J.D leaves the halfway house this week, to take charge of his life. And in the recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, he really steps up to it. With a Stepper. Plus kung fu! Sort of!
So it was adios, amigos to the halfway house I’ve been staying at for over one year four months now.
Alex Hamlyn, a director at Houghton, always said, “You’ll know it’s time to leave once you’ve outgrown the rules.” Mainly, for me, the rules involving check-in times. See, I work from home, have my own little study there (home is where the kitties are at) and I found it jarring to suddenly leave around mid-afternoon everyday so I could make the 5:30pm check-in time.
I often hit my creative stride around 3pm and can keep going, without a break, until 6:30pm or so. Now that I’m in the process of looking for work, I’ve started designing a funky CV in the style of a comic book. (It makes it imminently more readable if you have pictures and pretty words.)
So, it was time to go.
Of course, that means I need to be extra vigilant now that I’m out. A great deal many people relapse once leaving the ‘protective’ environment of a halfway house. That’s because, I think, at the back of their minds they know they’re no longer accountable.
To counter any subconscious sabotaging of my own recovery, I’ve insisted my family randomly test me every week. That means going to Houghton House, which offer this service to external parties, where their highly qualified nursing team handle the testing procedures. And then inform the relevant authorities the results (in this case, Mother, Father, Sister, and Mason & Maxine).
It’s a rather convenient service, because it means my mom doesn’t watch me pee. Winners all round.
Life is a bit messy. Halfway houses help addicts structure their lives, with set meals, check-ins, times you’re supposed to be awake and out the house to do something with your life. Like not sleeping until 11am. Or pm. And then going back to sleep again.
I’m currently not really working. It’s not the best economy for a writer right now. Especially in Advertising; there’s a lot of us throwing ourselves like meat at any wolf with employment opportunities. Undercutting each other, desperately pushing and shoving one another. It’s a Soviet Russia food queue. For canned, spammed beef at grossly inflated prices. Out of an Enterprize factory.
It would be easy to just throw my hands up in despair. Sleep in late. Or take up my old bad ways… I used to believe I was most productive on a narcotic called cat, slang for methcathinone.
It did push me to my limits, that’s for sure. I worked harder, faster, and for longer periods than I do now. It also rained fiery asteroids down on my life, like in the movie Armageddon (Houghton House’s counselling team played the Bruce Will and Ben Affleck roles to save me from myself).
What to do?
I decided, again, as I and other addicts decide on sometimes a daily basis, not to pick up drugs or alcohol. But to find another way. A better way.
I evaluated my weaknesses. Primarily, I’m unfit as f@#%. Here’s a thought, I told myself. Maybe we’d be better at everything we do if we actually get off our @$$3s. It’s not enough sitting on a leather chair in the study, typing away all day.
We know, I said, that cardio exercise enhances the body. By circulating the blood better, by getting the organs to work more efficiently, by clearing out toxins, by improving cognitive function.
I can be as good as I was on cat. Or better. Probably much, much better.
The only problem is, I hate physical exercise so much, I have Western-style wanted posters for its head, dead or alive.
But if I want change, if I want to be able to compete against other writers, I have to be at my peak.
So I got a Stepper. You know, one of those exercise contraptions where you, well, step. In one place. As if climbing stairs. And that’s a hell of an achievement for me: even considering simulation stairs instead of taking the elevator. There’s no simulation elevator.
The Stepper had been gathering cobwebs for a couple of weeks now. After shooing away an alarmingly coloured spider, I took it out on Sunday night. My plan was simple.
Watch some Netflix shows while working out. That way, I could fool myself into thinking I was having fun.
Show of choice?
Iron Fist. It’s a Marvel TV show, and I believe it’s set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Though no Thor or Capt. America crossovers so far.)
Basically, it’s about a guy who returns to New York after he and his parents are believed killed in a plane crash when he was a kid. Except it crashed in the Tibetan mountains, and he was found by mythical monks, he trained in kung fu, he can now kick just about anybody’s @$$, and he returns to reclaim his multibillion dollar company.
(If it sounds a bit Green Arrowish, that’s because they’re both by rival comic book production houses, and they obviously fail at fresh ideas. For one thing, how many billionaire superheroes are there now? “Oooh, my special power is white privilege and losing my parents at a really young age! Suck it!”)
There’s round-house kicks; a smouldering Japanese swordswoman; corporate conniving; cancer-beating immortality; magic golden fists smashing faces; cage fights; a scary, old lady who speaks from the shadows (a change-your-pants kind of scary); AND ninjas riding through the hood in their pimped out car, yo. For reals. X gon’ give it to ya.
(This is, by the way, a real TV show, and not a made-up one, like in my Everyday Addictions blog post.)
Iron Fist is great motivation, because I want to be just like Danny Rand – rescuing his love interest from hatchet-wielding triad henchmen in a tight, martial arts fight in a claustrophobic hotel corridor.
I told myself, J.D, dude, we are going to do this. We will pump this frakking Stepper for the entire show.
Five minutes later, I squeaked, again an internal monologue, let’s just make it 20.
The episode I watched featured a lot of zen-macho. If there is even such a thing. Or perhaps it could be called zenspoilation. In any case, two warriors fighting for higher causes, engage in their own gutter brutal battles. I loved it. Iron Fist provides its own rap-track, but I could clearly hear DMX barking rhymes while I pumped my calves.
Around the fifteen minutes mark, I stepped off the Stepper, desperate for water. It was difficult getting back on. What would Danny Rand say? I asked myself. I pictured him looking at me, disappointed, and slowly shaking his head. I felt more ashamed that being guilted by a Jewish grandmother.
So, I did it. I got back on. Then I lost my balance and fell over backwards.
A cat squeaked in horror and bounded off the couch where I was about to land.
I didn’t want to do it anymore.
C’mon, you can do this. Rocky theme. Montage of me on the Stepper. At different angles. It wasn’t a very interesting montage.
I had to be very strict. It’s necessary if you’re as lazy as me. I really wanted to see the rest of the episode. And my code only let me if I kept in Step.
And I did. There were times I felt like my legs would fall off. Or that I’d lose consciousness and wake up in an emergency room. But I kept at it.
Every time that stupid, traitorous voice in my head said, You’ve done amazingly today. Stop for now. You’ve earned it, I would retort, No way. The whole 53 minutes episode. I’m going the distance.
And I did. I made it to the end credits.
The shower afterwards was the most amazing shower of my life. Not counting the showers I shared water. Obviously.
I guess that’s what recovery is really about.
I never quit.
I went distance.