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Self-reliance and gratitude

Day 3 of no weed. As expected I'm more productive when not living in the fog. I think I'm at the week mark with no tobacco. The past couple of days, when visiting one of the clients, the live-in carer has gone for a cigarette and offered me one several times. I find it easy enough to say no when it comes to tobacco. As for weed, well there's people I know who smoke it, most of whom I naturally distanced myself from over the past year. I reconnected with one recently, and the first visit was calm, but the second visit triggered some unresolved things and I felt a rising anxiety and discomfort in his presence.

Going stone cold sober is making me look back and see how I've been using ill-fitting coping mechanisms for most of my life. Initially with overeating sweets etc. and then disconnecting through video games. As I got older I then hopped from one relationship to the next - finding it quite difficult being single and on my own. Problem is, my anxiety sky-rocketed in my first relationship, and that elevation in intensity started to bring about some very serious consequences both mentally and physically. When I started my first job, within weeks I then started smoking weed too. Around the time I began working I also noticed a stark increase in the amount of time I spent gaming. The desire to disconnect has increased throughout life.

Since my teen years I've done my best to hide away from reality, and when I hit 18 I started relying on substances to disconnect even further from reality. After 19 years on and off with weed, and 7 years spent abusing alcohol - it's clear to see I haven't really done much of my adult life in a sober frame of mind. Being 4 years alcohol free is a positive step. I never managed to reach 2 years sober from weed, although I have reached the 1 year milestone a couple of times.

I've gone prolonged periods without dating, but no amount of time ever felt like enough to enter the next relationship without all the anxiety and detritus that a lot further back than my first relationship. Feeling unworthy and fear of abandonment are the 2 driving forces in my life. In relationships I've either dated people I felt liked me more than I liked them. This helped me to feel safe; as it didn't trigger my fear of abandonment or not being good enough. On the flipside, I've dated 3 people out of 10 who I really liked, and my anxiety and fear of abandonment was so overbearing that my paranoia and anxiety ended up pushing the person away.

So now I'm sober, and reading more. Trying to piece things together. The main stressor at the moment is money. I'm £24,500 in debt, and need to spend another £6000 on the next van steps. Plus all future work which will be tens of thousands. I'll have no spare money to myself for the next 10 weeks. Another addictive behaviour I've had since a child has been impulsive spending. Money "burns a hole in my pocket" as my parents always used to say. Then, when I started working and earning money, I began buying things on credit, taking out loans, overdraft, credit cards etc.

Much like sobriety, I haven't spent much time in my adult life being debt free. And debt looms overhead like a dark cloud, much like any other addiction. It comes with guilt and other oppressive, consuming feelings. Impulse regulation in addicts is poor. The structure of the brain is visibly different, as is the case with ADHD as well. Double bubble in that respect. When I desire something to purchase - it's not a case of "if" but "when". Usually, the more stressed I am, the more likely I am to impulse buy.

Then there's the sugar and ultra-processed food addiction, the chronic people pleasing and seeking validation through others. Social media, gaming, internet and too much screen time. Mind you, a lot of these things other people can well relate to. Some of it is just a sign of the times.

The van still remains a symbol of a desire to reconnect with myself, and it'd certainly be prudent to experience that next chapter of my life in a sober frame of mind.

I've sketched out my finances for the next 1.5 years. By this time next year I'll have paid off over 50% of the debt I owe, plus I'll have put aside enough to get the van in a liveable state. Next year I'll be moving to live in care - 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. Earning a similar amount to what I am now, but getting 6 months a year to myself.

In summer I will start building my own savings to run alongside overpayments on my debts. I will seek to restart therapy, yoga and massage. In the mean time, I have to knuckle down with my finances for the next 10 weeks. No impulsive spending. Outside of food and fuel purchases - I have nothing. Once this new routine is better established, I hope it carries over in March. When I have disposable income, I hope to not revert back to accumulating things I simply don't need or require.

Recently I've also been moving away from the high sugar consumption. I'm also trying to increase water intake. Trying not to go militant with the cleaner diet, as I have done in the past. I know all these changes are cumulative, and helpful. But I need to play the long game here.

Self-care always fell apart the moment I went back to weed. It makes doing very little very appealing. My diet and productivity would bottom out. My anxiety and aches and pains would increase. Each time I took those first few drags on my first joint - I would feel the anticlimax. Once again, asking myself if this is it? If this is what I broke my progress and sobriety for. Then the anxiety and internal tension would mount, but I would accept it, and accomodate it as best I could - because living in the fog seemed easier than facing reality a moment longer.

Being sober is quite stark, especially when all my adult life I've done anything and everything possible to not be truly present.

Let's see how things go this time. So far, so good. I feel more energised and positive. Productivity and such like has radically increased, and I hope that the next few months of having no money helps me to build a sense of self-reliance and gratitude for what I have and where I'm at in life.

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Ed

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Raggamuffin
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