Radiate – “Diverge or spread from or as if from a central point”
It was dark and pissing down with rain. I was in a state of emotional and mental disrepair. Very different from how I’d been throughout the previous moments of that day, which in itself was surprising. I was seven days back from a relapse. A short excursion back into the madness, it had lasted only a few days but it had been extremely intense. The suffering brought about by reacquainting myself with my old friend wasn’t unexpected. I know how it works. He try’s on a daily basis with a cunning so baffling its beyond powerful, it’s tripped me up more than once. I’ve never took a drink I didn’t need, it was always to shut that fucker up!
I’d spent that morning and afternoon the same way I’d spent the last week, in the rooms of the Fellowship. Surrounding myself with those whose old friend is on first name terms with mine. 2-3 meetings a day. Though still obviously shook up I had quickly began to repair physically. I was tired but felt satisfied that I’d put 24 hours between me and the assassin that lives somewhere deep in my psyche. On that I decided to take some time to rest up and spend the night on the couch. The obsession kicked in within the hour and even though Im more than fully aware I can’t beat it on my own I chose to play with it rather than disclose it.
So… I find myself soaked to the skin, takin the longer way to go buy what I need. There’s a quicker route but that would mean taking the chance of bumping into people who would want to help me. The mental obsession has got me in its death grip now, literally. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m fucked. I haven’t got the strength to repeat the last 7 days. I put a drink in me now then I’m gone, along with everything that came with staying sober.
It’s a Saturday night and the street is unusually quiet. It’s never a busy tread path, except for the steady flow of amateurs on a pub crawl, always somebody around. Not now. Just me and the dark rain! Im half way to where I need to get. The mental obsession along with the growing physical compulsion has me feeling exhausted. I see the bar all lit up like Christmas. Standing across the road staring at it as it calls me in. The pull is amazing, everything I need to make this go away is in there, everything I need to make everything go away! The rain is getting heavier.
In the book of Genesis after God discovers Cain has murdered his brother Able he decides to banish him way past the frontier rather than destroy him. Stating his reason for sparing him as “Man is inherently evil by youth”.
Interestingly ancient civilizations and believe systems of Spiritually orientated peoples have a theory that we hold in our DNA – mental thought processes, personality traits and more importantly – Memories that we inherent from our ancestors. Passed down from generation to generation at the time of conception. More times than not this happens at a stage in the parents’ lives that could be considered as youthful. This would explain déjàvu, a phenomenon that most people are aquatinted with at least casually. I’ve experienced it more than a few times but most powerfully during my first trip to New York. Granted it was before I got sober and I spent the whole trip intoxicated, but turning a corner from one street to the next I was suddenly aware of a deep recognition of my surroundings. I felt sure I had been in that street before! Only that was impossible as it was the first time I’d crossed the Atlantic. It’s a fucking big Ocean so I couldn’t have accidentally found myself there previously during a drunken blackout unable to remember making the trip. However my Grandfather had been there during his time in the Navy back in his youth!
I knew both my Grandfathers well, as well as you think that you know anybody, we are never sure. Both had similarities and differences. One grew up in an Orphanage and climbed on-board a ship for the first of many times at the age of 14. The other stayed at home nearly all his life building boilers that powered those ships. They were both hard working, heavy drinking men. Both incredibly stubborn and self-sufficient. My father fits the same bill. I can’t imagine any of them ever asking anybody for help. Inherently I fit them same description. With one difference – I had to adapt. Had to otherwise I can’t seriously imagine sitting here today writing this blog. Not when I’ve saw with my own eyes what happened to those who I could see where not yet at the stage I got to. They sharp did. Not all of them, some didn’t make it!
Humans are powered by ego. All of us! We suffer from a collective insanity. The world is full of sick people totally identified with the bullshit swirling through their minds. In a near constant state of fantasy, anxiety, guilt and resentment. Always planning, plotting, scheming and day dreaming. Never really present to the moment by moment miracle of life itself. Never fully connected to the ever present reality of the Now. Spirituality is the realization that survival is a savage battle between me and myself. A battle that I can’t fight alone and one that can never be won. One that will continue till I either die or quit, there’s always a chance that could happen on the same day. Today I know it doesn’t have to be that way. I made a decision to practice a different way to live, a way of living that gives me a life beyond my wildest dreams. Not OF my wildest dreams… that shit would kill me quick! Staying focused on what’s in front of me and always finding something to be grateful for… it’s always there!
At work I’m in a position to help others, people with a complex chaotic lifestyle that have multiple difficulties, none of them lead to a healthy conclusion unless big changes were to happen. However most clamor for my attention without a desire to make changes. They want a quick fix for whatever problem confronts them and then to go on with the normal level of self-destruction. I was very much like that myself. The Gift of Desperation can only be found at “Rock Bottom”. As crazy as it seems, some people just never find their way there no matter how bad it gets! I love the fact I’m not just in a position to help others but also that I’ve developed empathy and a willingness to think of others. It’s the opposite of the immense selfishness I displayed for decades. That is where the whole problem starts. “Selfishness, self-centeredness that we think is the root of our troubles”
But having said that it never serves anybody well to rob them of their own personal rock bottom. They say if you can’t remember it then you haven’t been there yet! I was 41 years old and what I found there was the ability to ask for help. That was a first!
If you’re wondering what happened that night as I stood in the rain staring at the bar, soaked to the skin, needing a drink. Not wanting to but knowing I had already lost the ability to choose whether I would or not. That night when the inherent insanity drove my thinking and compelled me to go ahead and continue where I had left off… on that desperate mission of self-destruction.
The short answer is you had to be there!
I don’t fully understand it myself, don’t expect I ever will. I try not to demand understanding nowadays, accepting things are just the way they are. I reached out for help and it came. I found myself putting one foot in front of the other and backtracking what felt like a marathon. It was a short distance, only a few hundred yards but it felt like I was wearing deep sea diver’s boots. I flopped down on the bed and slept till morning. Waking up sober I spent the day with my young son. He was oblivious to what had just happened the night before and I was just too happily relieved, not needing to talk about it.
We carry more shit than we realize! If we are not there for each other than where are we? If we don’t ask for help then how can we receive it? If we don’t know how it feels to be helped then how can we help others? If we can’t help others then how do we expect to survive, and more than that, how can we expect to be happy?
This blog entry was inspired by the WordPress “One word – Daily Prompt” (Radiate) and also a Facebook post from my good friend Justin – C. It was as follows…
“Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life ….today I will be trying to bring as much joy as I can to myself and others ..there’s enuf shit and pain In this world already the last thing it needs is me adding to it ..peace”
“Your wounds happened for you not to you” ~ Jeffery Van Dyk
“Am I my brothers keeper?” ~ Gen 4:9
“Deep beneath the white there is a redskin suffering from centuries of taming” ~ Adam & the Ants