Closing Windows, Opening Doors And Gazing At Grace


Me and the boys discussing the new ios 7 for girlie bikes.  Neutral colours, we hope.  I am the one with the beard.
Me and the boys discussing the new ios 7 for sissy bike scooters. Neutral colours, we hope, not those hues of the damned. That’s me, the one with the beard and a look of consternation and judgement.

I always wanted more in my life.  More stuff.  More distractions.  More of what I could jam down my life’s throat like a sausage machine and then have some leftover goo for pâté.  I wanted more attention, more love, more hand holding, more freedom, more strength, more drama, more booze …more, more, more.  If I didn’t have it, I wanted it. If I had it, I wanted the next big thing.  I am not talking material stuff per se – I never had much interest in the cars, the homes, the fancy clothes – although it did come into play at times.    I just wanted to fill up inside and not think about anything.  I wanted to pack rat my way into oblivion or happiness, which ever came first.  And when the happiness wasn’t sticking around, I chose to make oblivion my new flat mate.  Rent free, I thought. But we all know that oblivion comes with a price.

It is said that we, as alcoholics, need to be treated extraordinarily to feel ordinary.  And I get that.  I get it.  A simple wave across the street wasn’t good enough for me.  I needed you to beat traffic like a Frogger game and bow before me and throw golden rose petals at my feet for me to just feel that I was a human being.  And that’s just the mail carrier.  Imagine the disconnection I had between my mind and my feelings and my expectations of people living in a fantasy world like that.  When I didn’t get that kind of attention (and why would I?), I threw an internal hissy fit royale and drank at you.  I became indignant and angry and wanted to punish you by destroying my body, mind and spirit, in one ounce increments.  What “more” I didn’t get from you, I found in the bottle.  The bottle always had “more”.

Paul For Dummies.  Easier to read than a mall map, and fewer disturbing food court smells.
Paul For Dummies. Easier to read than a mall map, and fewer disturbing food court smells.

Now, when the gates opened like they did at the Battle of Morannon, a lot of other orcs came for the ride – fear, anger, resentment, dishonesty, etc.  I sure got what I wanted – everything.  And everything brought me a lot of pain, and it rippled out and affected everyone in my life circles.  Being full of this stuff distracted me from the pain of looking at me.  It’s easy to look away from my lack of self-esteem and no confidence when I am creating crisis after crisis, when I am involved in other people’s business, when I am drowning in my own shame, vomit and vodka.   I don’t have to look in the mirror when I am consumed with minutiae and mayhem, when I obsess about things, or get my nose bent out of shape about something that has nothing to do with me in any way.  I was the drunk male Gladys Kravitz, but wouldn’t admit to it.  Despite all the filibuster filler in my inner life, I still felt empty.  What a paradox to live by.

I choked on all this vitriol that I stored up.  I no longer had a sense of who I was any more, of where I was in the world.  Like an ageing magician, my tricks had worn thin and fooled nobody.  What were once my defences now attacked and plagued me.  I was swarmed by the four horseman, now backed up by their posse of the seven deadly sins.  That’s six five, no jive, in craps.  A natural.  They win.  I lose.  My ego, my pride, my way of thinking all turned on me and drove me to drink more and more, and in return, I got a sentence of pain and suffering.  The more I fought the demons, the worse it got.  Alcohol, through my alcoholism, became my master.  The physical consequences worsened, not to be outdone by the emotional, mental and spiritual collateral damage in its wake.  It had to stop.  And it did.  So then what – happy ending, right?

Wrong.

Just another night out with the boys at the hat and moustache club.  Actually, that tub looks a lot like my liver did.
Just another night out with the chaps at the hat and moustache club. Don’t skimp on the Vermouth, boys.  Actually, that tub looks a lot like my liver at one point.

You see, once the booze got removed, I was still left all that stuff – the pain, the anger, the loneliness, the feeling of no worth, the hundreds of fears.  Booze was the medicine.  Now that I had no meds, I was hurting even more.  Working through my program of recovery,  I was able to jettison much of the festering flim flam that had seeped into my once beer-soaked pores. I was able to lighten the load, and start the healing process.  I saw where I played a part in my wretched misery and started to mend my approach to things.  I made amends to those I harmed and started to become part of a fellowship of other alcoholics.  I started to feel part of the human race, no longer needing people to toss flowers at me to feel useful and noticed.  And this is a lifetime deal I get to do.  Like a hot air balloon, the more I toss overboard, the greater and higher I soar.

