It’s strange how things change. Years ago, I did anything to not have to be inside my head because it was a nasty place to be. Full of ruthless diatribes and words barbed for the sole purposes of hurting. It was a nasty neighbourhood that one day I chose to face. I didn’t think it was courageous. I didn’t think it was anything special. It was just something I had to do to get to where I wanted to be. My mindset was the obstacle to the life I wanted.
I couldn’t live the life I have now with the mindset I had then. Firstly, I didn’t believe that I was deserving of being happy. Secondly, I didn’t think I had the courage to pursue my dreams. Thirdly, I didn’t believe I was capable of making it happen. The journey of the last five years, through sobriety and now to here, has made me believe I have earned the right to be happy after years of misery. Also, I now know that I am capable of achieving things I never thought possible. And the path I walked has taught me that I am resilient.
I try not to be too proud but peoples reaction to my story is overwhelming. Their expression and congratulations is a surprise. Many profess that they wish they could do it. Or that they too wished they could stop drinking. Well if I have learned anything over the last few years it is that we are more capable than we give ourselves credit for. Sometimes it is easier to say “I won’t be able to do it,” because creating obstacles is easier than failing. The fear of failure stopped me trying for years. That was until I realised that I was the only obstacle. I was creating the blocks that were causing me so much misery. I was a captive to my own fear.
I wrestled control of my head back from fear. I began to listen to my inner chatter. The dialogue that was on a loop in my head. It was one of negativity and disdain. I started to speak more highly of myself, to myself. Not in an arrogant fashion. I just changed “You’re not good enough,” to “You are good enough.” Or I would say “I am enough.” These were monumental changes for me. I would look in the mirror and call myself all sorts of terrible names but thanks to changing my inner dialogue a bit at a time, my inner world became more positive. Until one day, I naturally thought “You’re doing okay, Charlie.” It was a turning point.
I then began to set myself little challenges. Little goals to test my mantle. Paying off debt. Not eating shit food for a certain amount of days. Saving money to visit a place. Reading books on self-improvement. Anything that I felt would progress me a little bit forward.
The three books above are three that I believe have offered the basis for the inner world that I have. I have read numerous books but these three allowed me to install a checkpoint between mental reaction and physical reaction. I can now intercept any unnecessary reaction by viewing it and asking why I am reacting that way. This is done automatically now. Before I was at the mercy of other peoples actions and my own emotions. (I’ve written about the other tools that helped here https://fromthebarstooltothebeach.com/2019/07/13/my-sobriety-health-and-well-being-toolbox/)
It was slow progress and still today I can regress but it is only momentarily. To view myself as someone I now like after all those years of hatred is a gift. A gift I believe that is available to us all. We just have to wrestle control of our minds back from whoever has control. Many folks cling to previous experiences and allow the past to dictate their future. I would look at my previous record with women and allow it to dictate my future interactions. When another woman had left or passed me up I would shrug and say “Well it was bound to happen. It always does!” Now I meet women I would have thought out of my league a few years ago. Purely on the basis that I put the work in and created a place in my mind of calm and being centred.
I didn’t do it for that purpose, to meet women. I did it because I was sick to fucking death of feeling miserable. I was tired of living my life under a dark cloud. I was tired of thinking I was a piece of shit. It was like living with a parrot on my shoulder that constantly, and I mean constantly, spewed negativity about myself, the world and life.
Most of the shit I believed came from outside sources. Some of which I had carried through life believing it defined me. That doesn’t have to be the case. Many of the things, when reviewed through the eyes of an adult, were laughable but to a teenage me were devastating. I released them all. Harsh words from crushes that crushed me at the time and had defined my life. Bad breakups that I had repressed. Negative self-image. Negative self-worth. It was all there pushed deep down. Slowly, I turned it around and worked through it.
When I felt good in my mind I wanted to feel good everywhere. So my diet changed and the view of my body changed because I wanted it to be well. Before I didn’t care for myself or how I looked. Why would I? I mean I didn’t like me, so why would anyone else? After changing my mindset, I wanted to be fit. I loved my body and wanted to care for it. I wanted to stop poisoning it like I had done for all those years with alcohol and nicotine. So I changed my diet.
For me, it all is part of the same. If I eat shit food then I don’t feel great. I will reward hard work with a treat. If I go on a strenuous hike then I will eat something I wouldn’t normally; a cake, some ice cream or some chocolate. I try to avoid sugar the rest of the time, I found it alters my mood too much. It messes with the calm world I have cultivated and creates a dependence for energy. If I crave sugar I get it from fruit. I feel the addictive pull of sugar quite often, for example, I just made a coffee and thought “Have sugar in it” but thanks to cultivating that inner world, I am in control. It is a great feeling. It isn’t hard it just takes perseverance and the belief that it will be worth it in the end. It will be worth it in the end.
I remember the day I realised how I treated myself. I was looking in the mirror and thought “You look like shit!” That was the second time I had noticed my inner monologue. The first time was when it was calling for me to go to the pub for a drink.
The second time I felt like I had been blaming all the world for treating me like shit, when in fact it was myself. I vowed that day to stop treating myself in a way I wouldn’t accept from another person and I’m glad I did. I had been my own enemy for years and I’m now proud to have me as a friend.