Two years clean, at last

Two years is not such a long time, but it’s felt like forever.

There was a time, a few years ago, when I could not imagine ever being without crystal meth. I’d been using it for years and it had gradually taken over every aspect of my life. The first thing I did when waking up every morning was to take a hit. Sometimes, if I’d used more than intended the night before, that even involved buying drugs before going to work. Then make it through an eight hour work day, the first six or so hours being high, and the last two being carried only by the overpowering desire to get out of there and get more drugs.

In my last two years using, I did manage to slow it down a little, and would regularly abstain for long enough to test negative in a drug urine test, which would allow me to see my son. But it was always touch and go… I’d abstain for five to six days, putting myself though the gruelling detox and having to suffer complete physical exhaustion, and the inevitable anger management disaster of the first few days of “recovery”, only to do a test (at a SANCA not in my area so it was “safe” to discard positive results) and sometimes test positive. Then make a lame excuse for why I couldn’t see my son that week, and try it all over again the next week.

I was on course to lose him forever, knowing that I needed to stop but telling myself that I couldn’t. Although I’d slowed my using down enough that I slept a little every night, it was slowly escalating. I was stuck in a cycle that progressed a little worse every month, where each month I owed the dealer a little more and sometimes I missed my car repayments, and even though I was performing well enough at work, I had no life outside of work while the voices in my head had increased to the point of being constant companions.

It was such a day that I took my ex, Megan, and her then four-month old daughter, Aishah, back into my life. I didn’t really even think about it, that I’d be supporting both of them, but was a mess. I was still that person, the meth head, or tik-kop as we call it here, who took a few hits, then got in my car and drove to the station to pick them up. Then I drove them back home and locked myself in the bathroom.

With Megan, Aishah and my mother in the apartment, on that day which I had not known would be my last day as a using addict, I took several long hits. I smoked up a whole gram of meth in those few minutes. And as high as I was, I asked myself “What the fuck are you doing?”. I knew that I could not use with them in the house. The decision was one of simple logic: Using involved spending the whole night, apart from the last two hours when I slept, tweaking myself stupid in front of the computer. I simply could not do that with a woman and four-month old baby sleeping in the same room.

So I took the other gram I had left, and flushed it down the toilet. Then I took a black garbage bag out of my bottom drawer in the kitchen. I wrapped my lolly (the glass pipe used for smoking meth) in newspaper, stamped on it and dropped it in the bag. And thought to myself how funny it was that I’d bought the lolly only the day before. Until then, I’d been using a 12V bulb and a cut off piece of plastic pen for six months. Then I went though every drawer where I’d stashed packets containing “crumbs” of meth, the bowl in the top of the cupboard with bits of broken glass (from all the bulbs I’d broken when trying to take the filaments out) and every other place where bits and pieces of meth paraphernalia could be found, and I filled that refuse bag; then threw it away. And then, as high as I was, I got into bed and went to sleep. And that was it, the last time I used.

It seems funny when I think about it. I didn’t stop because I wanted to stop, even though I knew that I needed to. I stopped because it would be impractical to continue using. It wasn’t the first time I’d thrown out all my shit and sworn never to use again, and it didn’t feel special. It didn’t feel significant. It was just another day.

The next day at work was just another day. Of trying desperately to stay awake. But I’d done it before. Abstaining for up to a week was something I did twice every month, I told myself, so I can do this… I was a bastard in the office. My temper was out of control for about two months. And every day for the first few days, as I drove home, past where I used to meet the dealer, I told myself “I can’t. I can’t use. I want to, but I’m not going to.” Except I didn’t allow myself the comfort of “Just for today”. I told myself, “Not now. Not ever.”

And that was the end of my using days. Just like that. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even celebrate or tell anyone else in my family the truth – not then. I’d been lying for a long time, saying that I was clean when I wasn’t. I decided that for the first year or so, I’d continue telling that lie; then eventually tell the truth when I knew it was behind me. So that’s what I did. For a long time, only Megan and my mother knew when I really cleaned up.

