An attitude of gratitude

Sitting on top of the sun pyramid at Teotihuacan, I can see the sights I’d googled a thousand times before. Now, I was here. Like many things over the past few weeks, it didn’t seem real. Like a dream that I would awake from and be trapped back in that old life, the one of drunken misery. I take a deep breath and smell the air. The sun is radiant and warm against my skin. I walk over to the side of the Pyramid, in a quiet spot, to take it all in. Just like I did at the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, watching the sunset at the golden gate bridge and Yosemite, I say thank you.

Thank you
For your support when I needed it
For your direction when I was lost
For your hand when I fell
For your kind words, you didn’t know were kind
I am eternally grateful. You reside in my thoughts always and dwell in my heart forever. Without you, I am no one. Without your support I have nothing. You made me realise my potential and helped me find my strength. I take this moment to wish you well.

I do this to ground myself. To stop my head claiming all the glory for the life I now have. It isn’t aimed at anyone in particular, it is aimed at many people collectively; Friends, family, lovers, acquaintances and anyone I’ve met along the way. I have to do this to remind myself where I came from and how quickly I can go back there if I take it for granted. Just like the people, my sobriety will disappear if I don’t continue to nurture my relationship with it.

As usual, the saying of thank you brings a tear to my eye as the realisation that I am sitting on top of the pyramid sinks in. Another deep breath to stop the tears. Why me? How did this happen? One day I was slumped against a bar drinking myself into ill health and financial ruin. And now I am liberated. The only answer I have is because I asked for it and I was prepared to do whatever it took to get to where I wanted to be. If that means taking a moment to thank the people who helped me, then so be it. If it means meditating. Being open and honest. If that’s what it takes, then that’s what I’ll do. I’ll do it because I don’t want to go back to that bar and that life. I don’t want to attach the chains I fought to be free from. I have come too far.

Drinking isn’t my issue anymore. That ship has long sailed. When I talk about sobriety I am referring to a mindset that I have cultivated over the past five years. A mind-set that is the polar opposite of the one that kept me prisoner in my own life. I now take action and pursue goals. I take responsibility and own my shit. I am down the line and decisive. I understand that failure is a possibility but it will hopefully teach me something. I take chances and follow dreams. Why? Because quitting drinking gave me the option to become who I was meant to be.

I climb down from the Pyramid taking in the sights around me. I am alone. Yet the people I say thanks to are with me. Their words and actions are embedded in my soul. I take them everywhere, I will never forget them. I spent years trying to fight the need for help. I would exclaim that I didn’t need help. Yet, behind a thin veil, I was falling apart. I cannot believe that person was me. I cannot believe that this is where I ended up and who I ended up becoming. As my feet touch the ground I look back up the Pyramid, the steps are steep and the fall treacherous.

I would never have seen the sights I saw if I wasn’t prepared to take a chance.

I join up with the people on the tour. They don’t know my story. They treat me like a normal person. We share tales of our travels and talk about future adventures. Our discussion is broken by the tour guide explaining that as a surprise we are going to a tequila and Mescal tasting afternoon. My mind races off like the fishing line in Jaws. I don’t strike. I know how this ends up. If I try to reel in the line, the fight then ensues; What will I say?, There will be questions, I will be made to feel different and so on. I know I can let the thought tire itself out; I will just say “No thank you!” is my deciding action. The thoughts and anxiety dissipate. I will deal with any further questions as and when they arise if they do at all because very really do people care. Years back I would have been sweating at the proposition of being in such a situation. Now it is such a regular occurrence that it is normal. Perfectly normal. It was always perfectly normal, it is my outlook that has changed not the world’s view of me. It helps that I know I can call on those people who are with me. If it gets on top then I can call them up and talk it out. I am in tune enough with my emotions to know myself… What a strange thought. I used alcohol to escape myself for more than a decade. I despised who I was and yet now I can comfortably travel the world alone. Confident and calm. Comfortable and proud.

It isn’t the sights that astound me it is myself. That I found something within I never believed I had until I tried.

I used to dismiss overcoming addiction as easy when people would praise me. I couldn’t handle it. I was still lacking the self-respect needed to accept that I had overcome a challenge. On reflection, it wasn’t easy. I went through pain, isolation and at times an utter fucking nightmare to get to where I am but when I drank life was like that every day anyway. The start of sobriety was hard because there was no escape. The sound got turned up and the emotions came crashing down but it didn’t take long to learn to surf. I have been sober over five years and I have been through some shit in that time. None of it made me feel anywhere near as bad as the average day when I was drinking. So yeah it was hard but no harder than I was used to. I find it strange that I lived in a place mentally and emotionally of such darkness and despair. Yet, now I want to share positivity, love and support. I guess it can only be because those are the things that got me out of that place. Love and support set me on the path to recovery. It was the antidote I needed. The words of people who understood what it was like and who understood me. It made me feel human again. It made me feel accepted after years of feeling isolated from myself and the world. Without them, I would still be there, alone and isolated.

That’s why is say thank you.

It is the least i can do,

Charlie.

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