Friday, 31 July 2009

Y wefan newydd yn "fyw"/The Welsh version of our website is now "live"

Yn union cyn dechrau'r Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yn y Bala yfory (dydd Sadwrn 1af o Awst) - ac yn ol ein haddewid - mae gwefan Cyngor Cymru ar Alcohol a Chyffuriau Eraill yn "fyw". Diolchwn i Shaun Pinney am ei holl waith caled yn cynllunio a pharatoi'r wefan. Gobeithio y bydd o ddefnydd i bawb sydd yn chwilio am wybodaeth; ac i'r rhai hynny sy'n dioddef o ganlyniad i gamddefnyddio alcohol a chyffuriau eraill - gan gynnwys aelodau o'r teulu a ffrindiau.

Mae'r wefan yn tyfu'n ddyddiol wrth inni ychwanegu at y wybodaeth sydd arni. Gellwch hefyd ddilyn ein blog dyddiol - 'Sut 'rwy'n gwella o ddibyniaeth' -; er y byddaf yn yr Eisteddfod am wythnos, ac ar wyliau am wythnos arall wedi hynny. Yn y cyfamser, bydd cyfaill imi, Rosie, yn cadw'r Blog i fynd.

Ewch i

Immediately prior to the beginning of the National Eisteddfod tomorrow (Saturday, 1st August) - and, as we promised - the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs' new website is "live". We thank Shaun Pinney for all his hard work designing and preparing the website. We hope it will be useful to those seeking information; and to those suffering as a consequence of alcohol and other drugs' misuse - including members of their families and friends.

The site grows daily as we add to the information contained on it. You can also follow our daily Blog -'How I'm recovering from addiction' -; although I'll be attending the Eisteddfod this coming week, and on holiday the following week. In the meantime, my friend, Rosie, will keep the Blog going.

Go to

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Ian C.

A few years ago I went to a World Convention for recovering alcoholics in Minneapolis in America. On the Saturday night, instead of going to the Edgar-Hoover Convention Centre with the other seventy thousand or so recovering alcoholics, I went to the Catholic Cathedral with my friend Stuart. The priest was talking about the woman in the Bible who was haemorrhaging and who touched the mantle of Jesus Christ in the sure knowledge that she’d be cured. Christ felt the power flow out of him if you remember - and, from amongst the throngs of people surrounding him, He turned and asked, “Who touched me? Who touched me? Who touched me?” And the priest compared that woman’s faith to the faith of the alcoholic. He said this, “We in the church believe God exists. Alcoholics, and there are seventy thousand of them in Minneapolis this weekend, they know He exists!”

One such person who knew God existed was Ian C – a stalwart of the recovery meetings in Cardiff. I went to see him a few months ago in hospital on a Sunday afternoon – he looked emaciated. The cancer had certainly got hold of him. He asked me how I was, and then he asked me about my family. He always did that. Ian C was always more concerned about the other person rather than himself. And then he talked about his “only concern in life” – which was to try and stop his sister from travelling all the way from America to visit him. “It’s far too long a journey for her to undertake, Wynford”, he said. “I’ll be alright, and she knows that.”

And then he started talked about his father who had died the previous year in his late eighties. Indeed, all Ian’s uncles, were in their late eighties, as well – one, even reaching the ripe old age of ninety two, I think he said. And Ian had got to thinking, “Maybe I’ve got an extra thirty years or so of life ahead of me too! I’d even started planning what I was going to do with those extra thirty years,” he laughed. “Never assume anything in life Wynford”, he said – “learn that lesson. Never take anything for granted.” and he patted respectfully his stomach where the cancer lay.

I then asked him if he felt cheated out of those extra thirty years of life, because of the cancer. “Not at all”, he said, “not at all. I’ve already had twenty five extra years of life through this recovery programme, Wynford”, he said. “Twenty five extra years of sober living which have been beyond my wildest dreams, and which I would never have had if it weren’t for this wonderful programme of ours.”

A consummate chess player, Ian had played and won at the game of life, as well. The cancer had no power over him – none whatsoever; and neither did death – which was so obviously his next and final challenge. Death, as Dylan Thomas said, had no dominion over Ian - none whatsoever.

I’d brought him a present that day to make him feel better. However, I was the one who was feeling better by the time I left. I was the one who’d been given the present as well – a gift to me from Ian.

