The Twirly Chair – Part Three

In Parts One and Two of this series I talked about my struggles with alcohol and social media. Amplified by my obsessive and addictive personality these twin demons brought me to the bottom of a deep, dark pit four years ago. To a stage in my life where I thought I had lost everything and considered suicide.  I was faced with the stark reality of losing my wife and children. It was them or the demons. My choice.


My first decision was to give up alcohol. Completely. When I drank it was for no other reason than to get drunk. I drank to numb the pain and escape reality for a handful of blissful hours. One drink was never enough. I drank until I blacked out only to wake up the next morning gripped by ‘the fear’ followed by desperately trying to piece together my shattered memories of the night before. This was usually followed by a horrendous physical hangover that lasted days accompanied by titanic feelings of guilt and despair.

If this sounds flippant I apologise but I found giving up alcohol surprisingly easy. I rarely missed it although it did necessitate me losing touch with several ‘beer buddies’ who I had formerly thought myself close to. There was no way, however, that I could accompany them to a bar and buy soft drinks. Even today I feel incredibly uncomfortable in bars, the proverbial fish out of water. It’s not that I’m tempted to drink because I’m not. It’s just my shyness and social awkwardness intimidate me and I feel I don’t fit in without the crutch of alcohol. 

Tbe final nail in the coffin was just over three years ago when I started running. I took to it immediately, lost three stone in weight and within a year was training for my first marathon (I’ve now run six). I had found a new drug called endorphins. Tbe thought of running with a hangover made my skin crawl and my stomach heave. Running and drinking just didn’t go hand in hand as far as I was concerned.

For me tbe tougher battle was always going to be with social media. Even to this day I still regard it as a daily battle. Kicking alcohol was a pussy cat compared to this prowling lion. I packed in Twitter and (surprise, surprise) discovered that it didn’t shut down overnight due to my absence. I didn’t miss my Twitter friends, more the attention and ego enhancement I obtained through them. My desire to be popular was pathetic but irresistible. This led to several lapses where I maintained secret accounts unbeknownst to Fionnuala trying to feed the lion while on the surface leading a guilt ridden, hypocritical existence.

Fionnuala always found out and my dishonesty and deceit were exposed to the daylight. I honestly believe that this ‘sixth sense’ she had came from God. She always seemed one step ahead of me and no matter how hard I connived or contrived the truth would always bubble to the surface. Be it in the form of dreams or ‘feelings’ she read me like a book every time and saw through my lies. I was continually outmanoeuvred on all fronts. But every time after several months of abstinence my resolve would crumble and I would succumb to the online urge.

I tried to go cold turkey and failed. I tried to wean myself off it gradually and failed. I agreed to only have a Facebook account and steer clear of Twitter. It was like prescribing methadrone to a heroin addict. It just didn’t give me the same kick. I tried the middle ground of Instagram. Surely just posting pictures couldn’t hurt? But I failed again in spectacular fashion and by the end of 2016 hit a new low. I was beaten all ends up.

Eight months later I am ‘social media sober’. It has meant total accountability to Fionnuala. She knows all my passwords and has complete access to my phone. Some  grown men might regard this as humiliating. I regard it as essential. I cannot trust myself when it comes to social media so I can hardly expect others to trust me fully. I accept that as a hard, but palatable, truth. It has to be this way and it needs to be this way. Social media will chew me up and spit me out every single time. It is my arch nemesis, my Achilles heel, the itch I cannot scratch.

So now I write. A lot. It calms me and reassures me. I have my family, my job and my running. Simplifying my life has enriched it beyond comparison. I am at peace now but can never become cocky. Fionnuala can see the warning signs and always has to be on her guard. It is far from ideal. She trusts our three kids more online than she does me. I am not proud as I type these words but I type them anyway as they are words of truth.

Through this whole story I firmly believe God has been at work. Both before and after I became a Christian. These three posts have given just a taste of the last seven years. Without his grace and love I would not be sitting here today with my marriage and family still intact. His message of hope and forgiveness has overcome the mess I had made. He has dragged me kicking and screaming to where I am today. He allowed me to be broken and then put me back together again. Without him I am nothing.

My name is Stephen and I am an idiot. My name is Stephen and I am an addict. My name is Stephen and I am here to help. I am here to talk to you. Pray for you. Listen to you. I have been where you are and came through the other side. Never give up. I slay the dragons every day. And so can you. 

Thank you for reading this series and all the positive and encouraging feedback you have given me – Stephen.

