It didn’t happen overnight. It was a constant downward spiral over many years that lead me to the gates of Hell. One terrible mistake after another. One morally bankrupt decision masked by a lie too many. Each fuck up another step downwards. As the heat rose, I needed more liquid to cool me down. Eventually, there I was. Standing at the gate to hell with nowhere else to go. Initially, I didn’t realise where I was. And when I did, the journey back seemed impossible. So with a heavy heart, I placed my hand on the gate, opened it and reluctantly took a step towards my future. A future of torment and torture. It was the least I deserved I told myself as I made my way inside. Suddenly, I felt a hand fall on my shoulder, pulling me back. I don’t know who it was, my higher self, higher power, intuition, morality, subconscious. Call it what you want but I heard the words “One more chance, Charlie. Waste it and you’re on your own.” I told him I couldn’t make the journey back because I was too weak. “Even if you have to crawl you will make it. Just don’t drink again.” I have to be honest it wasn’t a great offer. I mean it had taken me a long time to get here surely it was going to take me a long time to get back. The path had been littered with hardships, heartache, troubles and woes that I couldn’t imagine facing sober. But, no matter how hard it could be, it had to better than the hell I was destined for.
Man, it was tricky at times. Falling and crawling sometimes to try and get back to the light. Crying and screaming because I didn’t think I could make it. Over time the heat got cooler. The obstacles appeared large from afar but it was just perspective. When they needed to be tackled, I managed it and learned something from each. There were people from the past there who I had to shamefully acknowledge. Behaviour from the past that made me hang my head with guilt. I apologised and fixed what I could as I made my way. I got bruised and my pride took a kicking but I just kept going. Sometimes crawling on my knees sometimes making great strides. It seemed to take a long time but it was never intended to be a race.
One day, the sky was blue, the air was clean and against the odds, I had made it. My knees were scarred and my pride dented but I had made the long journey back. Here is what I learned:
- People will treat you how you let them treat you.
- Toxic situations do not improve by magic. If nothing changes then nothing changes.
- I lived a life based on stories that were now redundant. Stories of how I was told by people I no longer knew. I learned to create my own story.
- Life is constant change. Yet, some people will fight change.
- Going against the grain takes strength. Strength that is often tested to see if it is genuine. So go to the mirror and tell yourself you are a fucking lion.
- People will try to knock you off your positivity perch due to their lack of fortitude. Staying positive is the only response.
- Not everyone who stands at the gates of Hell wants to be saved.
- All I can do is my best.
- Expectations create disappointment.
- Not everybody will be happy for me. Nor will they be as interested as I think they will be.
- Intuition is invaluable.
- Negative emotions will pass and are a great lesson. Although it doesn’t seem so at the time.
- Freedom is enviable.
- Being clear-minded, calm and composed doesn’t mean everyone else will be. In fact, it enrages some people.
- I am only human and still get annoyed. But nowhere near as often as I used to. When I do get annoyed, it doesn’t ruin my entire week. I also have the ability to identify my part and apologise accordingly. The other party/ies may not.
- Fear in many forms dominates the lives of many people. Even though most things aren’t as scary as they seem.
- Not everything works out the way I want but that doesn’t mean I should stop trying.
- Things seem a bigger deal to me sometimes than they do to other people.
- Sometimes the journey gets hard and I have to rest, take in my surroundings and appreciate how far I’ve come. This is sometimes overwhelming.
- The last journey I took to hell was a long one. I now have an express elevator… one drink! And no hardship is worth that torment. No quick fix is worth the long term damage.
I’ve come too far to go back there.