Friday, 28 January 2011

Darkness and Light.

Darkness is something we all encounter at some point: the daily darkness as evening falls and sometimes an inner darkness - depression, anxiety or fear.  Sometimes we can see what triggers it, sometimes not.  I have been a little grumpy this week.  Missing herself I thought.  But yesterday it descended with a fierce bang.  I was tired (3pm-11pm shift, followed by sleep over then a 7am-2pm shift), I was hungry and the Thursday night group was rather large - which always stresses my little Aspie head.  I sought to cope by busying myself dishing out soup (gaining physical space and a distracting activity).  Unfortunately, a well meaning housemate, who perhaps is less aware than the others of my problems, tried to help with delivering the soup, cramping my space, taking away my coping tool and triggering a well nigh unstoppable cycle of screaming anxiety and frustrated rage. My head wanted me to snarl "You stupid bloody twat! Get out of my way and let me cope with this using the tools I know work ."  But I didn't.  Instead I withdrew into the kitchen to try and de-escalate.  Then he came in and made a flippant comment about getting out of the hurly burly.  He got a positively terse snap in reply and I swept into the back garden to finish my soup.  Unfortunately by this stage I was way beyond cooling down or applying the brakes, and sat in the chapel for 40 minutes hugging myself desperately and resisting a raging urge to grab and neck the bottle of Scotch I knew was in the kitchen cupboard.  I could physically recollect EXACTLY what it would feel like going down my throat and into my belly.  It was a horrible feeling knowing it would instantly give desperately sought and needed temporary relief from my anxiety, but the self-loathing and emotional mayhem that would follow it would be utterly hellish. Not a pleasant experience.  I eventually got out of the building and hurtled along the road to the nearest AA meeting, recognising that I was really not coping and needed a big blast of serenity.  Which the meeting gave me.  Discussion with others after this in the house led to a recognition that the current way of doing Thursday nights simply is not working well and we need to rejig it to avoid the stress.  And I need to recognise  when I simply need to bail out of a murderously stressful situation.  Which I usually do, but was too wound up to do successfully last night.

I still felt lousy today.  The sheer stress had utterly drained me.  I got through my shift and left a little early (TOIL - Time Off In Lieu comes in handy some days).  I had a relaxing shower, managed to avoid sitting directly next to the Problem Housemate at dinner  and snuck out quietly to a meeting to build up my depleted reserves of sanity and sobriety.  The beauty was that ,whereas last night I grabbed the coat tails of others serenity and sobriety, tonight I heard:the following useful messages: Our perceptions are often disordered because of our condition (the alky heid), you actually aren't the centre of everyone else's Universe and they probably aren't out to get you (Ego) and you can't change others (it'll only make you crazy trying) but you can change your reaction to them.  Sigh!! I find that really difficult!  Ora pro nobis!


  1. Hello Fr Dougal. I came over here from the Mad One's place, of course. I so hope you're feeling better today.

    You know, I'm somewhere on the autistic spectrum myself and so I get it about the overwhelm, really I do. You are in my prayers.

  2. Fr Dougal, you are articulating the disease of alcoholism perfectly, and it's no wonder that folk who do not suffer find it impossible to understand the feelings.

    Restlessness, irritability and discontent can become so much a part of our lives, and "King Baby" can begin to creep un-noticed into the disquieted soul.

    But, there is a solution, and you know it now, and I'm so glad you got off to a meeting or two asap. There we talk to others who know the emotions, the feelings, the special needs of those of us who struggle at times in recovery.

    Today, I'm proud of you, pal, and today your continued sobriety has strengthened mine.

  3. frdougal, your candor is appreciated. Prayers for you as you continue to see yourself through those periods of darkness.