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35 thoughts on “The Twirly Chair – Part Three

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  1. My addiction was Facebook. I had nearly the limit of 5000 friends at one point. One of my profile pictures has almost 800 likes. Men drueled and oozed and awed over everything I posted. I sexualized myself at first subtly but as the attention grew my inhibitions lessened. I got a high from being asked to take pictures with people I didn’t know. I liked being Facebook famous in a small town. But in my heart I felt convicted. I knew I was attracting the wrong kind of attention. I would take 30 day breaks and feel like a new person. I would tell myself I wouldn’t post everyday or as often…within a week I was right back at the same old stuff. Over a year I feel God truly transformed my Facebook habits. I was an addict. I started to post Bible quotes, Christian stories, everything was about Jesus and I watched my popularity plummet…and that’s when I knew…social media popularity is of the world. And just like anything of the world…it’s temporary…and chasing That temporary fix…I lost time with my children because I was always worried about checking Facebook etc…it’s all an illusion- anyone can be popular on social media if you check your morals and standards at the door. I love your post. I wanted to wait and share my experience. I honestly think it is a developing disorder…not all people become addicted but some do. I had to get rid of my smartphone and get a fliphone to ensure I don’t go backwards.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We sound as if we have had very similar experiences. I also became obsessed with likes and followers. At its peak I had over 8000 followers on Twitter. I craved attention just like you did and was hopelessly addicted. I used to wake up in the middle of the night to talk to my American followers. It was impacting upon my job and family. I feel comfortable on WordPress as I am doing it for the glory of God and not myself. I believe he is surrounding me with strong Christian bloggers like you who I can learn from and be accountable to. Thank you again for sharing your story. It has made the ‘Twirly Chair’ experiment so worthwhile.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think it’s something that’s very easy to fall into. And I think certain brains and personalities are more prone to it…but by being honest and speaking out…you take away it’s power ❤️ God bless you!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for the honesty, Stephen. I also enjoy writing and interacting with the online community here at WP and must be on guard against crowding out “off line” family and friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your strength is in the honest way you have chosen to deal with the situation. I also thank God for giving you such a wonderful woman for a wife. I thank God for the lovely kids too. I pray God to perfect His healing and let His grace, peace and love dwell richly in your life and your family always.

    Your post has blessed many, even me. So thank you very much for sharing it in this sincere manner. I really do have great respect for you, your wife and kids. God bless you!💯👍

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  4. I´ve been thinking a lot about your story. Especially your experiences with Twitter, I had no idea it could drag one down like that.
    And in this post as well, it´s astonishing to read how quitting alcohol was so much easier than giving up the social media.
    But I totally believe it.

    You are very brave for coming out like this, sharing your story and acknowledging your mistakes. But you are not an idiot. You may have done stupid things, but that doesn´t make you an idiot.

    And what an amazing woman you have by your side. I can´t find words to express how I admire her.

    I wish you all the strength in the world to keep dealing with this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Yes she is amazing. And very patient and forgiving to put up with me. I have messed up so many times so hope I can make some amends through my writing and keep others from making the same mistakes as me. Your support and encouragement makes this all worthwhile,

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  5. Thank you for the follow on my blog “Off Her Rocker” and also for your honesty in this post. I look forward to following your blog! I am still learning more about word press and how to do all of this~ a bit overwhelmed but also excited about possibility. Just wondering, how you discovered my blog. Was it tags? What is the best way to spread the word about your blog? I appreciate your honesty and also admire your faith. Take care -xx

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    1. Thank you. Looking forward to reading your posts too. Yes it was tags. I am interested in mental health issues so use tags such as ‘anxiety’, ‘depression’ and ‘mental health’. My wife manages Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts so every time I post a blog it is shared on those platforms. Other than that try to post regularly and be consistent. I post once a day and try to focus on quality over quantity. We have grown to over 860 followers in just under three months so must be doing something right. I hope your blog is a success and please keep in touch.

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  6. It is very courageous of you to take your accountability to Fionnuala so seriously. It takes a strong person to do what you are doing and a strong wife to support you in all of this. Our pastor has been doing a sermon series on this all summer. It is a hard road to travel on and difficult battle to win alone – you took the right steps and asked Christ for help and in your lovely wife. My prayers are with you during this journey – and in knowing God has great plans for you. I pray your testimony helps someone who reads this who may be battling the same addictions. I too found victory in an addiction through the strength of Jesus Christ. May Christ continue to walk with you and God our Father, bless you and your family.

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    1. Thank you Patty for your kind words and prayers. God is displaying his strength through my weakness. The whole purpose of the blog is to offer hope and freedom to those who are going through similar experiences.

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  7. Thank you for your honesty! It’s encouraging to know that we are all in the same boat, that other people have the same struggles as we do. I have struggled with alcohol for years, not really getting wasted but just getting buzzed enough every night to deal with life. It’s so easy to justify a couple glasses of wine. Every time I give in to that “need”, it’s like my whole way of thinking changes. It sneaks up on me. My family and God become less and less important and my need to survive the day becomes the greatest priority. My selfishness consumes me until God puts on the brakes to my stupidity. I’m so grateful that we have such a merciful and loving God!! Keep writing and keep running. God is definitely using your story to inspire hope in others. I am praying for you and your family. God bless!

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    1. Thank you very much. I intend to write and run much more in the future. It is great to know that I am not alone. Alcohol is an easy trap to slide into. I’m here to support you any way I can. Please keep in touch.

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  8. Thank you for honestly sharing your story! What a powerful example of healing, recovery, and accountability. I know this will encourage others and fill them with the hope that they too can be set free.

    Like

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