The following week my wife and I went to Prague – courtesy of my God-given recovery from alcoholism. I wouldn’t have had a marriage if it weren’t for that recovery! We went to concerts and listened to music by Mozart, Grug and Stravinski. And then the following week we went to a time-share we have in St David’s in Pembrokeshire with our two little grandchildren – again, courtesy of my ongoing recovery. They wouldn’t be able to say ‘We’ve never seen Taid drink’, if it weren’t for that ongoing miraculous recovery. We visited the Dinosaurs that week in Tenby, and went to the sea-side and we laughed, and laughed, and laughed and we had so much fun. And then on Good Friday we went to a family service in St David’s Cathedral. And after the service, the Bishop came past in a grand procession – and he stopped, made the sign of the cross towards us - and blessed us as a family. And I thought to myself, little does he know how blessed we already are. …. And that’s when Ian’s face came into my mind. He was smiling – and there was a special aura about him – an aura of perfect peace and tranquillity. And then his face vanished as quickly as it had appeared. I resolved, there and then, to visit him on my return - for I knew he’d been moved to a hospice in Penarth – Stuart, in fact, had told me so.

On bank holiday Monday, we went for a picnic to Cosmeston Lakes, and on the way home I called at the hospice to visit Ian. The receptionist, rather ominously, couldn’t find his name on the list of patients, so she took me to see the Staff Nurse, who led me into a small ante-room at the back, and sat me down. “I’m afraid to have to tell you that your friend died on Good Friday”, she said.

I think she was expecting me to be sad. I wasn’t. On the contrary, I felt overjoyed for Ian – for him to be at one, at last, with his God who meant so much to him. And I felt privileged to have known him – because he was one of those alcoholics who knew that God existed. He had also, I knew, touched the mantle of Jesus Christ. And Christ, feeling the power flow out of Him, had turned, and from amongst the throngs of people surrounding him, had asked, “Who touched me? Who touched me? Who touched me?”

Ian C touched you Lord. And because of that he touched me and the lives of countless other people inside and outside the recovery movement. He was a man blessed with extraordinary humility. And he carried the message of recovery and hope right up to, and beyond the grave.

I had to ask the Nurse one final question. “Did his sister eventually arrive from America?”
“Yes” she said “she arrived an hour before he died. It was as if he was hanging on - waiting to say his final farewell.”
“And was he able to say anything to her?”
“He mumbled something about, “You shouldn’t have come - I’m going to be alright.”

Oh, and the present he gave me that Sunday afternoon in the hospital ward in Cardiff? It was this poem – something he’s come across in one of his readings – and something he wanted me to have. With your permission, I’ll share it with you. It’s a poem by Kara di Giovanne.

COMES THE DAWN by Kara di Giovanne

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a heart and chaining a soul;
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security;
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head held up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman not the grief of a child;
And you learn to build all your roads on today -
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down mid-flight.

And after a while you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much;
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong…
That you really have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With each goodbye you learn…...

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Willingness to say Sorry.....

Continuing on my journey into recovery I arrived at Step 9 of the 12Steps.

In Step 8 I had made a list of all the people I had hurt and now I was willing to go to them - where this was possible - and say sorry.

I met with my sponsor to seek guidance on the best way to approach making my amends. It was important that I listened to her suggestion. She knew who I had hurt and in what context - through receiving my Step 5. Drawing also from her own experience - she was able to give wise suggestion as to how I might approach each person concerned.

I needed to be sure that the approach would not cause further hurt. I needed to consider the time and the place. I needed to take into account the suggestion of Step 9 that the apology be in the presence of the person where ever possible.

I was reminded that I needed to be cautious - this is where the suggestion of my sponsor was so valuable. Together we decided on whom I could approach right away and on whom it would be better to approach at a later date.

I never would have thought it possible that I would be willing to apologise to the people I had hurt because up until I was willing to look at the part I played in the situation - I had always blamed them! Each step brings a little more humility!

I found the willingness through allowing the power of love into my life in Step 3. I found the willingness because I had felt the power of that love in Step 4 and 5 - I had been forgiven and received love.

