Personal Craziness

allen-wrench-nailclipperMy kitchen chairs are from Ikea and they’re held together by a doohickey with a funny looking screw that loosens up about every 6 months or so. My dad says that Ikea is Sweedish for sh*t, but I really like their furniture. It’s reasonably priced, they don’t have to order it, and the directions are easy enough that I can put stuff together. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at not splitting little chips of the particle board. And when I do mess up, I’m recovered enough that I don’t have a complete meltdown. Generally a little nail polish in the right color fixes things right up.

So anyway, I have these kitchen chairs and since Ikea puts an allen wrench in every box they sell, I probably have 20 of those suckers lying around the house. I know for sure there’s at least 4 in the toolbox in the garage. Since I was the one who put the chairs together 5 years ago and I’m the one who’s tightens them up when they’ve gotten wobbly, you’d probably figure I’d know that I need the right tool. And you’d be right – I do know there’s absolutely no way to do this job with anything but the right allen wrench.

I’m embarrassed to tell you that I always wait until the chairs are driving me insane before I tighten the screws. And it generally hits me that I can’t take it any more in the morning while I’m drinking my coffee. Now mind you, the garage is literally 6 and a half steps from the chair I usually sit in and the tool box is another 4 steps beyond that. The allen wrench is sitting in the little tray part of the tool box along with 3 of his little friends, all twins. With the right tool so nearby, why is it I end up hunkered down under the table with a pair of nail clippers thinking I’ll just jab the little file part in the hole and twist so the chair won’t wobble while I eat?

I’m tempted to analyze myself here but I’m not going to because there’s a problem. That thing I do with the allen wrench? I also do it with my recovery tools.

The page on this blog that gets read the most is my post on the Personal Craziness Index, which is the allen wrench of my recovery. It’s a terrific early warning system that lets me know when I’m getting off balance. That’s pretty important because addicts that are out of balance are addicts in danger of relapsing. I put a slick looking version of my PCI as an example and made sure it was big enough to read. Then I uploaded it to so anyone who wanted to share my beautiful PCI could simply download it. That sucker took me many hours to put together.

I haven’t used it since that post.

So here I sit with red flags popping up all over the place (big red flags like reading the descriptions of all the porn shows I could get on pay-per-view) wondering why the hell I’m hunkered down using the equivalent of a nail clipper when I have a perfectly good tool in my recovery tool box.

What the hell is wrong with me? And why the hell am I posting about it rather than just printing off another copy and taping the damn thing to my closet wall? Wouldn’t that be better than tracking down a photo of an allen wrench or a nail clipper?

It’s not a complete washout. I have used a few recovery tools. I told my husband about scrolling though the adult pay-per-view listings. I hate doing that. It’s embarrassing. I called my therapist. I called my sponsor. Blah, blah, blah. I hate telling people I feel like acting out. It’s embarrassing.

But it’s better to be sober typing this that not sober not typing this so I guess I’m glad I was willing to humble myself. Can’t somebody invent a f-ing pill?



  1. Hi! So where is it on I would love to use it as a template – since I’m recently out of treatment and my therapist has me doing a PCI as well. Thanks for your posts and your honesty. We are all so human, you are not unique in this. We all have this strange tendency to NOT do what is helpful for us!

    • The link is on the right side of the front page of the blog. To get there, click on the blue header at the top of the screen – the one with my picture and “Trudging the Gentle Path of Happy Destiny.”

      When you get to the front page of the blog, look on the right side. The link is right under the archives. You should be able to click on the individual document you want inside the box. They’re in alphabetical order, so you’ll probably have to scroll down for the link for the PCI worksheet.

      There are lots of fancy ways of doing up a PCI, but it’s the doing them that matters. So far, I’ve had the best success with an index card taped to the bathroom mirror.

      Best of luck!

  2. This is a great post. It’s amazing how insane this addiction can make us. Amazing I tell you. We want a pill when the “gentle path” is right in front of us. I so relate.

    I also relate to how embarrasing it is to tell other people I want to act out. I always think, they must be thinking … “How truly stupid are you?” Of course, that’s my own voice whispering in the background.

    Thanks so much for sharing and for reminding me about the PCI

  3. Great post Gentle,
    I love your personal insight. It takes a lot to realize these kinds of things about yourself before they actually smack you in the face.

    It reminds me of years ago, when I was sitting on my bike, revving the engine up, unable to ride it because I’d broken my leg. A neighbor saw me on the thing and came by to talk; turns out she’d had a motorcycle too, but stopped riding it when some neighbors of hers, who were Hell’s Angels, told her that she’d better get rid of it before she got in a horrible accident. Guess what, she did. Traded the thing in for a car. I on the other hand, broken leg and all, rode my bike to the nearest drug store the other day and hobbled off to buy a folding cane (so that it would fit in my motorcycle jacket).

    And they say we’re crazy!

  4. PS – scrolling through PPV is a dangerous thing for me, too. I know when I start doing that I am already in trouble, looking for a fix. I wish there was a pill, too.

  5. Well, I can tell you that that PCI on the has been the biggest help in my recovery. Eventually I realized I had a chapter on it in one of my recovery books and I filled it out and followed it for many weeks – until one week I went from having 8 points for the whole week to having 40 because I missed many days of filling it out so that meant 7 points a day, right?. They add up quick. I asked myself over and over again why wasn’t I using it as I have had the calmest of days since using the PCI. And eventually not using it caught up with me. A few days ago I had a slip. A big slip. That got my attention. I do not want to go back to the shame and guilt I carried around for so long. So I pulled out my PCI again and have a copy taped to my fridge now. Somehow I am back doing the things I need to do so that I don’t go down that road again. I will always be grateful that you posted about it.

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