me that Paula had taken her own life. This made me angry. I thought she was selfish leaving three kids behind, although I’d left my kids behind years ago.

I continued drinking and six months to the day my best friend Mick died in my arms at Calderdale Royal, having fallen and banged his head. Mick’s death crushed me. It was this was the first time I can remember showing any real emotion. To this day, I shed a tear when talking about him, as I am now. We had done everything together.

This event seemed to be a turning point for me, or should I say THE turning point. A friend told me that the so-called Breakfast Club, a recovery-based initiative in Halifax, needed volunteers. Although I was somewhat reclusive at this time, I went down to see them and asked if I could help.

Despite the fact that I stank of booze, they asked if I could help with the cooking. This was definitely great for me, although I wasn’t ready to stop drinking yet. I later met Michelle, who was to become the project manager of The Basement Project, which ran The Breakfast Club. As things were going, if I hadn’t have met Michelle, then I would likely be dead today.

When Michelle came on board at The Basement, she had big ideas and I became somewhat involved with her ambitions. Her plans to develop a recovery community in Calderdale sounded very exciting to me and I wanted to be a part of this initiative. I knew that I needed to stop drinking and get better to become involved in this project, but I also knew that I couldn’t use my desire to work with Michelle as the only reason for getting better.

At this time, I thought willpower is what I needed to stop drinking, but I soon found out that this wasn’t the case. I was lacking a true willingness and desire to get well. I daydreamed and dreamt about stopping drinking, but I think that’s all it was at that stage. There was no real consideration of the work that would be involved in stopping.

Anyway, I decided I needed a break from the booze. I retired to bed and began going through the terror of a full-blown rattle, something I hope I never have to go through again. Five days later, I was physically dry. I then decided to see how long I could abstain from alcohol.

After six weeks of no alcohol, I still wanted a drink. In fact, my desire for alcohol was worse than ever. I was puzzled by this and asked someone in long-term recovery why I felt this way after all this time – surely I should have stopped craving? He simply said to me, “Brad, you haven’t just got a problem with alcohol.”

When he said this, I thought to myself, “He’s mad. What does he mean?” He then proceeded to tell me that if my problem was just about alcohol, then everything in my life would have been rosy and nice when I had stopped drinking. Clearly, this wasn’t the case – everything wasn’t as perfect as I had expected.

At this point, I experienced something I remember clearly like it was yesterday. My head span and I was dizzy. I had never realised that my problems involved more than just alcohol – they involved me as a person. No one had explained this to me before.

4. Beginning to understand
Shortly after this insight, I spent a week on an Action on Addiction/University of Bath course in Warminster. The course, which was part of their Foundation Degree, focused on the 12 steps. I was about six weeks sober at the time and Michelle thought that the course would be useful for me. She wanted me to gain a greater understanding so I would stay sober.

However, the course confused me. I found it very hard to take in all the information. I spent five days trying to understand the concept of the 12-step programme and, wow, it blew my head away! However, I now know that listening to all that information, alongside talking and listening constantly to my colleagues, played an important role in helping me get well.

Normally when I woke up, I would sit on the edge of my bed, rub my face up and down and silently say to myself, “Here we go, another day.”

I did the same on the morning after getting back from Bath, but this time I felt very strange when I removed my hands. The emptiness and hollow feelings that were usually there in my stomach and head were gone. I remember this change quite clearly. I got to my feet and started to sort of tiptoe out of my bedroom as my partner slept, holding my stomach as if it was going to fall out. I felt absolutely great for the very first time in my life! Amazing!!

I started to ask myself what was happening to me. I became very scared in case the hollowness came back. [I now know this hollow feeling as FEAR]. I went to the Basement Project as usual to do my voluntary work – I had been there nearly three years by this time – and talked about what had happened. I was told to make my own mind up about what this meant.

What I came up with was a ‘Spiritual Awakening’, an entire psychic change. I had changed the way I think. I’d accepted my problem for what it was, an illness, and that it was not going anywhere. I had it for life and I could not control this stuff – “Drink or don’t drink, no half measures,” I thought.

I really can’t explain what had happened to me when I woke that morning. I felt totally different, and my thinking had changed dramatically overnight. I must have learned something from the course. I must have subconsciously taken in the lectures and discussions and this information had started to impact on me in an incredible way. It had changed me dramatically. From this point, my life took off.’

Why not read all of Brad’s Story?