Through this I became willing to reach out in a loving way to those I had hurt and say sorry. Again, willingness is the key - if the willingness is there - even if we cannot make amends right away - the promises of Step 9 will be fulfilled. I cannot put into words the transformation this process has made to myself, to my relationships and to my life - it is impossible! The promises -as outlined in the book of Alcoholics Anonymous - have come true for me - I have been given a new life - a life I never dreamed possible.

The Promises

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

Saying sorry was just the beginning of the process of establishing trust between those I had hurt - mainly my family who were so wonderfully forgiving and loving towards me. The process is one of healing for all concerned - and that takes time. It is a process that cannot be hurried. It is a process that continues - one day at a time. It is a process that moves me to tears of gratitude so easily. Thank you God for everything you have done for me and for everything you continue to do.

I now had to look at how I was going to grow in this new life - I had reached Step 10.

Friday, 17 July 2009

My definition of personal recovery from drug and alcohol dependence

There's been a lot written recently about the definition of personal recovery. Prof David Clark offers Mike Slade's definition from his book “Personal Recovery and Mental Illness” saying that 'This definition could be used for recovery from addiction with little, or any change [other than replacing ‘mental illness’ with ‘serious substance use problem’.

This is how Mike defines personal recovery: “a deeply personal, unique process of changing one’s attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills, and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even within the limitations caused by illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness.”

As I approach, through God's grace, another sobriety birthday in my ongoing recovery from chronic drug and alcohol dependence, personal recovery for me means being vulnerable - and that means risking and showing people who I am. In other words it's about having the courage to be me - the authentic me.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Living in paradise

A friend of mine admitted recently to feeling low, as if melancholia had suddenly descended on him. This was contrary to his usual self, because since sobering up, my friend had developed a positive attitude - seeing the good and the best in every situation and circumstance.

Knowing that my friend was an actor, I suggested to him what might have caused his sudden bout of depression – it was the end of a busy period for him, with a long-running successful TV series, which he had been involved with for over seven years, coming to an end. I suggested that unwittingly he might be grieving its loss.

Acting is a precarious business (I should know I was in the profession for forty years). One goes from job to job, and is dependent for work on another person’s good will. Working on a long-term project, therefore - as my friend had been for over seven years - is the exception; as well, of course, as being a privilege. “Perhaps indeed,” he later admitted to me over a coffee, “that I have been grieving the series’ loss - and fretting about an uncertain future. Because I’ve been feeling recently as if I’m grieving over something or other – feeling tearful, yes, but unable to cry for some reason.”

We talked about how unresolved, suppressed feelings can cause melancholia – unresolved, in my friend’s case, until I drew his attention to them. Once he gave himself permission to feel these feelings, however, he was able to move on – and today, miraculously, the depression has lifted.

But the key that facilitated the miracle was the fact that we were both able to sit down and have an honest exchange; that I was able to be open with him; and him with me.

Unresolved and suppressed feelings, I believe, are responsible for road rage and other examples of social misbehaviours and unrest – crime, the crowd troubles and the lack of respect we hear so much about these days and, of course, addictions.

More and more individuals loose the ability to be honest emotionally with each other. The way I relieved the inevitable tension and stress that ensued when I was drinking, was to disappear inside a bottle of booze (I had found a short-cut to make myself feel better). Increasingly people are using this same method as well – and other drugs and addictive behaviours.

But it’s revealed, in the main, through violent behaviour in our society, crime and social unrest. The inability to communicate at every level is responsible. Man has isolated himself from his fellow man - like a pelican he refuses (or is unable) to share in any depth his emotions with the next man.

Anarchy and the ‘burden of unbearable aloneness’ is its inevitable end; it’s impossible to legislate against and our only hope of salvation is spiritual intervention: that means man coming to terms with himself, incidentally – realising his true worth and learning to respect him or herself. Respect for his fellow-man (and for public order) stems from that.

I’m convinced that if people were able to be honest and open with their feelings criminality would be reduced dramatically overnight, and respect would return to our society, as would sobriety. We would live a life of bliss I’m convinced. To live in this country would indeed, then, be to live in paradise.

Monday, 13 July 2009

The wholeness and peace I had been yearning for

Hiding from the truth of myself had become such a habit that I did not know how to do anything else. Step 5 allowed me to honestly face the truth about myself.

