20 (Or The Art of Juggling)

NHS dog


     Yesterday, I gave myself a gift. Toys R Us didn’t have a juggling it, but I did buy 2 pink and one lime green Swoosh-thingys. That and the You Tube video How to Juggle should be enough to get the Swoosh rolling. Actually, that’s why I bought Swooshes and not balls. So they don’t roll away from me. But I digress.

     Today is February 1st. Today is also the 20th month of my sobriety.

    “Why 10? I tell you why. Because 10 sounds important. 10 is the basis of the decimal system. It’s a psychologically satisfying number.” – King George Carlin

     My 10th month was pretty significant, too. I had just passed the Biology class that was the pre-req I needed to enroll in the Veterinary Technician program at IWCC. The program I later dropped out of. But at the time, just passing that class was the bee’s knees for me (Little did I know that my parents, the one’s funding my school endeavor, saw it merely as an experiment. Not me. I came out with guns blazing ready to tackle that program. Little did I know that my brain was lacking a few bullets).

     A multiple of 10, 20 has a lot of significance too. More than 10, even. I just got a job pushing wheelchairs at the airport for disabled passengers. That job will sustain me while I wait patiently for another position to open up in my chosen profession. I’ve talked to the powers that be and said position will probably open up soon. A very, very good thing.

     My 20 months in sobriety has also taught me many things. Namely, how pandemic the disease of alcoholism is and its devastating effects on so very many people. A friend of mine posted on Facebook recently that one should be kind to everyone because you have no idea what another person is dealing with in their life, let alone your own problems. This has really stuck with me. It is also in keeping with another new endeavor of mine, exploring Buddhism. One of the central tenets of Buddhism is displaying loving kindness and having compassion for all beings. If my life in the ¾ house has taught me one thing, is that every guy that has come across the doorstep, along with their families, friends, co-workers, even the guy who has to tolerate anyone’s potentially foul mood at the gas stations, is effected by addiction.

     When I write about Him, it’s my mildly schizophrenic way of dealing with that looming part of me ( Looming right now anyway. I’m sure He will shrink, little by little the longer I keep fighting the good fight) that I’ve come to recognize as addiction. What has been truly shocking to me is how many people have come out of the proverbial woodwork to share with me their plight and the plight of their father/mother/friend/brother/lover/you name it. Essentially, that’s why I’ve chosen to be so open about Him, about my alcoholism, about the daily struggle. Not just of not drinking. That’s actually the easy part. But of dealing with life on life’s terms (it took 7 paragraphs for an AA cliché to come out. Not bad. They are, after all, clichés and oft quote sayings for a reason). Writing it down is the best, truest, and really only way I know how to deal with it and doing so honestly, after spending nearly 2 decades as a liar. The fact that I’m able to relate to others my own battle with addiction and then, somehow, give other people the sense that not only are they not alone, but perhaps more importantly a window into the mind of their loved one, that is truly amazing to me. And, for the last 20 months, I’ve had first-hand exposure to the success stories, the tragic reality of the suicides, and all manner of other stories related to the great affliction of addiction and its vast desert of devastation.

     If I have one Achilles heel, it’s my impatience with those who just don’t seem to get it. I’m working on turning that into the compassion I spoke of. It’s an ongoing project, the same way I housemate recently told me that he “just doesn’t have any patience.” This isn’t an insurmountable personality trait we’re dealing with, it’s a hard-fought goal to which everybody has to strive towards to varying degrees. It’s patience that made my family never give up on me. It’s the same patience that I’m employing in own life.

     It’s the patience that’ll get me juggling. Swooshes for now. Maybe by the time 30 gets here I’ll have graduated to torches.

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