04.05.15 (Day 498 / 55)
This is about you: the person I became for a while. It’s also about me: the person I am now. Following an extended weekend of self-reflection, I know me and don’t much care for you. You were drunk. You thought you were ill-treated and that everyone was against you. They were. They wanted rid of you. They wanted me back.
The last six weeks have allowed me to reflect upon and try to come to terms with what happened over the fifteen months previously. What happened? What went wrong? I did. It’s with that realisation and admittance of guilt that I am able to face back, upon the person I was for a while. I went off the rails and I got lost. When I was thrown out by my own mum, when I lost my last resort; when my own mother called the police on me because I was kicking off and I was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace. When I spent that first homeless night in a police cell, I’d lost everything. I had nothing. So what was I going to do? Get drunk. Destroy myself. There didn’t seem to be any point in doing anything else.
The battle to find somewhere to live, to settle down and sort myself out would still have been ongoing now, were it not for my own efforts, luck, circumstance, timing and having people around me who’d seen me start to recover. Because it was about nine months into the sentence I served that I realised I needed to get better for the sake of my kids. I’d never forgotten them but at the depths of despair, I assumed I would never see them again. They have the stability of a step dad now and I was thinking that maybe they and others would be better off without me. I contemplated taking my own life a few times and attempts were made on my life on more than one occasion but I wasn’t thinking that would be best for everyone. Rather, I was thinking it would be best if they were just able to get over me; like a lost cause. Then I realised that all wasn’t lost, because of the love and faith I had around me in the friends who’d remained. I realise I lost a lot of friends during that period. They did indeed give up on what they saw as a lost cause and I can’t say I blame them. As I’ve said before, when I was in the midst of all the arguments, spitting venom and vitriol, I was convinced that they were all wrong and that I was right. It takes sobriety to be able to see the other side of the argument but I was so lost and so under the influence that I was right in my own mind.
But I’m back: I said I would be. I went to a place I’d rather never revisit but I have to have hindsight in order to appreciate the difference between what I was and what I now am. I had to go off the rails and drink myself to the brink in order to see what it’s like staring down a chasm and being tempted to just jump. Those who’ve stuck by me have witnessed my gradual recovery. The only reward they get is to see me better and still have me as a friend. I’m not better from a health perspective but I’m a better person than I was, partly because of what I became and went through. This weekend has been spent in quiet reflection and I was afraid of what I might find as I searched for myself. Because I wasn’t sure if I knew who I was. Neither did anyone else.
Well, I’m still me. Some people – one of my adopted daughters especially – were worried that if I got “better”, I might stop being the person she loved so much. She admitted that my substance abuse and the way it altered my mind was part of what made me, me. She feared that I might be proverbially lobotomized if I got better. Just as no-one has yet managed to fully understand me and I still don’t understand myself, even off the booze, I’m an interesting and complicated animal. I’m still intelligent, funny, worldly wise and all the rest of it; just maybe a little more subdued now that I’m off the drink.
It was the six months leading up to me taking the tenancy in the pub which turned me around; the time I spent in the safe house; at Meg’s. It’s Meg’s and her parent’s – Nettie and Matt – but Meg was the first one of the family I met, back when most days were spent in McDonald’s and I got to know her and many of the others who were to become the Pink Heart family at the squat. “Meg’s” also has a certain ring to it as a name, perhaps for a cool bar. Perhaps that place will feature in one of my books.
At the squat, I at least had something, albeit temporary. It was that realisation which meant that I was free to continue my journey into personal oblivion. I was the boss there. I created a positive rut for myself. When we lost the squat and I ended up at Meg’s, I had to be more responsible. I couldn’t bring all of the trouble that was me and which followed me to someone else’s house. So certain ties were cut. I realised I had to do something for the family who’d placed so much trust in me to get out. I had to sort myself out and not take the piss. There were arguments; there were times when I stormed out and one occasion when I was thrown out. There was tension and it grew more weary as time wore on. Originally I was meant to be there for a month but the tenure became seven months. But they weren’t going to let me go. Not until they knew I was somewhere safe. Unlike in other places, I wasn’t monitored or policed too much there. I wasn’t subjected to the kind of authority which would cause me to rebel. I was given love, time and patience. Yes, it was the stay at Meg’s bar which turned me around.
I still drink of course. I’m one of the so-called lucky ones who hasn’t had to abstain completely and go through detox. Circumstances prevented in fact because the detox programme would have been with the administration of prescription drugs, which render the consumer effectively drunk. I simply don’t like being drunk as I dislike the loss of control I experience. Because of the effects of the drugs, the dispenser – a doctor from CRI – needs to know where the patient is: they need an address. For various reasons, I was unable to disclose the address where I was staying, which excluded me from a detox programme. Instead I went through a lengthy programme of controlled drinking, so that now I have my drinking under control. No-one will ever see me drunk because that’s when I get out of control. That’s when I’ve lost it and made the mistakes I did in the past. As recently as last Wednesday, I was somewhat challenged financially and decided to forego our weekly pub pool practice night. A friend and fellow member of the team protested that it was his night out and that he’d like to spend that time with the other best player on the team: me. So he bought my drinks. Come the fourth pint, I declined. My friend protested but I insisted. That fourth pint would be the one which started to push me over the edge; beyond my self-imposed limit. I wouldn’t be drunk on a fourth pint but I would start to feel uneasy. To counter this, I would have another pint and so the spiral would continue. So instead I asked my friend to buy me a soft drink if he’d like to retain my company. He appreciated me being so candid and honest and he shook my hand. It was a brave statement for me to have made, he said.
Six months ago, things would have been different but six month ago was when I was someone different; the one I’m talking to as you. Now I’m me and me is a better person than you: the me I used to be.
