Today, I changed my phone number.
It may not sound like much but it is a big deal. It's a huge deal, actually.
Minnesotans are the masters of passive aggressive behavior in all of its myriad incarnations. Indeed, we raise passive aggressiveness to a fine art.
I've written before about my struggle to stay the hell away from crystal meth. Addiction is a sneaky son-of-a-bastard, and the mind of one battling addiction is about as simple as chaos theory or finding a Fibonacci sequence in a fractal. My recent battle has not been without its set backs but compared to where I was a few months ago, the momentary setbacks that occur now and again are aberrations instead of impending patterns of doom.
For a queer man dealing with meth addiction, there are two great electronic enemies that can lead one quickly back to using: the computer (specifically online cruising sex sites) and cell phones. Let me be clear that I am not judging cruising sites. In fact, I think sex cruising sites are pretty damn awesome tools for negotiating consensual sex of all types and varieties if the person accessing the sites is able to maintain his boundaries and, in the case of addicts, is secure enough in his recovery to maintain a healthy distance from those that combine recreational sex and drug use. At this particular point in my recovery process, I am a long long way away from being able to safely access cruising sites. And, frankly, that is not really a problem. My cell phone, however, has been.
The cell phone is the other big electronic enemy, and it can be for many reasons. For those that have SmartPhones, the sex cruising sites are readily accessible, in fact, several of them have apps for both Android and the iPhone. For me, that isn't the problem. My problem is and has been the fact that when I am in a good place, I do the sensible thing and go through my phone and erase the phone numbers of folks with whom I have used or that I know use. That's a no brainer.
Here is where the passive aggressive piece comes in.
I learned long ago that I can make myself feel all good and shiny by deleting the numbers in my phone, all the while knowing that deleting the numbers is actually fairly useless, because I know that as long as the phone number itself stays the same, eventually, SOMEONE will text. Dealers are savvy, and if they haven't heard from a former client for a time, they are sure to check in. And folks with whom you may have connected in the past are likely to text or call at the most vulnerable of times. In fact, I have gotten into more trouble with my sobriety from former dealers or tricks texting or emailing at a time when I am emotionally vulnerable or, my other danger time, feeling extremely happy and content (nothing like a little self sabotage!) than from anything else. In fact, I can remember only a couple of times where I actually made a decisions to go out and use, tracked down a dealer, etc. All the other dumb moments came courtesy of a little electronic ditty announcing the arrival of an email, text, or phone call.
I have a kazillion times made the statement to myself or to David that I am going to change my phone number. I even got as far once as calling AT&T, but when they told me that they were out of 646 numbers, but I could keep my 646 if I went into the store, I hung up and never made the trip the six blocks to make the change in person. Besides that one aborted half attempt, I generally have talked myself out of it using every possible excuse from laziness (who wants to go through their contact list and text or call everyone to announce the change) or I decide that I can't possibly change my number because I am waiting for a call back from a job, or it was just posted on a flyer, or it's listed in this or that place and I might miss something important in the lag time between when I get my new number and when I can get it out into the world. Never mind that I almost NEVER get phone calls (texts are my main form of communication), and never mind that almost everyone that has my cell number also has my email address and/or is connected to my Facebook account. So, really, it's not like we are living in 1992 with a landline, no caller ID, using TelNet and the Gopher, and still hearing recordings when calling to order a pizza about rotary dial versus pulse dial phones.
I totally just dated myself. Yes boys and girls...there was a time before the 3G network...called the Pre-iPad Age when typewriters roamed the Earth and men and women wrote letters using paper, pens, and the U.S. Postal Service, the electronic version of Battleship was state of the art gaming, and the only thing an Apple computer was good for was playing Oregon Trail.
Ahhh the good old days. There is a dissertation just waiting to be written about the impact of the Internet age on addiction, sexual negotiation, HIV/AIDS, and the death of the club scene. Ohhhhh Gender and Women's Studies at the U of MN................
Oops...I got distracted...back to the point.
Today, I struck my inner addict a mighty blow. A blessing of having lost/destroyed two iPhones in recent months as well as having my computer hacked and crashed is that I lost my iPhone back ups. Most of the naughty numbers were permanently removed during that process. I triple checked my phone today to make sure that no borderline or possibly icky numbers remained anywhere in it, and then I called Apple and made the number change. The sweet woman on the phone took 15 minutes to FIND me a 646 number (after first telling me that they were all gone, then saying I would have a 347 number, then telling me THOSE were all gone, and I would have a 201 number--who ever heard of a 201 number?---she disappeared and when she returned she had a shiny new 646 number for me. She had to manually look through a spread sheet of phone numbers that (wait for it) are not listed in numerical order. Ummm. Duh. But I was very happy that she took the time to ease my transition a little by keeping me in the same phone number clan.
So, while for most folks, the act of changing a phone number is no big thing...for me...it is letting go of another way that my tricky tricky brain has used to maintain connections to a part of my life that I am trying to let go. They say its progress not perfection, which is basically a sucker punch to the face for this overachieving perfectionist, but learning to forgive myself and give myself the space to make mistakes and then LEARN FROM THEM is all part of this process of leaving behind those things that once served a purpose but now serve only to keep me from being the human being that I was put on this Earth to be.
Thanks to all of those folks that have loved me enough that I had the strength of spirit to pick up the phone and make that change today. I know that I have a stupidly ridiculous long ass way to go...but I am starting to believe that I might actually get there.