The Forty Seven Year Old Foetus

Back in my days of drinking yore I used to keep a mental note of my Top 10 worst hangovers. As I got older my hangovers got worse. In the end this meant that if I drank on the Saturday evening it would be the following Thursday before I began to feel remotely human again. Despite headaches, nausea and general roughness, however, I was rarely physically sick and only then when I had mixed my drinks. When I did though the results were normally explosive (as in literally) and invariably merited a spot in the Top 10. 

One such occasion was when Fionnuala and I attended the wedding of a friend in the north-east of England. Having risen ridiculously early to catch a flight from Belfast to Newcastle we found ourselves with several hours to kill before the service. In my ultimate wisdom I decided to hit the hotel bar and downed several pints of strong lager before we caught a taxi to the wedding venue. Fionnuala knew what lay ahead but said nothing fearing I would start an argument and accuse her of being a party pooper.

Upon arrival complimentary glasses of sparkling wine were being handed out. As it would have been rude not  to avail of this hospitality I got stuck in meaning that even before the nuptials had been agreed I was well oiled. The situation deteriorated at the reception where several glasses of white wine over dinner combined with numerous more pints led to me cutting a sorry figure on the dancefloor later in the evening. In my drunken stupor I thought I was John Travolta in ‘Saturday Night Fever’. In reality I was more akin to him in ‘Pulp Fiction’. On my own. Without Uma Thurman.

The evening ended with me asleep in the corner as the party raged on around me. Fionnuala somehow carried me back to our hotel room where I awoke the next morning  with the mother of all hangovers. We had treated ourselves to room service and a full cooked breakfast with all the trimmings. All was well as I consumed this from a largely horizontal position. I began to feel decidedly queasy, however, as we sat in the hotel lobby waiting for our taxi to take us back to the airport. The ensuing thirty minute journey felt more  like thirty years as the contents of my stomach merrily performed cartwheels. This was only going to end one way.

To my eternal shame I made a dash for the toilets upon our arrival at the airport, barely making it into a cubicle before my breakfast from earlier and I became reacquainted again in devastating fashion. Afterwards I curled up in the foetal position on the cubicle floor mulling over the errors of my excesses from the night before whilst simultaneously breaking out into a clammy, cold sweat. This one, I concluded, was definitely Top 10 material.


Fast forward to last Christmas and I found myself in a similar position. This time, however, I was stone cold sober. I did not have intoxication to fall back upon as an excuse for my misdemeanours. And rather than face a tongue lashing from Fionnuala for another drunken debacle I was facing something much worse. Silence. From my wife and kids. A silence more terrifying than the most volcanic argument. Silence as I tearfully begged for another chance. Silence as I curled up in a ball on the floor of a friend who had reluctantly taken me in because otherwise I would have been out on the streets.

It is eight months later and, by the grace of God, I am back on the right path. I know, however, that I cannot rest on my laurels for a single second because, given my addictive personality and OCD, chaos lurks just around the corner. So I think about incidents like the two I have described above. Curled up in the foetal position. Crying out for the warmth and security of the womb; the sustenance of the umbilical cord; the reassuring thud of my mother’s heartbeat. And then I recall the horror of being ripped out of that environment as a result of my own disastrous choices.

There is nothing more effective in bringing you back from the brink of temptation than having a few ‘foetal position’ moments stored away in your mind for future reference if required. It is okay to be tempted. It happens to all of us. The problems start when we act upon emotions triggered by temptation. Because emotions lie. They are temporary and not grounded in the permanence of truth. The bedrock of right and wrong. It is our conscience that sets us apart from the animals, that defines who we are. The conscience cannot be defeated by emotions if we have the mechanisms in place to repel temptation when it comes calling.

The word ‘foetus’ relates to life and new beginning. It conjures up images of peace and love. Yet many of us, when we hit rock bottom in our lives, find ourselves curled up in the same position. Utterly exposed and alone. Stricken with pain and surrounded by heartbreak and devastation. There is nothing comforting about that. In order to move forward into the beauty of the light and remain there we must never forget the horrors of the past from whence we came. Because the former cannot exist without the latter.

It is our guardian, our wise counsel, our tap on the shoulder when we think that nobody else is looking. Scars heal but they never completely disappear for a reason. For there is beauty in scars. They remind us of the past and we will never make the future a better one unless we understand and learn from our past. Never forget those foetal moments for they are your friend. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 – ‘No temptation has overcome you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it’.

Have you ever found yourself in the foetal position? What was it like?

What mechanisms do you have in place to resist temptation?

