Tea does you the world of good.
Its just a leaf, mixed with hot water, in a cup and a splash of milk – but it often comes with an ear. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, its attached to a friend.
If you’re really lucky it has a good friend and a mental little dog.
Yesterday the ear was attached to a very good one of mine. He’s been through some difficult challenges over recent years and has faced them with an optimism and strength I’ve been in awe of. He’s even managed to be there for me at the same time, and I try to catch up with him whenever I can.
While I sipped my hot tea and digested the bacon and stilton roll he’d made me I watched his dog run back and forth around the living room. He was chasing a squeaky toy we were throwing for him and as he did so we talked over my visit that morning to the drop in clinic and how his week had been visiting relatives.
Boris (a French Bulldog) had been with him, reportedly bounding around the beach a few short days ago and had shown a new passion for trying to eat waves as they hit the shore, which amused my friend no end. He’d also reportedly gathered quite a doggy fan club amongst the locals and for some unknown reason had been a particularly firm hit with any builders he met.
I smiled at Boris with a mental image of him crashing into waves as he dived once again into a beanbag 5 times his size to retrieve his toy. He’s honestly the main reason i want a hound of my own and looks like a cross between a gremlin, an ewok and Stitch (from the Disney film). I can feel the tension flow out of me when he sits next to me and grunts while he lets me stroke his chest.
I’d shown my friend the leaflets from the drug and alcohol drop in clinic, the list of local AA meetings that I’d been given and told told him that they’d be assigning me a case worker. He seemed positive about it, and quietly listened to me as I talked about my reasons, and the recent funeral.
I said that they would be calling me on Monday or Tuesday to arrange another face to face, and more in depth meeting. I added that I felt it was a first step and that I was just going to see where it led me for the moment then tailed off.
I fussed Boris a bit more – he was sitting next to me munching on his toy, and grunting while he nibbled the edge of it.
I wasn’t sure quite what else to say.
The duty worker who had spoken to me earlier in a rather featureless interview room had asked me a question, and it was lingering in my mind.
‘What do you want from us?’ He had said, pausing for a moment to look me directly in the eye. ‘Do you want to give up drinking or get help with cutting down?’
In the interview I’d said ‘give up’, mostly because I feel have some problems with impulse control.
Anyone who knows me will recognise that I generally do things to excess or not at all. Often I feel like I’m a pendulum – swinging one way or another, but always needing to reach the furthest point I can before swinging back the other way. A stable middle point has always been something that has eluded me.
Maybe this was the issue – and maybe that was another layer of me, that sat even further under my drinking. Maybe this impulse control was the key, and it had links to deeper rooted problems, including my eating habits.
I was tying myself in knots already, trying to self diagnose, and beginning to tense up.
I resolved to try and listen – not think – and to become a leaf in the wind.
‘Once you’ve been through some sessions with us and we’re satisfied your drinking is under control we will refer you to our IAPT CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) partners.’ The duty worker said.
‘We’ll be with you every step of the way.’ He concluded.
My leaf temporarily settled nearby.
Returning to the moment I changed the subject and invited my friend and his furry companion to a movie night next week. It was time for a home field tea drinking fixture at my house. We both wanted to watch ‘Black Mass’ with Johnny Depp and I said i’d wait until he came over before I watched it so we could enjoy it together.
I thanked him for his counsel, patted his pooch and made my way home, still pondering my visit to the drop in centre.
This then for me is the immediate goal. Like Boris I am diving into a beanbag much bigger than myself, and once I’m in it I don’t know what’s going to happen. Its unfamiliar territory and I’ve just got to relax and go with the flow.
Somewhere in there is my squeaky toy, and I’m determined to find it.