The days leading up to new years eve were an annual tradition of mentally running through the seismic changes that I would be undertaking in the following year. From sobriety to relationships I would plan them all out. I would be convinced that the changes would happen just by thinking they would. That making the list would be enough to conjure the fairy of sorting shit lives out. It never did and I never enacted those changes. I would profess that new years eve would be the last blow out of the year and hit the drink hard. “One last hoorah,” I would profess “for tomorrow I will be reborn!”
I would enter the New year as I would continue it; in a state of drunken stupor and lying to myself. When I would eventually wake I would be too hungover to do anything. The compromise that I would negotiate with myself would be dry January. It is a start I would think. If I can abstain for a month then obviously I don’t have a problem and those changes I thought about won’t need to be enacted! A genius plan. The pressure to prove to myself that I didn’t have a problem meant that I ALWAYS completed dry January. I just rolled into February a month behind quota on my intake and upped my consumption to compensate. And the cycle would continue.
On reflection, I was trapped in a routine. A soul-sucking cycle of addiction that I couldn’t see the harm of and as such saw no reason to need to escape. There was so much I wanted to do but much like the new years’ resolutions, they could be done later. All the while life passing me by. Unbeknown to me I was the hamster running on its wheel hoping to escape its cage. Then one day life and my body had other plans I was offered a way out of the cage. That’s how I saw it, my rock bottom, I saw it as an opportunity to rebuild. I had nothing to lose now, only my life, but there was much I wanted to see and do. I felt like the universe, god, life, luck, chance, whatever you want to call it was pointing to a door marked exit. I took it but I had to build the stairs to the floor I wanted to be at. Rock bottoms come in many shapes and sizes. Some people need more of good kicking until the message gets through. I was lucky. I only had a liver that was temporarily knackered and twenty grand in debt. I have seen people come back from much worse. People who thought they were done and dusted. People who thought they would never see their kids again. People who fell to their knees and prayed to a God they didn’t believe purely because they had no other option. No matter how low, how hard you crash down or how much you think you won’t be able to turn it around. You can. Or be smart and don’t wait. I should have started those changes I dreamt about on the run-up to new years eve. I shouldn’t have waited until I was desperate. I was lucky and it took a lot of work. A lot of work that could have been avoided if I’d just have pursued my goals instead of putting them off.
Sitting on the beach in Sri Lanka, I think about those days. About how I would lie to others and myself. Promise after promise broken. It was always going to be tomorrow and it was always someone else’s fault. Mostly, about how each new year was going to be the one, the catalyst for change but never was. Each New Years eve just like the last. Like a terrible sequel to a movie; the venue would change but the story would remain the same.
But what about this years resolution?
As I sit listening to the waves I contemplate what will be this New Years change. What do I want? I guess the answer is more of the same. Imagine that? I struggled for a long time to accept that it was my life that I enjoyed so much. I had serious imposter syndrome because life had been so shit for so long. Now I just want to continue what I have started and keep practising the simple steps that make it possible.
I find it still strange that I had faith that it would work out. I was convinced that sobriety had to be better.
Other than the health and the debt, why did I decide to give change ago? The answer is simple; because trying to turn it around couldn’t be any worse than I felt on a daily basis. Dripping in shame and feeling like my life belonged to someone else. Lead by an impulse, that I lost a daily battle to, made me feel weak. The rock bottom freed me from any fear of failure and allowed me to test a strength I didn’t believe I had. I never expected to succeed. I never expected to get this far. I never expected to do this. I never expected to be sharing this message in the hope that it would encourage someone to try. I never planned that. I just planned not to drink and then began to pursue goals that were healthy. Slowly, I created healthy routines and patterns. Negative routines are the death of life. Positive routines are the start of it.
There perfect time to change is right now.