With the end of six months travelling approaching and my return to work slow tapping on the window of my future like a huge Monday morning, I begin to ask, was it worth it? A resounding ABSOLUTELY!
People said I was lucky to be able to take six months off from life to fulfil the dreams of a once useless drunk. I never doubted that I was lucky but I also lived like a hermit for nearly a year to make it happen. I stayed in and saved every penny. I sold my car so I didn’t have to pay for the tax and insurance. I bought NOTHING other than bare essentials. I felt indebted to myself for all the years of slumping against a bar dreaming of seeing the things I’d always longed to see. Sobriety gave me the freedom to do so and to waste that freedom would have been an affront to myself. If it was not for sobriety I WOULD NOT HAVE TRAVELLED THE WORLD. It’s as clear as that. Sobriety gave me the tools to save money. The self-belief to pursue the goal and the strength to see it through. I owe it all to stopping drinking.
Thanks to sticking to the simple path of choosing life over drinking I have fulfilled my lifelong ambition of visiting some of the wonders of the world, experienced beautiful people and cultures, I have found a level of self-belief that I didn’t think I had. It has been an incredible six months that has far exceeded my expectations.
It is taking a bit to sink in. That the man who thought nothing of himself could climb off the barstool and turn those drunken dreams into a reality. But it is the same person just with the alcohol removed and a bit of work done on myself.
Fuck, it was scary at the start. Sobriety seems like a long road of nothingness. A bland future that will end in a withering death caused by boredom. How wrong was I? It has been an incredible, difficult, scary journey but much like climbing a mountain the rewards come much later. Of course, there were times where I thought this is a waste of time. But deep down I didn’t want to be like the people I drank with. I didn’t want to be the men who frequented the pubs and normalised my drinking. Who told me tales of all the things they “nearly” did and all the things they were “gonna” do. They would tell tales of lives they never lived as their dreams would remain on a shelf. Some had genuine reasons for not pursuing what they wanted. Many, like myself, hid behind a glass and used the illusionary fun of heavy drinking as the preferred life activity. Cowards.
If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor.
I could never have imagined in those early days that behind the drunken veil was a life of vibrancy and opportunity. It wasn’t a million miles away. I collected myself on the way and made my way into a future that had been written off as fantasy. And, now, due to seeing the simple wonders life has to offer I cannot go back to the dark days of drinking. The fullness of life offers too much that the positives of drinking are FAR outweighed by the negatives; hangovers, regret, remorse, weight gain, financial impact, health impact. For what? A few hours of escapism and illusionary fun? Standing in a bar repeating the same tired conversations? Fuck that! I’ve seen life. I’ve seen what it has to offer and that isn’t it. Give me peace any day. Give me serenity. Give me good health and good finances. Give me not having to avoid people because I might have offended them or I have built up a world of lies. That’s where I end up. I know. I tried.
Initially, I was upset that I couldn’t drink. I thought I was missing out. Then I created a mindset and life that I wouldn’t want to trade for all the alcohol in the world. Slowly, a goal at a time I managed to get some self-respect. That alone is worth more than a night of drinking. The ending of the never-ending torrent of torment that used to barrel frantically around my head with barbed words intent on cutting my self-respect down is a gift I can never trade.
I am not perfect and sometimes get impatient. I sometimes lose my temper and say things I regret but these occurrences are not on a nightly basis like they once were. Those fleeting moments are a reminder of the damage that can be done if I lose too much control of myself. How I can slide back to the start so easily. There is a fragile beauty to sobriety. It gives so much strength but it can so easily be broken. I guess that is why I see it as something to be protected. I need sobriety for my strength but I need to protect it. And by protecting it I am rewarded with the ability to turn the dreams of the drunk me into my sober reality.