Imagine the scene:
I wake up in the morning feeling absolutely tired out. I try and roll over but the damp, sweaty sheets stick to my skin. I slowly struggle out of bed and wobble my way to the bathroom where I open my tired bloodshot eyes and look in the mirror. “Yuk!” I say when my eyes start working and I see myself, my wet, sweat soaked hair stuck to my face. “I am not addicted to computers!” I say to myself in a half-believing voice trying desperately to convince myself that it is true.
I have had a rough, sleepless, night. One minute I was screaming like a madman, foaming at the mouth desperately struggling to get out of bed and reach for my laptop while my wife was tightly grabbing hold of my arms pulling my back with all her strength trying to keep me on the bed. Then a few minutes later I was laying flat out on the bed my body stiff as a board but shaking like a leaf with my wife mopping the sweat from my forehead while I gripped her other hand tightly in fear as she softly spoke to me telling me that we were going to go through this together and that one day I will realize I can survive without desperately checking my emails every ten minutes…
It has been an exhausting night; but worth it.
My wife puts her head around the door. “Don’t forget we are going out in half an hour” she says.
I quickly get dressed and go downstairs to find she has already made breakfast.
“I am so proud of you!” she says.
We finish breakfast and I suddenly start getting butterflies in my stomach and start shaking.
“Be strong.” she says as she gives me a cuddle.
We get in the car. It is cold and raining. The windows start misting up as she starts the engine and we start moving. I feel like I am in a dream world. My wife is speaking softly to me all through the journey but her words sound muffled as I look out of the smeary window. We leave our neighborhood and start entering a rough area of town. Office workers going for their early morning jog becomes replaced by out of work teenagers in hoodies grouped together on street corners. Billboards advertising the latest electronic gadget become replaces by boarded up shops covered in graffiti. We pull into a car park in front of a large grey, faceless, concrete building and I suddenly realize my wife has stopped taking and has stopped the car. She affectionately gives my hand a gentle squeeze and once again tells me to be strong and reassures me that she will stay by my side.
We get out of the car and I nervously walk towards the building, my legs shaking like jelly, my heart pounding in my chest and my brain feeling fuzzy like I am about to faint.
We go through the heavy door and walk up a flight of stairs which seem to last forever. As we reach the top my wife starts to lead me through a maze of dimly lit corridors until we arrive at a door with a glass window. Suddenly I feel frightened. “What on earth have I let myself in for?” I think to myself. I feel as if my legs are going to collapse beneath me but my wife gives my hand another little affectionate squeeze as we enter the room.
I sit nervously on a hard plastic chair as I look around. There is a young boy standing by the window who appears to be sending loads of text messages on his mobile phone… but it is obvious to me that he has got his web browser active and is desperately trying to find a wireless WiFi access point. Opposite me a young woman is sitting beside her husband. Her husband is cool and calm but she seems to be forever searching in her handbag for something. Suddenly her husband notices what she is doing and snatches her bag away to reveal her clutching a tiny palmtop. She bursts into tears as he takes the palmtop out of her hand and removes the batteries. “Please, please let me log on to Farmville” she pleads. “My hens need feeding and I have crops to harvest!” “Please, please let me login” she says through her tears but her husband keeps hold of her batteries, gives her a cuddle and reassures her that he is doing it for her own good. “I know, I know” she sobs through her tears.
Suddenly a side door opens and a well dressed man enters the room. Everyone seems frozen in fear as he starts to speak.
“My name is John and I was once a computer addict like you” he says. His voice seems to become muffled and fade as I sit nervously shaking wondering whatever I have let myself in for. One by one the people around the room stand up and say a few words about themselves but my mind is so occupied I don’t hear a word.
Suddenly I feel my wife give my hand a gentle squeeze and I look up and realize the room has gone quiet and everyone is looking at me. I realize it is my turn to speak so stand up on my wobbly legs, my body shaking like a leaf and my head feeling faint.
“I love you” my wife whispers. “Be strong!”
I clear my throat and find the courage to start speaking.
“My name is Ian” I say in a shaking quivering voice “And I am a computer addict”
Suddenly I feel an enormous weight has been lifted off my shoulder at having the courage to publicly admit it.
The rest of the morning flies past with talks by various people explaining how we are all to work as a team to help each other fight our addiction. We are given telephone numbers of support workers we can contact and given a brief introduction about practical ways we can make small changes to our lifestyle to help fight our addiction.
When I entered the room of strangers I felt terrified but now, as I leave, I feel surrounded by friends and that I have been given a new start in life.
“I love you” my wife says “And I am going to be by your side as we go through this together” she reassures me as we leave.
I feel renewed as if I have started a new era in my life. A new beginning has dawned.