In my fifth year clean feels like a weird way of putting it when I’m four years and a bit clean.

Excuse the long title and short post but I don’t have much to say today…

While I was on leave recently, we (Josh and I) went to Gold Reef City with my brother, his wife, and Josh’s cousins. At one point my brother remarked that I’m in my fifth year clean.

That strikes me as such a strange way of putting it. I mean, I’m four years and four months clean now, but yes – I’m in my fifth year clean if I want to phrase it like that. I don’t like putting it that way because it would also be technically correct to say that I was “in my first year clean” one day after quitting drugs. Seems a tad disingenuous to put it that way, and it will give some people the impression of an extra year because of the way our minds work.

Clean time, despite the post, is no longer something I normally think about. Every month or year now isn’t a milestone any more. It’s just something to keep a note of so I can tell other people and feed my ego. I’m not working on this, so just living long enough isn’t really any kind of an achievement. It does mean something to other people who judge my success by how long I’ve been off meth of course, but for me, I must be careful not to let it inflate my pride too much. A little bit of ego and self confidence is good, but too much is not. Too much feels more like narcissism.

It’s good to be proud. But I think we all need to be careful not to be too arrogant or full of ourselves. Take a look at the president of the United States if you don’t believe that narcissism is a bad thing.

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I finally watched the remake of It

Of all the movies we went to see in 2017, the remake of Stephen King’s It was not an option, because of the age restriction which would have prevented me taking my nine year old son along. Ever since then, he nagged me to get it. So when it finally became available, I did.

He could not watch it to the end – in fact he didn’t even make it halfway and I had to send him out the room. He was too scared and covering his eyes most of the time anyway.

Here’s the thing… He’s watched many horror movies, including Evil Dead 2013, the Insidious movies, The Purge movies (which really get more B grade and lower in quality with each sequel), the Conjuring movies, and the spinoffs Annabelle (boring) as well as Annabelle Creations (not too bad), and Silent Hill Revelations. Obviously there were others I’ve left out. The point is, none of those movies scared him, but It did.

I was thinking about why that might be… Modern horror has become quite a predictable genre. The movies are like memes, copying tropes and trends from each other. Many of them remind me of jigsaw puzzles the way they glue their cheesy repetitive plots and jump scares together. All their characters are even carbon copies of one another. (With the exception of Silent Hill from the movies I mentioned.)

What made It so much better? Well, for me it brought back so many memories of reading the book, even though I only read it once in my late teen years and I’m 46 now. They changed a lot, and as far as I remember, the children grew up to defeat the antagonist as adults, but that was left out to make way for a possible sequel. They also turned up the gore, but the movie felt like a Stephen King story, more so than the dreadful It miniseries from years back – which everybody besides myself loved.

The characters are all believable. They’re deep, and the relationships between them are familiar. They’re all a little larger than life, but that’s OK because it is fiction. You have children coming of age, bullies, abusive parents, overprotective parents, romance, a child overcoming his stutter, and other bits I’ve left out… all taking place in a town where people go missing and things are clearly wrong, but the adults are indifferent and have learned to carry on like nothing is amiss. And let’s not forget the killer clown. That is a recipe for terror for a child because he identifies with the characters and feels their fear.

I shouldn’t  have considered letting my son watch It yet, and now we will wait until he’s a little older. But it’s a good movie, worth getting the Blu-ray or downloading if you haven’t seen it yet. It isn’t a horror movie, not in the sense of others in this genre, but for some it may well be scarier than the horror movies on circuit for the last ten years.

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Jesus the human sacrifice?

This post may be more than a little anti Christian, albeit written as respectfully as I can. If you don’t want to read that, stop reading now. You have been warned.

I’ve been watching the first Season of Vikings with my mother and my son. Last night we watched the last two episodes, which were especially dark, and frankly unpleasant. I didn’t like them at all, but that’s not the point.

The penultimate episode deals with human sacrifice, including all the gore one would get with ritually sacrificing adults by slashing their necks, collecting the blood, and then hanging them upside down. It was gruesome. There’s a considerable difference between us mentioning human sacrifice, detached as we often are, versus actually seeing it re-enacted.

But it made me think: Just how far has Christianity really moved from its roots? We often hear that Jesus died for our sins, and the symbol of Christianity, the crucifix, is a cross showing him nailed to it as he was crucified as a method of execution. He is often referred to as the sacrificial lamb, and it is thus clear that Jesus represents a sacrifice. A literal human sacrifice.

When you say, “He died for our sins”, do you really think about that means? I doubt it… I think that the average Christian goes as far as seeing it as a noble deed… Noble that he was willing to die for our sins. And that’s where they stop. They don’t see the awful reality, which is that his death is thus a literal blood sacrifice. Do you believe in sacrificing sheep and goats in times of need? If the answer is “No”, then why should you believe a human sacrifice would mean anything more? Even if that human were the son of god?

It doesn’t make sense. This belief that Jesus died for your sins is absurd. It is based on nothing more than this primitive idea of human sacrifice. That’s all it comes down to.

