Rocket Man

Rocket Man
Its been 130 odd days now - no drinking - sober life and yoga three times a week.  I feel pure and stable and calm and so fucking normal - something to be truly grateful for.
You can do it too.  If I can - what are you waiting for?

Zero Hour 9am
And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then

I would finish work after a night shift around 9am - maybe skip out the door ten minutes early if things were settled and the staff were sorted.  Then, in the car, I would speed and stop - speed and stop to the liquorstore and park just out of sight of the front of the shop so it looked as though I wasn't too enthusiastic. 

rocket man elton john
just my job - five days a week
And then wander or amble disinterestedly past the other shops and maybe even buy a paper or some other prop - hands almost trembling with excitement - and then, outside the liquorstore, cock my head and nod a bit and go in, as if I was thinking "perhaps it would be nice to have a bottle of wine over the weekend - and what better time to buy it than right now? - Nothing like being super organized.."  (Now if you know me you might already be aware that I had a stable of liquorstores I used to bless with my custom - mainly because I did not want to be seen as alcoholic - or have the sales assistant look at me with those - "you're here - again?" eyes.)

I'd be inside and look around as if I was disoriented - like I've not been in six hundred other bottle shops - and might even wander around for a bit, looking at stuff I had no interest in, tracing my finger along the front of the bottles, caressing them before we went home together and I let them violate me.  And then drift inexorably toward the $5 bottles of red wine - and pick up two and cradle them with my practiced arms and pay and be gone in moments.

There was never anyone around - like the crime was committed unobserved - like the tree never fell in the forest - like it wasn't really happening.  I was already away in drunken fucking fairyland already.  My anxiety was gone, I had my booze and had nothing to look forward to except the chill loneliness of drinking away my day.

I miss the earth so much
I miss my wife
It's lonely out in space

Twisting the top off the bottle was always rushed and less than satisfactory - like the actual mechanics of the bottle were another contrived distraction getting in the way of my drinking.  FUCK - they put it in a bottle?  Can't these things open automatically or something?  And after a long, sharp glug that prickled the hairs on the back of my neck and had me blinking - thinking it tasted like shit but it's never been about the taste - I'd set about getting everything sorted so I could enjoy unfettered drunkenness for the next five hours or so.

But usually this just meant I would end up catching myself staring out the window, or building a story around a tree or how the hard surfaces of the pavement and soft textures of the grass reflected the sunlight.  It was like that - seeing the leaves freckle sunlight onto the ground and fully immersing myself in the moment - but always drifting back to some safe haven of injustice or blame or past wrong.

And then I would go outside for a cigarette, and lean against the wall and look out on the street and see someone walking past, and slowly I would sink down onto my haunches, squatting so they could not see me.  Like I should be hidden away from the world.

and i think it's gonna be a long long time
and i think it's gonna be a long long time

I'm not the man they think I am at home
I'm a rocket man

to have your babies

I'll drown my beliefs
I've walked away from my career in the last twelve months - it was killing me doing the same thing over and again and I didn't have any passion to work up the ladder.  Plus I was drinking myself to death and drinking at work and it was all bound to somehow end in a big disaster.  So I left in a flurry of recriminations and allegations and now, six months later, the dust has settled and I'm in a really good place.
I've worked my transition to my new project over the past seven or so years, so I have a business to rely on and a new project to launch into.  It is still energizing to feel the tingle of anxiety knowing I am creating a new business from scratch and I have three kids, a wife and a mortgage relying on this kicking goals.  But I'm diligent and passionate and most importantly sober, so all the dials are pointing in the right direction.

