The Player of Games

It’s been a while again I notice, sorry about that. I do jump on now and again, write a draft section on some subject then think ‘that’s a bit specific or dull’ and never publish it. I’m going to publish this one.

The title alludes to some of the content but also as a sort of tribute to the sadly departed Iain M. Banks who wrote a book titled the same, go read it if you like Sci-Fi.

So, The Player of Games why that title Scrapples?

I used to be very good at playing games, in fact I would say it was one of my best skills. The way to manipulate people and situations to my will, usually to get some booze in, to get a situation going that I could drink on or to get into somebodies pants, I got in a lot of pants for some reason and I have no idea why, I’m not exactly a very attractive person, both aesthetically and definitely inside, I’m a very ugly individual indeed inside.

But things have changed, no more games for Scrapples.

I no longer feel comfortable playing games, I most certainly don’t want people to bend to my will. There’s a fantastic section in The Big Book that I will repeat here;

From page 417 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He forgot to mention that I was the chief critic. I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point it out, because I knew you wanted perfection, just as I did. A.A. and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here. When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God’s handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God.

I think what I’m trying to get at here is that I no longer play games, if I am to remain sober I need, no, I have to remain true to myself and more specifically be truthful to you, my companions on this journey through life. But I suppose this opens up a debate as to why we feel the need to play, what is it that stops us just being truthful to ourselves and others? I’m really finding it very hard indeed to bite my tongue on occasions.

Can I add a caveat to all of this? It isn’t aimed at any one individual so please don’t take it that way if you’re sat there thinking it is aimed at you, there is no subtext, no game, no plot or ploy, but I did need to put it out there that I’m not here to be played with (well not in that way ;-) )

I’m just writing another post about my 10 months of sobriety that will be far more interesting . . . . . .

The first day is the hardest

It’s the smell that hits me first. There is a overiding stench of industrial cleaner it’s supposed to be pine I think but mixed with the sweet smell of sweat and an underlying hint of disappointment, missed opportunities and broken dreams it just smells of a life lost. Next the taste, salty, sweet, fatty, the remains of last nights kebab fill my teeth and my breath.There’s a sticky residue starting from the corner of my mouth and meandering across my cheek, I wipe this away with my t-shirt. I screw my eyes tighter, I don’t want to believe I am here again, I want to click my heals and magic back in time and location to somewhere else, anywhere else but here. I open my eyes, all is grey, ingrained with dirt. A fog appears in my vision, I rub my eyes. I am lying on a blue plastic mattress in a cold room barely 8ft square. My bladder tells me I need to go, and urgently. There is nothing else in here except me until I spy the call button, I press it. The red light above the door flashes and I hear heavy steps echo down the hallway to me, keys being retrieved from the hook on a belt, the door opens, this is the first day of the rest of my life . . . . . . .

This happened to me a few weeks ago, in fact 4 weeks tomorrow. Some of you may know the truth of what transpired, suffice to say I have since lost my licence for the next 23 months (if I do an alcohol awareness course, I am aware of alcohol, we know each other well do I need a course to make me aware?) Nothing physical was hurt or damaged, well, there was a small dent in the car but nothing of any consequence. I’m not going into the details or the why’s and what’s, that is to say it has happened, there is nothing I can do to change it.

So why the first day of the rest of my life? Well that day I went home and read a book by Paul Campbell called I’ll Stop Tomorrow detailing his alcoholism and how he set about dealing with it. I read it all in one sitting, more I feel to blot out the shame and sadness I felt, but it went in and I resolved that day to give up, to surrender to my illness and get help. I slept fitfully and infrequently over the next 24 hours, I had to retrieve my car and so to avoid anybody and anything went and got it at 7am on the Sunday, somebody had slashed the rear tyre, I drove it home anyway changing it when I got back. That night I walked into my first AA meeting and immediately felt at home, a cup of coffee was pressed into my hand along with numerous handshakes and phone numbers, lots of welcomes and warmth, oh what warmth these people showed me and acceptance, you’re one of us, welcome, welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.

Lying Alcoholic Style*

I’ve started ‘doing the rooms’ as it is called. This is visiting as many meetings as I can. You’re advised to try to get to 90 in 90 days, that’s a tough ask but I can and will do my best to achieve this.

The one thing I have picked up on the most so far is the lying an alcoholic can achieve. Wow, just wow. Anybody that thought they could make up stuff hasn’t come across one of us! Maybe there is a link here between authors, screenwriters, etc. and the demon booze, the twisting tales we can weave are amazing but that’s another post entirely.

I’ve pretty much lied for the majority of my adult life, ever since I took the first sip of that poison. You wouldn’t the believe the absolute crap I have made up to justify my drinking or the fallout from it and I was going to continue doing this, I actually thought I could continue to just make up excuses for everything in my life. This has to stop. I have quickly come to the conclusion that if I am to get well then I need to change everything about me and I reckon as well as taking it one day at a time not drinking that I also have to stop before I open my mouth and make sure I am not telling yet another falsehood. Achieving this should help two-fold, not only will I stop hiding the dirty little secrets, the ones that my inner drinking me loves to keep and remind me of when I’m ‘in my head’ they’re the best ones, they’re the ones that get me thinking I must run away to the land of no thoughts, no feelings and little contact with the outside world. I also hope I will also be able to look people in the eye for once (I’m terrible at sober eye contact)  and know that I am being open and honest, that I am being sincere. Man this is going to be tough.

There are others, many others that I have lied to, wronged, cheated on and generally treated like absolute crap (including myself) that I will need to make amends to over the coming months and years, I hope I can get the chance.

* Lying Congressional Style is the name of a book in my favourite game Fallout:3 it gives you temporarily increased speech skills