Sitting on a bench in quiet contemplation. Watching the people pass and the waves roll up the beach. The sound draws me back into the moment after my mind had begun to spin away into some chaotic scenario that will never happen. The thoughts hit my mind with the regularity of the waves. They can also be equally destructive.
The energy I have wasted thinking of situations that would never come to pass is unmeasurable. The anxiety that I have induced by thinking of the worse possible outcome is awe-inspiring. The anger and pain I have created from nothing just to feel something is upsetting. In an artificial world, emotions are the only reminder of reality. They are the direct route to feel alive. Unfortunately, the majority of my adult life was spent in misery. Through repetition, I came to believe that negative emotions were the only emotions I had. The pain of guilt, shame and remorse are seared into my soul. Tainted by my past I carry the weight of mistakes long forgotten. I am still making up for something that I can’t remember doing. I have long paid my debt. Yet I can’t let go. The past painted my future black so it’s time to dig out a brighter shade.
Life is a blank canvas with which we are free to paint a beautiful picture
It’s easy to cling to the shitty blanket that we mistake for security. A job, relationship, friend, addiction, they all seem to offer us something we think we lack. So through fear of an imaginary alternative, we refuse to let go. All the while we get worse. The only thing keeping us that situation is the belief that “things might just get better if I carry on!” So basically waiting for a miracle. It very rarely comes. The liberation from these situations is frightening but life-changing. It just takes work. The hard work is what gives the reward. Without it, there would be no accomplishment.
Dare to dream!
People are in different situations. Not everyone can pack up and fly around the world for six months to celebrate sobriety. But there are numerous things that people would love to do but their dreams get shelved in the pursuit of life. The hustle and bustle of families and work push the dreams to the edges of our minds. The book we wanted to write or the instrument we wanted to learn becomes a distant memory. A remnant of a time of naivety. Of hope and optimism.
Sobriety. Quitting drinking. Wellness. Whatever you want to call it is the return to that time. Drinking is like a relationship with a manipulative needy partner. You know they are going to want attention sooner or later. And you’ll feel guilty if you don’t give it to them. It’s tiring. You are on eggshells You hope it will eventually get better. Maybe even sort itself out… it never does.
The first thing I noticed when I quit drinking was the amount of time I had to fill. It was frightening. It was boring. But eventually, I started to tick off things I’d always wanted to do. It was crazy. To see achievement for the first time in my life. Each achievement giving me a little more belief. I had no self-esteem when I quit drinking but slowly it got higher. It took some believing. One year I was covered in vomit, drunk, slumped on my own doorstep. The next year I was in Italy on my own with money, sober and free. It was an incredible turnaround. It was made possible by an inner strength that I didn’t know existed. I still doubt it now but it’s there. We all have it. You may doubt it but you do. Try it and find out. You’ll be surprised at when you can achieve when you stop putting obstacles in your own path.
It was also made possible by supportive friends and family. To get the support you have to reach out. To reach out you have to admit you have a problem. A problem that you can’t deal with alone. There are plenty of people out there willing to help. We just have to let them know. Once we have identified the problem it is possible to find a solution.
I am/was the problem. Well, my thinking is the problem. Obsessive thinking. Overthinking. Over analysing. It’s debilitating. Alcohol made it go away but only for a short time. Eventually, it stopped working. When I quit drinking I realised I’d wasted my life fighting myself.
Imagining my life like a canvas, the first eighteen years are painted in the vivid colours of youth. Hope and optimism bound by a loving family. By the age of eighteen, the canvas is getting grey. From my early twenties to my early thirties it is mostly black. There are speckles of colour but ultimately they’re like a couple of stars in a vast night sky. When I quit drinking at age thirty-two it begins to change. As optimism and childlike hope returns. The world looks brighter. The freedom of sobriety allows adventure. The canvas is a collage of dreams. The essence of life is poured onto the page like paint. It is awash with icons and scenes. The simplest day becomes one to be savoured. The local park is a painting brought to life. The birds. The trees. Everything resonates with the beauty of simplicity. The vibrancy of existence speaks through the everyday occurrences. Life is happening right in front of me and I never saw it. My world was too awash with alcohol. I was transfixed by the next fix. Too anxious to engage in reality for fear of being found out. It was a bleak time masquerading as fun. Give me colour and life anytime.
It is there if you want it. The wonder of life in all its agonising glory is waiting to be seen. The hectic, busyness that masquerades as life hides, not only the true world but also our true selves. The only reflecting we do is on the screen of our mobile phones. No wonder we are so disconnected. Colour and vibrancy await. Life. Beauty. Love. Are all accessible once the soul is unbound by the limiting effects of the deadening drug that is alcohol.
The universe awaits but it has an eternity to do so. We alas, do not. So ultimately then the question is what are you waiting for? The stars are aligned and today is the first day of your liberation. Take a deep breath. Get the paints out. And start dreaming. The easel is about to get more vivid from now on.
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4 thoughts on “Life is a blank canvas…”
Such a great story. I’m glad that you found a way out of it, and are making the most from your recovery. Here’s to more inspiration to many other drinkers out there who need a role model like you. Keep on keeping on!
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Thanks, Charlie….funny, out of the blue someone gave me an easel and some paints about a month ago, which I haven’t touched because I’ve been too busy drinking…so I’m taking your blog post here to day as a hopeful sign…
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Give it a go. I would love to paint but the fear of being shit holds me back… I guess I must then 🤔
Thanks to your comment I signed up to my friends’ art class. Hope you made a start on your art career 🙂
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