To have your babies
Being sober and working on my recovery is all about finding the right times to do things - and doing them regardless of how I am feeling at the time on the day.  There is nothing as comforting as some automaton-like discipline to book end anxiety and self doubt - I know if I just get up, put my shoes on and start walking out the door before I know it I will be halfway through whatever it is and be feeling a lot better.  So I swim in the ocean most mornings, and again most afternoons - just for like five minutes or so - and let the sea water cool my blood down.  It works wonders for clearing my head and re-setting my mind clock.
I'm not living
Leaving my old career was hard - I actually didn't mind most of the things about the work - but I knew inside that if I didn't leave and push on into a new project - it was only a few years away before it would be too late.  It was a real struggle to find meaning in the last couple of years - and my drinking escalated accordingly.  I couldn't go on living like that because I was too scared to move on but not confident enough to actually do it.  Living in an anxious, unfulfilled limbo.
I'm just killing time
So now I am free of my old job, and as all the literature advises - I am dealing with the "dip in income" or the lag between the end of the old pay and the beginning of the momentum from the new income.  It is an anxious, before the storm feeling, but I am working with the feeling, not fighting it, more enjoying and accepting that little tingle in my belly is the feeling of being alive, or being real and authentic and is just normal.
There is nothing to fear except life itself - and by relaxing and letting go the fear is less powerful and I can actually concentrate on what I need to do.

Tigers on a Gold Leash

We crave a different kind of buzz...

Day 89 Sober

This is the danger time for me.  I know my alcoholic self well enough by now - I can work through the early stages of sobriety.  I can roll with the cruel self hatred and cold claminess of detox and waking up with the real, full world there each morning.  I can go to the meetings early on whilst the shame of drunkeness is there with me in recent memory.  I can do it and go through it - have done it a few cycles now.  But then I get around 100 days and I start slipping....


Since Christmas I have been going to Yoga for pre dawn salutes to the sun at 530am-7am.  It is barefaced reality waking up and dressing and then walking into the studio and sitting down for the Yogi to toy with our bodies and minds.  For me it is a revelation - the frustration and pent up anger and hurt justs melts out of my body with each twist and lunge and as I slip back into my Birkenstocks at the end of the class - I feel clean and clear.

I've done seventeen classes in around sixty days - I'm going three mornings a week - and never felt as supple and open in the last decade as I do now.  Plus, I am falling asleep by eight o'clock most nights, not watching TV so much and feeling very in touch with my body.  It is right for me - it is my new religion.  I am yogi.


I go to an outpatient group meeting most weeks, where I get a chance to talk openly and without shame about living in recovery.  There are twenty or so others, most (not so)fresh from detox, but a quarter or so are long term sober and we are getting to know each other.  It is calm and deliberate and the psychologists run the ship with a steady but firm hand.

Each week there is a new cohort of fresh drunks - mostly from the mental health unit but also with legal shit getting them recommended to the program.  And we listen to each other.  It is also working for me.


I listen to Royals - it has a calm, metronomic certainty and shows her bold confidence beyond her years. I love the imagery behind "tigers on a gold leash" - the decadent wastefulness and utter recklessness of that uber lifestyle reminds me of how I used to see myself as a high stepping drunk.  Faking that it was alright, fingernail-biting daylight waiting for the next time to drink, the burden of being drunk all the time - or chasing away the anxiety.


Now I am appreciating with my Yoga how sustained practice leads to a different level of awareness - and how my self-knowledge at Day 89 is completely different to day one, or day 21.  To build on that number and let go enough to feel who I really am is terrifying but basically where I have to go.

I have a new project underway and there is no scope in the business plan for me to be a fumbling drunk not answering the phone.  I know it is all coming together and I am feeling face-to-the-floor humble but also confident that this is where my life goes at this stage.  The time for fooling myself and letting everyone down is over and I am declaring it.


I always keep alcoholic self help books by my bed so I can go to sleep with some little nuggets of sober wisdom.  And there are some really sobering truths out there - I was sharing it with the group about how alcoholism is a relapse based thing - that in the vast majority of cases there is relapse and the patient sort of leaves the situation only to turn up somewhere else drunk again at some point.  I shared that our goal is not to look at it as though we will never drink again - the literature says I probably will at some stage - but instead look at it as delaying that drink for as long as possible - like years. 

The counsellor said with a solemn face that most graduates of the group do not ever come back and the counsellors don't ever really get a firm sense of closure in the sense "Well, there's one we cured" if you know what I mean.  It's like putting little fish back into the ocean and just hoping that they will not be eaten - no too soon anyway.  It was really empowering to know that each of us drunks has that power right there in our hands every single day from here on - whether to allow ourselves to be eaten - or to swim on and live a little longer.