Of course my reasons for not using changed. Within days, the voices in my head disappeared. My temperament changed and one of the ladies I worked with remarked about it. She thought that it was because Megan was back with me, and explained my new laid back personality as “You have love in your life”. The reality is, this person that she saw was the real me, the person that I am when not using drugs. She didn’t know it, but that was the day she met me.

In a way she was right. For the first time in years, I had love in my heart. Love for this helpless little baby girl, love for my son who I could see every week with no feelings of guilt, because I didn’t go out and buy drugs right after seeing him. Love for Megan although there was no romantic relationship there anymore. And love for myself. But mostly, it was about loving others and putting their needs before my own. For me, that was the key to staying clean.

Also, there was no bullshit. No NA meetings, no fooling myself that addiction is a disease, no higher power, no stupid 12 steps. Just the people that I care for and the choice to be clean and sober so that I can be there for them.

I did attend a 12-step outpatient program because I had a court order stating that I needed to do one. But I started that program when I was already 17 months clean. I can honestly say that the program was a complete waste of time, one that had nothing whatsoever to do with my success in staying clean. I haven’t been to a meeting for six months once again, and don’t miss that nonsense in the least.

Things got more difficult earlier this year when Megan and Aishah left. The way that Megan did it was wrong. She deceived me into paying for her to go on “holiday” and then didn’t return, although things didn’t work out as she planned and she is now living in Johannesburg.

It was hell to get used to them being gone, especially Aishah whom I loved and treated as my own daughter. But I got through that, and my relationship with our son improved. The foster care was renewed for only another six months, three of which have already passed. Our relationship is better than ever and he will be back with me for good by the end of the year.

We also do see Megan and Aishah regularly, and she is still as attached to me. I’m still sad at the stupidity of her mother, but there’s nothing I can do about it, and I treasure the time I do get to spend with the little girl. She is, after all, Josh’s half sister.

This week I am at home, after going to the doctor yesterday, feeling lousy and run down. It turns out that I have severe hypertension, and my blood pressure is 150/110. But I’m on medication and will have another check-up on Friday. Hopefully the medication is working and I have nothing to worry about. It would be ironic if, after dong everything to get Josh back, I died young due to health issues, so I am doing what I need to do to get my health on track.

On the bright side, tomorrow I get to pick him up early. Normally on Thursdays I collect him after after-care, but tomorrow I will collect him directly from school.

So here’s to another two years clean, and another, and another and another… Fuck “just for today”. This is for life.

Posted in Addiction, Family, Methamphetamine, Parenting, Recovery, Relationships | Tagged | 1 Comment

Conspiracy theorist sees end times warning in Justin Bieber video

There’s nothing left for me to say. Just listen to this madman make connection after connection as he watches a video that included random submitted fan art. It created the perfect medium for someone looking for meaning in the meaningless to find it as he watches the video frame by frame. How fascinating is the human mind, that it can come up with such nonsense?

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Just three of my pet peeves

I don’t know if I will ever finish the 3rd part of my recent series because it is too much to type, and some of it might offend some of my old co-workers who have read the first two parts. But I will try. My intention is still to finish it before my “two years clean” post because the last phase of my addiction and my cleaning up without rehab is relevant to understanding my current views, particularly my contempt for 12-step programs and the widely held mistaken belief that addiction is a disease. So finishing that is, in a way, a prerequisite to the milestone post, which I also haven’t started writing, though I know what I intend to write.

In the meantime (again), here are some things that piss me off… Courting down from least to most offence taken.

3. What the actual fuck?

Sometime while I wasn’t paying attention, this phrase became the go-to phrase used by many when sharing anything about which they disagree or are bemused. I don’t know where the phrase came from, maybe something I missed in pop culture, but it doesn’t matter. (My searches tell me it conveys a greater sense of incredulity or is used when the magnitude of the reaction warrants an exclamation of greater significance than “What the fuck”.) But I don’t care for the explanation – it’s still a phrase that doesn’t make sense.

