When I was in my late teens and early twenties I was a “lad“. Well, a wannabe lad who was really a nerd. I would dismiss anything that laid outside of the narrative of my created image. This approach cut me off from so much of life. The bravado I believed I needed to protect me, isolated me from the connection I actually needed. This made me needy because I thought that someone would save me. Any indication of affection was misconstrued as salvation. Yet, any questions asked regarding my behaviour were perceived as an attack and shut down. It was a confusing time; wanting a saviour but chasing away any help. Closed off and isolated.
I eventually learned that nobody could walk the path for me. I had to be vulnerable but I also had to be accountable. Waiting for change had got me nothing but more misery. It was time to take action.
One of the central facets of addiction is the unwillingness to take responsibility. Without exercising the all-important watershed of self-responsibility, breaking the compulsive cycle that leads to addictive behaviour is all but impossible.https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/enlightened-living/201006/addiction-self-responsibility-and-the-importance-choice
I could have written a book on bullshit excuses I used to justify my behaviour whilst drunk. I used to call alcohol my “get out of jail free card.” The power in those three words “I was drunk,” gave me immunity. So I thought. I was convinced that if I just kept drinking it would work out well in the end. I mean why did I have to change I would be saved right? That’s how life works? Someone steps in and does it all for you?
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the people who tried to help were batted away with bullshit. I wouldn’t change because I was scared of change. I would say “I can’t stop drinking…” what I meant was “I won’t stop drinking…” I used to say “I can’t lose weight…” what I meant was “I can’t be arsed to lose weight…” Why? Because change is scary and it can be very fucking hard to do.
But that shouldn’t deter you from trying because it is incredibly rewarding!
I had to learn that I had been looking for an external solution to an inner problem. Alcohol, food and anything else that could change my mood were to blame for my failings. I never considered that I was the mechanism that enabled their administration. Throughout my drinking life I had been spewing vitriol at a world I believed had failed me. Drunkenly, I would shout obscenities at the night sky. The silence from the ether only served to antagonise me further. Alcohol combined with my victim mentality created a perfect storm within. Anger and frustration from fear of failure slowly eroded my self-belief. I was systematically hollowed out and abandoned. Alcohol was a grifter that I let into my life. Yet, even after noticing the danger, I continued to fuel the devastatingly toxic relationship out of fear of change.
A rock bottom exposed me to the error of my ways. Not the first rock bottom but so far the last one. “Just because life slaps you across the face doesn’t mean you won’t chance it again.” Rock bottoms are talked about like they are some divine moment of clarity. What isn’t mentioned is that A LOT of people have many before the message gets through. Myself included.
In the early days of my sobriety, AA asked me to adopt a higher power and “hand my problems over.” I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to outsource my problems anymore. I had been pointing the finger, blaming others and hoping someone else would solve my problems for years. All the while refusing to take action. I used to sit in bars thinking it’ll probably work out in the end… MY LIFE ONLY EVER GOT WORSE. Sorry for the caps but some people don’t get the message that; waiting for change, whilst doing the thing you want to change, doesn’t result in change. I’m sure you would have a few things to say if your house was on fire and the fire-brigade stood and watched it burn down saying “it might go out on its own!”
Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.James 2:14-26
Even being as open-minded as I could, I still struggled with the AA program and sought other means of going inward. I had been waiting for an external saviour for years so maybe it was time to look elsewhere.
I began meditating thanks to a Kundalini yoga DVD I had used to lose weight. It worked on the weight and also, opened my mind to new pursuits. I thought that maybe meditation would help to get a grip on my thinking. I had been battling depression throughout my life but just didn’t know it. I had assumed that the low level of drudgery was a part of life that we all endured. The reward for this drudgery was alcohol. Yet, deep down I hoped there had to be more to life. I was scared of being different. Yet yearning to release the fire of inquisitive exploration that burned within. I wanted to get to know who I was and meditation has been a key component in that.
I started to practice and over time, began to see parts of my psyche I had forgotten. I had some experiences that made me realise that I was on the wrong road. I changed careers as a result. I found fulfilment in what I was doing for the first time in my life.
I have used different meditation practices from focusing on breathing, mindfulness and transcendental. In the AA steps it talks about meditation but it is referring to Christian meditation to bring people closer to God. The difference can be seen here;
“Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.”
I didn’t want to get closer to God. I wanted to know what I wanted and who I was. I’d been living a lie for so long I’d forgotten the truth. The character had consumed the actor. Thankfully, meditation made me centred for the first time. Coupled with the clarity of not drinking I was able to find a stable footing.
Being present allowed me to experience life in its simplistic wonder. To connect to moments I missed when my head was careering from one imaginary catastrophe to the next. Imagining one terrible scenario after another.
The life I have experienced since has been more simplistic but more beautiful. I have had some great connections to life and other people. The spirituality/connection I have felt is merely an understanding that I am a small part of a large universe but I still have a part to play. A deep realisation that my actions impact other people and nature. But I need those things to be able to enjoy life. The greatest of these feelings is always whilst walking. Either long distances or in nature. It reminds me to be grateful for my body and also, not to take nature for granted. It’s easy to be distracted by technology and miss the beauty that surrounds me. Walking and being present are the basis of my recovery. If I enjoy the simple things then all the other things are a luxury. It’s almost as if I had become so detached from nature that my life had grown to be unnatural.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
I spent years sitting on a barstool waiting for divine intervention to turn my life around and it never came. I had to stop believing in saviours and take action for myself. Thankfully, others came to the same conclusion. They walk beside me on the path of sobriety but they can not walk it for me.
Don’t wait for change. Make it happen!