The book started out as a daily account of what was I going through whilst experiencing "Cold Turkey" in my addiction battle with the fags and booze. Okay so there are definitely worse things out there, but I had hit rock bottom.
Out of work, skint, lacking in self esteem and kidding myself that my life choices were sound.
Things had to change.
To cut through the bullshit.
And it saved my life.
A smoker for 25 years, and drinking a bottle wine every night, I realised that my only chance to live the life I was destined for, was to be honest with myself, admit I had made a mess of things, and start over.
And so I did.
With the help of a local Buddhist retreat centre, a 'sangha', or community of fellow meditators, and a regular practice of mindfulness meditation also known as 'vipassanna.'
Becoming aware of my desires, and connecting with a deeper aspect of my being, allowed me to confront my problems. On one level, we are all addicts, craving for one thing or another. Facing that and dealing with that became a natural process, once I was prepared to lay my soul open bare, warts and all.
The crux of my writings is truth.
Of course, I had to start with me being honest with myself, whilst documenting my uncomfortable confrontation with reality ...
Deirdre Devally, at ClareMeditation.com kindly offered to be a guest speaker at the my inaugural Book Launch, on Friday 11th March, at the Suas Coffee House in O'Connell St, in Ennis, Co.Clare
An Honest story
One of the key themes in my book is honesty. Not only being honest with myself, but experiencing self-doubt as a form self-help. This process still exists. I think that to some degree, we all evolve as people via a process of moving through doubt.
I was always predestined towards an interest in Philosophy, particularly the Buddhist Teachings. Meaning literally "Love of Wisdom", I studied Greek philosophy, religious philosophy, and moral philosophy. Some of us grow out of the asking "why?" phase in childhood but for me I always had a burning desire for knowledge and truth. Philosophers have long been preoccupied with seeking the truth. I am no different!
Thus my thoughts and feelings about jacking in the smokes, drinking, and depression are interspersed with my thoughts and feelings regarding issues such as religion, capitalism, society, justice, conspiracies, unemployment, travel, artificial intelligence, problem-solving and social conformity.
Ever since completing my degree in Psychology and Philosophy from Leeds in the nineties, where I immersed myself in drug culture, I had always found it nigh on impossible to settle down into a "career".
Indeed, my life had become a litany of failed enterprises. Some jobs lasted days, some lasted weeks, some lasted months. At the core of this not knowing what I ever wanted to do, or not finding what was right for me, upon reflection, was the notion that I was always running away from myself.
A string of jobs in direct sales, or "door-to-door" followed, and my natural tendency towards introspection became counterbalanced by a self-learned extroversion. It brought me out of my shell and I became a social creature. Not only did it also provide me with plenty of writing material, but it never failed to be interesting, if not lucrative.
Black, white, gay, straight, fat, thin, old, young, rich, poor, I've met them all!
After all, like they say, there's "Nowt as queer as Folk."
Don't Be Like Me!
After drinking every day for about five years and smoking constantly for 25 years I decided that it was high time I quit, but quitting one without the other would be futile, since both habits fed one another, so I decided to quit both.
Without patches, counselling, acupuncture or for that matter, any kind of planning. A new me. A fresh start. A ‘better’ me. I had always intended to quit ‘tomorrow’ but of course tomorrow would never really come, until, I just woke up one day and said "enough" and took control.
In my attempt to stay poison-free I found the surfacing memories of the past and the bubbling desires of the present colliding in a way which provided something of a mental maelstrom, indeed causing emotional turmoil. Paranoid and delusional or insightful and wise, I began to question everything, including ‘Who I am’.
Perhaps as a bit of catharsis, I expressed my recollections, thoughts and feelings via a daily memoir-style diary, which upon reflection, could help others who fight an addiction battle, if indeed, they can identify or empathise with a similar personal encounter.
Whilst perhaps being akin to something of an anti-self-help guide, I trust that my revelations may at least simply provide the lay reader with a contemporary and humorous account of a married, cricket-loving, philosophical, English, football-crazy, Man City-supporting, Buddhist, unemployed, father-of-four, dislocated in economically-deprived but beautiful, rural Ireland.
And fighting to retain his sanity!
My story is non-prescriptive.
I'm not saying be like me, do what I did, look at me. If anything, don't be like me!