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i’ll Procrastinate Tomorrow

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i love the above picture: it’s the epitome of procrastination. Basically, it’s the short version of  “It was easier to put this piece of paper here than empty the dishwasher. I’ll do it later–unless you want to first.”

Procrastination is one of my biggest character defaults. Alcoholism complimented that very well because i could hide behind the bottle to escape doing what needed to be done. Some of my procrastination (like with cleaning) was borne out of laziness; most of it, though, was fear based.

i was afraid of taking mail out of the mailbox, and then i was afraid of opening the envelopes once i finally did. i was afraid to answer the phone and the doorbell would send me into a near panic. i was afraid to do most anything because i knew that if i did it, there was a chance i would fail. So it was easier to not do anything at all. Until it wasn’t.

One of the main reasons i attempted suicide in January 2011 was linked to financial problems. Those troubles originally sprang from—and then were exacerbated by—fear-based procrastination. Like a drunken ostrich, i was burying my head in the bottle hoping my problems would evaporate. In the meantime i was afraid to check my bank account, scared to open mail from my bank, and petrified of picking up registered letters from my landlord at the post office.

In sobriety, i’m learning 1) to recognize procrastination the moment i tell myself “i’ll do that later” and to do it right away, (2) that “rigorous honesty” means confronting real life on its terms and dealing with it as best i can, 3) avoiding an unpleasant action is far worse than doing it.

“Emptying the dishwasher” with consistency means my dirty dishes don’t back up and mess up my kitchen.

A Dirty Joke sobriety recovery alcoholism

A Dirty Joke

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About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home. http://about.me/AlKHall

Posted on November 13, 2012, in Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Nice post, though I think the way it works with those dishwasher labels is that you flip the label to clean when you turn it on, so that it’s clear that it has run to whoever happens upon it next. But I get the point. I have some procrastination issues myself, plenty of them fear-based and flavored with some feelings of hopelessness (of the “what’s it really gonna matter whether this gets done or not, anyway — how much could any of this help?” variety). And I couldn’t agree more. The longer something gets put off, the bigger, uglier and more insurmountable it seems and the more it becomes a problem that poisons my life and leads to more negative thinking. Good for you, digging in and attacking the problem at its root!

    • Miss Anne!

      So nice of you to stop by. Thanks for the tip on the dishwasher label; can you tell i don’t have a dishwasher at home? Thanks for the feedback and support…

      …and notifying me about when it posted! Ironically enough, for the subject, i started this post on August 2 in the States, when i took the picture. i didn’t procrastinate, though! i knew i wanted to write a procrastination post but didn’t know what i wanted to say until last week.

      Anyway, i updated the date so now it’s posting where it should.

      Keep coming back, Kitten,

      Al K Hall

  2. Hey — I got email notification this posted, but it is not the top post on your blog, just so you know. It shows August 2 as the date, too. I saw this posted, so I came to your site, and said, “HEY! Where is it?” LOL. Then I saw Miss Anne Thorpe commented. 🙂 Cute pic there, Miss Anne. 😉

    When I first read this in email, I was really deeply touched by just how hard things were for you. I really and truly did not have any idea how bad it was inside of you in terms of things like this: “i was afraid of taking mail out of the mailbox, and then i was afraid of opening the envelopes once i finally did. i was afraid to answer the phone and the doorbell would send me into a near panic. i was afraid to do most anything because i knew that if i did it, there was a chance i would fail.”

    I don’t think I really understood how profoundly paralyzed you were by the fear.

    Something I have seen with the disease, too, based on the neighbor lady and my experiences of her really advanced state of decline is also just how much the alcohol affects the ole’ brain chemistry. I was thinking today as I was talking to her sister that, in fact, alcoholism is a lot like diabetes. In being an illness, it could have a lot of comparisons with alcoholism. It can develop from ingesting too much of a substance, there can be severe health consequences, including death. Often, diabetics struggle with cravings and a strong desire to eat that which can kill them — but one significant difference is that it works first on the pancreas and then spreads to other organs.

    With alcoholism, it works on the liver and the brain. It’s the brain part that really is interesting, because I think if there is a region of the brain that is the “express one’s inner asshole” region, alcohol hits that very area, lol. I have seen this with the woman, who is very sweet when she is sober, and absolutely obnoxious when she is not.

    I’m taking the long route to saying that it is really tough to fully understand just how much pain alcoholics are in because I think that the bottle brings out a side of a person that makes it hard to have compassion towards him or her. It’s not really that person’s *nature* — it is a consequence of stimulation of a part of the brain that brings that out, I think. Also, I think that it opens up a repression of emotion — pops the cork on all that has been bottled up inside. All the pain comes pouring out. I have seen this with the neighbor lady, too.

    I guess it helps a lot at this point to read here and understand, WOW, you were in some serious pain and fear! I knew it was bad… but your sober analysis of self makes me understand just how much fear there really was and it helps in hindsight to understand better what was going on. People in pain really hurt a lot, and sometimes it comes out in hard ways.