What the actual fuck? Actual, as opposed to what? A fake fuck? It seems to have replaced the previous dumb phrase, “Epic win/fail” as the number one statement made frequently by pretentious jackasses with little imagination. “Just sayin” is still right on its heels, in terms of common usage by the unimaginative, but that one doesn’t get to me quite as much – maybe because those who use it are quite clearly childish and stupid. Many who write “What the actual fuck” are popular on social media and have many followers who are apparently as vacuous as themselves. It’s like one big happy family of idiots.

2. Islamophobia

Lately, one of the Facebook discussion groups I follow is filled with hatred for all Muslim people. It goes well beyond the normal name-calling of “religitards”, which is bad enough, and routinely calls them goat-fuckers, raisin-heads and worse. What amazes me is that atheists, who are supposed to be free thinkers and good critical thinkers, can be prone to such blatant and offensive hate speech.

When you make gross generalizations about any group, it never does any good. I know that many people are upset because of ISIS, and it is disturbing that the strictest adherents to many religions turn out to be hateful bigots and racists, sometimes going all the way to being terrorists, but this does not apply only to Islam. I’ve had many good Muslim friends over the years, and the hatred for all Muslims I see so common on the internet lately is disturbing. (It’s a growing trend, not confined to atheists, and I wonder how serious and deeply held the anti-Islam sentiments really are.) I criticize Islam, as well as Christianity and other religions, but saying hateful things about the people who practice those religions is another kettle of fish entirely.

People are locked to their religions because of indoctrination, because of the culture they grew up in. The religious, despite their piety and their declarations of faith, remain trapped in their religion because it gives them a sense of fellowship, of belonging and of purpose. I don’t believe that most of them are serious about the actual details of their theistic beliefs; mostly they don’t think about that, don’t like to be challenged but just want to live day-to-day without questioning what they’ve been taught. In that sense many are intellectually lazy, and it is easy to stick to your belief despite common sense telling you that it makes no sense. Questioning it opens a can of worms that most are uncomfortable with. If there is no god, maybe there is no soul, and maybe there is no life after death, maybe you’ve spent inordinate amounts of time investing in the belief not only that you will not die, but that you will be reunited with all the people you loved and lost, and it is difficult to let go of that belief. So it’s much easier not to question all of these things.

I believe that this is what lies at the root of many who cling to their religion, and if I’m right, even if only sometimes, then it doesn’t matter what religion those people cling to. In fact many people do switch from one religion to another, for example due to a romantic partner with a different religion. What this also means is that the reasons to hold a prejudice against any religion are not valid, because those people just happened to be stuck in that particular religion. Which religion it is, is irrelevant.

Likewise the fundamentalists would probably be fundamentalists regardless of their religion. They’re just those kinds of people. It’s like assuming that the Catholic church causes paedophilia. It doesn’t. In reality, paedophiles find their way into positions and institutions where they have access to children, and where they can get away with it. The church unfortunately is guilty of trying to cover it up though. But you’ll also find paedophiles in other churches, schools, preschools, boy scouts, girl guides and everywhere else where they can get to children.

Those nasty things you know about the Quran may not even be common knowledge to most followers of Islam, in the same way that most followers of Christianity are not aware of all the hatred and malice to be found in their own holy book. (Though you wouldn’t say so these days, Christianity forbids women from being preachers, recommends the stoning of new wives if they are found not to be virgins, and condones slavery.) They seriously believe that their morals came from their god, as we see frequently in their apologist arguments. While their arguments from morality are fallacious, they do indicate that the people making those arguments are predominantly good people. Selective belief, right down to selective knowledge of what’s actually written in the “holy” books, is the cornerstone of all Abrahamic religion. It is all but required, to deal with the perils of cognitive dissonance entailed in believing in scripture that’s rife with contradiction. As an atheist who has rejected all religion as man-made and thus not divine, I naively expected all atheists to think this way, and thus to be critical of religions but not the religious. Am I so wrong to expect this?

There isn’t any global conspiracy to spread Islam and take over the world forcing Sharia law on all of us, and even if there is such a conspiracy, it is not coming from the vast majority of Muslims worldwide. And while there may be despicable things in the Quran that you can find to use against them, such things can be found in the Bible and Torah as well. I despise religion on the whole, but do not hate the people who are religious.

