Thursday, January 7, 2010

Would I quit rehab over Bonnie Hunt?

When I came upstairs this morning, I was greeted with a sink full of dirty dishes and the cackling of a loud dorm mate who I regard as only slightly less annoying than the cough I have had non-stop since October; no doubt a result of living with so many germy people in close quarters. But the dishes, it amazes me that there are adult men living in a house and it appears that none of them knows clean to do a damn dish.

The cold, the mud, its filthy on the ranch in the winter. The ice cold wind races across the fields like a spray of invisible bullets and greets you with the moment of “GET YOUR ASS UP” shock – the kind I would have in the occasional mornings after a night of endless bar tabs, when I would wake up, roll over and try to figure out who I was sleeping next to.

Then there is the daily battle with the shuttle driver – do I have my pass – am I on time – where will I need to be picked up. I have to pack my crap each day, carry it half a mile to the shuttle, hope I don’t lose anything, then carry it to my car when I get to town, then get it to work, then unpack, then do it all over again in reverse. I have already lost my .mp3 player, my favorite gloves, and a left shoe.

When I get home, sometimes all I want to do is work out, eat a nice meal, watch TV and relax – in silence. WE ARENT ALLOWED TO WATCH TV! I live with 12 men, each with varying degrees of insanity, each with a different schedule, and each one operates at a decibel level that would startle Helen Keller. My food is always half eaten, and I have even had to post a sign on my 2 litre bottle of diet cherry 7-UP that says, ‘I SPIT IN THIS’ so it mysteriously stops disappearing. Someone actually tried to do the ‘water in the bottle to raise the level’ trick on me. WHAT?!? I invented this trick. My dad would sometimes drink scotch so watered down from months of me ‘sneaking’ a drink that I am sure if he started drinking REAL scotch again, he might die.

So, it goes without saying, I am getting over dorm life. And I am not the only one. Lane is part of the group of guys I came in with, he is one of the guys that wanted to graduate together, on the same day. He informed me that he has no intention of that anymore. 13 months, 1 day, he is out he said. The Band of Brothers is often a Band of Bothers.

We all love each other and still get along famously… don’t get me wrong…. But these guys are like my family, and like family, they are always more tolerable in smaller doses and with proper mental planning. Don’t say you’re not like that, we all are. Everyone needs space, time and the ability to live AWAY from the people we love the most. This is nature’s way of preventing murder.

Marty asked me the other day when I would be leaving the ranch. With the new job and money coming in, I have a car, I even have a place I can stay, I have been dating a little bit, I don’t really ‘need’ any of the things that the ranch offers - he was puzzled as to why I am staying.

And that puzzled me as well. I hadn’t really planned on leaving early, but I hadn’t planned on staying either. I kept telling myself that when I got what I needed out of this place, I would leave – whether I graduated or not. Could it be that I am still getting something out of rehab? Why the hell am I staying here? I have completed the addictions modules. I think I have a good handle on recognizing addictive behaviors in myself and I find that I employ the techniques all the time. I am constantly making course corrections in my whole life – not just as it pertains to alcoholism. Alex noticed it and mentioned it at Christmas when I was with my family for a Holiday party and the highly charged atmosphere of ‘fun’ game night was the usual mine field of arguments waiting to happen. And yet, somehow, I stayed calm. I stay calm a lot. My brain is constantly evaluating events and situations on a new scale of relevance.

Its like when my mom checks her blood sugar – if its too high, she immediately employs some exercise (physical or mental) to bring it back down. It’s a habit these days to just ‘know’ whats going on inside – her survival depends on it. And for the most part, things stay at or below the threshold of danger.

This happens in my brain as well. I find that silence is a much more efficient way to get out of a tricky situation than speaking ever was. Many people should try this technique. People would talk a WHOLE lot less if they had any clue how FEW people actually paid attention – or cared.

And so, this means I am cured, right? Whew – its about time.

But, the truth is, I am staying for a different reason, and I had to figure out why. And I’ve realized that I wouldn’t feel right if I left now. I mean, I committed to this and I only have a few months left. What kind of A-Hole would I be to spend so much time working on myself here and decided to bone out before the end.

