“Words do not change their meanings so drastically in the course of centuries as, in our minds, names do in the course of a year or two.” Marcel Proust
Call Me Addict
Earlier this year, I wrote a piece called “Call Me Addict”, in which I discussed the myriad of names I have been called throughout my life. I also related that I had two Facebook accounts: Andrew Ahmad-Cooke, for aunties and old school friends, and Alan Derek Barry, my alias. So, who was Alan Derek Barry and where is his body?
Alan Barry is a nickname from a different lifetime, a time when I was playing in an acid-techno band, running underground parties in London and taking and selling lots and lots of drugs. It will not come as a shock that this became a very messy part of my life. It was also the most exciting, creative and productive time. Our band, Juttajaw was a musical magnet through which I met some inspirational people and most of my closest friends. I met and worked with musical heroes. The purpose of every day was to create music.
A divided self
When Facebook appeared, I was still using drugs and drinking; I wanted to protect my family from some of the more explicit posts from some of my old friends, so I started a second page. I believe that many addicts will relate to this dual identity.This separation worked swimmingly until I began my recovery and started writing my blog, addict2016. At the beginning, it still worked well as I was not ready to reveal my recovery to all of Andrew’s friends and family, but confusion quickly and unsurprisingly spread among my new global recovery friends. Was I Alan or Andrew or both?
As my recovery strengthened and confidence grew, this dual identity began to feel less appropriate and more than irrelevant, especially given that my role as Recovery Coordinator at The Edge Café made my recovery and former addiction public knowledge. In fact, it became a real annoyance. I no longer felt the need to hide behind my identity as Alan. It no longer fitted with my new simple existence and was a royal pain in the neck!
A few weeks ago, my good friend and recovery colleague, Adam Mitchell from Soberworx UK, offered to build me this new website. He suggested calling it The Addiction Author as he already owned the domain name. I was reluctant, at first, to assume this new epithet. I felt it sounded a bit vainglorious but I was soon persuaded. Secretly, I am more than a little pleased and Adam is more than a little generous.
I used this rebrand of my blog as a cue to simplify my social media presence. The same day, I closed down my Alan Derek Barry Facebook page. I no longer have anything to hide about my history of addiction. As my beautiful daughter Rubi often tells me, the pride I must feel about my recovery should outweigh the shame I still carry for my years in addiction. She is slowly persuading me.
Smashing the stigma of addiction
There may possibly be a few friends for whom my life of addiction and recovery will come as a surprise but I am sure that if they take the trouble to read some of my posts, they will understand. To be perfectly frank, I am not bothered if they don’t understand. I am more than willing to enter into a dialogue with anyone to continue trying to smash the stigma of recovery from addiction. It would be a pleasure.
As there is already a DJ Andy C, I will continue use Alan B as my DJ tag. On the first Friday of every month, a new Alan B RecovRemix will continue to appear on the amazing Klēn&Sōbr website. I have a special New Year’s mix planned, dedicated to all the people who attended the insane Dirty Cow parties I helped to run. Many of these old friends will still think of me as Alan. Apart from that, Alan Barry has ceased to be. I am already relishing my new, uncomplicated social media presence. Who Killed Alan Derek Barry? I did, it was a mercy killing.