1. Judgemental jerks who tell me how I should or shouldn’t use social media

A while back I shared an article on Facebook, one that questioned the existence of the “historical Jesus”. An old school friend who happens to be a theist commented on that post and a short discussion ensued. Then someone else who isn’t even in my friends’ list chimed in…

“People should keep this sort of thing off Facebook” is not a valid complaint when you aren’t even a “friend”. The person is question was also an old school acquaintance, one who was never terribly open-minded and clearly doesn’t like having his closely held beliefs questioned. The fact that he isn’t a friend even though I sent him a friend request years ago indicates his judgement and attitude already, and he has no business telling me what to share or not to share on my feed (which only came to his attention because a mutual friend commented). Furthermore, the comment that was directed at somebody else with passive-aggressive, indirect and generalized hostility towards me in my own thread, worded as “people should…”, was just plain rude and out of line.

I don’t follow anyone’s definition of what social media is about or supposed to be about, and although I use it for sharing photos of family and personal achievements, it can be and arguably should be used for so much more. My online presence isn’t that strong to begin with, but it is all about learning and growing intellectually, which among other things involves questioning my own closely held beliefs as well as that of anyone who reads my writing or my shares. If you don’t like that, it isn’t my problem. But I don’t need any narrow-minded hard-working idiots telling me what should be shared on my feed. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, prick!

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Jesus the literal King?

I have a draft of part three of my recent series… it’s already longer than usual although only half written, it’s not very good, and I’m not in the mood for writing it anymore. I don’t know when I will be again. But in the meantime, I have something else to share…

I was reading an article on skeptical site Doubtful News, about the “Jesus’ wife papyrus” being in the news again, when the absurdity of one of the comments smacked me upside the head… This, by an author named Ralph Ellis:

If Jesus became High Priest, as it says he did in Hebrews 7, then the Talmud says he must have two wives (II Yoma i ). And his two wives were Mary and Martha of Bethany. Note that this Bethany residence was called the House of Simon.

The reason for the secrecy?

a. Mary and Martha were actually Mary and Martha of Simon Boethus, the richest ladies in Judaea, just as Prof Robert Eisenman has proven. This is why Mary and Martha lived at the House of Simon. The Talmud records that Mary Boethus got a million gold denarii dowry when she married here husband. And the name of her husband? ….. Jesus, of course – Jesus the high priest of Jerusalem in about AD 62. So the Church not only does not like the great wealth of this Mary, they don’t like the late date of their marriage either.

b. The second reason for the secrecy is that Mary and Martha were the sisters of Jesus. This was not unusual in this era. King Agrippa II married his sister, as did the Patriarch Abraham, and Queen Helena of Adiabene-Edessa, and Simon Magus. And Simon Magus was the primary pupil of John the Baptist. And St Paul (Saul) asked to have a sister-wife in 1Cor 9:5. (you need the right Bible to see this).

See ‘The King Jesus Trilogy’.

Yes, he has written three books on the subject. More madness can be found at his website.

I just find it all very fucked up. Here I am struggling to finish writing a series of anecdotes, and this lunatic and conspiracy theorist has written three books and is commenting on random websites about his pet subject.

If you go to the trouble of reading Hebrews seven, you’ll soon see that the context is about Jesus as high priest in Heaven, sitting at the right hand of the father, not a literal high priest. There are many verses of the Bible that apologists like to perceive selectively as allegory when it suits their argument… But this is not one of them. In this case, it really is not meant to be taken literally.

Anyway, Ralph’s comment quickly descends the slippery slope, and from what I’ve read online, his theories get weirder and wackier further down. Yep, there’s a rabbit hole at the bottom of this slope that leads to further madness. Apparently he translates ancient languages too, but doesn’t know what he’s doing.

So if you’re in a mood for some accidental comedy, research Mr Ellis’s pet subject. It looks like an amusing and entertaining waste of time, to be sure.

