Part One - The Morning After
The first thing I notice is that I'm a little dizzy.
It's not totally unlike the feeling I used to get after a long night of sound mixing in a closed pub. In those stifling little corner bars the half spent alcohol, pushed out of a hundred mouths, hangs like an unseen miasma clinging to you, infiltrating you, unwanted and unnoticed. By the end of the night you are probably drunk from inhaling that second hand alco-vapour, but it presents as a slight giddiness - a minor affectation of the physical senses.
Today's feeling isn't that exactly. Along with the sensory alteration there are also psychological, emotional and spiritual changes.
Sitting in my room it seems somehow different. It's still filled with audio equipment and musical instruments, gadgets and electronic paraphernalia, and I look at my beautiful camera and wonder, "How did I get that? Where has that come from - I don't remember deserving that."
I'm momentarily transported back to my past world of self-imposed and directed impoverishment, despair and deprivation. This also is only a skin deep feeling. I feel completely able to escape or avoid any potential consequences of last night's deed, and accept that I do have a lovely camera, that I somehow afforded it, that it's mine and that I have managed to keep it out of hock.
In some quiet, understated way I feel like other people again. I see behind me, in my latest shed of skin a tidy, false superiority that's better left there. I am just a regular guy, a human being, flawed and vulnerable like the million others in this city walking 'round the place just trying to get on and live. I have nothing to prove by standing on some upper shelf of uber-decency and self restraint that is in fact a plank of nothing more than hubris, braced by jealous self denial and regret.
Maybe in my next skin I'll be moderate enough to understand that most of us just do our best. Just to wake up and do our thing is success enough - there is no perfect.
Rather than shame, I feel a deeper knowing of myself. Right now a hair of the dog looms large on my horizon; a crude and obvious beacon. But is that tantalising glow just there to warn me off the rocks that crouch in hungry wait below? The propensity to endow those "rocks" with a consciousness of their own has been passed along to me by "the fellowship" - a group of struggling humans on the slippery slope of addiction - do I still qualify? Am I in that much danger? Or am I just a guy that had three beers on Saturday night, and will have few on Sunday? Is my life at stake?
I had drifted away from that community as my sober years advanced, and I don't feel that I'll be back - I still don't want the patronising platitudes and cookie cutter attitudes towards my life and choices that I've made. But I'd be wise to keep some of it, at least, in mind as I move toward my future. Like any philosophy or religion it has its wisdoms and its practical truths that can apply to me if I so choose.
A few phone calls have come in. People are concerned and care about my wellbeing. I've exhibited worrying behaviour that's out of character. It's embarrassing and awkward. Somewhere inside me I do love the fact that they actually care about me, but my natural point of view is that I find it belittling and unnecessary.
I seem to have done all the 'devil / angel' back-and-forth, and now have come to some kind of crossroads where it's less about morality and 'should or shouldn't', and more about a simple choice - do or don't.
Part Two - The Second Day
On the face of it I have gotten through the first day without a revisitation to the dark side. That in itself is a good sign, though hardly even beneath the surface lies an insidious subversion - I have "made a call".
Currently I am waiting the return call from an old friend - a woman, which is massive danger for me - who will let me know if and when she is coming to take me with her down that dark and twisted left fork. She has been at times particularly flaky, and knowing that, I half suspect that this will not eventuate, perhaps a little hat tilt to obscenely lame precaution - a built in obsolescence not to be relied upon at this early stage in the running lifecycle. She's also a genuine and caring person who may decide not to 'let me' get involved in things, and yet, not a patronising soul, who'll understand I have my own mind. I suppose on some level I've placed her in a difficult position without even thinking - so it has started - the behaviour, the selfish headlong drive to self abandonment and maybe to destruction.
Strangely, my immediate errand is to take the whipper snipper over to the shop to get the line rewound.
After having that attended to, I return back to the Manor and finish off the trimming, which had been truncated a day or two ago by the end of the line. All the while I have the sense of killing time. I am transported back to the days when I was an addict - the same physical feelings, the same strange limbo-like mental state.
In the shopping centre minutes later, I bumble around like a spaced out schoolboy. Nervous, forgetful, bumping into people and making no eye contact. Coincidentally, at the supermarket service counter I run into someone who went to the same rehabilitation facility as I did, back in the day. For whatever unknown reason I quite inappropriately commence a back rub as she tries to punch in her PIN. The instant shame spiral as she recoils in horror seems fitting, and brings a tear to my eye as I apologise. She gives me a kiss on the cheek and says "It's ok darling, see you later."
Part Three - The Missing Days
Part Four - The New Approach
Having travelled along the rough and potholed road of what has just passed, a new approach, a certain kind of freedom has appeared like a desert oasis, rising languidly before my bleary eyes to offer cool, and calm, and safety.
Gone are the shackles and the strict controls, the assurances, the protocols and razor fences. I have found the strength to walk untethered in my world, alongside others of my kind who, though they may not understand, do profess to love me.
So now, back to my problems, back to the hard times that still wait for me at home and in my head, my heart, my mouth, my bed. They haven't changed or withered, nor somehow sailed agreeably away on this wind of change; they are compounded by the precise amount they would have been without the missing days.