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And the winner is….

The washing machine is calling me. It’s beeping away inside as though it’s life depends on being emptied of my snuggie and a bed sheet, plus a random sock I found on the laundry floor. It can wait.

Thursday and Friday I ummed and ahhed about leaving my course. I enjoy it. But I was doing what is typical of me. Once something becomes real it becomes a commitment and I tend to turn into the vanishing Houdini when commitment comes knocking on my door. About the only thing I’ve maintained a commitment too over the years is smoking and drinking – more about that later.

Anyway, I got an email the other day from the course facilitator reminding us to send in our outlines for our short films by the end of today. I read the email. I thought “yes, must do this.” I got drunk last night instead.

Today has dawned all sunshine, blue skies, slightly cold, but lovely. I procrastinated all morning. I did some washing. I watched some episodes of The Simpsons. I cleaned my computer. I deleted Skype and a few other programs I never use, because frankly that is very important.

I even had four cups of coffee while I waited for the washing machine to finish. I didn’t want to start the outline because the washing machine would finish and interrupt me and I didn’t want any interruptions.

Eventually I decided that I either had to drop the course or do the work. Usually at this point I would drop the course. Today, I brought the laptop outside to enjoy the sunshine and shut my browser instead.

28 minutes later I was sending the document to Tim with a note explaining I’d changed ideas and then it dawned on me. It took me 28 minutes to write the outline. A whole 28 minutes. I’ve wasted 2 weeks avoiding doing something that took 28 minutes to do.

It was one of those watershed type moments for me. And frankly, it is a perfect example of everything in my life. I procrastinate, I avoid, I develop an unhealthy obsession with Twitter. I do whatever it takes to avoid doing anything at all, and when I do, it’s done in a handful of minutes.

I sometimes wonder where I would be in life if I hadn’t started this procrastination thing years ago. Actually I dread to think where I’d be. Probably in my own house, possibly published, definitely not wiping myself out every Friday or Saturday night.

I don’t know what it is about alcohol lately. Possibly it’s drinkers remorse, possibly there’s something in it that plays merry hell with my brain chemistry, but the day after the night before I’m as miserable as hell. I sit and mope and feel blue. I eat for comfort and I just generally feel like crawling into a hole and never coming out.

I guess it’s one of the reason I’m so glad that Dry July is coming and I have an “excuse” not to drink for a month. That sounds like a cop out actually. Every week I decide I’m not doing it anymore, every week I do.

When I was young and in the closet I drank to block my feelings. I drank to feel like I belonged to something. I drank because everyone drank and it was what you did every weekend. It was how you made friends, how you socialised. Sooner or later though everyone left the party.

They got married, had babies, bought a house. I somehow stayed at the party. A glass of wine was the way to relax. To celebrate the end of the week or to comfort the feelings of being lost I sometimes have. I thought it made me funny. I thought it made me strong. I know it doesn’t. It makes me stupid. It keeps me detached until the next day when it leaves me feeling like a big miserable lump.

My family has alcoholics riddled through it. Not so much my parents generation but their parents generation definitely had them. For years I’ve shyed away from the term. I still don’t think I am one. I do think I’m a binge drinker however. It all seemed to start so innocently and yet I find that I can’t go a weekend without it. Not every day, but that’s always been my justification.

Somewhere along the way I’ve attached my social skills and my identity to having a wine in one hand, a cigarette in the other. When I write it’s a race against the blur. I write and I drink and throw myself at the screen in a helter skelter fashion trying to wring out something of substance before my brain turns into a soggy mess.

I read something similar in The Artist’s Way, where Julia Cameron describes the same thing. I haven’t had a career as a writer, but I sort of seem to have had a career as a drinker.

The strange thing about it is that if I don’t “see” it I don’t want it. I’ve gotten into a habit of having a box of wine delivered every few months and it sits on my bedroom floor because there is nowhere else for it. Having it sitting there is just too easy. I can reach for it and it’s my hand. I don’t even need to leave the room.

Today I took the remaining half a dozen bottles and stuck them in the fridge under the house. Then I piled a whole lot of rubbish in front of it. I figure if I make it difficult to get to I won’t drink it.

I didn’t plan on discussing this. Not here, not today, not ever. It’s too exposing to talk about it. To even hedge at what I fear on a page that when I press publish will be available for anyone to see or find. I like my belief that I have a facade up the world can’t see through. It’s a load of nonsense. Anyone who knows me, knows who and what I am.

I see this binge drinking as a weakness. Years ago I had a breakdown and saw the depression as a weakness too. I saw asking for help for that as a weakness I’d never recover from. I did though. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve not had depression now for a long time. I sometimes find it difficult to remember just how dark it all got back then.

Perhaps admitting I have trouble handling alcohol is not as big a weakness as I fear it is. Perhaps by writing this someone out there will be waking up with a hangover and see the post and think “crap that’s me”. Perhaps they won’t. Perhaps they’ll think “dude, you need to come up with a better topic for a post.” Who knows.

I sat down to write about my outline, and procrastination and in the process admitted a problem even I can see is getting out of hand. I don’t think I’m at the point of no return yet, but between you and I, I do fear it’s getting closer.

I have goals and dreams and over the years it’s become so easy to dampen them with booze. My hope for this upcoming month of sobriety is to come up with better alternatives. Ones that aren’t designed to hide me away from not only the rest of the world, but from myself as well.

I don’t want to live the rest of my life like this. I want to get out there and experience life, not look at it through a haze of wine fumes. I know that Dry July is only 2 weeks away. Whether I raise any money for it or not, I will do it. I don’t think I will wait for July 1 though. I think I’ll start it now.

I guess the point of this post is that sometimes you just have to be honest with yourself. Whether you think things about you are ugly or weak, you just have to look in the mirror and make the commitment to do better. To live healthier, to make better choices.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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