The words of a song by Adrian Snell describe very well the way I had been feeling for such a long time before I took Step. 5 I am writing them out in the hope that others might relate to them and perhaps wish to go through the process - which for me brought about the wholeness and peace I had been yearning for and seeking for such a long time:

Many times I've been smiling
When inside I've been crying,
I've been shaking hands with people
Who just didn't know my pain

Many times I've been walking
When inside I've been running,
I've been standing in the sunshine
But could only feel the rain

Lord, I'm weary
I've got nothing more to hide,
And I've had my share of turning
Turning with the tide

Many times I've been winning
When inside I was losing -
Well, I liked to hear the cheering
But it didn't ease my mind

Many times I've been leaving
When inside I was staying,
Often wished the road before me
Was the one I left behind

Lord, I'm weary
That is why my head is bowed,
And I've had my share of running
Running with the crowd

I've had my share of reaching out
But never really touching,
Lord, let me feel the healing touch
Of Jesus in my soul

I've had my share of crying out
But never really praying -
Lord, I want to say I'm sorry, will you
Come and make me whole

Many times I was loving
But inside I was hating,
And I didn't know the reason
Nor who should take the blame

There were times when I was looking
But I just wasn't finding,
I was hearing all the answers
But the questions still remained

Lord, I'm weary
There was nothing left to find
And I've had my share of blowing
Blowing in the wind

As I typed the above words, my hands have been shaking on the keyboard and my heart is thudding. I am overcome with gratitude. The power of Love brought about the promised psychic and emotional shift -which would allow me to think and act in a new way. My alcohol problem was removed from me. I knew I had been forgiven and no record of my past would be kept. I was at the beginning of my new life - a life I never dreamed possible - God was doing for me what I could not do for myself.

In Step 6 and 7 I asked God to guide me for the rest of my life - to become a better person and to be able to reach out to others in a compassionate and loving way.

In Step 8 I listed all the people I had hurt- in preparation for saying sorry and making amends to them. The list was drawn up from the inventory made in Step 4.

I was now willing and ready to make my amends.

Love and prayers, Rosie

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Sarnu enw da Eisteddfod yr Urdd

Mae penderfyniad yr Urdd i gael trwydded i werthu alcohol ar faes Eisteddfod yr Urdd wedi cael ei feirniadu’n hallt gan Gyngor Cymru ar Alcohol a Chyffuriau Eraill. Dywedodd Wynford Ellis Owen, Prif Weithredwr yr Elusen, ei bod yn “warth” bod yr Urdd yn ystyried gwerthu alcohol ar y maes. “Rydw i’n arswydo at glywed y newyddion,” meddai. “Ar adeg pan fod 12 miliwn o bobl Prydain yn goryfed – a’r broblem yn waeth yng Nghymru, gyda phobl ifanc Cymru rhwng 11 a 15 mlwydd oed yn defnyddio mwy o alcohol na phobl ifanc o’r un oedran mewn unrhyw wlad arall yn Ewrop – mae’r penderfyniad nid yn unig yn un ynfyd ond yn un anghyfrifol.”

Ychwanegodd bod Cyngor yr Urdd, bleidleisiodd bron yn unfrydol o blaid y newid, yn “sarnu enw da’r Eisteddfod ac yn anfon neges glir i holl blant a phobl ifanc Cymru, sef: na fedrwn ni bellach gynnal hyd yn oed Eisteddfod yr Urdd heb fod alcohol yn rhan ohoni”.

“Dyma ganlyniad i’r ‘normaleiddio’ sydd wedi digwydd yn ein cymdeithas parthed ein hymwneud ag alcohol”, meddai. “Mae bellach yn ‘abnormal’ i beidio cael alcohol yn rhan o bob gweithgarwch. Mae’n drist meddwl fod aelodau Cyngor yr Urdd – nifer ohonynt yn ddiaconiaid a blaenoriaid - wedi ildio i’r fath bwysau”.

Ychwanegodd Wynford, “Rwy’n gobeithio y bydd rhieni, ac arweinwyr ac aelodau cyfrifol o’n cymdeithas ac o’n heglwysi yn galw ar Gyngor yr Eisteddfod i newid eu meddyliau ynglŷn â’r penderfyniad anhygoel hwn i ganiatáu gwerthu alcohol ar faes Eisteddfod yr Urdd.”