Edit: I still haven’t continued my series because yesterday was a busy day. But this conspiracy intrigues me… There’s a lot I didn’t state, some of which is assumed implicitly by Mr Ellis’ comment: The literal reading of an obvious metaphor to make Jesus a high priest after his death assumes that he wasn’t crucified. Then the illogical leap that according to the Talmud, he required having two wives. This is clearly nothing more than Mr Ellis’ crazed logic used to rationalize how his version of Jesus was alive and well decades after the biblical accounts. They’re clearly conflating two different people named Jesus, one of which may never have existed in the first place. But if you investigate his conspiracy further, it gets crazier. Also, I’m not sure where the conspiracy leads, because if taken at face value, this Jesus was not divine. Yet the man’s writing is referenced by others, who like the idea of Jesus having descendants, as “evidence” for their own elitist, confusing and often racist narratives featuring themselves as living descendants of God. So they accept that he had descendants without realizing that the conspiracy also undermines their belief that they are “divine” somehow. Conspiracy theorists truly believe some bizarre and contradictory ideas, and are apparently unaware of how funny their beliefs are to others.

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I don’t believe in karma, but stupidity always has consequences

A short interruption from my current series…

I’ve seen mixed reactions to the Ashley Madison hack news… Some people are judging the users, some are not, so here’s my two cents… Fuck ’em!

As someone who was cheated on in the past, I know how much it hurts. But everybody should know that nothing on the internet can be assumed to be safe. Nothing. If you’re going to cheat on your spouse, you shouldn’t have to pay for it anyway, and you shouldn’t be leaving a documented record of it in anybody’s database. Idiots.

Interestingly, the hacked data that has become searchable online only allows searching by email address. I find it funny that some people are saying something to the effect of “They should at least have used alternative email addresses”. But it’s not as simple as that. It would be easy to download the full data, import it into your own database, and then allow searching on other fields… maybe combinations of first name, last name, country, and so on. The fact that the current ones only allow searching by email address means nothing.

I didn’t know who Josh Dugger was, but he sounds like a despicable person, who still has far more money than he ever deserved to make. I take my hat off to the hackers. Well done!

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Getting some shit off my conscience – Part 2

Seeking the new job

Last time we left off where Piggs Peak was about to close down. I had mixed feelings about it… They had given me a chance despite knowing about my addiction, although I lied to them in the second interview, maintaining that I was clean and in recovery when I was not. However, I performed well enough on the job and was well liked there. (As opposed to some jobs in the past, where I was taken aside and given the “You’re a nice guy. We like you but…” treatment.)

The mixed feelings were not so much guilt as a feeling that they had to some small extent taken advantage of me. I was offered a salary a bit less than ideal with the promise of an increase in a year, and after a year the company was in trouble. But we were all given two months notice and generous severance packages. They paid me out as if I’d worked there for a year even though it was just under that. Before that, they’d given away lots of things. My old home PC was given to me by them, and I’m still using the office desk I got from them for free.

Two months was loads of time for me to find a new job. Everyone there was given the opportunity to have a “free” interview at a rival online casino, Osiris Trading (to whom they’d sold given the Piggs Peak brand), but I really wasn’t interested in working for another online casino. They’re all the same, all use Microgaming software and all probably have the same horrendously designed relational database. Of course all such casinos have different web sites and other software, but I really wasn’t interested in working for another casino where I might have anything further to do with the Microgaming backend. I figured that one year of stumbling around their database was enough, and if I worked for another casino I’d get roped into more of the same, so I put myself on the market and went for interviews arranged by recruiters.

In less than a week, after several frustrating interviews, I received the call from a company called GoldenRule. (A company to be avoided, by the way.) They were recruiting for a team to start at Multichoice the following month, April 2013. The “resource manager” (their fancy name for a recruiter), Charmaine,  just about told me that I had the job already, over the phone without even meeting me. Also, she offered me R10 000 more per month than what I was asking for, and I was asking for R3 000 more than I was earning.

