Taking a break

I’m currently having a bit of a break from my three-meeting-per-week AA schedule because, to put it bluntly, I got the shits with it. I’m still talking regularly with my sponsor, members and friends, but the meetings were and are doing my head in.

Maybe I’ve been going to too many of the same meetings and hearing similar things from similar people too often?

It’s not that I don’t have anything to learn about my own sobriety and addictive nature, far from it. But, currently, it is the form and structure, the ritual and symbolism of AA, that I’m focussing on rather than the stories themselves. Maybe Antze was right all along?

The repetition of the same old tropes has me bleeding at the ears, when only a few months ago those same sayings (Keep it Simple! Easy does it!) were a salve for broodiness and fresh insecurities about the future. But, rather than chuck AA in the bin, I’ve just backed off my participation for the moment, and that’s ok

I’ve been particularly miffed at the religiousity of some members in AA. This is in addition to someone close to me purporting to have had a born again conversion while, at the same time, behaving like a bit of an arse.

Maybe its the recent, well-publicised shifts to the right in Australian political discourse, where a Prime Minister has been brought down in part by a government chasing the votes of disinfranchised, mostly white, Christian, poorly educated people living in rural and regional electorates in Queensland. This is a reflection of a broader shift internationally, where people who feel like they have not benefited from globalisation, who have lost their jobs to technology or competition, or who haven’t had a wage increase above inflation for years, are embracing populist candidates.

Leaders are appealing to humanity’s worst instincts, like nativism, and racism, whipping up unfounded fear and anger at African migrants in Melbourne, then cleansing their moral responsibilities at Church on Sundays. Our new PM, an evangelical, touted his role in establishing Australia’s inhumane refugee policy as a reason for his elevation. Like locking up decent human beings fleeing war and persecution, children and adults, with no release date on tropical gulags is a worthy credential for leading a nation.

I will say this: I avoided going out in Canberra last Wednesday and Thursday night in fear of encountering maruanding members of the Government’s Christian Right.

If you are reading this and suspect my God-botherer resentment is back, then you would be correct!

I’m not going to drink over it today. Someone else’s beliefs aren’t my business. But I live in a democracy and have a vote, and so do you (I hope) 🙂

Lost legs

I went back to visit my wife on the tiny island where she is working. I was anxious and had been wondering how things would go, with many things needing to be said. It was also a chance to have a much needed break from a job that I can’t decide if I love or hate.

The old guys at the market were still in their usual spots, drunk by 10am, same as always, lurching between bags of carrots and onions, swigging bottles of hopi, an island home brew. One poor sod lost his legs and then his bottle in a shattered mess of glass and man. Some people treat him kindly, like a sick brother. Most keep their distance. Some teenagers laugh.

It’s easy to feel that you’re losing your legs too after a day at sea, and certainly so after eyeballing a 15m animal underneath it, backed up by a posse of her mates.

They say people have two types of responses to seeing adult Humpback whales with nothing other than a bit of glass, some rubber and a plastic tube, flippering wildly. Some laugh. Others cry. I did both and simultaneously fogged up my mask and inhaled water: not recommended.

Then a 3m swell hit, I got some good waves and things felt good.

Inevitably, some conversations have to be had.

Try as I may to change, I am an Australian creature that thrives at home in routine.

I also realised I am distinctly not suited to the expat lifestyle and culture. We could say the alcohol doesn’t agree with me. But it’s more than that.

My wife and I grew apart and are now very different people to the ones who met a decade ago. We are no longer compatible and have separated.

AA taught me that I have no right to try to change other people, just as other people have no right to try and change me. AA does not say that recovering alcoholics have to roll over and appease people, because doing so creates resentments. I’ve realised that my tendency to want to please people, including those I love, erodes my autonomy.

Speaking of significant changes, my four-legged best friend became three-legged on Monday. He’s dealing with it well, doped to the eyeballs on Opiate Allsorts, having his every need attended to (including being hand fed poached chicken and rice by his very concerned human, omnomnomnom).

Poor bastard lost his leg chasing a tennis ball.

Things wear out as you get older. A snapped Anterior Cruciate Ligament in a knee became surgery and  a post-operative staphylococcus aureus infection that basically ate the knee joint from the inside out. These things happen in human surgeries every day around the world too.

Anyway, I’m grateful to report that, after a bit of a tumultuous run, I seem to be still putting one foot in front of the other, with my three-legged mate beside me and lots of two-legged ones for support and company.