My name is Mark
I am a 53 year old man who has drunk excessively, with varying degrees of success, for over 30 years, well actually the the successful bit was probably about 5 years worth in my early twenties, even then I was often described as the “nicest drunk people could wish to meet” – if only it were true. I tried to manage every single aspect of my life I found to be uncomfortable by medicating with alcohol.
See how addiction works? I actually said “with varying degrees of success” at the beginning of my first blog, I was going to edit it out but thought it an excellent example of how the addict brain twists and distorts facts.
I have been successfully sober for three years, after entering Gladstones rehabilitation clinic in February 2014.
I have been encouraged to start this blog and I’m not sure how it will pan out yet. I could tell you my life story and make you laugh a little, cry a little, get mad a little and make you feel sorry for me, that would be great for me, but the story would be a version of one familiar to alcoholics, addicts, their friends and loved ones the world over, and maybe you reading this!
I’m gonna try and raise a few topics which will strike a chord with any who have had their lives touched by addiction or currently in active addiction. Especially drawing on the issues we help clients work through at Gladstones Clinic.
I guess if you are gonna take your time to read what I have so say I should tell you a little about my background, that way you can get a bit of a feel of who I am. I was raised in Kent, Margate to be specific, and was fortunate enough to have the sea on my doorstep. I went to an all boy’s Grammar School then attended a Polytechnic (University for less intellectually inclined people) in London. Had a few dodgy jobs and then a 30 year career in the world of metals processing ending as a Key Account Manager. I am currently studying part time and volunteering for a few organisations including as a Peer Mentor here at Gladstones Clinic.
Over the coming weeks I will no doubt give you more detail but this is all you need to know right now.
I could wax lyrical about how great life is in recovery and how grateful I am for being sober, dispense advice and feel I am making a difference but that’s just not me and who I am. This brings me back nicely to – “Who Am I?”, or better “Who I Am”
I do not truly know – do not be alarmed, I’m ok with that, I’m enjoying the journey of finding out.
It’s much easier for me to tell you how I want to be – I just want to be loved and for everybody to be happy!
I guess I am to others as they see me and this is a world of difference to how I see myself. I find it incredibly hard to see the good in me or accept compliments. I dismiss them as they could not possibly apply to me often to the point of thinking that the person must be going through some sort of mental aberration to entertain the thought that I may be good at something, even when the evidence is pointed out I cannot make the connection. (A bit of honest reflection there yikes!)
So seeing good things about myself is a problem, according to the therapist in my head the next course of action is to stand in front of a mirror and give myself positive affirmations (I am beautiful, I am intelligent, and my favourite, I am precious etc…) every day until I believe them. For me this does work but only if I am in a “good place” frame of mind.
One of the most distressing things I have to do in my life is going to the barbers for a haircut – 20 minutes of sheer hell looking at my reflection in the mirror.
I OFTEN DO NOT LIKE WHO IS LOOKING AT ME, IT CAN BE GENUINELY PAINFUL
When I come home from the barbers I try a little self analysis, something we encourage clients to do at Gladstones. What is so difficult about looking at myself? What do I want to see? The reality is I see a lot of different Marks looking back, sometimes a lost little boy, sometimes an old man, sometimes a sad person but never a confident, comfortable, accomplished man…yet…
WHAT DO YOU SEE WHEN YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR?
The old Mark was a great guy, superficially, he was the life and soul of the party etc.. I call bullshit, the old Mark did not talk about how he was feeling, wasn’t able to express himself, had unfulfilled needs. All the while the addict in him formulating an attack plan to finish him off, a world of pain, isolation, self imposed self-pity and worthlessness.
IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS
So let me try to introduce myself again.
Who I Am? Hi, my name is Mark.
I am a recovering alcoholic, I am enjoying life exploring my own strengths and weaknesses finding out who I am. Until recently my only way of getting through life as I saw it was to drink. I now do not have to be afraid of my feelings, my fears, my beliefs nor what others think of me.
I am Mark, who are you?