Old ideas, old habits, old ways of thinking, old behaviours…the more I let go of these things, the more centred and free I am.  My life today is about lightening the load, keeping it simple and getting down to the brass tacks of my life.  Sounds easy, but it’s not always so Deepak Chopra-tastic.  So this simplifying of my life, of this streamlining, this spiritual aerodynamic makeover is what I try and do these days.

Now, I type my little things here on a netbook.  It had served me well, but slowed down to a crawl over time.  No matter what I did – from removing files to using tutorials on line to juggling settings – nothing seemed to speed up my machine.   I have been tempted many times to smash it against the floor and be done with it.  I have always dreamed of getting a new computer, but we don’t have the finances to do so.  So I have suffered with it.  But I was told about a new operating system – Ubuntu (look it up!).  I installed it and banished Windows.  I closed the book on Windows and have been using the new Linux based system for about a week now, and it’s…phenomenal.  Blazing fast, no viruses to worry about, responsive…brand new computer.  I haven’t had the need or desire to switch back. My initial fears that I would miss out on some of the Windows stuff haven’t materialized.

Yours truly working the gears and getting down and dirty with the new OS.  You don't get pipes like that working out at the gym, ladies ;)
Yours truly working the gears and getting down and dirty with the new OS. You don’t get pipes like that working out at the gym, ladies 😉

What I came to realize in making that conscious decision to switch over was that I needn’t fear change.  I was running a system that was bloated, overwrought and not in tune with what I wanted or needed.  I just needed some internet, some music programs, and some basic apps.  I didn’t need 800 fonts or systems so complicated and dysfunctional that they crowded my unit’s space.  I was using a platform that slowed down the simplest of tasks and commands, by running all sorts of background programs and noise.  Viruses and trojans invaded at every step.  My computer was full of things that no longer served it.  And me.

And that is what I did in my last little “tune up” on myself there a few weeks ago.  I got to the point where things were bloated in my life.  My physical health, my emotions, my mental capacity…all cramped and running very inefficiently.  Like my Windows system, I too was taxing my own self, using up precious energy and time on things that were unnecessary or moot.  I was stalling, freezing and dragging.  I was full of stuff again, like I was in my drinking days.  I was jammed up with things that no longer served me.  I had started to think in obsolete 1’s and 0’s and found myself stuck in many ways.  I found myself thinking in circles, getting wound up about silly things, projecting my fears and insecurities on others, I was slowing down my program, I was getting complacent, I was starting to drag myself down. I felt a spiritual deflation happening.

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So I made some changes.  I stopped with the sugar (using recovery tools on this one this time), removed myself from a lot of internet / computer use, recommitted to journalling (in one my many nice shiny journals), worked my Step 10 and 11 daily, focussed on regular meditation, read more, learned to let go of some of the things I was holding on to, even took up jogging (yeah, I know.  That will be a whole post itself, no doubt).  In doing this new OS sort of thing to my own life, I have found a whole different way of approaching things.  I don’t feel bloated and blocked as much.  I feel lighter (in all ways), feel more grounded and my connection to the Creator feels stronger.  I just feel a lot more (gasp!) balanced.  I also feel more open and receptive to things.  I had this sense that doors were opening in some ways.  And in some ways they have been.  Tonight my sponsee bailed on me again, but I met a newcomer who I spoke to for half an hour and will get together with soon.  Last week I got a call from my old treatment centre, and they want me to edit their weekly recovery newsletter.  And get paid, which is great.  It’s a temporary thing, so that’s fine.  But I don’t know if that opportunity would have come if I were still clogged up.  The Universe is responsive to our inner landscape.

Now, while this may sound like everything is coming up Milhouse, I have to remember that, like my computer, things start to pile up again.  I start accumulating files again, I start to download items, I begin piling on new apps and software, and before I know it, I am deluged with excess baggage that no longer serves me…again.  Old ways start to creep back in, I start to slack off on certain things, I get resentments, etc. So I keep lopping things off as they come.  I need to be the HDL cholesterol, not the LDL.  Clean it out as it comes.  Turn it over to the Creator.  Be the ball.  Laces out.  Whatever floats the flotilla.

Me and my sparring partner, as we battle the demons of rage.  And also swap tuna casserole recipes.
Me and my sparring partner, as we battle the demons of rage. And also swap some delish tuna casserole recipes.

