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”.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.