Just today

I wonder if it is true that when we think back on things we've done ... things we find hard to comprehend in terms of our own behaviour, we fall prey to the temptation to re-invent history.

We re-cast ourselves as victims in scenarios where perhaps we were far more complicit than we'd like to admit ... and re-cast ourselves as heroes in scenarios where our behaviour fell very short of that mark ... and then if all that feels more comfortable we decide that that is what actually happened after all.

Am I the only one that does this? I hope so ... or maybe I hope not because then I'll know that it's not so unusual. Just another human failing. Ho hum.

If we can't undo what's done we can at least learn to be more honest with ourselves over what's gone on. Not with the intention of re-hashing old ground, nor with the intention of giving ourselves unnecessary grief over mistakes made, but to see if there are lessons to be learnt.

I guess it's part of taking ownership ... a phrase I've come to hate because of it's over-use in my workplace. Task ownership is the latest greatest buzz word bandied about at work ... our new corporate cult demanding of us all that we sing from it's hymn sheet. I sing off key at the best of times and never more so than when subjected to coercion.

Sometimes I feel deeply uncomfortable about things I've said and done. I am glad that my moral compass appears to be re-aligning itself towards values I recognise as being sustainable. I wish it were easier to forgive myself for letting it become so badly mis-aligned. I always knew better even when I didn't do better.

Recovery is an exhausting process, particularly in the early stages. It's a roller coaster of emotions, feeling kind of OK one day and then totally not OK the next. Some days I can't believe how hard it is. At times like this I recognise all over again how prone I am to turning and running away rather than face difficult truths. It's easy to forget to rationalise your thought processes when your brain is screaming nonsense at you.

And then I remember. Just today. I only have to do the work of one day today. Thank goodness for that!

OK as a boy.

William is 5 years and 65 days old today. He told me so on the phone this morning. He is learning how to use a calender at school. He loves to tell me about the stuff he's been learning. He knows a willing listener when he sees one. Smart boy. I am one of his greatest fans. He wants me to come over after work to play trains.

We are master train track builders we two. William has a huge love of anything related to trains and has amassed quite some collection of tracks and locomotives over his short years.

Every week we spend a happy couple of hours working on our elaborate layouts ... double switch backs, reverse direction signal points, long span bridges ... William loves using these technical words indicating that he ... we ... are in the know. A club of two. Secret railway passwords are tossed between us as a form of code. It's his way of signalling to the others and particularly to his brother that this is William & Jos time ... no trespassers please.

Trains are set in motion in precise timings so as to facilitate a crash or derailment. Then we deploy our emergency vehicles and follow a pre-set protocol of who gets rescued first and with what. It's the familiarity and repetition that William loves. He can recite exactly what is supposed to happen next and wants it to be the same as last time ... down to the very last detail.

I know how comforting the familiar is and mostly I oblige ... except I sometimes introduce some very slight variation. Not always on purpose either. Switching the signals out of sequence or neglecting to swap the points over and suddenly the trains are in different places, arriving unexpectedly at stations before the road guard gates have been lowered. Coal trains are unaccountably shunted on to the passenger line and before you know it we have total chaos.

I love to watch Williams face as these unexpected events unfold. He is the picture of concentration as he strives to bring order back onto his railway network. He issues orders and expects me to carry out my tasks promptly and without complaint. One day he is going to be an awesome manager. He juggles things mentally incredibly well for a boy of his age.

What really astounds me though is his emotional control. William is a boy of extreme emotions and is given to expressing himself fully in this regard. His tantrums are legendary even in our somewhat explosive family. But in his role as captain of the railways William becomes an altogether different boy. Calm, deliberate and incisive.

Still he is a 5 year old boy. When I arrive after work I hear him behind the door as I fumble around for my keys. He chants ... "Jos is here Jos is here Jos is here" over and over. Oliver is becoming more sophisticated in his greetings these days but William is still at the launching himself full pelt at me stage. We are all one another's number one fans.

Sometimes one or other boy asks me which one of them I love the best. "That's simple" I say ... " I love you both beyond measure". "What's measure?" Ha! You can never ask too many questions can you?

William says I'd be OK as a boy. It is the highest compliment I've ever had from him. He looks over to see if I am pleased. I am. Very.

100 days of living

Have you ever had to teach someone how to do something that you always thought was quite straight forward ... at least until you had to show someone else how to do said thing?

The approach I take is to break down the task into incremental steps, thus defining sub-tasks. I break these down in turn into sub-sub-tasks and keep doing that until we reach the comfort zone of the person being trained ... and ... eureka!

I just love to see mental cogs turn and then engage as the light dawns in their faces. It's great when they realise that far from being a complex task beyond their capabilities, it is in fact just a long sequence of relatively simple tasks that build one on the next one. If carried out in the correct way and in the right sequence the results are almost assured. That's the beauty of engineering.

Yesterday I was 100 days sober.

100 days is not a long time and in my own experience it is still very early days in what I hope will at long last be a lifetime of abstinence rather than something I play around at ...

... hoping it will right itself by itself ...

... by which I mean allowing myself to drink from time to time thinking that it's simply a matter of allowing an allocated number of days to elapse and I will have magically gained a better handle on all this. Forlorn hope and how stupid must a person be to think that? As stupid as I've been I guess. Such thinking has invariably led to my many lapses and relapses.

It's strange to find myself back in the kindergarten classes of recovery once again. Somehow even through the lapses and relapses of the last few years I thought I was further along on this journey than I turned out to be. That's OK, I am glad to be here ... especially given the alternatives on offer.

Dealing with an addiction is both simple and not. Life seems quite chaotic and unpredictable when we're held tightly in it's grip. Given time we start to see that whilst life itself is unpredictable addiction is so predictable as to be tediously so.

Simple is not the same as easy ... it never was. So why do I equate the two? Some thoughts are hard to dislodge.

Addiction is a bit like having a toddler living in your brain trying to dictate your life on it's terms ... whenever it doesn't get it's own way it throws all it's toys out of the pram and you end up fighting this thing within yourself. Some days all you can hear is the screaming.

It feels like a form of madness at the time and even in those times when you win through ... well even then you can end up feeling depleted and like a fool all at the same time. And yet I've rarely met another addict who really was a fool, except perhaps in regard to managing their own addiction.

I sometimes think about how I could have been so stupid as to have allowed myself to get in so deep. Well ... I think perhaps it's time to let go of that question. I allowed it and I can't undo that. I didn't mean for it to happen and that has to be enough of an answer for now.

Each day is simply a sub-sub-sub task in my process of recovery. I am grateful for today.