It is the end.
Five months of travel has come to an end. I am typing this at the airport. I have just achieved my dream of travelling the world. It is a dream I have held since I was in my late teens. It only happened because one day I said “I’ve had enough. I have a problem and I want to change!”
I now ask myself the question “Now what? What do you do when you have achieved your wildest dreams?”
The adventure fades into the past and becomes a memory. A moment that may never have happened. The world seems a little darker and the future less titillating. I wander through duty-free trying to forget about the tears that are amassing behind my eyes. Each tear a memory. A celebration of an achievement that was never expected. I notice I am in the hard liquor aisle, by coincidence, I didn’t wander here like some sort of alcoholic homing pigeon. The bottles seem blank and lifeless. They no longer offer a solution to my current plight. I am at the lowest I have been for years but this isn’t depression. This is the comedown from the greatest time in my life. I want it back. I want those five months of travel back. I want them again. I want to relive each day again. I never said that whilst drinking. I drank to escape each day. I pause for a minute and look at the bottles. There is nothing here for me. There is no longing. No yearning. It’s like looking at a photo of an ex-girlfriend who I know reconciling with would only end in disaster. The solution resides inside me. I have to accept, regroup and go again. To where? I don’t know.
The tears won’t leave. My emotions are discombobulated. A mixture of joy, sadness and loneliness. Joy at being able to see it through and achieve what I never thought possible. Sadness at it being over. And loneliness from the people I met and left behind.
I don’t know what I am going to do. I am unsure for the first time in years because I no longer have a plan. I am not worried about the lack of direction. I am encouraged by the freedom I still have thanks to not drinking. The freedom to draft up another plan and set more goals.
I just never expected to be at this point.
My focus was first on quitting drinking and then on reaping the benefits of sobriety. I am at the end of that road. The dreams I drafted out on a scrap of paper and hung next to my desk as a reminder are now complete. I never expected to say that. Those words should belong to someone else, not me. Not the man who gave himself no chance. But they do and on reflection, it was easier than I thought it would be. At the time, the change seemed hard. The changes I wanted to make seemed like trying to turn the titanic the second before impact. That’s why I broke them down and gave no deadline. I didn’t want pressure I wanted to change and was prepared to wait for it to happen. I had the belief it would turn out okay and thankfully it did. A drinking problem is progressive and so is wellness. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and patience but with goals and determination, it will be fruitful.
My flight is boarding so I fight the tears and make my way home.
The UK is in the grip of winter. The cold seeps into my bones as reality seeps into my mind. I have no plan, no crosses to bear. I have given what was owed to the alcoholic me, a life beyond my wildest dreams. I achieved what I could never have done back then and feel proud to have done so. Yet, on my return, I feel a sense of emptiness like something is missing. I notice that I browse shopping websites for something to buy. Like an item will fill the void. Maybe it will for a short time but it seems like a series of short term fixes for a long time. It’s almost as if the adventure I found whilst travelling resonated with me. The unknown gave me contentment. Alcohol clearly filled the void. A void that I dare say is experienced by large amounts of the population. Who, like me, are left wanting by the consumption-based model we find ourselves in. A poor imitation of life. Constant searching for contentment in a culture that promotes discontentment. Food, sex, clothes, electronics, anything to itch the scratch, even for a short while. But there is no void. There is no perfect item to make us complete. We are already enough. It all resides within. There is beauty in everyone.
People will wrongly assume that my “hippie” outlook can be attributed to the travel but it is due to the work I did on myself in sobriety. The meditation, yoga and the books I read played a part. I had to release the shit that used to twist my brain into a knot. The world problems that I had adopted yet had no chance of changing. I was killing myself with worry. I had to learn to release them and pick my battles wisely. I had to stop and smell the roses every once in a while. Embrace the simple beauty in life and celebrate being alive. Not weighed down with pointless guilt and worry.
I know my purpose. I just have no idea how to make it happen, yet. I climbed off a barstool, paid back what I owed and achieved my dreams. It is time to pay it forward. To demonstrate the way. To help others achieve what they thought they never would. To help others find the strength to find the answers. How this takes place I am not sure yet. I will keep writing blogs in the hope that someone gets something from them but in the long run, I will need to be more involved. I want to do this because I once thought that the cyclic mundanity that was my life was life. I thought the self-loathing negativity was normality. I thought that it was my destiny to live like that. I sit here today knowing that nothing is further from the truth. The world I thought existed was a mirage. An illusion that I had created to keep me from trying. I lived two lies; the version of myself I showed the world and the world I thought I lived in. No wonder I was so messed up.
It took courage at the start. “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” That step was saying “I’ve had enough. I have a problem and I want to change!” I had to say it. No one could say it for me. I had to say it. I had to believe it and I had to mean it. I spent years lying to myself and that had got me nowhere. It was time to get honest. First, with myself and then the world. Of course, it was scary but the fear was just a barrier I had created to stop me changing.
At first, I just stopped drinking. Nothing more. I just focused on not drinking. There was a temptation. A craving to escape. To scratch the itch but I knew where it would take me and I was tired of being in that place. I was then left with a void of time and loneliness. As I had consumed alcohol it had consumed my time and my emotions. Now I had time to fill. I believe if I didn’t fill that time then boredom would have crept in and then old habits would have come back. I had to get busy living. Sobriety is the time to achieve the things that were once unachievable. To be the person who you deserve to be. So dust off those dreams and bring them into the light. It is time to believe in yourself. It is time to reward yourself for making the change. Not be punished for the decision. It seemed like I was missing out on life at the start of my sobriety. My friends would be out drinking and having a “good time”. I would be at home drawing a comparison and questioning my decisions. But over time I began to see the rewards of not drinking; financially, physically and mentally. It was hard to not fall back into the old routine but that is why it is so important to replace the old habits with new healthier ones. I read books on confidence, self-help and personal growth. All things I would have laughed at previously but I wanted to change and I had to be prepared to change to make it happen. I don’t know why I believed that it would be better. I guess I just thought that being sober couldn’t be any worse. I had blamed everything and everyone for my problems. Everyone, accept me and everything, accept alcohol that is. So it was the only thing left to try. I’m glad I realised before it was too late.