The good ship sobriety…

Hello, it’s been a while. I haven’t written anything for months.

I’ve been swept along by the insanity of life. It all seemed to happen at once. Not a manageable trickle but a deluge. The chaos of closing my house sale, moving in and decorating. Coupled with uncertainty at work. Buffeted by the tides. The storm has calmed yet the horizon is dark with a promise of a foreboding future. I should be worried. I should be concerned that I will fall overboard and into the murkiness of the drink. But I am not. The good ship Sobriety is strong. I wish it didn’t need to be tested to demonstrate its seaworthiness. It comes through, time and time again. For that, I am grateful.

It’s the difficult times that cement my decision to quit drinking. It is the times that would have had me dashing in a panic, screaming foul at a starless night sky, in drunken revelry. Claiming to be damned by some invisible force. It is those times when the benefits of not drinking appear like a fortunate piece of driftwood to a drowning man. Who would have thought that uncertainty would create certainty? An uncertain future creates resilience that the best possible outcome can only be achieved with a clear mind. A clear mind can only be achieved without alcohol or drugs. I may overindulge in other vices, I am not immune. Too much caffeine and too much sugar. But they are not destroying me as alcohol did.

Chapters close in life and things move on. Some people move on with me. Either in person or in memory. Positive or negative. But I know that the best years of my life thus far have been at the service of others. The sober version of me did more positive in the world than I could have ever imagined possible. For that I am proud. And being proud of myself wasn’t something I experienced much, if at all, whilst drinking.
The greatest realisation amongst all this chaos is the relative peace I can find. Getting caught off guard by the silence no longer brings the need to escape it like it once did. The inner chatter no longer berates and demands like it once did. Outer peace now brings a smile. It once only brought fear. Contentment, I think it’s called. It came when I stopped searching.

I don’t know where this journey ends. I don’t know what the future holds. It could bring destruction to my reputation and career. It could not. All I know is that even if I need to batten down the hatches, the good ship sobriety will make it through the worse of storms. But I must ensure that it is maintained properly.

If I look after it, it looks after me. Those small things that work for me are all it takes to keep the mast high and ship sailing. There are storms. There are fearful moments but so far I have come through them. The choppy waters are a reminder to enjoy the stillness and calm of life while it is there.

For a long time, I felt like I was waiting. Waiting for change. Waiting for a saviour. Waiting for it to all go wrong. Just living on tenterhooks. Too concerned about the next catastrophe to enjoy the sunshine. On reflection, most of those worries never came true. I spent vast amounts of time living beyond the moment. Living in fear. In angst. But they never came to pass. The things that did arise were unsighted. Often things I wouldn’t have thought about. Yet still, I managed to come through them. That is an incredible testament to the life and character changing potential of quitting drinking and taking the helm. Dearing to venture into waters that the tales I told myself stopped me from exploring. The world I have seen and the life I have been fortunate to live thus far brings a smile to my face in the moments of silence. No longer are my thoughts of worry and regret. Of shame and guilt. They are of a sense of daring and sometimes winning and sometimes losing. That is life.
It’s crazy to even write that I am sure the future will be alright. Whatever happens, I will be able to make it work. That’s because I have done so for the last seven years since I quit drinking. Trial and error. As long as I didn’t drink.

I have found my weaknesses and my strengths. I have admitted defeat and accepted mental health issues. I’ve learned to accept I can’t go it alone and need to reach out for help once in a while. I’ve learned that not all people are as villainous and treacherous as I once thought. Some are though. I’ve learned that good friends are hard to come by. And the ones who encouraged me to pursue my potential. Who created belief, when all I had was doubt. It is those people to who I owe it all. I often thought I was going it alone. That I was battling the elements and trying to navigate the perilous waters of life without a crew. But it is when the storms hit and I am struggling. This is when I see who has my interests at heart. Tough times are great lessons.

I have been fortunate to learn through my recent hard times, not only who my friends are, but also how much of an impact I have had on other people. More positively than negatively thankfully. The feedback I received recently let me see how the hardships of my life have been useful to others. The dark times when I felt damned to a life of punishment have become lessons of hope for others. The long crawl back from the rock bottom of debt, drunkenness and destruction was not for nothing. To realise that there is meaning in all the years of torment make it a little easier to accept. Students I gave life advice to, who, years later, remember it fondly and have incorporated it into their life is all I set out to achieve. I couldn’t have done it whilst drinking. I was a reckless selfish prick with a single ambition during my drinking days. To be of value to others I must not drink. To gain value in myself I have to not drink. To reach my goals and dreams I must not drink. To get what I deserve I must not drink. To steer this ship through the stormy waters of life I must not drink. Not because I can escape danger but because I have more chance of dealing with it if I am clear-headed.

I use the ship and water analogy because I was once smashed against the rocks. Now I am standing at the bow pointing fearlessly at the horizon. Excited about the future. No longer fearful of the dangers of the next wave.

Charlie

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