Alcoholism affects the whole family, so does Recovery!
The Basement Recovery Project is and has been an invaluable source of friendship and support not just for my partner as he found his feet in recovery but for the whole family throughout and beyond.
When Kev first set out on his recovery journey he had just been released from prison with a history of alcohol-related sentences. As a family, we were not in a good place. We were under the care of social services who were concerned about Kev’s drinking and without warning he was removed from the family home and only allowed supervised access with our three children.
I was struggling to cope and battling anxiety and depression. Kev started attending the pre-recovery sessions at Basement then moved onto abstinence, attending the ‘Here and Now’ sessions in between. I must admit he was apprehensive at first but over time his attitude changed. He gained knowledge of his addiction for the first time and shared what he had learnt with me. He told me about how great the people who run the groups are and how they truly understand as they have been in the same situation themselves.
It was a comfort to me to see Kev blossoming in his recovery and I could see he had a real support network within Basement. With support from family and all the hard work Kev was putting into his recovery, our situation with social services eased. It was a long road from supervised contact through to unsupervised contact, being allowed the odd overnight stay to eventually Kev coming home.
Life was on the up for us with a whole future laid out in front of us, one without the oppressive cycle of alcohol and prison. The question for us as a family was… “what now?” We enjoyed a family holiday, climbing Mount Snowden in Wales. Standing on top of that mountain as a family felt euphoric and the perfect way to start our new chapter. We didn’t know at the time, but I was also pregnant with our fourth child (and Kev’s long-awaited, first boy!). Life felt like a dream. Moving forward we found where our days had previously been full of appointments with social services, Kev’s abstinence programme and probation, we now had empty calendars. Kev still attended ‘Here and Now’ sessions but other than that we had nothing to fill our days. I spotted a poster on Facebook asking for volunteers for Basement to help promote recovery and reduce the stigma relating to addiction. I knew Kev would be a brilliant candidate and what better way to maintain his recovery than by helping others do the same. He sent off a letter of application, hopeful but only half believing that it would come to anything. Meanwhile, Kev started going to the Thursday night social gatherings at the Basement and fortnightly local walks with the “recovery ramblers”. I was both surprised and happy to learn that these were not just activities for people attending Basement but we could get involved as a family.
Kev started taking our children on the walks. They loved spending time with their dad and meeting new people. One of our children has dyspraxia and can struggle both socially and physically. Since he started going on the recovery rambler walks his confidence and physical fitness have improved massively. It was around this time that Kev found out he had been chosen to be one of the volunteers at Basement or “recovery builders” as they were to be called.
Little by little, we got involved in more social activities stemming from Basement. I started going to the Thursday social evenings with Kev and the children. I found the thought of it daunting as I’ve never been socially confident and the thought of being in a roomful of people I didn’t know sent my anxiety running riot. As soon as we walked through the door that first time I loved it. It was full of friendly faces… smiling and chatting, nobody felt like a stranger. The kids showed me around: a pool table, table tennis, karaoke and drumming, there was so much to do. One week I even overcame my fears enough to join in with the karaoke! It is lovely to have a family night out once a week. A night to look forward to for us all in a place where we can catch up with familiar faces and make friends with new ones.
Events and new opportunities continue to enrich our lives thanks to the Basement Recovery Project. Kev started going to the “Happy Voices” choir at Basement who recently got to sing at the reopening of the renovated Piece Hall. Kev took part in the Overgate Hospice colour run with a team of friends from Basement. Then the more challenging mud run “Tough Mudder”, a ten-mile muddy obstacle course! I took on the “Pretty Muddy” course for Cancer Research along with a team of ladies from Basement. Kev was even invited to a conference in Grimsby to share his recovery story and experiences of our involvement with social services in front of an audience of social services and police. Talk about a total turnaround! What an experience and confidence builder this was for Kev.
Kev is now 22 months clean and sober and there are not enough words to describe how proud the children and I are of him and all that he has achieved. The same can also be said for the gratitude we feel as a family towards all the lovely people we have met along the way. Undoubtedly the path would have been a much longer and bumpy one without you by our side.
Looking to the future our diaries are now far from empty! We welcomed the newest addition to our family, baby Shaun, six months ago and he joins us on the recovery rambler walks and the Thursday night socials. Kev is a representative for the Basement at two local ongoing projects. The “Home Run” project which myself and Kev attend together is a weekly running and fitness group working towards taking part in the Great North Run in 2018. A far cry from the past when some days it was even a struggle to get up out of bed for Kev through alcohol and me through depression.
We also volunteer as a family at the “Slow the Flow” project based at Hardcastle Crags where we use the logs and twigs found in the wood to stuff gullies and create dams to slow the flow of the water to the river and in turn reducing flooding in the Calder Valley. In his role as a recovery builder, Kev gets the opportunity to help plan and execute events in and around Basement. This has involved a 6-week self-defence course, being part of the team arranging a coach trip to the recovery walk through Blackpool back in September, helping to fundraise for a town centre defibrillator and much more. Kev also volunteers at a breakfast club run by the Basement Recovery Project at the Todwell Centre in Todmorden once a week where people can call in for a breakfast, cuppa or just a friendly face and a chat. Kev is also starting his level 3 health and social care apprenticeship at The Basement shortly so that in the long term he can continue to help people get as much out of recovery as he has and in turn us as a family have.
So, thank you Basement. It’s thanks to you, coupled with a lot of hard work and determination that we have a happy healthy family with the strength to overcome life’s challenges and so much to look forward to and be thankful for.