I’m still financially challenged, surviving on only my ESA payments and with my housing benefit not fully covering my rent. Therefore I have to make up the difference from my ESA payments. Consequently, I only have enough money to buy food, drink and tobacco. The erosion into my money to make up the shortfall in rent is such that I’ve had to cancel the next meeting with my biological kids in a couple of weeks’ time because I simply can’t afford it. But would I rather have somewhere to live which costs me an amount which prevents me from seeing the children, or be homeless again and able to see them? I have to think practically and conclude that I need my home. This is the way it will be for the foreseeable future: I can just about afford to live but I can’t afford any leisure activities. It’s a good job I’d rather be writing.
There’s a slight chance that I may be able to persuade my ex-wife to being the kids to London on my birthday, when one of my best friends – Nettie – is taking me to London to see Les Miserables. It’s a slight chance though because of my financially challenged position. As it stands I’m being carried financially on the day, with my travel paid for – I believe – and lunch covered. Danielle – my ex-fiance – is joining us for lunch and she gets on well with the ex-wife and the children but the burden of payment would be on someone else, so I shan’t labour the issue and concentrate instead on finding something, somewhere, somehow, to get most of those I love around me on a special day. To be honest, the last few birthdays have been eventful for the wrong reasons, so I’d have liked this one to be special. In an ideal world, my parents and my two adopted daughters would be joining us but in an ideal world, I’d have the money to pay for at least some of them.
I’d rather be writing than worrying and if I can concentrate on the writing, in the absence of being able to do any other job, eventually I might make enough to be able to see my children. They are my main motivation and my reason for continuing to work on what I do best. I need time and space to do it. I need to be more prolific and put in the hours. Hopefully, one day I’l make my kids proud.
Of all the things that have come out of my experiences over the last fifteen months, the one I’m most proud of is the fact that I wrote a book: I actually did it and not many people can say that, in any circumstances, let alone my own.
Please buy a copy: it’s very good and costs less than a cup of coffee. Tell other people, as I need sales if I’m going to be able to see my children. I did well the last time I saw them, by staying off of the alcohol and I want to show them that wasn’t a one-off. I want them to know that it was daddy writing a book which got me back to them. If everyone who’s stuck by me and believed in me continues to do so and buys a copy of the book, then tells just one person and they do the same, I’ll see my kids sooner than I currently might.
Please buy the book: it’s about life. It’s about you and me. It’s about so much more. It’s about a life which hasn’t happened but which could in time. It’s called The Paradoxicon and I wrote it for everyone. It’s available here.
The Paradoxicon is horror / sci-fi. I like to think that it marries the two, as it does science and religion. It’s an exploration of life as we know it but it proposes so much more. It will make you feel small and insignificant but if you grasp certain things, you may realise that you yourself are so much more. The Paradoxicon is more than just a book, as one reader put it:
“I have just finished reading The Paradoxicon. Steve writes in a way that just keeps you wanting to read one more page, no matter if you’re exhausted after a 12 hour shift or not. Taking you down roads of the unexplained and the fantastic, but keeping you grounded by making Victor a real person easy to relate to – I too would muse these events over a cup of tea and peanut butter on toast in the morning! The book inspires thoughts and feelings on many different levels from having to keep the light on when first being introduced to ‘they’, to feeling a very real human empathy for a character battling his own demons and the collapse of his life. A pleasure to read and thoroughly recommended.”
It’s hard to summarise a life but here’s how it begins:
You are free to choose but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.
This is the story of a life which hasn’t happened yet. A life that could have been, given the chance. It will happen. In time.
We are about to meet a man who you may or may not like. You may relate to him or you may judge him. The choice is yours. If you’re watching something on TV which you don’t like, there is an off switch. You are holding a book which you may choose to put down at any point.
Does anyone deserve a second chance at life? Who plays judge? You hold a life in your hands at the moment and you may switch it off any time.
Is it possible to make amends and right one’s wrongs, so that one may clear the slate with life? To live again? Can I put everything behind me and move on?
Is the remorse I feel sufficient punishment for what I have done? Are the constant memories my punishment, to live with me until the day I die?
Travel with Victor Frank in a search for knowledge and the ultimate answer to the ultimate question: that of life. Why are we here?
This is a journey through time, space, dreams and so much more. A trip through the past, present and future. A journey into the unknown.
All of the answers which we seek are here, if we look for them. But we need to know what we are looking for. In order to understand the answers, we need to fully grasp the ultimate question.
This book covers what it means to be human; what life is all about and what it might mean to us and to others.
There are horrors, encounters with strange beings, mysteries, questions and adventure. All are contained within The Paradoxicon; a book about itself and so much else. Hold the hand of the author and be guided through what is literally the story of a life.
After reading The Paradoxicon, you will see your own reflection and shadow differently. You may even fear life itself.
Finally, an excerpt:
If you are reading this, then you are reading this: you are able to read. And if you can make sense of these words, then you understand and I have made first contact. I think, therefore I am. Or am I? What am I?
I may have to leave any time soon. In the event of my leaving, I hope that what I’ve gathered can be kept together; to be retained as a collection: I think it’s all connected but I don’t have time to join the dots. I may not have time to label or catalogue everything, so if someone with more time than me finds all of this, I hope they can continue what I may have to leave. I hope they can find what I sought.
But exercise caution, for some of what I believe to have discovered may require a broad imagination. If you are of a cynical nature and not open to suggestion, then I would politely request that you pass on what you have found to someone who may be better equipped to continue my work. If you wish to be my student and learn, then please read on. One thing you will certainly need is time, which I can give you.
So if you want to make a life, buy my book please.