Mae Wynford Ellis Owen wedi gwneud cais drwy Efa Gruffudd Jones, Prif Weithredwr yr Urdd, i gael mynychu cyfarfod nesaf Cyngor yr Urdd. “Fy ngobaith” meddai “yw y bydd yr aelodau yn ddigon doeth a gwrol o glywed y ffeithiau a’r dystiolaeth wyddonol ddiweddaraf, i newid eu meddyliau. Rwy’n ffyddiog” meddai “y gallwn gyflawni hyn er adfer hygrededd yr Urdd”.

Am fwy o wybodaeth cysylltwch â:

Cyngor Cymru ar Alcohol a Chyffuriau Eraill
58 Richmond Road,
Caerdydd CF24 3AT
T. 029 2049 3895

Friday, 10 July 2009

Ruining the Urdd Eisteddfod's good name

The Urdd’s decision to sell alcohol on the Urdd Eisteddfod field has been roundly condemned by The Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs. Wynford Ellis Owen, the Charity’s Chief Executive, said it was a “disgrace” that the Urdd (The Welsh League of Youth) considered selling alcohol on the field. “I shuddered on hearing the news” he said, “At a time when 12 million of Britain’s people drink to dangerous levels – with the problem being worse in Wales, where it is estimated that more than a quarter of Welsh young people between the ages of 11 and 15 use more alcohol than young people in any other country in Europe within the same age range – the decision is insane and irresponsible”.

He added that the Urdd Council, which voted nearly unanimously for the change, had “ruined the Eisteddfod’s good name and is sending out a clear message to all the children and young people of Wales, that we can’t even host Eisteddfod Yr Urdd without alcohol being a part of it”.

“This is the result of the normalising that happens in our society with our relationship with alcohol” he said, “It is now ‘abnormal’ not to have alcohol as part of every activity. It is sad to think that the members of the Urdd’s Council – many of them deacons and leading members of Churches – have given in to such pressure.

Wynford added, “I hope that parents, and leaders and responsible members of our Society and our Churches will call on the Eisteddfod Council to change its mind on this incredible decision to allow the selling of alcohol on the Eisteddfod field”

Wynford Ellis Owen has made an application through Efa Gruffudd Jones, the Urdd’s Chief Executive, to attend the next meeting of the Urdd Council, “My hope” he said, “is that the members will be wise and brave enough on hearing the facts and the latest scientific evidence, to change their minds. I’m confident” he said, “we can achieve this and restore the Urdd’s credibility”.

For more information contact:

The Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs
58 Richmond Road,
Cardiff CF24 3AT
T. 029 2049 3895


Thursday, 9 July 2009

The importance of leaving a margin on the pages of my busy life

I've just returned from holiday - the weather was lovely and both Meira and I had a wonderful, relaxing time. During the break I came to realise for myself the importance of leaving a margin on the page of my busy life. Today I'm going to relish giving myself some "me" time. Will you be doing the same?

I'd like to thank Rose for her insightful blogs; and I know from your responses that you've also enjoyed benefitting from her 'experience, strength and hope'. I hope very much that Rose will be a regular (and much valued) contributor to the Welsh Council's daily blog. So, thank you Rose, and thank you for all you've given me over the years. I value your friendship very much and the regular "quality time" we spend sharing on the telephone with each other constitutes part of the important margin I gift myself on the pages of my busy life.

Readers can access on our website a recording of the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs' Inaugural Annual Lecture delivered at the Welsh Assembly by Dr David Best. His theme was "Evidence of hope: what do we know about sustained recovery from alcohol and drug addiction?". You can also get a taste of the Q&A session that followed the lecture and to view the pre-lecture networking session.

I'm off to see the cricket Test Match in Cardiff today - I reckon that takes care of today's margin as well as filling most of the page of today's busy life!

Monday, 6 July 2009

The most powerful thing we can ever say to another person is " I forgive you ...."

Step 3 brought the loving power of God into my life and gave me the strength and courage to honestly know myself- it is suggested this happen very shortly after taking step 3 - there is a momentum to the steps.

I now had a trickle of God's love in my life but I had to clear away the debris of my past life -which had formed a dam across the river of love - preventing me from having what I needed most - the full force of God's loving power in my life.

