Bee Sober Blog

When all you’ve got is a spanner

26 January 2022

When all you’ve got is a spanner

It really doesn’t seem to matter what you are working on, in every recovery community the benefits of having a toolbox are shouted from every roof top.

Whether it’s addiction, mental health, or perhaps just coping with life in general, all the coaches, therapists, self help gurus, they all appear to suggest you get yourself a toolbox and of course, use it.

I’ve known some folk that have a box and use it to store books and candles and pamper stuff and anything else that helps them.  For me my box is in my head. My tools aren’t physical things. It’s hard to put writing and accountability and an hour of peace and quiet in a box, however none the less I have a toolbox.

The choice of tools is extensive, sometimes mind blowing. Quit Lit, self help books, gentle walks in nature, 10k runs, cold water swimming, hot bubble baths, journaling, podcasts, face to face meetings, more anonymous on line groups, and the list goes on and on, and it can take a good while to find out the best tools to keep in your tool box, and sometimes you need to get rid of an old tool to make way for a new one that suits you better. And then one day, when you’ve been doing very well thank you with the tools you have accumulated, you put your hand in the box and all you can find is a spanner!

It’s those times when everything is jogging along nicely and out of nowhere someone, and for me that someone is usually me, puts a spanner in the works. You know the times. Your whole world just feels like a bag of spanners. And every time you look for your trusty tools all you’ve got is a spanner.

For me, it’s all too easy to forget my other tools when I’ve got a spanner in my hand, and once I’ve got one, well… I am a past master at being able to find another spanner when I delve into my toolbox.

Just a couple of weeks ago I left home to set off on a road trip for work. I was anxious about spending a week or so living in hotel rooms and out of a suitcase and I was hopeful. Hopeful that I could make a change, both for me in proving I could do this without the booze and for my work colleagues, that I could help in some small way.

After six hours driving and a full working day, I found my first spanner. The driving was all done in the dark, all I heard was bad news from work, I was tired and already missing home, and for the first time in a fair few months I was reminded how deep you have to dig to convince your own mind that a drink is not good idea. I didn’t delve into my toolbox to find an alternative. I spent the night gritting my teeth and clenching onto my spanner.

The next morning that spanner was deeply embedded into my hand. I didn’t even try to use my other tools. Another six hours of driving in the dark, another full day of work, another evening in front of a work laptop, and before I knew it, I was in a ground hog loop. No time to let myself write properly, just a quick check in. Not a moment to spare to clear my mind, and now reaching into the toolbox was out of the question. The spanner was in the works.

In times past, this seemingly innocuous circumstance would have led me down a very dark path. I would turn my back on those things that have helped me in my recovery, and when it’s been too late, I would reach back into my toolbox, only to find that every useful bit of kit I had, had been exchanged for spanners. The insidiousness of my addiction laughing at every effort I would make to use any of my tools, proving to me that nothing can work, not for me.

Only this time it’s different.  This time I’ve taken my time to really look at my spanner.  I’ve sat with it and accepted that for a small moment in time it’s all I’ve got to work with. When you haven’t got the right tool to hand to knock something right out of the park, a spanner can do a fair job at knocking it far enough away for you to take a deep breath or two.

When you really think about it, the spanner is a versatile little thing.  It’s your choice whether you turn it clockwise and tighten everything up or try the other way and release the pressure.

Maybe I need a little spanner in my works every now and again. Maybe the little stresses and strains of day-to-day life are there to show me how to deal with big stuff. And maybe just maybe, I need to treat myself to a little spanner that I can keep about my person to remind me that when one comes out of my toolbox, it isn’t the only tool in there.

Article Source: Bee Sober Member Jan Mac

join our community

If you are looking for friendship, support and a community that focuses on well-being and fun without booze - Bee Sober is the place for you.

Sobriety can be full of unexpected challenges and difficulties, but with the help of our support group, nobody has to go at it alone.

Bee'come a Bee Sober Member!

Join Us