5 lessons of Sobriety from hiking Hadrian’s Wall

Halfway between towns. In a field. Hiking up a hill in the driving rain and cold constant wind. I can’t help but think Why did I do this?
I had foolishly agreed to walk the length of Hadrian’s hall in northern England with some friends. At the point of regret, we had walked 44 miles over the two days before and were now 11 miles into the day that would end up being 26 miles and 347 flights of stairs. In total, we would end up walking 108 miles over 5 days.

All I could think was surely there will be somewhere to stop soon as I continued to march forward, my mood elevated momentarily by the delectable scenery being served up causing me to stop and admire in awe. Soon the wind began to force itself into my core, causing a shiver and driving me onwards in the hope of re-engaging my internal heating system. This continued for another ten miles or three hours in time. By which time I was tired, cold and hungry. There had been no shelter in that time. No rest bite. No option other than to keep going in the hope that something would change. And you know what? It did. Out of nowhere, there was a man selling coffee and hot chocolate. I couldn’t tell you how good that chocolate tasted but I do know that it was hot and that was more than enough. The hot chocolate man lent us a pair of gloves and asked us to drop them off at the next town. Which we dutifully did.

The rain and wind stopped. Completely. The last five miles of walking were glorious. So much so that by the time we reached the next town our clothes were dry. At the time there was no energy for reflection as it was spent on the gratitude for a warm shower but a couple of days have passed and I think that I learned a couple of things:

1) There are often beauty and positives to be found even in unforgiving situations.

2) We have a lot more resilience than we give ourselves credit for. Addicts I mean. We survived this long through a torrent of shit. We should use that strength to our benefit.

3) Asking for help is fine but sometimes we have to rely on our strength to keep going. Sometimes there is no shelter from the shit and nobody can help you out. Your only option is to keep going one step at a time, one mile at a time and before you know it you are through it.

4) Good company will make the journey seem a lot better even if you are digging deep.

5) Life can change so quickly. Like the weather. We never know what is around the corner no matter how much we wish we did. Sometimes the sun comes out when you least expect it. Just like it did at the end of that day.

I couldn’t have walked that distance when I drank alcohol. I would have dismissed it as a waste of time. When really I would have been fearful of failing. On the 1st of June 2019, I haven’t touched alcohol for five years. And like that 26-mile walk in the pissing down rain, with aches and pains, it has been difficult but on reflection, I have learned so much and achieved so much. Just one foot in front of the other. One mile at a time. Eventually, I made it and so can you.

Thanks for reading,

Charlie

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