Second Act

Shawn O'Shea

Shawn O'Shea
San Francisco, California, United States
June 25
Producing Artistic Director
Writing Man Productions
I'm just a simple guy who spent many years harming myself by drinking too much alcohol and ingesting too many illegal (and legal) drugs...particularly crystal-meth. I found myself walking back into a 12-step meeting on August 26, 2005 after a two year relapse. I have been on a healthy path of recovery ever since. I share my life here in the hopes that others who are struggling with their own addictions can find just a little bit of hope in what I go through on a daily basis as a clean and sober man. If you would like to talk, you can always find me on Skype....I will also accept any and all friend requests on FaceBook. (any and all postings in LIFE IN RECOVERY FROM CRYSTAL METH, BOOZE & AIDS may be reproduced in part and or in whole in any form of media conditional on the proper citation of the blog and its author)


JANUARY 13, 2012 5:19PM


Rate: 1 Flag

              Procrastination has been my companion for as long as I can remember.

              Unfortunately, rarely in all the years we have been together has any good come my way from our relationship.  Occasionally, waiting until later to do ‘it,’ whatever ‘it’ may be, has worked to my benefit:  one time in particular I walked into a clothing store during the final two hours of their buy-one-get-one free suit sale only to meet a salesman who said that he would be very happy to help me, but if I wanted an even better savings, I should come back the following Friday when an even better sale was going begin.  More often than not, however, I would forfeit my wants, and sometimes my needs just so procrastination could have what it desired most – my time.

              Procrastination has convinced me to skip many a dose of my HIV meds.

              Procrastination is what kept me from making an entry in this blog from May to December.

              Procrastination is why some cute, single guys I want to ask out on a date are in relationships by the time I get up the nerve to make a move.

              The most recent example as to how I’ve been negatively affected as a result of my tendency to put things off happened the night before New Year’s Eve:  several months ago I took my keys from their hidden location at the Dark Room Theater since a dear friend of mine who knew where they were was in the middle of a relapse (I don’t really think he would have used them for nefarious purposes, but I felt more comfortable taking them from there).  After a month or two, I had intended on taking them back to the theater and putting them in a new secret location.  All during that time, the spare set of keys remained set on my kitchen table.  Every once in a while, when I was headed to the theater, I would get to the lobby of by building and think to myself, “I should probably go back upstairs to grab the spare keys to take with me now.”  Procrastination always gave me the same response, “Nah!  Why go back up the stairs now when you go to the Dark Room all the time?  You can take them the next time.”

              That went on from November to December 30.

              I was on my way to a 12-step meeting via public transportation.  When I stepped off the final bus, I realized my jacket seemed a little lighter.   After checking every pouch on my person, I realized that my keys had slipped out of my pocket and were currently on their way to parts of San Francisco unknown.

              Several months earlier, I would have been able to go to the theater and get my spare set and let myself in my apartment…..since that set was currently at rest in my kitchen inside the locked apartment, I recognized I had a bit of a problem on my hands.

              I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do – I feared that since it was the start of the holiday weekend that the management office would be closed and I would surely have to wait until Tuesday in order to be let back into my apartment – which would mean going the entire time without my meds.

              When the panic subsided (a little) I remembered that I could always call a locksmith, but, again, I assumed because of the weekend that it was going to cost me a mini-fortune; luckily I still had some cash in my pocket left over from the recent Christmas trip to Las Vegas.

              After a nearly a two-hour wait, I was back in my apartment thanks to the efforts of a locksmith who was kind enough to knock ten-percent from his fee.

              Mitch used to tell me that any experience in our lives, good or bad, was not a waste so long as we learned something from it.

              I’ve learned that I get well when I take my meds and sick when I don’t.

              I’ve learned that I feel mentally and spiritually better when I write.

              I’ve learned that the risk of asking a guy out, even if he says no, only improves my self-confidence.

              The one thing that Mitch neglected to tell me (I believe only for the fact that he wanted me to learn on my own) was that once I have learned something, my life would benefit greatly if I applied the respective lessons to all aspects of my existence.

              Since my med compliance has improved, I have significantly increased my CD4 count (they went from 4 to 28) and gained 24-pounds in one month.

              Since I have been writing again, both this blog and my novel, The Monkey Swings at Midnight, I have been much more centered and noticeably happier.

              Since I realized that rejection is not the worst-thing in the world, I was able to ask a cute guy I met at the clinic for his phone number, which he happily gave to me.

              Even though I have yet to get the spare set of keys to the theater (which now that I find myself writing this, I will probably do today), I have started to do most of the necessary things of my life (cleaning, bills, etc.) on or before they are due.  Granted, I am still not perfect at it, but I am a whole lot better than how I was.

              The part of all this that I am still trying to figure out is what is the difference between procrastination and sincerely being diverted away from the intended and or required result.

              What is the difference between not writing one day because I don’t feel like it and not writing for one day because my schedule truly did not allow for it?

              What is the difference between not going to the store to get a gallon of milk because I don’t want to turn off whatever movie I am watching and not going to the store for a gallon of milk because it is pouring rain outside?

              What is the difference between cancelling with my sponsor because I don’t want to admit I did not complete the last assignment he gave me and cancelling with my sponsor because another appointment is running late?

              Some differences are clear: just the other day I had intended on waking up early to do my laundry. However, when I woke up, I did not feel well and knew that I needed to spend the day in bed to rest.

              The other thing I have difficulty figuring out is, when several tasks need to be completed all at the same time, how do I choose one over the other?  (Of course, that can probably be covered in a posting about time management and prioritization.)

              Today is a good example for that; I need to get my new resume completed since I have a lunch on Wednesday with someone to whom I would like to present it to for future consideration.  I need to get to Project Open Hand in order to get food in for the weekend.  I need to clean my apartment since I want to call the guy from the clinic and invite him over for dinner and a movie.  I need to…well, I need to do a lot of things.

              I’m not sure just how much longer Procrastination and I will be together.  When I re-entered into recovery, it became an on-again, off-again relationship; fortunately, as of late, it has been more often off than on.

              I could continue to write pages and pages on this subject as I am so familiar on it, but I feel I have covered what I need to cover.  Not to mention, I need to go get a new spare set of keys made!

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When I was studying computer programming, one of my instructors used to say "Put a gun to your head" when urging us to not delay addressing an uninviting but necessary task. I've found that image helpful when contemplating procrastinaton as an option. It didn't or doesn't work all the time but the blunt unsubtlety of the image has been effective for me.

Your other point about time management is interesting because time management is a specific skill that is not easy to become adept at with or without some concentrated effort. I think that one is either good at time management or not in the same way that one who is not naturally musical can acquire a degree of proficiency though instruction, study, application and practice. I have found that it is sometimes necessary to sit down and think though how to allocate my time across x number of events in order to prevent being ambushed by conflicting urgencies, such as the need for immediate surgery and a yearning for ice cream.