One month until I’m another year clean, and in this time I remember some of the bad things that happened to me. I’m going to chicken out of writing about the really bad shit from before (the end of) 2009 when I first cleaned up, and instead write about the less bad shit from after my relapse.
I’d made it to six months clean when my girlfriend joined me, each of us having spent three months in rehab. I didn’t listen to the people who ran the rehab and insisted that she needed long term rehabilitation, and figured three months was enough. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for her to start asking me to get some meth so that we could use just one more time.
So I made it to nine months clean before giving in. I’m not blaming her – we did it together. We used for one week and then stopped. And then, after all sorts of judgement and threats from my family (and lots of stuff I’m leaving out), we continued using. Our son had been returned to us and then removed officially this time, and at the time, my logic went something like, “If you’re going to treat me like I’m using, I might as well use.”
And so everything fell apart. She started cheating on me and then left me, and I couldn’t stop using. I felt abandoned, not only by her, and humiliated, and the only way I could feel good was to use meth. I quit my job even though it was a permanent one, because I didn’t trust my employers. They’d employed me to develop in c#, but to “work in Delphi for the time being”, and after nine months of “the time being” I was sick of it. In retrospect, this was a mistake. (Clarification: “I quit my job” means I found a new one, signed the contract, and then gave thirty days notice. I wasn’t stupid enough to walk out of a job without getting a new one first. It was a mistake because I left a permanent position for a contract one.)
I went into a new job, but was using meth again. It was a three month contract, and should have been renewed, but I messed that up, in three different ways… I confided in another developer that I was using meth again, and he told the manager. That somehow didn’t lose me the job. They were working in ABSA Towers (part of a major bank) in the Johannesburg CBD, and the software was all about risk assessment. They were very happy with my work there, but I did mention the other two ways I screwed that up… They had a strict policy that nobody who had calls from creditors could work for them, and one Thursday, she came back to me… We used together that night, and I went to work the next morning…
Before I left for work, she had the forethought to swap the SIM card in my phone, and remove the bank card from my wallet. (She knew my PIN number.) While I was at work, she went to the ATM, drew out R2000, left my bank card and a note saying sorry on the table, then packed her things and left. (Since there was a different SIM in my phone, I didn’t receive the notification of funds being withdrawn from my account.) I was devastated, and at work on the Monday after that I blurted out the whole story over the phone, and then received a call from a creditor because a debit order had bounced. So my boss told me that very day that they would not be renewing my contract.
Things only got worse from there. She came and went multiple times after that, leaving me unexpectedly while I was at work several times. I used more and more meth, as ironically even though it was the cause of my woes, it was also the only way I could feel good at the time. But I started hearing voices… especially hers when she wasn’t there… telling me she loved me and was sorry, crying and pleading for help, whispering in my ear when I was in a room full of people, and would end up jumping in fright.
Plus of course, meth made me an asshole.
In about April 2011, I started working for a company called Lazercom, a company that did large scale print jobs for advertising. I knew in the interview that I shouldn’t take the job, but took it anyway out of desperation. There was c# work, but also I was expected to learn a scripting language which they used for the bulk of their projects. They were short staffed, and ruled by the hand of an autocratic, arrogant, rude, opinionated bully of a company director, who would force people to work overtime in what was effectively a sweat-shop.
He hated me and I hated him. His name was Mario and he was Portuguese. So I started referring to him behind his back as Luigi (you know, the other Mario brother) and generally I was an asshole. Since he couldn’t stand me but loved his country, I made a point of wearing a Portugal world cup soccer T-shirt as often as possible too. The voices in my head began to get worse, and I spent more and more time in my head trying to determine what was real and what was hallucination.
Then I broke my one and only rule in my years of addiction: Don’t use at work. That didn’t work out so well for me… I’d make excuses that I had to go to the bank at lunch time, then go to a dealer, come back and use meth in the toilet… walking there every few minutes to take a hit. I became erratic, more than my normal sarcastic, and my unhappiness there turned to hatred.
