It was just another day like all the others. I was standing at the side of the road, forcing myself to smoke a cigarette, somewhere between drunk and hungover, waiting for a lift to work. I did this every morning and I felt like this every morning. Eventually, the car arrived and I got in, mumbled good morning and rested my head against the passenger side window. The music in the car was the same as it was every day, a compilation cd put together by the driver. He must have played the CD from the start when he got in the car because it was always at the same point every morning. This added another layer of repetition to my already repetitive existence, to the point I felt like every day was a replica of the day before; work, drink, sleep, repeat. I can’t remember the song that was playing when I got in the car every morning but I do remember that two songs after was by a band called Blind Melon and the song is called “Change.”
I’d never heard of Blind Melon before but had got to know the song to the point of mumbling along with the words. The final line of the song is “When life is hard you have to change,” and I don’t know why that day was different but I felt like he was speaking to me. Saying, if you stay afraid of change then every day will be like today, forever. It was like a huge sign on the road of life flashing a danger warning. It affected me. I guess that’s the power of music and the power of association. It was no coincidence that the lead singer was an addict.
I would love to say that I was changed that night and the following day I woke into a Disneyesque, luminescent world but it didn’t quite happen like that. In the back of my mind though was a sense of “You have got to change. When life is hard you have to change and life is pretty hard.” I was working in a job I hated to get the money to drink so I could forget about the job I hated. It was insanity. Eventually, I was made redundant and used the opportunity to change careers which lead to a better-suited career, gave me more value and gave me more purpose. The knock on effect was that I wanted to be the best version of myself and realised that drinking was an obstacle to achieving that. I had to take a mental and physical kicking to realise it but better late than never. I look back on the hardest, darkest days as the greatest learning opportunity I have ever had.
Just that moment, that single moment of a guy who I resented for playing the same songs every day started something that has had profound implications. That was ten years ago. Yesterday I got confirmation that the company I work for will give me six months leave to go travelling and my landlord is going to hold my room rent free. I am eternally grateful beyond measure. This was only made possible by making serious changes. The first time I stopped drinking, in 2012, I did so for seven months and in all honesty, I just swapped alcohol for exercise. I used it to escape the problems that I didn’t want to face up to. The relapse that followed lasted two years and cost me everything. So when I HAD to stop drinking again due to liver problems, in 2014, I learned from that relapse and the song that “You have to change,” so I did. But it was soo hard. And took time. A lot of time but I got so much time in sobriety. Good time. Beautiful time. Sometimes uncertainty and despair but nothing like before. But I had to change. I had to Plant those feet like a boxer and take on those problems. One at a time. Bit by bit. It got easier. It got brighter. And eventually, I realised I was becoming the person I wanted to be. For the first time in years, I actually liked myself. Then I cried because I never thought it was possible. My head became peaceful like the late night and the stars aligned, as the unimaginable became reality.
All I did was; not pick up a drink and didn’t stop dreaming,