Could I have found the willingness, the honesty and the humility to really face looking at myself in the way suggested, if I had not had that trickle of God's love? Would I have had the courage to look at my pride, my selfishness, my resentments, my anger, my fears, my self pity, my judgement of others? Even more - would I ever have been able to admit 'the exact nature of my wrongs' 'to God, myself and another human being?' Would I be able to forgive myself and others? I had to know myself to love myself. I had to love myself to be able to reach out to others in love.

It required a lot of humility which I did not have. I believe God gave me the humility to carry out the task - the task of step4 and step5. The task which was absolutely necessary in order to bring about change in myself. The task which would allow me to put the key in the lock of the dark cell I had lived in and let myself out - I had to take the responsibility! I had to do all the work! After all, it was my recovery! No one else could do it for me! But with willingness on my part, God's love and the guidance of my sponsor - it was not the daunting task I feared it might be. Each step brings with it a little more humility.

I had to 'unpack the baggage of my life' in order to see that the problem was not alcohol at all - the problem was ME! I HAD TO CHANGE! I HAD TO CHANGE FROM THE INSIDE OUT! Step 4 and 5 of the 12Step process would allow me to do just that.

My sponsor suggested that I take a maximum of two weeks to complete Step 4. She believed that was long enough to sit in a painful place. I was after all going to admit my faults to a loving, forgiving God and the task was to be kept as simple as possible - I was not under any circumstances to 'make a big deal out of it'!

I was to look at the part I played in evey situation where I blamed someone else - leaving their behaviour out of it - I was to look at my motives, feelings, thoughts, weaknesses and the consequences of my behaviour. It needed to be a thorough examination. I was asked to write down everything that caused me to have feelings of guilt, remorse and shame - a simple list would be enough.

She then suggested that when this was completed, I make a list of all the good things I had done in my life. There needed to be a balance and it was very important to acknowledge positive behaviour.

My sponsor reminded me of the importance of HONESTY. I needed to try to the best of my ability to admit all my wrongs. The WILLINGNESS to want to achieve this outcome was the key to achieving it. She reminded me that although the task was emotionally painful, it was set to help me, not to make me feel worse and it should therefore be carried out with that in mind, in as simple a way as possible.

Writing the Step 4 list was a painful task - the real me was revealed before my eyes on paper. I had to own this me as painful as it was - the admittance of my wrongs was the SOLUTION. This admittance would bring about a spiritual awakening which would totally change my attitude towards life, towards people and towards the world.

Writing the list of the good things I had done was also difficult because the negative behaviour kept forming a barrier in my mind to screen them out. However Step 5 gave me the opportunity to go through both lists with my sponsor - to reveal to her my wrong doings and the secrets I was ashamed of and deeply sorry for.This is why it is crucial to find someone with whom you can have a trusting relationship. Step five is essential!

She was so kind and supportive and helped me to realise that I needed to find the willingness to FORGIVE - even though it was so difficult. To be willing to say "I forgive you, I forgive you for all the hurt you have ever caused me and I wish you a good life, the life you wish for yourself" is the most powerful thing we can do. By freeing that person, we free ourselves. Would I not be willing to forgive knowing I wanted to be forgiven myself? I needed to at least be willing to try.

She reminded me that her role was simply to help me get the right balance in the situations I revealed. She had the experience of being through the process herself and knew how important keeping a balance was. I was really coming before a loving God - and we had lit a tea light to be reminded of that during the process - the loving power who forgave immediately and for whom no record of past faults was ever kept.

She helped me to see that despite everything, I had been capable of doing many good things - that there is good in all of us which, when we feel so bad about ourselves, is difficult to see. I cried so much that afternoon. The process left me emotionally and physically drained and I needed to sleep. The dam across the river had been cleared and several weeks later - not immediately - a peace come over me which I had never known before - God's loving power had fully entered my heart. It was to provide me with the strength, courage and willingness to continue the process - to make amends to all those I had hurt.

Love and prayers, Rosie

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Lack of power replaced by the power of love

Thank you for your comments

Dear PeaPod, Yenwerp, Tony and Lucy - thank you all so much for your kind comments - I am so glad that you could relate to some of the things I said and found them helpful.

