HALT

Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired.

Today, I had my first two sessions with my counsellors here (I will have 3 counsellors in total). It was optional, since I'm still in detox – they just wanted to give me the option and I agreed to try, because I'm getting to be bored as hell sitting alone with my brain, which is often the worst company.

I'm still having a hard time focusing, but participated in a "community" group this morning, consisting of a reading from the AA Book and then a round table of how we were all feeling today.

This post is more of a "What'd you do in school today, honey?" post. Take from it what you will, but in my current frame of mind I need to write this down, because I don't want to forget it.

I can't really remember what I said at this morning's community session. Or what anyone else said. My contribution was something along the lines of "I'm really fucking tired, dizzy and confused, and still wrapping my head around being here."

Not my most profound moment.

I later had my first meeting with my main counsellor (let's call him Tony for anonymity's sake) who focuses on addiction. They call it Bio-Psycho-Social, essentially dissecting everything about me – from a surface point of view. It was awkward, talking about everything from my sex life to finances. My memory right now is so short term, but the one little gem I took away was that addiction is stronger than love. It's stronger than our basic need for survival, and that alcoholism and any addiction is a symptom.

I was aware of that coming in here – outside of admitting to myself I was/am totally out of control and a raging alcoholic. I committed myself to coming here because I need to know the why and I have to learn the how.

I was given a break to collect myself afterwards because I became a bit emotional leaving the session (I was totally fine during it, though really spaced out). Not particularly surprising because my hormones are seriously having the wildest rave ever inside of me right now.

Next, I was able to meet with my other counsellor, a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist who I swear to god is a wizard. He even has the beard, and his magic wand was the ballpoint pen he spun in his hand while maintaining absolute constant eye contact with me that left me feeling vulnerable and totally uncomfortable. And it worked. 

Bastard cracked me like an egg in 15 minutes.

Again, I can't recall everything we talked about. The drugs they're keeping me on are helping big time with the withdrawal; not so much with my coherency and memory. (I had a conversation with another patient here today and asked him the same question 3 times in less than 10 minutes. Thank god he's been here 3 weeks and totally gets where I'm at right now.) This new counsellor, let's call him Frank.

Frank's main focus for our session tomorrow is going to be talking about how I avoid literally everything, how I can't say no, and why in the world I have an innate sense to build up bigger-than-life expectations for myself. Why I numb myself with drinking so as to not have to deal with situations that make me feel as though I'm disappointing someone else (for those expectations I've fabricated entirely in my own mind.) Among other things I'm sure, but again I can't really remember.

It's easier to get and stay drunk than admit to myself or others that I just can't <insert the simplest thing here>.

Then in a group session tonight we read an excerpt from a book (I Want To Change My Life - How To Overcome Anxiety, Depression & Addiction) by Steven M. Melemis) that really, really stuck with me, despite the valium / lorazepam cocktail fog I'm in. I only know the name and author of the book because I have a printout sitting beside me that I had to reference.

HALT. 

Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired.

The high-risk situations that trigger my addiction. And for the first time ever I connected all four of those situations to how I have been feeling for as long as I can recall. Granted, there's been high points where I've felt on top of the world. But they're in between those valleys where I can't imagine ever climbing that mountain again, stuck in a bottle and not able to get out.

It's so premature, but I can already connect those dots. Those blurry, messy, ink-blot-like dots that some days look a party, and other days look more like a funeral.

HUNGER: An ongoing eating disorder, for 25 years. I'll go days without eating and not even notice until Hubs reminds me I NEED TO EAT.

ANGER: Anger at myself for failures, for disappointing people including myself, for the consequences of my actions, and anger at God or whatever higher power you want to call it (I subscribe to the "universe" as my higher power) for taking my Dad and that entire side of my family in under 5 short years. Anger at myself for not being enough, and not being able to complete the simplest tasks – in turn disappointing others and myself. Anger for what happened to my mother as a child. And anger at my Dad for what he did as a result. Wash and repeat.

LONELINESS: I've isolated myself from so many people – primarily the ones that mean the most to me (as a result of feeling undeserving, because of the anger and self-hatred issues). Loneliness in my relationship, caused by drinking.

TIRED: In the physical sense, 3-ish hours max a night is not enough, especially for someone who drinks 3 Litres of wine a day (20-25 drinks). And I can't call it sleep. It's a very short but destructive cycle of passing out and not even waking up, but sleepwalking through my day until I pass out again. Then, there's the really tired kind of being tired. Like I just can't do it anymore. Feeling flat. The emotional / mental / spiritual exhaustion has literally drained me and I feel like I have nothing more to give, to myself or anyone else. The kind of tired, when all you can muster saying is "I'm done."

So, despite having the point of this much larger group conversation we had being "identifying the high-risk situations that may trigger us to drink" – being new to this program, I was looking backwards.

Everyone else there was preparing themselves for the future. Many are about to leave and begin their recovery journey and aftercare, whereas I'm the new guy.

It felt like my first day in class, learning a brand new language.

But HALT stuck with me. Not only because of what it stands for, and what to watch for – but that every one of those triggers, that have been my literal existence for the last decade or more, have literally HALTED my life.

Not only halted, but reversed many parts of it.

One drink forward, 10 steps back.

(And, it's been 2 days, 19 hours and 11 minutes since I had my last drink, and I haven't killed anyone yet).

Sober, alcohol free recovery blogger.

Photographer. Writer. Ex-Blackout Artist.

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