Do you want to get better? →

And so Jesus asks him a question. The most important question in fact that anyone in any kind of trouble can be asked, and the first question that they should be asked:

‘Do you want to get better? Do you really want to be changed?’

Modern treatments for addictions of any sort ask that question of all those who present for treatment. Do you REALLY want to get better, because if you can’t answer YES to that question immediately, no amount of counselling or treatment will work.

I had to leave church before the sermon this week because of my blinding headache, and that’s a shame as the sermon sounds right up my street!

I know from personal experience that, where addiction is concerned, if you don’t really want to get better, you won’t, no matter what rehab you go through or counselling you take. My wife ‘suggested’ that I go to AA years ago, and it didn’t work. It wasn’t until I wanted to get better that it worked.

And every day I thank God that I’m one of the lucky ones.

Great AA meeting last night!

Last night’s AA meeting was superb. This was my first in two weeks, so I was getting antsy, although, true to form, I would have argued that I was fine and didn’t really need to go to a meeting.

I was feeling stressed before I went. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time. I had to go to the supermarket on the way home from work, then get home and make the dinner, then get out to the hall for half-past 7. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to skip it, arguing that I was fine anyway, just as I did with church on Sunday for the very same reason.

But, thankfully God works in mysterious ways and I had already agreed to give someone a lift home so I pretty much had to go.

As I sat in the room, I felt resentments, a sure sign that things aren’t well. I had no desire to share anything at all—I was fine. But, as people started to open up, I found my tortoise mind starting to explore. Then came the identification, followed by a whole range of thoughts about what I would like to share. As usual, I was worrying about how awesome I was going to be in my share. ‘Would people like it? Would they get identification? What if they didn’t? Can’t I just pull the covers over my head?’ You know, all that self-esteem and grandiosity bullshit.

But, when it got to my turn (second to last, following seven great shares!) I had a good idea of what I was going to say. And, d’you know what? It was really helpful to me!

My share

D’you know what I shared about? Tortoise brains and John Cleese! It was inspired by my recent post about OmniFocus and John Cleese. I’ve been thinking more and more about that, you know, the notion that I can’t seem to just be. I can’t go without some form of content input. I’ll invariably have my headphones in, or I’ll be reading my RSS feeds or Twitter at the dining-room table as I eat. I’ve been that way for years now. I think it will have been around 2005 that I discovered podcasts, but I was listening to audio books waaaaay before that.

Podcasts (again)

But this constant input isn’t giving my brain time to be. I took the dogs down onto the beach this morning and it was gorgeous. I paused In Beta and stood listening to the waves lapping the shore. It was lovely. I did that for all of about three minutes, then shouted the dogs and hit play again before heading home.

I shared at last night’s meeting that I was curious about whether I would actually cut down on the weekly podcast queue. I was thinking about it a few weeks ago and, since then, I’ve probably added a couple without unsubscribing from any others. The thing for me to grasp is that I don’t actually need to listen to every episode of every show. But then how will I know which ones I can ignore if I don’t hear them first? Hmmmmm.

I had a good chat in the car taking the other AA attendee home, and on the way home after dropping them off, I listened to episode 3 of Systematic, which I really, really enjoyed and which may just have given me some more knowledge to make my computer life easier.

And today I listened to the [latest episode](http://www.merlinmann.com/roderick/ep-40-status-butter.html) of [Roderick on the Line](http://www.merlinmann.com/roderick/) and it was so incredibly good that I actually stopped what I was doing and listened to the last half-hour sitting in the sun out the back. It was fantastic. So podcasts are NOT a waste of time. I guess I just need to be more discerning. Maybe if I cut out the shows that I don’t’ feel I’m getting much from, it would take the pressure off my audio book queue, which is, of course, not the point at all!

It’s all food for thought right now.

AA

It’s now four years since I got serious about stopping drinking. My last unintended drunken journey into oblivion was in September 2005. I’d fixed a friend’s printer and, as a thank you, he bought me a bottle of malt whisky. It sat in its box behind the kitchen door for a long time. As it was in a box, I was able to take swigs out of it without its being noticed, until eventually I’d have to buy a replacement bottle. It was always a fine line with drinking enough to get a buzz, but not too much that it would become obvious that I’d had more than we had agreed I would have. Of course, inevitably I’d hit black out. The time came when I hit one black out too many and got that close to losing Lorraine and Freya.

I did drink again, just the once, but not to blackout and I think I got away with it. It was enough for me to realise that the few weeks I’d been in the AA programme had already made their mark and that I really did not want to continue with that life.

I had a good meeting last Wednesday; one of those meetings that stays with you and changes you in some way for the better. I did the top table at that meeting and shared about how my life is right now, prompted by the first few pages of chapter 5 from the Big Book. I won’t go into it here — I’m not even sure why I’m feeling so comfortable now about airing my alcoholism in public. Maybe I’m at that stage of growth where I’m no longer afraid or ashamed and maybe I’m even a little proud of what I’ve achieved? I know about pride before a fall and all that, so I shall try to remain humble and grateful.