About sponsorship and the difficulty of asking for and taking help. PeaPod -I know desperation played a big part in helping me with this. I was full of pride PeaPod and I will always be working on keeping it in check.

The importance of time as an essential element in the healing process of recovery and therefore the need for Aftercare to be highligted. Ibelieve people need to be reassured that they are thought about - that they have not been forgotten - that out of sight does not mean out of mind. A hand written card, a telephone call says 'we are thinking of you' - a simple gesture which can really lift the spirits and allow a person to feel cared for - always important, but more so in early recovery. As you say Yenwerp, everyone involved needs to be aware of the essential need for time to complete the healing proces.

Lucie - I agree so much with you - 'slow, steady steps in the right direction' and 'recovery is not a race.' There is real passion being transferred in the comments you have all made and we need to be passionate about what we believe in and do the best we can in the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Tony, your description of the act of kindness towards you by your cell mate which you say 'set me on the road to recovery' and 'opened my eyes to a new world' is such a wonderful example of how powerful simply being kind can be! For you - life changing! I wonder how many more lives have been changed through acts of kindness resulting in recovery - an amazing motivator for change! Let us all use it every day! Tony, you said that bringing what we are to the surface is 'tough but rewarding.' Well, I agree with you totally and I would like to share my experience of that process over the next few days. Thank you all again so much.

Lack of power replaced by the power of love

The 12Step process allowed me to admit, that where alcohol was concerned, I was totally powerless. I had therefore to find power which was greater than myself to help me and be willing to trust that my life could be guided in a positive way by the new found power.

Was I willing and open-minded enough to 'just do it'? To just do what was suggested? This was 'heart stuff' not 'head stuff' - I would never be able to understand it or explain it so why waste time trying? - but I was told that before the process was even completed - my heart would be touched by this new found power and my life would be changed forever!

I had nothing to lose and everything to gain! Step 3 was where I decided to 'just do it.' This was the turning point - where I invited this power into my life - the power of pure, unconditional love - the power I refer to as God. Is there anything more powerful than love? If you believe in the power of love then why not use this as a power greater than yourself and name it as you will.

I lit a tea light as a symbol of coming into the light of a new life and my sponsor knelt down with me as I slowly said the Step 3 prayer from the Book of Alcoholics Anonymous -

" God, I offer myself to Thee, To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy Will. Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy power, Thy love andThy way of life. May I do Thy Will always."

The words of the prayer had a very powerful effect on me in the few minutes we remained silent. I have heard many people say that they were moved emotionally at this point of their journey no matter what words they chose to use to ask for help and guidance. I felt that across the vast space between heaven and earth a loving God had reached out and taken my hand -and I had a longing deep inside me to never, ever let it go.

Love and prayers, Rosie

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Everyone needs a guide in life - for no one can be judge in their own case. We all need to have someone in our life we can totally trust - and none more so than the alcoholic seeking recovery. I came to understand through being around others like myself, from listening to them and hearing their personal stories of recovery, that such a person was required - a sponsor - to guide me through the 12Steps - the Programme that had brought thousands of people into recovery.Through listening to these people I began to get an idea of what the 12Step Programme was about and of the important part it played in the daily life of the recovering alcoholic.

After about two months I felt I had found the right person - a person who was several years sober, who had completed the 12Steps and was using the programme in her daily life and who I had got to know and felt I could relate to. She agreed to be my sponsor. I can remember feeling excited about starting the 12Steps with her because I had been witnessing the positive change it had made in the lives of others - and I really wanted that for myself.

We arranged to meet - I remember it was a lovely sunny day and we sat outside drinking coffee and chatting. She talked about the relationship she hoped we might have with her as my sponsor and she shared about the positive relationship between her sponsor and herself. She told me she would do everything she could to support me and that I could trust her and turn to her for help at any time - the relationship would be caring and guiding but ultimately I had to take responsibility for my own recovery and I had to take the action myself to make it happen.

I can remember thinking how unusual it felt to be asking for and accepting help from another person because that was someting I never did. I was surprised how right it felt and how good I felt about it.

She put me at ease about the work we were embarking on and said that the most important things I had to remember were to be willing to do what was suggested, to be totally honest with myself and others and to be open minded. She said if you could have solved the problem with your head you would have so now try something different. You do not have to understand why something works in order to get the benefit of it so just keep an open mind and do it. It was important that I become teachable - a further lowering of my pride was required!