When it comes down to it, this whole recovery this is about change.  It’s about looking at things in a new way, of changing perception and tactics, of seeking communion with the Divine Flow of this life.  For me, it’s not about not drinking any more, although that is the goal – to leave this mortal coil sober.  But it’s about the life altering consciousness of my will in alignment with His will.  It’s about getting out of the way of my own life and letting it go to where it needs to go.  My resistance to change is almost exponential to the quality of that change and the result of it.  The more I struggle to change something in my life, the more I am holding on to an idea of my life that perhaps is no longer useful.  The staleness that lingers on me, and the spiritual misalignment that follows, is usually because I am fighting something.  And in that whole equation are the common denominators – fear and ego.  Getting past these were the key to opening those doors for me.  And it was scary, to be honest.  All those changes I made, I did all on the same day.  It’s been about a month now, and I can already see the difference it’s done.  But boy did I take me sweet ass time to get there.

Tomorrow morning I find out the ruling on a court case that stemmed from something that happened at the end of my drinking days.  Rock bottom kind of stuff.  The case has been dragging on for two years now, and I finally will get the word.  Guilty, not guilty…it’s not in my hands.  I know that the last time I thought I was getting the verdict, about two months ago, I was very anxious for weeks before.  I was too bogged down with all the stuff going on in me and just added that to the pile, which just made me more blocked…and more worried.  Tonight, I feel free.   I know that no matter what, I am not tethered to anything that will disturb me on a deep level.  Surface things may suck if it goes against me, to be honest, but in the end, it’s not the end of the world.  You see, the end of world was when I decided to put down the drink and step into a new world.  In this world, I live a new life.  In this world, I am surrounded by the Creator’s children and just annoying people. In this world, I can close old windows, open doors and gaze at the Grace of God.

For a guy that wanted more, I get less.  And I am ever grateful for that.

20 Comments Add yours

  1. warmginger says:

    Okay, you’re guilty of making me nearly throw up my breakfast with picture number four. I do hope all goes well with your real case though. Whatever the outcome, it sounds like you’re strong enough to take it on the chin.

    1. Thank you. My chin is a little sore right now. More will be revealed, I suppose. Always a blessing having you here 🙂

      Paul

  2. mishedup says:

    hope all goes well for you Paul…..
    love the tune-up, love the flow. Funny how taking action always makes it better!

    1. Thanks, mished. Glad to have you here 🙂

      Paul

  3. risingwoman says:

    I hope all goes well with the court case, Paul. I can only imagine what it has been like to have had that hanging over your head for the past 2 years.

    And I loved this: ‘The Universe is responsive to our inner landscape.’ That has also been my experience, my friend… the outside reflects the inside; the inside is inspired by the outside, and this makes the outside more positive. On and on, a beautiful dance.

    Hugs… I am pulling for you.

    1. Thanks Michelle for checking in on me…muchly appreciated.

      Beautiful dance indeed.

      Love and light and hugs,
      Paul

  4. REDdog says:

    Peace brother…Rd

  5. furtheron says:

    Great post Paul. I was hunting around the internet the other day for facts about AA and alcoholism – there are some learned papers out there saying that AA is an evidential way of maintaining sobriety – anyway I came across a bunch of stuff from some people saying “Just find drugs to treat these people this is 21st Century after all and AA is so 19th Century in it’s thinking”. I paraphrase of course, however these are professionals dealing with alcoholism and addiction, they have a valid view point. But I feel actually what you say here hits at why this wouldn’t work at all. Give me other drugs to deal with all the angst that was the catalyst for my drinking and how does that help me get better? Ok you prescribe an amount, hope I don’t abuse it and I bumble on feeling worse and worse. The death rate on the UK Methadone programme (prescribed as a substitute for Heroin to reduce the need for addicts to engage in crime and dangerous acts like needle sharing etc.) is actually about twice as high as the death rate from Heroine overdoses itself – go look at the UK National of Offices Of Statistics figures. Frankly someone from outside might suggest – why not just shoot them? Same end point. In rehab the guy who ran it once said “We call it Alcoholism, that is like calling an infection Penicillinism”. i.e. you call the illness by the cure which seems daft when looked at it that way. And that is it, find a magic bullet drug cure and would it help me? Honestly given all I know about me and my alcoholism/addiction today – I doubt it.

    1. Well stated, Graham. I have been reading a lot of the drug and alcohol turmoil and stats coming out of the UK there and it’s saddening and frightening. There still seems to be this universal general idea that alcoholism and drug addiction is a weakness of moral character or willpower, that throwing pills and therapy is the way to go. Sure, there are those who can stop that way, and that’s great. I can’t (or couldn’t). Those things would have been band-aid solutions, and before you know it, all the things bubbling underneath would soon burst out and I’d be on a run again.