Of course I was high, so I didn’t register that something seemed a bit fishy. Anyway, I went to meet her and got the job. The money was good, but seriously, starting as a member of an entirely new team, actually two teams of fifteen people, where nobody is interviewed properly, was not the best decision I ever made. (Then again a salary jump of R13 000 per month was welcome. Thanks for that, you stupid, unethical cunts.) At the time, I figured “R13 000 more meth per month. Hell yeah!” (Stupid, I know. But that’s what it came down to at the time.)

Those crazy people I worked with

So I showed up for work, and found my way to the office where thirteen of the other new contractors had gathered. If you’re keeping track, there was supposed to be fourteen. Lester was late, so he missed the entire introduction. But that was only the first of many things that Lester missed. With all of us gathered, it came time for us to introduce ourselves. As we all sat around a large boardroom table in a circle and introduced ourselves, I was reminded of NA meetings. I thought it would get a few laughs if I introduced myself as an addict. So when it came to me, rather than saying something about what I did or where I came from, I announced, “I’m Jerome. I’m an addict.” And it did get laughs. (Little did they know, I was as high as a satellite when saying it. But those were the kinds of things that amused me then.)

Two people really stood out that morning: Lester, notable for his absence, and Muhammad, the SCRUM-master who wouldn’t shut up. He even asked inappropriately if we’d all get free DSTV. So we were supplied with our notebooks and split into two teams. Unfortunately for me, my team included both Lester and Muhammad.

Introducing the team:

  1. Muhammad, the fake SCRUM master with verbal diarrhoea, who was also both a racist and misogynist. Not to mention an idiot.
  2. Jerome. (That’s me.) Senior developer. Lead developer who was high on meth every single day. (For the first six months there. Thereafter, I cleaned up and have remained clean ever since.)
  3. Lester. Idiot. Also an addict. High on I-don’t know-what. Possibly crack cocaine and alcohol. Tries to pass himself off as a developer occasionally. Title is Senior Developer.
  4. Edwin. Developer. Lazy as all hell, and did not understand what he was doing most of the time. Title is Senior Developer.
  5. Suzan. Tester. Also an idiot.
  6. Tsholofelo. Senior Tester, and one hell of a sense of humour. Lazy as sin.
  7. Tondi. Business Analyst. Hard-working and honest, plus she baked the best cakes. I love Tondi. (Well, I love her baking.)

Let it be noted that Lester was a class of idiot that I have never encountered again. But for the first month, he had to play second fiddle to Mohammad, whose idiocy almost had the whole team fired.

After we settled into our office, I spent a few minutes alone with the ladies. For whatever reason, maybe because I was too high to think straight, I told them all about my addiction. But I lied and said I was in recovery. I still feel bad about that. It was a pointless, unnecessary lie. (Even if it did come true in a few months.) But they believed me and respected me for it, and it started the friendship. The lie turned out to be a good move, even though it was bullshit.

We did no work for weeks. And Muhammad, he drove us all mad! He’d give these ridiculous lectures about SCRUM, the same lecture every day, 4 hours of listening to the lunatic drone on. He also had run-ins with the ladies, accusing them of stealing from him, and he told us a bunch of nonsense such as, we could not speak to anyone in the business about requirements; it should all come via him. Then he fucked it all up because he couldn’t understand the requirements and everything he told us was wrong. Also, that’s not how things work there. Not at all. The SCRUM master is just supposed to run the morning stand-up meetings, raise impediments with the other teams and management, and do whatever the fuck SCRUM masters are supposed to do – not what he was doing.

Anyway, he was fired after about a month, at which point we started paying attention to Lester. Like, why does this guy show up for work at 11AM every day, three hours late?

The Lester Chapter

Lester was a special case… He showed up frequently smelling of alcohol in the first month. Then after that, he didn’t stink anymore, but he’d arrive for work dead tired, go for a three hour lunch, and return full of energy. Let’s put this into perspective: I was high. Lester was on a whole other level. He’d arrive five minutes from the end of a meeting, then respond with aggression if anyone tried to talk to him about work. Instead he’d browse dating sites and other trash, occasionally laughing out loud and telling me something incoherent about whatever nonsense he was reading. The man was a menace, and it didn’t help that I was also high and paranoid, and this imbecile was drawing attention to all of us.