    It also emphasizes what a miracle you are in terms of understanding yourself better through recovery, and know it is better to just empty the dishwasher. 🙂 And you know what? The tools you have been learning and sharing here help me to empty my dishwasher, too. In fact, I do just that at 6:30 in the morning each morning when I wake up and start coffee for the manchild and me. It’s easier to just get ‘er done right then and there. I never used to do that before. Of course that was literal, but in figurative ways I am helped a lot, too, by these posts. You are very inspiring in your recovery, my dear.

    xx
    Celeste

    • Hi Babe!

      Thanks for the great comment! Yeah, i guess i was that afraid… If it helps, you can tell yourself, however much of an asshole i was, that’s how much i was hurting and fearing! Thank my HP that i’m able to do the work necessary to excise that crap from inside me and start the healing process. It’s not easy, but writing about it here and getting comments from you good people is all the balm and salve i need.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  3. Oh, that’s some revealing stuff there matey.. thanks for sharing that with us. I’m sorry to hear that you got so low to want to end things.. but then again I’m just overjoyed that you are writing about it having completely taken hold and turned your life around. That’s just great. You offer so much to me with your exploration of life matters, you really do. And I thank you. You’re amazing!! Take care xxx

    • Hi Mrs D!

      Yeah, about the suicide, i never really hid it (i mention it in my About page and there’s a link to the story there), but i didn’t link it here originally because i didn’t want people to think i was playing “that” card to get sympathy hits. Anyway, i did link it here int his post, so if you’re curious you can read what happened. A small warning: It was originally posted on my Black Sheep Bad Boy Blog, so keep your blinders on while you’re over there!

      Thanks so much for the visit and all the nice things you said, they truly mean a lot.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  4. Procrastination is something I still struggle with, and likely always will to some degree, but it’s greatly improved since I stopped drinking. I too hated opening mail and put off banking until the last possible minute because the worry was too painful. I definitely find staying on top of unpleasant tasks makes them a lot less unpleasant, but still there is that pull of avoidance and numbing. Definitely a work in progress.

    I remember reading about your suicide attempt long ago, but I never really thought about the pain you must be healing from. I think it’s very courageous for you to share your story here because god knows alcoholics know that hopeless feeling where life feels too hard. You are the epitome of hope in recovery.

    • Hi BBB!

      Thanks so much for the visit. i love comments that show how well people can relate. It’s true that just getting sober helped me make great strides as far as procrastination goes, and lately i’ve been more and more able to recognize that thought pattern as soon as it crops up. But, like you, i will always be more or less affected by procrastination.

      Thank you as well for your kind words. i hope i didn’t come across as someone trying to milk that kind of tragedy. i’ve mentioned it before and if i come across as a little flippant here it’s because i assumed i’d mentioned it enough we could all take it as a given. Anyway, i don’t feel very courageous but i do feel a need to express what i went through as honestly as possible first and foremost for myself and my own recovery, but then for the alcoholics who may be reading this and having some of the same issues i did.

      i don’t have the answers, but i know the people who do. Thanks again for your visit!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  5. Al. This series has been home hitting spot on. It always works til it doesn’t. The fuggit button is still active in this house. The procrastination button is active in the most mission critical of situations. The mundane gets handled, everything else catch me if you can.

  6. How have I ever missed this blog?!? This post described my “unrecovered” days as if you have been living with me! Phenomenal post, and, I was pretty much procrastinating on writing my own post when I found this, now I have some inspiration to JUST DO IT! Thanks!

    • Hi there!

      i’m so glad you found my blog and that i was able to strike a chord with you and say something that resonates. You’ve already done one thing today by leaving a comment, so you’re ahead of schedule! 😉

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  7. yup-I get it. thanks again dude. love the dirty joke! now I should get back to something, I know I should!

  8. God has seen fit for me not to have a dishwasher since I have been sober. One of the other procrastination tools I do without is Television. No better way to avoid life’s little responsibilities than getting lost in the picture box while drinking a few (usually a lot) of cold ones. I haven’t watched the TV in over 6 years….coincidentally the house remains clean as does my side of the street! Great post thanks for the defect reminder!

    • i know what you mean about TV. i’ve been watching less and less in the last year or so. i don’t know if it’s age or sobriety, but i’m just less interested than i’d been for the first 48 years of my life.

      i love that expression, “my side of the street”. i’m going to have to add to the glossAAry!

      Thanks for the visit and the comment, G2BG.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  9. Thanks for sharing some of your story Al. Oh yeah, I can relate big time to this one too! I can find a zillion other things to do to avoid the one thing that I don’t want to do. I tell myself that I’m just so busy, that I got a ton of other things done, but the truth is I just put off what I don’t want to do.

    I try now to do those things first, and just get them out of the way now. Like ripping off a band-aid super quick instead of tugging it slowwwwwly.

    • Hi Christy!

      In early sobriety, i felt super stressed and that i was always behind and had to do more. Very scattered and hectic. In an AA meeting, i brought this up and a woman told me that exact same advice: Choose the one important thing to do that day and do it first. i don’t always do that, but when i do, i feel the difference.

      Thanks for your words of wisdom, my friend!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

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