Of course it gets worse. The Christian doctrine gets muddled after that… His death started out a blood sacrifice… Then, most likely some decades after his death, when the gospels were written and then cribbed from each other by men who never even met the man or anyone who knew him, someone decided he was resurrected after three days. So he died and then rose again for our sins. This makes the sacrifice not much of a sacrifice after all. He died but he didn’t stay dead.

Then, maybe hundreds of years later – and I don’t know how long but it isn’t important, somebody decided his mother was a virgin. A virgin birth made the Jesus story similar to loads of others at the time, and thus more relatable to people who might be persuaded to change their religion. Likewise, some Pope or other invented the Trilogy, centuries later. With this, the father, the son, and the holy spirit are all three persons in one. Marvelous, now the son being sacrificed to the father makes even less sense, as he was a literal blood sacrifice to himself. No wonder Christians don’t see the craziness of believing in a religion based on human sacrifice. By muddying the waters and making the myth more confusing, whoever invented the Trilogy made the religion more obscure. He moved the dreadful reality of the blood sacrifice further away, into the realm of an analogy. But it’s still there. The religion is still based on an iron age belief in human sacrifice.

I wish I’d thought of these things years ago as it would have made leaving my religion easier. As it was, I rejected the belief in god because of logic alone. Now years later when I think about it, it is amazing the people still believe in such nonsense.

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It’s time. Time to quit the cigarettes.

At the start of this month, I decided that my carton of cigarettes purchased with the monthly shopping would be my last. But as I’ve edged towards that target, the doubts have crept in and loomed large. Now I’m almost there – on my last packet of cigarettes. I hope I can do this.

You would think that someone who quit meth could also quit other addictions? But up until now, my excuse has gone something like this… Cigarettes are more than just an addiction; they are a significant portion of my lifestyle. I get up in the morning and have a smoke, then I bath, eat breakfast and have another. Then off to work, get out of my car, and it’s time for cigarette number three. Then several times I day I have smoke breaks. In all those times, it’s not just about the smoking. It’s about stopping and thinking about my work, or quiet reflection on life, or something else. Always something.

I started smoking when I was 19. Now I’m 46, whereas I started smoking meth in my mid thirties and quit in my early forties. But when I think about it, the two addictions are not that different. I used to start the day with a hit of meth, and end it the same way. When not at work, I used all the time. And it wasn’t always about the meth. It was about the state of mind it left me in, and about doing stuff in that state of mind. (Tweaking.) On meth, I was under the influence every day, all the time. Cigarettes are similar. I’m never far from my next hit of nicotine, and I’m never really free from it.

Besides all the other reasons I quit meth, I found I’d reached the point where it just wasn’t fun any more. I continued to use it out of habit. But the high wasn’t good. Instead, I found myself trapped in my own head, listening to voices that weren’t real, detached from the world and really not liking being detached. I wanted and needed to be a part of the world again. When I quit meth, it was time. And now, I find myself smoking cigarettes but not enjoying them any more. It’s just something I do, a stinking habit that will be the death of me if I allow it. There is no pleasure in smoking any more. So once again, it is time.

I dread it though…the process of quitting and then craving. I don’t crave meth any more, and haven’t for a long time. I wish there was a faster way to get to this point, of it being a vague memory with no interest in continuing. But there isn’t a fast way… I know that this comes with time after simply quitting the habit. And cold turkey is the only way to go, for me. No cutting down, no alternatives, and absolutely no fucking vaping. I’m not interested in quitting cigarettes and then smoking something else. This is it! But I still don’t know if I can do it. I hope I can…

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Funny how on meth, we see when other people are acting strangely, but not ourselves

This is something I realized years ago, but haven’t written about for a while. Recently reader “juststartedmethlastweek” commented the following:

Ok here goes, we have been up for like 7-8 days now and still going strong. But all a sudden he starts to cry and just begging to his to please help him. He was not only hearing things but also seeing things! I have never seen my husband like this before. He is real jumpy,thinks everyone is talking about him. Can someone please tell me what is really going on. How can I get him to calm down cause even my voice trips him out. I try to do things slow for him so he ain’t trippin more. Any advise for me would be amazing!

I’m glad it was an anonymous comment, so I don’t have to feel bad about quoting it. Anyway, I didn’t reply because I figured she wouldn’t listen to the only piece of advice I can give. (Stop using meth.)

