STAFF VOLUNTEER 2018
COURSE PARTICIPANT 2017
- Mutual Aid Partnership (MAP) and Relapse Prevention co-facilitator
- Volunteer & Recovery Champion, TOGETHER Drug & Alcohol Service
- Co-Tutor, Devon Recovery Learning Community
- Director, Bideford Lighthouse Project
- Student, with the Open University, studying for degree in Psychology
Why I joined W2F
I am a barrister with a commercial practice in London - that was my life for some 30 years. So was alcohol. When the train of my life hit the buffers, I was forced to question everything: my ideas, my way of life, my priorities, and start over from scratch. Building a new life is not easy at any stage; it does not get any easier the more ingrained the old way of living has become. I see addiction as a voluntary pattern of behaviour that starts off innocently enough but after sufficient practice takes on a life of its own which demands priority over all other aspects of life. What started off as a lifestyle choice turns against the chooser and becomes necessary just to live. Life becomes mere existence and even mere existence becomes impossible without access to that drug of choice. I know from bitter experience how hard it is to admit that, rather than you having life by the scruff of its neck, addiction has you by the scruff of yours; and even when that bitter truth can no longer be ignored or denied, just how difficult it seems to be to do anything about it. In my experience, licking addiction requires more than battling with frustrations and cravings; it requires honest evaluation of, and willingness to change, the whole way one goes about life.
Here’s where W2F comes into the picture. I attended the residential in February 2017, early on in my journey of recovery from addiction. I left behind a familiar urban existence for a few days of raw nature on Dartmoor. I found a safe space among like-minded people to explore who I am, what has meaning for me, what I value, how I relate (or don’t) to other people, how I connect (or don’t) with the natural world, what my goals in life are and what steps I could take to achieve them, realistically, in the here and now. In the peace and tranquillity of Dartmoor I found the natural space to do some honest thinking and learning. In a short space of time, I was introduced to a whole range of experiences and activities, to the power of myth, music and story-telling, to the benefits of mindfulness and mutual, honest sharing, to the joy of open-hearted community, and to an appreciation of and connection with the natural world, that led me to begin to look at the world, my place in it, and the people around me, in a more attentive, compassionate and encompassing way. There is a depth of knowledge, wisdom, care and love on the residential which it would be difficult to find anywhere else.
Hopes and What I Bring
What I learned and experienced on the residential enhanced my life and gave me tools and ideas that have helped me to grow into the new life that I know is indispensable to continuing recovery. I want to continue to grow and I want as many people in recovery as possible to share the experience that I have been lucky enough to enjoy. I have become a Staff Volunteer with W2F to further both those goals.
The residentials are only the beginning of life with W2F. There is the opportunity to renew and develop the learning and experiences, and to strengthen the bonds with friends we make at monthly Mentoring Days, also held on Dartmoor. W2F is not just an event, it is a way of life…
I have seen at first hand the misery and heartache that addiction causes both for addicts and for those around them, especially their loved-ones. I am passionate about recovery, both how it can be achieved and how it is maintained. I also believe that all of us, addict or not, live in a society whose organisation and demands lead to alienation – from our true selves, from our fellow human beings, and from the natural world that is our birth-place. I believe W2F provides an opportunity and a community for us to reconnect with the spiritual dimension of life, within ourselves, in our relationships with each other and in our respect for nature. I look forward to sharing with other members of the W2F community as we grow and develop together; and as we walk our common path I will bring such love, strengths, wisdom and passion as I have.