She said there was a pace to the steps, that the work was not a 'big deal' and that I should not regard it as such. It was a simple programme of suggestions - just remember to be willing, honest and open minded.

Love and prayers, Rosie

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


Leaving the dark place of my drinking and moving into the light of my new life has been a journey of self discovery - a journey of change - a painful journey at times - a wonderful journey - which has brought me what I was seeking most - peace.

I have come to understand that recovery is a healing process of mind body and spirit and time is an essential factor in this process. We cannot expect to recover from the illness of alcoholism or any other addiction overnight. We cannot undo the harm done in a short space of time. This is a fact which I believe is so often not recognised - people are not realising the importance of time in the recovery process.

We should be kind and good to ourselves as we would if we were recovering from any other illness - especially a life threatening illness. This can be difficult because we believe we do not deserve kindness or love - we suffer feelings of guilt and shame. I think the feelings of shame are the most difficult to cope with because they centre on self and are capable of producing the most negative thoughts about ourselves and can often make us feel physically unwell. That was my own experience at the time.

During the first week of my recovery I suffered the most terrible fear to the point where I did not want to be left on my own for even the shortest space of time. I needed someone to hold my hand and to be with me. I needed the reassurance of another human being and found that in members of my wonderful family - my family that had always been there for me.

Allowing others to help me was a new experience because I believed I could manage on my own and solve the problem myself - I KNEW IT ALL! - you could not tell me anything! Suffice to say my attitude had to change - pride had to become humility - if I wanted to be rid of my reliance on alcohol.
Well, I wanted to stop drinking more than anything - I had experienced that essential 'moment of clarity' when I just knew deep in my heart that 'the game was up'. That was the moment when the self knowledge I had held in my head for so long - the knowledge that what was happening was wrong - moved to mix with the emotions of my heart - as it has to - and I became desperate to stop. I had to admit to myself that self knowledge and will power were not enough to solve the problem - I needed to accept help. Turning to people, who were prepared to love me until I was able to love myself , the fog started to clear and I met the lady who was to guide me on my journey - taking 'baby steps' - one day at a time.

Love and prayers, Rosie

Acknowledging the Spiritual needs of the client

Thank you Wyn for inviting me to share something about my recovery while you are away on a well deserved holiday! It is a privilege to do so and I write in the hope that something I might say will help someone who is desperately trying to stop drinking/using - or is on their recovery journey.

You spoke yesterday Wyn, about 'spiritual development' and 'co-operation with God' which fits nicely with what I would like to share with everyone who reads this blog today.

Yesterday I attended the APSCC (The Association for Pastoral and Spiritual Care and Counselling) Annual Conference at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. The Association is a Division of the BACP - British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

A wonderful setting for the Conference and a truly inspirational day!

"Acknowledging the spiritual client: an ethical essential?" was the question being debated.

The day began with thirty minutes of silent reflection, for those who wished to participate. It was a moving and powerful experience to be part of that large group of people - a chance to focus and reflect in the silence and to calm the inner self in preparation for the day.

Today there is an increasing awareness of the importance of acknowledging a person's spiritual needs in the helping process of counselling and in the area of mental health.

There was much debate in the workshops about spirituality - how delegates defined spirituality and what it meant to them and how it related to their counselling work.

During the course of the day the 12Steps and the Serenity Prayer were part of a presentation and I was reminded of the important part they played in releasing me from the black place of powerlessness my existence was during my drinking days - a lonely, unhappy, painful and desperate place - into the light of recovery. Yes, as I sat in the lecture room yesterday participating in the presentation I must admit I did become a little tearful - but the tears were coming from a place of deep gratitude for the process which allowed me to change as a person and to have the wonderful life that I live today - and have been living for many years now - a process which has allowed me to become happy, joyous and free!

I reflected on the day as I drove home - it had been so good to be with others who acknowledge the importance of spirituality and to be made more aware of the work that is being done in this area. The Conference continues today. Thank you APSCC for a wonderful day.

I look forward to sharing my recovery journey with you over the next few days and I hope you feel you can respond by sharing your own recovery journey - through sharing we can all help each other in our desire to achieve and grow in a wonderful new life!

Love and prayers from Rosie