Again, I find myself in a strange place today. My mood and energy levels are very low. Motivation and drive have driven off and gone.
I’m feeling deeply sad. There’s probably a touch of self-pity in there too, but right now it’s hard to separate that out from the “legitimate” sadness.
I quit my job yesterday. I’ve been wanting to do it for weeks, but Russell Brand gave me the little nudge I needed.
He says that when we’re free from self-pity, we no longer allow ourselves to be in jobs where we’re undervalued.
I’ve always felt undervalued at work. Not by my colleagues, but by the boss of the company. It’s abundantly clear in so many ways that he doesn’t care about people, he only cares about squeezing out as much profit as possible.
A few years ago he became noticeably angry when I had the audacity to ask that he corrected my wages to account for the missing holiday pay he owed me.
I realised he resented having to pay me anything at all. If there was a legal way he could get away with paying me less than the minimum wage, he would have pursued it.
I have to watch myself here, because I don’t want to get consumed with bitterness and resentment towards him. After all, it’s commonplace, perhaps even socially acceptable that the purpose of a business is to maximise profits and the employees ought to just feel grateful they have a job at all.
But when you accept minimum wage, when you’re made to explicitly feel like an easily replaceable cog in a cold profit-driven machine, it can undermine your sense of self-esteem.
If I’m allowing myself to be mistreated and paid the least amount that’s legally possible, what does that say about what I’m worth as a human being?
The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was being told by an overzealous manager, “You should be working, not talking” – as if any sign of fun or enjoyment in the workplace must be squashed under the cold hard heel of efficiency.
Anyway, I’m gonna shut up about work now, because I’ve quit and it’s over.
I know my own value. And it’s more than 8 miserable pounds per hour working for a guy who neither respects nor cares about me.
I wrote an angrily-worded blog post about NA yesterday, before deleting it. Long story cut short, a sponsor at NA mistreated a friend of mine. It reminded me of when my own sponsor withdrew his support because he didn’t like the way I was managing my recovery.
Now I’ve calmed down, I’ve remembered that every organisation has some idiots (thanks for reminding me, Tim!). Not only that, but NA is staffed by non-professional volunteers with very little (if any) training.
They’re doing their best, but it should be no surprise when they make mistakes or do things a professional counsellor would never dream of doing.
Suffice to say, I still love the 12 Steps, as flawed as they and their followers may be.
Maybe I just need to learn to be more tolerant and forgiving.
Other stuff in no particular order
I’m really grateful to Gordon, a US reader of this blog, for reaching out to me today. I’m at a real low point and his message brought a smile to my face. Yes, the world can be a shitty place, but there’s a lot of love and beauty and kindness out there too.
I’m grateful also to my Mental Buddy. This week is going to be testing for me, for a variety of reasons. And she’s agreed to help me get through it. Thank you, MB.
And you, Shaun (or should I say ‘Natalie’, or ‘Mel B’?!). Mate, you crack me up. You’re even more crazy than I am. And I love it. Beneath that craziness is a really kind and thoughtful man, someone with a lot of love and loyalty to give. You rock, thank you.
Actually, I’m grateful to everyone who has reached out to me with empathy, understanding, warmth and humour. Thank you.
Today is Day 7 of Russell Brand’s free 12 Day Recovery course. It’s really beautiful.
And this is the point where I finally get around to explaining what I meant by the title of this post, “This shouldn’t be happening”
If you’ve been reading my posts since mid-August, you’ll have seen me change my views about a range of things, especially God and spirituality.
Most recently, I’ve veered back to an atheistic, rational approach. I’ve been telling myself there’s no God and it’s stupid to think otherwise.
I’ve been fighting against all the God stuff in the 12 Steps.
But yesterday and today, as Russell’s videos have covered Steps 6 and 7, I’ve felt a softening in my heart.
The atheist approach to life is so bloody bare and cold and austere. There’s no comfort in it. Sure, it appeals to the intellect, but where’s it’s heart?
By contrast, the spiritual approach is full of love and joy… human emotion.
Lots of people put their intellect above their feelings. I think this is a mistake.
Humans have both intellect (logic) and heart (feelings). We need both of them in equal measure.
If you lean towards one more than another, then you’re missing out!
And so, I find myself opening up to the spiritual aspects of Steps 6 and 7 when I hear Russell talk about them.
They’re full of beauty, joy, surrender, hope… concepts which a purely intellectual mind will struggle to grasp.
So it’s my intellect which is saying, “This shouldn’t be happening.”
I’m a smart guy, by most measures. Clever people don’t believe in God, or spirituality, do they?
Aren’t rational thinkers meant to put their faith into the scientific method? Logic? Reason? Evidence?
Where’s the room for spirituality if you subscribe to a purely scientific approach?
I can’t answer that question, but right now, I’m feeling I need both.
As much as part of me hates the God / Higher Power stuff in NA, another part of me realises that I actually need it.
When I consider secular drug treatment programmes, it feels like something’s missing, no matter how evidence-based they may be.
Humans aren’t pure logic machines. We have hearts. Maybe some of us have become disconnected from our hearts… maybe through childhood trauma, or through an education system which sneers at emotions and regards them as inferior.
Anyway, I’ll shut up now.
My heart is cold, heavy, broken. But there’s also a glimmer of joy, of hope in there too.
I know I’ll be OK.
I know I’m not going to turn to drugs to get me through this low patch. I know I won’t allow the self-pity in my heart to turn into suicidal depression.
I’m past all that.
This is a new me… A “me” that can sense there’s some kind of Higher Power out there, helping me, giving me hope, even if I can’t explain it using logic and reason.
I understand what Russell means when he says, “The world has nothing left to give you. Now your life needs to become one of service to others.”
Maybe I needed to reach this low, as broken and withdrawn as it makes me feel, so that I can begin to rebuild again…
… I’m going to rebuild myself into a life of service, rather than one that grasps after the world, selfishly looking for short-term pleasure.
Here’s the link to the sign-up page for Russell Brand’s free 12 day course. You’ve only got 5 days left before it’ll no longer be free!