Back in the summer, before we could leave the farm, Curtis, Lane and I would take walks from one end of the ranch to the other. It’s a half mile from one end to the other. We would walk from the south side to the north side and on the north side is a gate. Curtis would insist that we ALL touch the gate – each time. We would walk and talk and laugh for an hour in the blind darkness of the farm, probably logging 5 miles – back and forth, back and forth – and each time, when we got to that damn gate, we ALL had to touch it. It was not a suggestion, it was a requirement. If we even mentioned that we didn’t touch it, we would turn around and go back and touch it.

Lane and I used to tease Curtis about this OCD thing he had and one day he said plainly, “I just don’t see the sense in walking all the way here, getting all the way TO the gate, and not touching it – its senseless to go this far and not finish.”

Even now, when I pass that gate as I exit the property on a run or a bike ride, I have to touch it.

Much of my life has been like that. Too often, I have robbed myself that small satisfaction of touching the gate. I think we all do that. So much of my life has been in a state of incompleteness, and I can’t live like that anymore. There WILL not be any loose ends. No, There CAN NOT be loose ends.

This seems like a sensible idea for anyone, but for an alcoholic, the penalty is pretty significant. If you remember, I mentioned that one thing addicts all have in common is ‘procrastination.’ The whole idea of getting out of something, of avoiding doing something releases a flood of neurochemicals that are so powerful, that in the right doses, these chemicals will even synthesize the effects of cocaine.

This goes for being chronically late, it goes for calling in sick or playing hookie from school, this happens when we develop and accept the idea that, “I’ll do it later, I’ll get to it, I’ve done enough, It’s OK, I have gone far enough that people notice my effort.”

This is no way to live life, and in developing a new way of thinking, as an alcoholic I need to push through the crap I don’t want to do, and touch the friggin gate! Every time. And when it sucks, I can’t think, I will retreat to the comfort of a bottle of booze, I am gonna get through this. When you approach life with a resolve to finish something, when you put your head down and meet a challenge, then you can walk away from that challenge with your head up, instead.

And so I have to figure out how to survive, I have to put into practice techniques that will keep my metaphoric blood sugar where it needs to be, I need to exercise.

So I learn to develop new routines. This is something I will be doing my whole life – Alcohol was a routine as much as anything. Its methodical for an addict. There is safety in methods. My new routine includes my weekly visit with my dad – For as long as I have been on the farm and able to leave, he has picked me one day a week and we hang out. We watch TV, we go shopping, we do chores, I do laundry, it is my weekly respite from the insanity of living in a Rehab facility.

If it wasn’t for this weekly rendez-vous with my dad, I don’t know if I would have made it this far.

My new routine involves a monthly visit to see family and friends, these are people that I neglected for years when I was drinking, and now they occupy my time, as well as my heart. I will have to maintain that.

My new routine involves working out, running, staying in general shape; it involves new friends…. new ‘relationships’, it involves stepping back from the guys I live with and learning how to incorporate them into my life without suffocating each other. The new routine means that 'down time' isnt 'bored time'.

But the routine also involve quiet time. The idea of solitude was terrifying to me. The business in my head was silenced only by the over amplification of my environment – or else the self-induced coma I would seek to ride out the storm of being alone. Yes, solitude was a storm for me. Yet, now, quiet time is my reward. It isn’t feared, it is relished.

And so, the question remains…. Why do I stay here at this sometimes miserable farm, why do I live in these conditions, why do I tolerate this, day after day, week after week?

Well, you know, it’s simple. I haven’t touched that gate yet.


PS – I received some sad news today. It appears that Bonnie Hunt will be cancelled in May of this year. You will note that it will be a full year, in May, since I watched Bonnie Hunt. I have to wonder if my lack of viewing contributed to this. Kidding.

But seriously, I am kind of pissed because I will be graduating at that time, and I wont have Bonnie Hunt to watch, and worse, I NEVER EVEN HAD THE CHANCE TO GO TO HER SHOW!!!

I was going to reward myself with a trip to LA and see her show in person…

Now, if I don’t quit rehab over this…. Then, perhaps it is safe to say, I can handle almost anything.

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