I was glad in a way when Lester was late. It meant that I could “steal” most of the development tasks in our morning meetings, rather than risk him doing any of them. The one time he managed to get hold of a project deliverable, I had to reject all his code (which was downloaded and didn’t work at all) and rewrite it myself from scratch. He then argued with me, saying that all developers download code. (They do not!) This was for a simple job that had to back up some files on the file system, a trivial programming task that took me five minutes, for which he had taken three weeks. Somehow the other developer, Edwin, did less than 10% of the work, but I was OK with that too, because he wasn’t terribly competent either. Edwin was a smoothy who spent much of his time on the prowl looking for girls to cheat on his pregnant girlfriend with.

We’d have meetings with teams that had to explain their implementation of an API, which we then needed to use, and Lester would interrupt them every 20 seconds with questions that betrayed a distinct lack of understanding of even the most basic tenets of software development. (Calling them stupid questions was a major understatement.) Then he’d argue with them, get up out of his chair and aggressively take over the meeting – standing in the front of the room while writing on the whiteboard and babbling gibberish. Did I mention that Lester was a menace?

At one stage Lester didn’t have a car. (Actually he never had one, but after the first couple of months he moved closer to work, within walking distance.) So for a while I used to give him a lift. In trying to get him to admit what his drug, or more likely drugs of choice were, I told him all about my fondness for methamphetamine. But he didn’t open up to me, and I regretted informing him of something that he could use against me. One day, as I drove him to the taxi-rank, he explained his great idea to me. We, as in him and I who wrote line of business software in C#, could build intelligent androids, which could be prostituted out… You know, like the ones in the movie AI? And he was serious. What do you even say to that? What?!? I didn’t say anything… I just stared at him, dumbfounded, and thought to myself, “You fucking idiot! You’ve got to go.” Did I mention that Lester was a menace?

Lester also had some peculiar beliefs. The one that really stood out was his belief that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS… The Peter Duesberg madness. Though Lester didn’t actually know the details of the conspiracy he believed in or the name of Peter Duesberg, that didn’t stop him from talking about it. He’d get excited and talk about the “world’s most famous biologist” and his “discovery” that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. Actually this was the first part of my plan to get Lester fired… just bring up the subject. It was too easy to trigger him into giving his speech about it, so I did it several times right before going to lunch. I’d return in an hour and sure enough, he was still going, telling the whole team that HIV isn’t real. And they’d be arguing with him, which just made him even more excited about his pet subject. He was oblivious to the insensitivity of his tirades, which turned out to be highly upsetting to one of the ladies, who presumably had lost someone she cared for to HIV.

Step two of my plan to get rid of Lester was to approach Elmar, one of the Multichoice employees who was our “build-master” and in middle-management. I asked him how best to gather evidence and prove that a member of the team, namely Lester, wasn’t doing any work. I also mentioned that I believed Lester was using drugs at work. Of course Elmar’s answer wasn’t important; all I wanted to achieve was to bring Lester to the attention of management.

I must admit, in retrospect, that my behaviour was not normal for me, simply because I was high on crystal meth every day. Getting rid of Lester, rather than getting myself the hell away from that extremely dysfunctional team (and maybe get some help for my own addiction) became a game. It was fun, and it kept me amused.

Step three was to confront Lester, to throw every stupid thing he said back in his face, which meant verbally attacking him every time he opened his mouth. He had the verbal skills of a retarded child that had been dropped on its head repeatedly and was more aggressive than anybody I’d ever met, so anything he retaliated with would just result in him drawing more attention to himself. The whole team hated him, Multichoice management were aware of him, and finally the incompetent GoldenRule key account manager became aware of him, and there really was no choice but to get rid of him.

I went into a meeting with the key account manager and Multichoice 2nd in charge for that department, and opened up with “You know, a few years ago, I also used to show up at work at 11AM every day, but I was high!” A report was done on the whole team’s TFS history, all our code check ins, and it became quite clear that I’d done all the development work apart from a tiny bit done by Edwin. All Lester achieved in his three months there was some code churn… Modify a project file one day, revert the changes the next day, and so on.