It really is amazing how much the 12-step progamme can help with day-to-day life. Yes, really. I am a grateful alcoholic. It’s rather strange to be saying that, but truly I sometimes wish that everyone, whether alcoholic or otherwise, had some sort of programme to follow; it really is that helpful.

And yes, I really do need AA. I’m still an alcoholic and that will never change. Going to meetings regularly is essential for me to stay well and improve. I missed meetings for about a month before last week’s Wednesday meeting and I was getting close to climbing the walls. And it’s weird how I felt well the entire time until I got desperate. It’s the little things, like getting resentful at customers coming in to the Post Office when I’m busy with something else. If I didn’t have customers, I wouldn’t have a business. I need to remember how much Luxembourg’s shopkeepers pissed me off with their rudeness. I’m sure you’ll find one or two blog posts about that very topic if you look back through my catalogue of posts. And not being nice to the most important woman in my life, the woman with whom I have chosen to spend my life. Why can’t I just be nice to her? I was talking to another alky about that tonight and he understood where I was coming from and mentioned a quote from Martin Sheen, something along the lines of his being mean to his wife to drive her away and validate his self hatred. Could that be it? I don’t think so, but I suppose I shouldn’t rule that out. And I was sharing about how I have so many opportunities during my working day and in my home life to work the programme, to change my first response from the selfish to the selfless. And that’s hard my friends, so very hard.

Parking ticket

I’m so profoundly sad today. It really makes it hit home how much my wife means to me. Without her, my life has no meaning; no context. Is there a reason that this had to happen. According to what I’ve learned in AA, there is: it’s God’s plan; it’s a test; I don’t have to drink.

How could such a good day turn so sour so quickly? And what is my part in it all? Yes, I was defensive. I was a stupid prick and shouldn’t have parked where I did. But I was late and you all know how I hate being late. I guess I can’t blame anyone for that (but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to). So I grabbed a space on a piece of rough ground, mine being one of many cars parked in such a way so as to make it look legitimately like parking spaces. The mig said it was a pavement but there was nothing to indicate that; as I said, rough ground. Plenty of room to walk past on the ‘pavement’; not blocking anything; the ground could not be used for any other purpose than parking a car there. But having said all that, I still knew that it wasn’t a parking space and decided that, rather than going even farther away to find a ‘proper’ space and pissing off the person who was waiting for me by being even more late, I’d take the chance. If I’d done that and got caught, well, fair enough. But I hadn’t got caught. I was standing directly across the road listing to my friend prattling on when I saw the police car drive by. “Best keep an eye out for them coming back”, I thought to myself, all the while wishing my friend would cease her prattling and let me get back to my car before they came back again. But she just kept on and on. Then those stealthy fuckers did come back, but not in their car and not from the direction I was expecting. They’d parked further up and walked down. I saw them at my car and ran across to explain that I was just leaving and was only talking to my friend across the road. But the fucker was a Luxembourgish fucker and obviously though I was some foreign prick trying to speak French when it should really be Luxembourgish and speaking his ‘language’ as I’m in his country. Well, that’s how I’d like to believe it was anyway. It was THAT that pissed me off and made me angry. It sent me into one of my downward spirals that’s so hard to get out of. My friend was like “never mind, you got the house and it doesn’t really matter and ya-di-ya-di-ya”. But AA speak just bounces right off me when I’m in the fog (just as any other kind of speak does, too for that matter).

I drove home slowly, listening to the Digital Story and trying to shake off the fog when all I really felt like doing was wallowing in it (why do I still do that?) I stopped in the chateau car park for 10 minutes before going home, breathing in the cool night air and trying to get some perspective and wondering whether to tell my wife about the ticket. I decided that I should and would.

I got home, let her know and got the expected reaction. Now I’m profoundly sad and I don’t know what to do about it. I guess, as AA says, this too shall pass (shouldn’t that be “will pass”?) Of course I reacted wrongly, defensively. I tried to “promptly admit it” but ended up making it worse. And that’s why I run away. When I’m still in the fog and perspective is warped, there’s just no point in trying to deal with it. Making me feel worse just, well, makes me feel worse. I’m not going to agree that I was wrong and I deserved it when all I can see in my mind’s eye is a nazi cop out to piss people off and not listen to reason. Of course I know that that’s not how it was, but that’s how it seems when I’m in the fog and I just can’t see it otherwise until everything gets back down to the right proportions. I was parked on waste ground for fuck’s sake, not harming anybody and was STOOD ACROSS THE FUCKING ROAD. See, even now it makes me want to shout and jump up and down at the injustice of it all and how unfair it all is. So, that’s the mood I’m in and you can imagine how it makes me feel to have my wife tell me that I shouldn’t have parked there and that the mig is just doing his job. DON’T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT? But I’m not about to admit it when I’m in the fog, am I? All I want is a hug and some love because I’m upset and angry, and mainly upset and angry at myself, but you do have to agree that there is some injustice there too, don’t you think?

Anyway, I have to stop thinking about it now or I’ll never get out of it. I’ve had fuck all sleep because of this playing in my mind and it’s really not that important. Why am I making into something important?