28 thoughts on “The Forty Seven Year Old Foetus

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  1. I live in the country and actually enjoy hunting with my sons. There are two ways to catch a raccoon, one hunting with dogs and the other is by trapping. An old method of trapping is you put some shiny metal pieces of tin down in a small hole in a log and then drive rather large nails in at angles on either side of the hole.

    Raccoons are inquisitive creatures by nature, he will stick his hand in the hole and grab the shiny “thing” and once it’s in his hand his fist won’t fit back out the hole, it will get poked by the nails….but in his utter determination to have the shiny “thing” he won’t let go. He would rather die than relinquish what head found…and wants.

    So he sits and fights to own the shiny “thing” until it inevitably costs him his life.

    This is what I think about when I am tempted to hang on to a shiny “thing” that eventually leads to destruction of some sort or another. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?

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          1. We do…but the only time I’ve actually seen them was in the pet store 🙂

            They are not native to America (just searched that). So, they are pets here for Americans. There is a lot of talk on whether or not they’re good pets, or the fact that people truly understand what they require.

            I find it fascinating and awesome hedgehogs are native for you!!

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  2. Don’t know of you’re a Russell brand fan but looking forward to his next book, talking all about the twelve steps of recovery and how they apply to almost every coping mechanism, so crazy to read this, i have addiction in my blood but i’m still really young and I guess I’m still in the early chapters so hopefully I might have the will to stop it all from getting to far. Keep on keepin on

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  3. I appreciate the deep core of this post. Sometimes we don’t want to admit the truth, and hide behind a mask, a lie. I would say the last time I was in the fetal position was June, of this year. When we didn’t know if the movers would arrive on time, we didn’t know if we would have to move our house ourselves in a matter of weeks, and have everything done on time of when the house was to be inspected. I remember the sinking feeling when we signed the papers of the inspection date, not knowing anything. Of crumpling into a ball inwardly, and sitting on my bed with my laptop writing out the blog posts that no matter what I will trust Him, even through fear. Yet through the fear and pain, I felt immense love of Jesus Christ surround me. An immense power of His promise.

    I’ve gotten better at temptation. I’ve had to wean myself away from things that tempted like certain themes in movies, music, and t.v shows. Nudity, sexual themes, cursing, gore, etc. I knew these things desensitized me as a believer, and if I wanted to get stronger in Christ, then I had to be weaker in the world. It did not happen overnight, but turning away has helped me draw closer to Him, and to help me be quicker in diverting my eyes, and moving away from situations I don’t need to be part of.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I started with movies too! I worked on action movies that shared too much first, I believe. I still struggle with some shows I find that I think are find, and it isn’t till a few episodes in that scenes are thrown in that are not needed. *Hands up in air

        Thankful, I have a Potter who works through my flaws and helps me work on making the right decision, even when I’ve made mistakes.

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          1. I’ve never struggled with books. The only book series I do own that I’m not comfortable with is the Twilight series, I got into the craze when I first entered college. I read through the books as a reader, the first time, and thought it was okay. But the second time I read through the series…it’s not a well written series in my opinion. In fact, 50 Shades of Grey was a twilight fan fic which became big, which I’m NOT a fan of, nor partake in reading. I haven’t read twilight in years, and I’ve considered giving up the series.

            Aside from that, I love kids books, no lie, and I also like kid novel Wrinkle in time, Narnia, etc. So my book collection consists of writer books, poetry, Christian devotionals, Max Lucado’s works, some other Christian books, and a crazy amount of the Baby Sitter Club books haha. Books I don’t have to worry about as I’m extremely particular in what I read, and since I was 13, aside from the kid books I grew up on, I was picking out Christian books for adults on fear and anxiety. I was an odd child, I know haha.

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              1. I totally binged on the Twilight series when I went through it. Reading one book in a day. Honestly, if it wasn’t heavily pushed on me to be such a great series I don’t believe I would have ever read it. Yeah, I don’t read new fiction. There have been some new Christian fiction series I’ve considered getting into. I also like reading about people’s claim to experience Heaven or Hell (I do recommend 23 minutes in Hell, powerful stuff)

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  4. I don’t get hangovers because even though I regularly drink I take breaks and drink water. My problem is I have to just keep topping up and maintain the stupor that helps me annihilate my feelings. The alcohol induced haze is my warm, secure womb, my foetal position.

    I envy your faith and appreciate your honesty. I have an appallingly low level of empathy, something I’m not proud of but I relate to a lot of what you’re saying here.

    Liked by 1 person

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