Monday, December 15, 2014

Quarter-game bandit

So I'm out east interviewing for residencies, and have been for a week or so and laundry day came. So I headed over to the laundromat wifey and I used when we were here last month and started a load of laundry and was about to head to best buy to chill while my clothes washed until I saw it - the quarter game that beat me last month.

Let me explain - this is a stupid little arcade-type game where idiots like me put quarters in with hopes that the quarters we put in will push previous idiots' quarters out into the reward bin. Last month I lost a dollar or so on this before tossing in the towel. BUT, right after I was finished, some yuppy walks up and puts some quarters in while simultaneously kicking the machine and DOWN come a ton of quarters. MY quarters. Jerk.

So this time I put 2 quarters in with no reward, and I remember the yuppy. So I decide to kick the thing a couple times. Nothing. so I kick a little harder - WEEEOOOEEOO. An alarm. There I was - a grown man, almost 30-year old almost doctor who just set off an alarm at a laundromat in front of 20 other people cause I wanted to make 75 cents, and fleeing from the scene. I was out of that place before 5 seconds had gone by.

So I walked to best buy for damage control. First, what in the same of sam hill did I just do? And second, why did I respond that way? And third, what do I do NOW? I thought... maybe I can just walk in, take my clothes out of the wash and walk out back to my room and hang dry all my clothes. Another idea was maybe if I put on different clothes no one will recognize me. These are honest thoughts that I had. Then I walked out of best buy to see a cop car parked outside and my stomach dropped. They were just hanging out though - not there to catch the quarter-game bandit.

So anyway, I walk out to my car to drive to target for a bit - maybe if I wait a while, the crowd will switch and no one will recognize me. As I'm driving away - and this is finally the part where I do something right - the VOR (voice of recovery) comes to me and says - "Hey Nate, you gotta be accountable." Touche, voice.

So I turn around and park. I walk in to the laundromat and the alarm isn't going off. No one comes to me or says anything. It seemed to have breezed right over without anyone caring. Phew, I thought. That was easy. Then VOR comes back and says, "That's not being accountable." Well played.

So I go and find the owner.
Me: "Hey... uh... is everything ok with that alarm?"
Owner: (confused look).
Me: "You know, with the quarter game... there was an alarm that went off. Well, I kicked the machine and it was stupid and I'm sorry and I just wanted to come and tell you and see if everything was ok."
Owner: "Yeah, that isn't smart. If you kick it and the quarters come out, then no quarters come out the next time you be throwin' quarters in there!"
Me: "Haha, yeah, that was stupid."
Owner: "Yeah, everything's fine."

It was humiliating. I felt like a 5-year-old. But it had to happen... and then I felt fine. And I told my wife later in the day so I could feel stupid again and hopefully learn something.

You see, this is probably a little thing. A really stupid little thing that I shouldn't talk about in public, but it's not like I relapsed or robbed a bank or whatever.

BUT. It is crucial that I am accountable for my actions. Secrets and lies are at the core of relapse. If I were to 'get away' with something here, what's to keep me from thinking I can 'get away' with acting out a little bit? Or telling a small lie? From keeping something else from wifey?

Being accountable and taking responsibility for poor decisions that I make is key for me to stay in recovery. No matter what they are, I need to address them and talk them over with someone (usually wifey) so I don't keep going down the secretive road. It stops the skid and keeps me honest.

What kind of things do I need to bring up? It took us a long time to figure out our system, which has swung to both sides of the pendulum of sharing too much and too little - both of which are extremely painful for both parties involved. Basically what I share comes down to 2 things: 1) when I make a poor decision that influences my recovery in some way, and 2) when temptations are especially difficult and I am struggling. That has worked for us and helped me to not beat myself up every time I have a temptation to lust or whatever, but to focus on my decisions and my state of being.

anyway, hopefully each of us can keep being accountable on our road to recovery. And hopefully that's the last we see of the QGB.


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience Nate. As a wife to a recovering porn addict (he's under the GreatnessAhead program), I can so relate to the strength that you've showed in accepting your mistakes and being accountable to deal with it. Not only for my personal experiences of being responsible for my own failures but for my husband's struggle of ignoring and denying his addiction at first, then accepting the fact that he needs to battle with it, seek help and face the process. All the best.

    1. Thanks Leigh - best of luck for the both of you

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