The AuthorYourFutureSelf campaign is the result of my personal journey through addiction and out the other side.
Today I celebrate eight months of sobriety. Our beautiful little boy is looking up at me, smiling his look-at-me-Dad smile as he triumphantly pulls himself up to standing, supporting himself on the sofa. It's his latest trick (the pulling himself up that is – the smile he perfected a while back), and it reminds me just how far I have come in the last eight months, and how much I had to lean on those around me. And I am filled with gratitude, because it came so close to being so different.
Addiction ruins lives and shatters families, but it doesn't have to be this way. My salvation came in the most unexpected form, and I have started this crowdfunding campaign so that I – along with my wife, Stella – can help other people and other families that are suffering from addiction.
Here is our story.
The path that led me into the depths of addiction and to nearly losing my family didn’t start with a big life event, but some twenty years ago, when I was sixteen and I realised for the first time that alcohol could be used to enhance social occasions, to make me more confident and outgoing. A better version of myself – or so I thought.
Over the two decades that followed, a strong psychological addiction to alcohol, and later drugs, would form and take hold. They became my crutch every time I socialised, or to unwind after a stressful day, after a hard week’s work, at weddings and special occasions, for Dutch courage, if I was feeling anxious or worried, or simply because the sun was shining. Even out of boredom.
What I know now that I didn't know then is that each and every time I drank alcohol or took drugs for any of these or a hundred other reasons, I was laying down neural pathways that would diminish my mind's own coping mechanisms, to the point that substances would become the only way I could enjoy myself or cope with strong emotions.
And there is no stronger emotion than grief.
After Mum lost her three-year battle with cancer in spring last year, the grief hit me hard. It was always going to. And my mind, flooded by feelings too intense to cope with, turned to what it knew could take the pain away. The addiction and depression that followed almost devastated my family.
Many addicts or problem drinkers find themselves caught between two conflicting selves, like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Their rational, conscious mind wants to quit so they can live the life they have always wanted, to be successful, raise a family, be confident and likeable. But this conflicts with the irrational, subconscious mind and its motivations that drive them to pursue immediate reward at the expense of long-term fulfilment. This cognitive dissonance is what lies at the heart of addiction.
With Stella seven months pregnant with our second child, I relapsed yet again and we were forced to separate. I moved back in with my Dad, back into the same room that Mum had died in just nine months earlier. What was supposed to be the happiest of times was instead filled with depression and a despair that was indescribable and seemingly insurmountable.
In the year following Mum's death, I tried everything I could to recover: antidepressants and anti-addiction medication. Mindfulness meditation. Exercise. Willpower. I went for psychotherapy every week. I spent four months in outpatient rehab for alcohol and drug addiction. I read book after book after book about addiction and depression, fervently trying to understand why my mind was working against me.
Each of these tools has its place in recovery from addiction. If you’re sailing headlong into a perilous storm they can be vital for course correction. But none of them could help me break the vicious cycle I was in. I desperately wanted my family back but I couldn’t stop the compulsive addictive behaviour. I had suddenly found myself in the eye of the storm on a sinking ship.
Rapid Transformational Therapy – or RTT – was developed by Marisa Peer and based on her thirty years’ experience as a world-renowned therapist. It combines the most beneficial principles of Psychotherapy, Hypnotherapy, NLP and CBT. According to Marisa, "RTT delivers extraordinary, permanent change from physical, emotional and psychological pain by reframing our core beliefs, values, habits and emotions that are deep in the subconscious."
I was deeply sceptical at first. Stella had heard Marisa speaking on a podcast about RTT and the extraordinary results it could achieve. If I'm honest, I only agreed to it because I needed to be seen to be trying everything.
That RTT session was a Damascene moment for me, like a light being turned on in the darkness.
RTT differs from CBT and other forms of therapy in that it doesn't focus on the issue but the root cause. During the session I was regressed back to scenes from my life that caused me to drink and take drugs, and I was surprised to find that nowhere did substances even feature. The common theme between the scenes was that at the heart of it all I didn’t feel enough. On my own, I didn't feel enough to socialise or deal with difficult emotions. But more than that, I didn't feel enough as a husband, a father, a son, a brother, or a friend.
I left the session with the insight and resolve I needed to turn my life around, and a recording to listen to for 21 days, which allowed me to undo those limiting beliefs and break my addictions.
A month later I had moved back home with Stella and Seren, and was overjoyed to be there to see the birth of our son, Arlo. Today I am not only free of my desire for alcohol, but completely indifferent to it.
RTT showed me that, as Marisa says, I am enough. I have always been enough and I will always be enough.
There has still been a process of recovery. Over the months that followed I had to relearn how to cope with difficult emotions, such as the grief that still followed me. And I had to relearn how to enjoy social occasions with what Annie Grace calls 'a naked mind'. But with every wedding, every meal out, every stressful day, and every night in on my own, I got stronger.
RTT has given me my life back, the life I had before addictions. A life where I can enjoy a sunny afternoon with my friends and family without substances. A life that is healthy and happy. A life where I am the husband, father, son, brother and friend that I always wanted to be, because I finally know that I am enough.
(Find out more about RTT here.)
We started FutureSelf so that what we went through as a family wasn't in vain.
After witnessing first-hand how RTT can transform people's lives for the better, both Stella and I made the decision to train in RTT, so we can help other people who are going through what we've been through. Not just addictions and depression, but a whole wealth of other conditions: anxiety, low self-esteem, low confidence, eating disorders, weight loss, relationships, money blocks, fear of public speaking, passing exams, back pain, trauma, phobias, even diabetes and fertility.
We took out a personal loan and scraped together what we could from our savings so that Stella could do her training while on maternity leave.
I am launching this crowdfunding campaign so that I can also get trained as an RTT Therapist, and so we can start up FutureSelf and build a business that can help so many people.
The RTT Professional course costs £5,400 and includes a three month mentored programme followed by a five-day Practice Intensif course in London with Marisa Peer herself. My aim is to raise the money needed to pay for the training course and the costs of travelling and accommodation for the five day course in London. The breakdown is as follows:
- RTT Professional Course: £5,400
- Travel, accommodation & meals to attend the five-day course in London: £600
I am one of the lucky ones. Addiction didn’t completely destroy my life, but it came close.
There are many, many people out there just like me. Perhaps they are problem drinkers, or are beginning to recognise the hold that addictive substances and behaviours are having on them and those around them. Perhaps they (or you) are one big life event away a sinking ship.
You often hear about how recovering alcoholics have to fight a daily battle not to drink, but this is doesn't have to be the case. I no longer have any desire for drugs or alcohol. You may not believe, as I didn't, that this would be possible. But I am living proof that RTT works.
If you or anyone in your life has been affected by addiction, please pledge to this cause, and help us help other people to author their future selves.
Today is more than just a celebration of eight months' sobriety; it is also Mum's birthday. I hope that she would be proud.
Thank you for your time and support.