Jeremy’s Recovery Story
I was a scared little boy. For no apparent reason, I just was. Shy, withdrawn. From a loving home with two hard working parents and an older sister. Nothing was wrong.
Started school, and was terrified. Stuff happened, life happened and I just didn’t fit in.
Then, aged 12 at a street party me and what few friends I had found and stole some home-made beer. I remember that feeling like it was yesterday. All my fears gone. I was dancing, and chatty. It tasted awful. My friends didn’t like it so I necked theirs too. On the way home, I fell off my bike, drunk. And the next day had my first hangover and felt awful but remember thinking “I can’t wait to do that again”.
40 years passed by chasing that same feeling.
School passed. I was a “serial bunker offer”, didn’t work and all the while starting my journey of finger pointing and blaming others for my unease and unhappy life.
I’d always loved sport, and discovered badminton. As a junior, I was so low in confidence but found an escape in it, and started to improve. By the time I had to hang up my rackets many years later I’d been playing for my County.
Going back though, somehow I got a job with no qualifications as an apprentice engineer. Day release at college once a week I went to a pub age 16 for the first time and continued my relationship with alcohol.
Jobs came and went. My first intimate relationship began, late. An escape from myself?
I had an emotional rock bottom when stuff happened in my family and it was like my world had ended. I couldn’t talk about feelings, I didn’t know how to access anything other than fear and anger. So, age 23 I tried to kill myself. Somehow, I survived.
And all the while after. Resentment was growing inside. Sick to the soul, and alcohol was all the while my anaesthetic. Or so I thought.
Jobs came and went. As did relationships. The more I tried to control, the more others round me lost patience. And my alcohol use was increasing. I was all the while finely tuning social masks, making out all was fine. Pointing fingers, judgemental, scared, and more stuff started disappearing gradually. Family becoming more and more angry and scared, filled with hopelessness. I had a great job. That went too as I couldn’t stop drinking. As did my last relationship. All the while taking the ones I held most dear hostage along the way.
I knew I had a problem. And was terrified when I decided to stop drinking. And couldn’t.
I found support through my local drug and alcohol team, and had some periods of not drinking, but I wouldn’t call me sober. I certainly didn’t change. Payed lip service to recovery.
And I became even more resentful and bitter and had multiple attempts to end my life. Multiple hospital visits, under a mental health team I ended up in a psychiatric unit twice too as a voluntary patient. The guilt and shame I felt inside was so overpowering, filled with self-loathing, I couldn’t see past it and didn’t care about myself or anyone else. I was a shuffling “creature”. The sort of thing I’d cross the street to avoid.
Then, one day the prospect came about going into a residential rehabilitation treatment centre. I broke down, and said pitifully “yes please”.
Given the task of coming up with a top 3, I’d had Broadway Lodge absolutely nailed down. As my number 2 choice. The only thing putting me off was shared accommodation. An irrational fear.
I don’t know what happened. Some quiet voice inside, but I changed my mind and put Broadway Lodge as my number 1 pick. Purely based on sleep deprived research. I’d stopped drinking for a few weeks by willpower alone. Hanging on for grim death.
I had my assessment over the phone and then an admission date.
And looking back went on one last hurrah with alcohol. That went well. 2 weeks before my admission date I was sectioned. Detained under the mental health act. Wow.
Those 2 weeks after I was released (only because I was heading for treatment) were two of the toughest weeks of my life. I wanted to drink so much. But didn’t want to. And didn’t.
And in Early May 2019, grateful to a friend I landed at Broadway Lodge. Terrified.
I will be honest. The first few weeks especially I did not find easy. And I am glad for that. If it were easy I would not have changed.
Once I worked out that my blaming everyone was not helping. Nor was battling with my peers that were trying to help me.
Then, I was ready. To take a look inside.
I had so many highlights while in Broadway Lodge. Life changing experiences.
The ones that stand out are my experiences around my Steps 3, 4 and 5. A time I will never forget.
Others are how I stopped fighting, realising that I was loved. Not taking feedback as a personal attack but because my peers cared about me. I am forever grateful for that.
And the sense of working together with like-minded people. It’s like some of the people I shared my time with there, they are like a family to me. I can talk with them, serious recovery stuff, experiences and have unbelievable laughs at our antics and behaviours too.
The thing that was my most significant event, that prompted the most change in me – I was given the “letting go of the need to control” assignment. Rather than highlight a few words that jumped out, I may well as have dunked the whole thing in fluorescent yellow.
We live in unprecedented times as I write this. But life goes on.
College, voluntary work, fellowship.
My life is not comparable today. I’m just over 12 months sober of which I’m incredibly proud. Stuff is coming back. My feelings hit me with a rush sometimes, but I am so not alone it’s unreal.
I have my family back and they live in my heart more than I’ve ever known.
I was always seeking something, and through my journey of recovery I’m finding myself. And it isn’t what I thought. No longer condemning myself and others, I’m getting my sense of humour back too. Think of Carry-on, meets wacky races, meets It’s a knockout, meets Beavis and Butthead and you’re nearly there.
Broadway Lodge changed my life. Through the love of the staff and my peers, life is amazing. Not easy some days but even my worst days are better than my best day while drinking.
If you are thinking of going into treatment? Had enough? Do it.
Get there, get vulnerable, get honest and prepare yourself for a journey beyond your dreams.
And if you get there, no matter how tough it seems to be, grab it as if your life depends on it (for me it did). And do not walk down the drive before your time.
Changed my life forever. Today, I look in the mirror and go “yep, you’re OK”.
My name is Jeremy. I am an alcoholic.
That, is true and pure. And in recovery I am not defined just by that. I am way more than that and becoming the person I was always meant to be.
I cannot do this alone. And have not. Staff and peers at Broadway? You live in my heart.
The biggest change in me that I am aware of today?
Is that my head is quieter than I remember.
And I have a sense of inner peace that I could not even begin to describe. And that is the most beautiful thing I have ever known.
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Podcast Episode 1: Vicky’s treatment experience with dual diagnosis