      Glad to know we have a fellowship of like minded folks who can’t just put the plug in the jug or the harm in the arm, so to speak. 19th century thinking has gotten me well, so that’s fine with me.

      Thanks for the wonderful comments, Graham.

      Paul

  6. sherryd32148 says:

    Good luck and blessings to you on your verdict. Loved the metaphor of Ubuntu (yes…courtesy of my son I am well aware of it and Linux) and you with a new OS. Good stuff.

    Sherry

    1. Thanks Sherry 🙂

      Paul

  7. bornsirius says:

    Ouch… that’s my butt being kicked over here.
    Thanks for the 2nd reminder of getting back to routine today. Needed that. It’s so easy to let up on things I know will be good for me. Usually, in favor of sleep. Yikes. And I know it’s dangerous for me, too… downright dangerous! That’s the way I get to a place where my trauma is re-triggered, which then re-triggers my addictive behaviors… yeah that’s no good for me.
    Sigh. Gonna get myself back into gear now. I think maybe I should write an actual SCHEDULE. (I know… *gasp*. Revolutionary) I’ve got the “breathing at stoplights” thing down, but the taking time for meditation in the evening, not so much.
    And I know it will be like you said, too… I’ll feel more balanced if I stick with those behaviors. I can see the tangible evidence of it in this post; you sound zen, my friend. Glad to hear. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the kind words and the exciting news that a (gas!p) schedule might come from this…ha ha. It is said we behave our way into good thinking, not the other way around, and I think the reverse applies – we behave our way into poor thinking. I have to watch for that too. Balance isn’t easy and doesn’t come naturally to many of us, for whatever reasons. I hope that you find it – it took me a long time to get this close.

      Don’t feel particularly zen today, but I will do my best to stay in good actions and faith. Thanks again, my friend 🙂

      Love and light,

      Paul

  8. Good luck. It seems you are thriving in the light, and light and you write beautifully. Best wishes tomorrow.

    1. Thank you Tricia – that is very kind of you.

      Be well in your own shining light, my friend. 🙂

      Paul

  9. Thanks for being so candid and truthful with us, your readers and consequently, your admirers. I admire you, Paul, for your waging battles, ups and downs, and most importantly, leaving the old world to become part of the new. After all, you are now part of something incredible, no matter what the outcome of the verdict may be.

    You are absolutely right; there are some really annoying people in this world. But at least in lieu of drinking away their existence, we can laugh among ourselves and imagine smacking them instead. All joking aside, the greatest thing I have learned in my two years of sobriety is that we ARE God’s children. He holds all of our sorrows, pain and burdens in the palms of his hands. So no matter what, we must always remember that this life was not ours to abuse or take. It was His from the beginning and always will be.

    I might be confronting some seriously bad news myself very soon. I will keep you posted and be praying for you.

    Gina

    1. What wonderful words there, Gina. Thank you for blessing this place with your thoughts. You too are part of this incredible new world. The more of us in there, the stronger it is.

      I pray that things work out with you…and your mother. Please do keep me posted – we are all here for one another.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  10. Katherine says:

    Paul…great post…you are so right…”what ‘more’ I didn’t get out of life, I got out of the bottle”. “The bottle always did have ‘more’ to give me”. At 14 months sober I am realizing how I used the bottle to fill all the holes, all the unhappiness, all the boredom, and all the fear! I think the wine gave me the illusion that I had/was more, but really…I was a chicken shit…hiding and numbing out.

    Now I stand here sober without my shield and armour, kind of naked feeling at times, and as I get thru very vulnerable times without my drink, I grow stronger. I’m not afraid of my shadow anymore, I’m not anxious, not worrying about if they LIKE ME, trying hard to really love myself for who I am and not trying to GET MORE, but be happy and grateful for all the little things and being content having less. Less is more.

    A wise man said ‘we pack one suitcase of our stuff and go on vacation for a week and we have the greatest time of our life with just one suitcase and when we get home we come back to all our stuff and feel bogged down again. Do we really need MORE to have the time of our life?”

    Thanks for making me think/feel about this Paul. You are my AA support.

    Hugs, Katherine

  11. Hi Paul,

    I am behind on my reading, and found this post a few hours after I wrote my post on the garage sale. Streamlining, indeed! Once again we are of one mind!

    Of course, the eternal dieter in me wants the deets on how you are tackling the no sugar deal, hopefully there will be a follow-up on that piece. All in all, I am so happy for you, you sound like a role model for the rest of us, at the very least a role model for me! I can’t wait for your follow-up on the jogging component…

    Best of luck on the court case, I know how challenging the legal consequences can be!

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