And so dear Lester departed.

In retrospect, I don’t regret getting that idiot fired. He had it coming. But the way I did it was wrong. Making it into a game where I manipulated everybody for my own entertainment was pretty fucked up, but I was high…

This post is getting too long, and we’re only up to around June 2013. I’ll have to end it there. In the next part, I’ll write about life after Lester, an anecdote or two about some fun and some not such fun times with that team, and what it was like when I finally cleaned up. I hope you’re enjoying reading this as much as I’m enjoying writing it.

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Getting some shit off my conscience – Part 1

I don’t expect anybody to find this interesting (because it isn’t) but it has been on my mind for a few years now. I could never get it out because on my old blog, I lied about my sobriety. For some time I convinced myself that I was “in recovery” when I really wasn’t.

I’m not going back to the beginning, but instead I’ll start my story around the beginning of 2012. March or April – I don’t remember when exactly. I was in active addiction, and had been for about a year, so I was using a couple of grams of meth every day, and looking for a new job.

Actually I’ll go back to just before that… I’d worked for a small contracting company, as a c# developer in ABSA Towers in Johannesburg. At that time, my ex was less stable than I was. She’d be between myself and some other guy. She’d come back on a Thursday, and we had a great time and used together. Then before I went to work on the Friday morning, she took my SIM card out of my phone without my knowledge, and “borrowed” my bank card. While I was at work I thus did not receive the SMS notification to say that R2000 had been drawn out of my account. She politely left my bank card on the table at home though, which I then found when I returned home. While I was at work, she’d packed her things and left, with my money… So I mentioned this to someone at work on the Monday, without realizing that the contracting house had a strange policy of not keeping anyone around who had any debt issues. So my job ended. Just like that.

And thus I found myself on the job market. Not handling the situation at all well, I used meth every day to feel better and stayed awake up to seven days at a time until I crashed. And there I was at an interview at a company called Piggs Peak, as high as fuck. Somehow the people doing the interview really liked me. The interview went about as well as interviews can go, and I went home happy. Until the next day.

That night, I celebrated my excellent interview. (My state of mind then was: Miserable normally, but happy when high, so I was high most of the time. It seemed like the logical thing to do.) Then, after another night without sleep, I got the call at about 11AM the next morning. The recruiter started the conversation with “Is there anything you haven’t told me?”. I played dumb but that didn’t work. Apparently the people who interviewed me liked me so much, they called every company where I worked before, and Googled my name, and found out all about my history with drugs.

They were “concerned”. So concerned, they wanted another interview with me immediately. Immediately, as in 12:00, in one hour. So what could I do? I did what was in my mind, the logical thing to do: Have another hit of meth. And another. And another. And another. Then fuck it – finish everything I have. Then get in my car and drive there… ridiculously high.

So I sat down with three people interviewing me, and I lied through my teeth. As high as I was, I smiled politely and sold myself like I never had before. And told them that I was clean and had been for about three months.

And I got the job. I’ve felt guilty ever since, because I was brought up not to lie. In fact, until I was a little over thirty years old, I could not lie. That’s one thing addiction taught me; to lie like a pro. I can still do it, but I don’t because I value honesty. That’s part of what this blog is about: Honesty and truth. (As well as not writing personal details about people like my brother and violating his privacy. But the point is, I’d been thinking of rebooting the blog for a long time anyway.)

Anyway, I performed well enough at that job, and was well liked by some people. Not all, but some. In fact, the owner of the company at one stage offered to personally bail me out of all my debt. I didn’t take his offer, and never told him why. The reason of course was that I knew I would spend his money on drugs, and I was not willing to do that. (I had to draw the line somewhere.)

Eventually that company closed down, because of other issues that are irrelevant here. But I’ve felt bad about that lie for three years now. Next time I’ll pick up the story about a year later, and part two will describe the crazy times of my last nine months in active addiction. (The last day I used was 4th September 2013.)

Posted in Addiction, Methamphetamine, Recovery | Tagged | 2 Comments