It is kind of amusing to think about what happens when we use meth. It’s all fun and games for the first day or two, but then things start to go awry…

  • Meth only leaves you alert and wide awake on day one. After that, you start to get delayed. You won’t notice, because you’re too delayed to notice, and assuming you’re not using alone, your partner is also delayed. Your reactions are delayed; your words are delayed, and you begin to change from the stage where you couldn’t stop switching focus and talking incessantly, to the way long term meth users behave, which involves focusing exclusively on one thing, like a zombie.
  • After two or three days, you become overly anxious and edgy. You start overreacting to everything. A small disagreement leads to a shouting match.
  • You start to become paranoid. You think everybody is watching you. They may well be, because  you’re not acting normally at all. You might notice your partner is spending too much time in a “zone” where they stop interacting with you and anybody else. They might stare into space for a little too long, quite unaware of the strained expressions on their face.
    Meanwhile, your partner might notice the same about you. We don’t see this in ourselves.
  • After seven or eight days, if you make it that long, all of the above are happening. You and your partner are also confused most of the time at this point, and looking at each other’s strange behaviour, thinking it is drawing attention to yourself.
  • You may or may not experience hallucinations. It starts with pareidolia, where you see or hear patterns where there are none, recognizing voices and images in random audial and visual noise. (And if you use for a few years, you’ll eventually hear voices all the time, without the need for any background noise to stimulate the hallucination.) You think your hallucinations are real (because you see or hear them, with your normal senses, or so you think) but may well realize that your partner is responding to shit that isn’t real… because you don’t see what he or she sees.

Can you see why I didn’t respond to her comment? I saw it too many times in my years using meth… Addicts laughing at other addicts, quite unaware that they look just as pathetic as the others. I don’t know why, but I was a little different to my junkie peers, and became quite aware of what was happening to me early on. (Not that it stopped me for several years though. And I was unaware of this for the first year or two.) I remember once, when I was using in a large group, one of the guys was tripping on something stupid for three or four hours, totally out of it, delayed and in his own little world, and everybody laughed at him – everybody except me. When they laughed, I made this ironic little joke, “Don’t we all get a little delayed?” Only one other person caught the joke. One. So out of seven people using that night, only two were aware of what the drug was doing to themselves.

So when you use meth with your significant other, and notice that they are behaving strangely, don’t ask for advice to help them. You have exactly the same problem, but you can’t see it. And the only answer to fix that behaviour is to stop using meth.

Of course this does change a little when you develop tolerance to the drug. This post is more about inexperienced users who don’t realize what the drug is doing to them. With tolerance comes greater self awareness, I think… Though not always – sadly I knew of someone who used for years and had no idea what was happening to him. With tolerance there also come a whole host of other problems… such as immediately using enough that you disengage from the world and tweak like a zombie, while paradoxically you have more control and the effects are not as easy to detect by a casual observer. Also, you reach the point where the high isn’t good any more – you long for those days where the high used to be good, but you carry on using anyway, trying to get that good high that will never be possible again.

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Just a quick draft between other things…

I’ve been reminded again how important tolerance is. Another person who’s highly religious liked my comment somewhere… and again it made me think about how we can all learn from each other, in the context of recovery.

I can read a recovery post from a religious friend, and then ignore the bits that don’t make sense to me – like where he or she thanks god for his or her sobriety. I can also ignore the bits where they say they are writing because god instructed them to go out and do so. Whatever floats your boat… beliefs like that do not cancel out the genuine progress you have made in your journey through life. Unless of course, everything you’ve done has been due to a placebo effect. I hope that isn’t the case though.

Your belief doesn’t define who you are, despite the way so many of us have this us verses them attitude and tend to dehumanize those whose views differ from ours. Often we can find insights into our own lives from people who have vastly different belief systems and backgrounds. And yet I am so good at chasing them away with my anti-theism!

I don’t know how to stop (the anti-theism). Maybe I can find a middle ground? A place where I write for everybody while still remaining irreverent when it comes to mocking the extremists? I must just stay away from those darn debate groups – you wouldn’t believe the extremes of idiocy there unless you see it for yourself.

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Daddy Bear for nearly two years now

It’s just over two weeks to a significant date for me – 15th December 2017 – and I don’t mean the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I mean the two year anniversary of the court date when foster care ended and I got my son back.

Although I’ve had my share of problems this year, the relationship between myself and Josh couldn’t be better. We are closer than ever, and it has been a joy to have him back. And will continue to be so.

The post title refers to his name for me… When he first came back, after being in foster care from 18 months to 7 years old, although he saw me regularly and used to call me “Daddy” when I visited, over time that became “My daddy” and eventually just “you”. He’d gradually become accustomed to calling my brother Daddy, and his wife Mommy. Although he quickly got used to calling them aunt and uncle, he couldn’t get comfortable referring to me as Daddy. So he came up with his own work around…

The first book he read in grade one featured Goldilocks and the Three Bears, so Josh asked if he could call me Daddy Bear. At first it was just a name he used at home. Then it became his actual name for me, the name he uses to refer to me when talking to others, the name he uses when we go out – the name he uses for me all the time. I don’t mind as it’s endearing. Others seem to think it strange. His cousins and others have made fun of him for it, but he doesn’t care. When people don’t like what he does, he does it anyway, and declares that they are idiots. Definitely my boy and I love him more for it.

So, things are not perfect. Being a single father isn’t what I wanted, and I did try to make that relationship with his mother work out for years after everybody told me to give up. But we make the best of what we have, and having my son, as well as being a parent to him, being the best parent that I can be… is the best part of my life.

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