They weren’t happy with my performance, and though I hated the job, instead of doing the sensible thing and looking for something else, I continued working there, while I became more and more unstable. I did get my work done (the c# work) although it was buggy and I probably had more rework than usual. But it was my non progress in the other language that pissed off the director… because I made no effort to learn it.
So he arranged a performance hearing. I knew I would beat it for two reasons:
- I was expected to have made progress in a language that I was unfamiliar with and had received no training from them. So they had no leg to stand on really.
- He was unhappy with the amount of time I spent on the internet. But I didn’t believe that was relevant.
So to prepare for the performance hearing, I downloaded a “web spider” called Teleport Pro. It’s one of those applications that downloads web pages (and entire web sites) so that they can be browsed offline, and can be configured to follow up to a specified level of links. Usually, one would sensibly set it to stop after following three links or so, but I set the limit really high (or unlimited – I don’t remember), and scheduled it to download nothing but crap (I can’t remember what) while I was in the performance meeting. That way it would download the first site after following all links on an article, but also download many other tangentially related sites. (For example, follow the source link at the bottom of an article, which generally leads to another clickbait site, with tons of more vacuous article crap.) They could look at the logs, but all they’d find would be clickbait crap, nothing offensive or illegal. In the hearing, when he brought up my internet usage and time wasted on the internet, my sarcastic reply was, “So what? I’m on the internet right now, while sitting in this meeting room with you.” After the hearing, I simply stopped it and deleted everything it had downloaded.
So while being an asshole, I beat the performance hearing, by bringing up both the lack of training and the internet usage not being any indicator of what I did with my time.
Of course it didn’t end there. I’d spent much time writing on my old blog. In one post, I mentioned Edcon, the name of one of their customers. In another, I wrote jokingly about a bug in one of my programs caused by runaway parallel threads. It was badly phrased, and they took it out of context as a threat against the company. (My writing may have been entertaining then, but it wasn’t any good. I’d start an idea, or have an entire post in my head much as I do now, but then when writing it, I’d lose track of which parts of the plan in my head had been written and which had not – because I never do write it all, and leave subjects started but not finished, or worse yet, write the paragraphs that complete the points made in previous paragraphs that I hadn’t written. So the words didn’t flow.)
Anyway, that resulted in disciplinary hearings, where they insisted I’d made threats against the company and was a danger to them. (I hadn’t and they knew that. It was just an excuse to allow following the proper process to remove me. But because they were dishonest about it, that made me angry. And on meth, I was not a nice person when I was angry.) That dragged out for three months. Three months of sitting at home getting high and earing a salary for it. I did lose the job, of course, and they were even kind enough to offer to send me to rehab and pay for it (via the company medical aid). And I turned that down.
Meth made me a fucking jerk. In retrospect, I could have taken that offer and may have saved myself another two years of using meth. There’s a lot I did wrong there, and even after that, because they had forced me to resign but also demanded that I take the blog down, I continued writing about them. Except then, I called them, “the company with the name that sounds like Loser-Com”.
Oddly enough, after that my meth use was an anti climax. I used less, didn’t break my rule of not using at work, and by 2013, I was using and also sleeping every night, and the voices in my head faded a month or two before I cleaned up for good in September 2013. But in 2011, I was an asshole of note. I wish I could go back and change that. I could have proven myself to be an asset to that company. I’m so much better than that. I could have, single-handedly, written a program that consolidated all their messed up printing projects that really did use the wrong tool for the job, and made their work easier. I have found through the years that overcoming personality conflicts and improving the relationship with a difficult person like that company director, can be one of the most rewarding experiences to have. It involves growing emotionally and maybe intellectually, but I just didn’t see reality at the time.
So many things… I could have done better. Oh well, next month I’ll try to write something nice when I hit four years clean.