‘Social life is important, so are fun, variety, mirth and excitement,’ writes Dave Newman
It is just over three years since it was gently suggested to me and others, that 10 years plus in a Kairos move-on house was long enough. A few months later, I also retired at age 68 from Royal Mail, after 12 years of full-time employment, following rehab at Bethwin Road. The actual moving bit was fairly painless, the council provided me with a studio flat in sheltered accommodation and my savings paid for the brand new everything else. In many ways, my sobriety (15 years) has simply been a series of projects (mostly successful), one invariably leading to the next. Retirement and moving from underneath the Kairos umbrella were just two more.
In retrospect, living in a Kairos house for so long, was a bit too easy, I did not develop a social life because there was always someone to chat to at home or at work, the problem was, I never went anywhere socially, except with family. In truth Kairos had become a bit of a bubble, without me being aware of it.
In recovery, I became very good at a lot of things but actually neglected something serious. Social life is important, so are fun, variety, mirth and excitement. Believing I could do without all that stuff was not wise. Since moving out of Kairos, I have made a few friends; I spend more time out of the house. I go to every Chelsea FC home game and lots of away games plus other sporting events, I have got to know other fans. I eat out socially more; go to different events, like major art exhibitions or a movie. A lot of it is not easy, I tend to get bored very easily, just chatting. However, I persevere, try to listen more and talk less.
When I retired, I made a promise that I would never work for a living again, so now I work for free. Doing voluntary work is weird. I do a little bit of van driving for Kairos but have become more involved with a local library that is entirely staffed and managed by volunteers. Besides books, we host a whole range of activities. I help people use online services, fill out forms for housing benefit, blue badges and that sort of stuff. In reality, many who come in are in serious trouble. They need help with massive debt problems, domestic violence, and anti-social behaviour from neighbours – you name it.
So I have experienced 15 years of extreme alcoholism, 15 years of recovery and three years of retirement. All I can say about all that is, that none of it is anything like they show it in the movies!