Saturday, 8 February 2020

The Promised Land

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. I’ve talked a lot over the last 24 hours about my emotions with those closest to me in recovery and it’s got nothing to do with gambling urges, it’s about me and how I feel about myself. It’s about what goes on in my head now, in recovery and the thoughts that I have about myself.

The bottom line is I don’t believe in myself and this is something I have struggled with for years. The problem comes in recovery when I can’t see what I bring to the table and there is a negative voice in my head that tells me I am not good enough to help others and I am not good enough to help myself. One thing I really enjoy doing is writing, but I feel like my writing is shit and I don’t read it once I post it because I am so self critical. I just struggle to believe in myself. I think I am also scared that this is the real me, that I believe the old me is still in there somewhere waiting to come back out. Then I also find myself thinking this person I have become is full of shit and is a fraud, that what I’ve done while gambling, the person I was, can’t possibly change and become a better person.

I think a lot of it could also come down to a fear of failure, that I believe everything I do is shit and therefore when I fail I’m not disappointed. That can become a self fulfilling prophecy and for me I feel like it has. I also fear taking a leap of faith because I’m scared I’ll make a mess of things, hurt people again or hurt myself. This me, in recovery, is something I have not been used to before, someone who is honest, who has nothing to hide, who wears their emotions on their sleeve and someone who actually wants to help not only myself but also other people. I now care about other people and that was never the case in the past. Maybe I am looking too far into the future and thinking of forever instead of focusing on today. Maybe it has been such a radical change in a short space of time I am struggling to get to grips with it and process it all.

What I do know though, is I know the positive impacts I’ve had on people in recovery because they have told me. I know that people think I’m a good writer because I have received amazing feedback and I also know that people like me for me...this me in recovery...the real me because if they didn’t I wouldn’t have the connections I do with people. So although logically I know all of these things, I just don’t feel them and I then get lost in my own head and feel worthless.

In the last 24 hours I have had some really good talks about it and I’m going to do it...I’m going to believe in myself, embrace this new me and push myself forward. I know I can offer something to people out there, I know I have improved my own situation and can keep improving it. I’m ready to buy into this version of me and although I am sure I’ll have the odd moment of self doubt and make a mistake, I don’t care anymore. I’m not letting this hold me back from what I want to get out of my recovery. If I continue to be honest and do the right things then people can think what they want about me, I don’t need to worry so much about what everybody else thinks (although that is a personality trait of mine but that’s another blog). I am taking that leap of faith…

I’ve also been listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen, as I feel I can relate to so much of his lyrics. As was said in the film Blinded By The Light, “Bruce is the direct line to all that is true in this shitty world”.

I feel like his song “The Promised Land” has two choruses that sum up how I was feeling and what I have done about it.

I've done my best to live the right way
I get up every morning and go to work each day
But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold
Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode
Explode and tear this old town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start

I’ve spent the past 10+ months trying to do the right things each day and I get up each day and work my recovery. Maybe though I did go blind and couldn’t see the good I was doing for myself, my family and those around me. I feel weak all the time like I’m not good enough and I want to explode with self hatred, explode and tear my recovery apart. I have had this pain in my heart and it’s emotions that I don’t know how to handle because I have never dealt with my emotions properly in my life. I just forced them deep down inside of me and, to be honest, hoped they would fuck off somewhere else.

Well there's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I'm heading straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted

This next chorus is perfect for what I did to address how I was feeling and this is why, for me, it’s so important to build a strong foundation of recovery. I may not have had the answers myself but I knew I had to reach out and talk about how I was feeling. Connection is the opposite of addiction and being able to reach out and ask for advice and not only that but to be able to listen and take on board that advice is what helped blow away my issues and allow me to think in a more clear manner. It’s often said you need three things to work a successful recovery and that is HOW...Honesty, Open Mindedness and Willingness.

The dogs on main street howl
'Cause they understand
If I could reach one moment into my hands
Mister, I ain't a boy, no, I'm a man
And I believe in a promised land

It’s clear for me, recovery is my promised land and it’s somewhere that I belong and somewhere I can thrive if I want to let myself thrive. As someone told me today, the only person who didn’t believe in me


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