“I won’t” – The positives of negative reinforcement

I’ve written many times of the things I will or have missed about drinking when contemplating sobriety. Today, I’d like to write about the things I won’t miss about drinking. After all, these are the things I need to remember, most of all.

To begin with, I won’t miss the hangovers that crippled me, sometimes for days, and the ensuing depression that lingered another two. From now on, every single day of the week will belong to me, to my unaffected brain.

I will no longer spend Mondays at work wanting to cry through a comedown, or staring listlessly at the computer, unable to concentrate on anything but that black mood that engulfs me.

My partner will never again be woken by me pouring another drink, then crashing into walls on my way to the bathroom, where I will throw my fingers down my throat in a vain attempt to vomit – and then drink the glass I poured.

I won’t have to shoulder the burden of guilt I feel after every binge.

I won’t miss my alarm waking me on a work day, my sandpaper eyeballs scratching against my eyelids as I weave my still-drunk way to the bathroom, to sway in the shower, holding the walls to stay upright.

I won’t miss the smell of alcohol sweat soaking into my clothing so that I avoid standing close to people all day – not the easiest task when you’re a departmental secretary, responsible for admin duties for 6 other people.

Nor will I miss that nasty film that coats my tongue and throat, despite numerous teeth-brushings and mouthwash rinses. That cloud of alcohol that hits my nose each time I breathe out, or answer the phone, reminding me of just what a failure I am.

I won’t miss the alcohol-acne that erupts on my face or the extreme sensitivity of my skin the day after drinking. My entire body feels bruised and broken, and I sweat and shiver and need a sleeping pill to knock myself out until it wears off.

I will never again speak harsh and crazy words to my partner, words he can’t even confront me about the next day because my memory was wiped out long before I uttered them.

I will never again lay my hands on another person or have to live with the flashbacks of doing so. It is still something I am unable to forgive myself for, and an image I will never erase from my memory.

Never again will I feel the need to obliterate myself from the lives of my loved ones, running both from their hurt and their anger, as well as their love and concern for a girl who doesn’t feel she deserves it.

No. From now until forever, my life will be mine. My decisions and their fallout will be decisions that I have made with the full knowledge of doing so. My relationship won’t be a rollercoaster of the deep love we share during my sober moments, which are then destroyed or halted by the alcohol dive. Instead it will be a true partnership, one where I do not need to be taken care of, or watched closely lest something go wrong.

Above all, I will finally be able to trust myself and no longer be a burden to those who care about me.

Any messes that I make in my life will not be soaked in whiskey or wine. The eradication of guilt from those moments will mean I can deal with them, instead of hiding from them.

And maybe, just maybe, without the influence of alcohol, my brain will be allowed to grow up. To learn new coping skills, to recall words, books, songs I loved but lost between the broken circuits.

From now on, I will actually live, rather than passively float to and from the shore as the lying peace of alcohol lifts me on a wave before dumping me heartlessly on dry, grating sand.

For the first time in 9 years, I will be in control of my life’s destination with no poison to influence that control.

I am more than ready to leave my past behind me. My future is finally mine.

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Australia: Where Big Brother hasn’t simply returned to television

With each day that passes, our freedoms are being stripped from us in silent back rooms by powerful and wealthy men (and possibly women with a smattering of glass in their hair).

Last month, the Attorney General set up a Parliamentary Inquiry into potential reforms of national security legislation. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has prepared a Discussion Paper which is available on their website.

The proposed reforms seek to force ISPs and phone companies to keep a record of every article you’ve read online, every item you’ve bought online and every email or text message you’ve sent for a period of two years, which is to be provided to the Government at its request.

The recurring argument of “if you have nothing to hide, it shouldn’t matter” is redundant.

If you knew that someone could use every bored or curious, late night internet browse, and every drunk, angry or joke text message that you’ve sent over the past two years to support any claims of terrorist activity, would it change the way in which you used these devices?

As someone who sometimes has difficulty sleeping and spends a lot of time watching serial killer/conspiracy/secret organisation documentaries, it certainly makes me pause. Used out of context, my entire internet and text message history would be damning.

When I read Orwell’s 1984 as a young teenager, the prospect of a world such as that horrified me. That sense of horror has never left me. The torture of being locked out of your mind lest you be reported for committing a thought-crime kept me awake many nights throughout that book, and in the days that have followed.

Personal phone and internet use has always been an extension of thought, whether it be blogging such as this, or seeking answers to the myriad questions we constantly have in our minds.

I don’t have anything to hide, I haven’t committed a crime and nor do I intend to, but the mere knowledge that the fact that I downloaded a book on the Order of Skull and Bones whilst watching a documentary on 9/11 conspiracies could possibly, one day be used against me to substantiate terrorism claims feels rather akin to being placed under surveillance by thinkpol, to me.

I don’t think I’m important enough to ever be in that situation but you never know what the future holds.

It is certainly true that laws need to be updated to reflect the gargantuan leaps technology has made, but that should not include mandatory data retention of internet/phone usage of every single Australian citizen on the off chance that one of them is a terrorist.

The risk of these powers being abused either by a Government (ours or otherwise) who wishes to silence someone, or by a criminal wishing to use the information for their own nefarious purposes are far too great to allow these legislative reforms to be passed.

On Monday 20th August (yes, this coming Monday), submissions regarding this inquiry close.

The Australian Greens have set up a submission form, pre-populated with a suggested letter which can be overwritten should you choose to do so.

Alternatively, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security website has information on how to prepare a submission as well as accepted formats.

I strongly urge you to enter a submission. Your very life and identity could be the casualty of complacency.