It is hard to believe but we have already been back in Ireland for 10 days. It would be nice to slow this holiday right down because there is so much more that I want to fit in. I’m so enjoying spending time with my family and sleeping in my childhood home. I don’t even mind that it is cold, dark, and wet most of the time – it is a pleasant change from the constant heat of Thailand. In the evenings I go for long walks, and this has given me a great opportunity to reflect on my past, my current situation, and where I want things to go in the future. I’d been hoping that this trip would give me the chance to re-evaluate my life, and this is proving to be the case.
My Struggles in 2012
I can see now that 2012 hasn’t been such a great year for me. There were definitely plenty of highlights and nothing really bad happened, but I just haven’t been feeling right internally. At times it has even felt like I’ve been sliding towards depression – something that I never believed could happen to me after giving up alcohol over six years ago. The truth is that I’ve somehow lost my way and unless I can get back on track my life will continue to be a bumpy ride. My long walks here in Ireland are given me the opportunity to see where I’ve gone wrong. The fog that has been clouding my thinking is lifting, and I’m beginning to feel excited about the future again.
This probably sounds naive, or even egotistical, but there is a path that I’m meant to follow in life. I’ve no idea who or what decided that I should follow this path, but I do know that when I go off track my life begins to turn to shit, and it stays that way until I find my way back. When I’m on the right track I still have bad days, but these are just the normal ups and downs of life. I can have good days when I’m off track but overall there is a downward movement. I was on the wrong path for almost two decades of my life, so I’m fairly expert at how it feels. The obvious sign that I’m on the right path is that I enjoy a great sense of inner peace – an inner strength that means I can deal with anything that life throws at me. I enjoyed this sense of serenity for the first five years of my recover from addiction, but during these last few months it has been mostly replaced with doubt and worry. I still have my good days but serenity is no longer my normal mode of operation.
Getting Back on Track
One of the most significant things in my life occurred during my mid-twenties. I was living in a third stage alcohol rehab facility, and the therapist cajoled me into doing some voluntary work with kids with severe learning difficulties. I reluctantly agreed to do this, and it turned out to be completely life changing. I took to this type of work like a duck to water (sorry for the cliché). The most amazing thing was that it was the most powerful therapy I’d ever encountered. One of the reasons the therapist suggested this work was that she felt that I was about to relapse, and that I needed to do something drastic to get me outside of my head. Who would have thought that getting me to focus on other people would turn out to be the thing that saved me?
When I returned to the rehab after my first day volunteering my fellow ex-drunks were shocked. They kept on asking things like, “what the fuck happened to you?” My face was literally glowing, and it was the happiest I’d ever been in my life. I felt such great inner peace, and I knew that I’d found my path. It was because of this that I decided to go back to college and train to be a nurse. It seems that I’m only truly happy when I’m trying to help other people. It was shortly after this that I had this amazing spiritual experience that has also had a huge impact on my life.
I loved working as a nurse, and I do get days when I really miss it, but my path has led me to working as a writer. For a long time this has felt completely right, but this last year I’ve become less satisfied with this way of life. The work that I get from clients is what puts the food on the table, but I spend most of the time writing about things I’ve no interest in. I’m happiest when I’m writing blog posts about addiction and spiritual things, but by the time I’ve completed work for clients there is little time for this type of writing. This has led to me feeling a bit down about my career, and this further saps my energy for writing. I no longer even feel like a writer – just a small business owner who happens to write.
I have had people question my need to keep talking and writing about addiction. After all, I claim that my alcohol problems are behind me, so why do I need to keep banging on about this issue? The reality is that I need to do this because it makes me happy. It gives me the chance to focus on other people, and try to help them out. I get emails every week from those struggling with addiction problems, and I never look upon writing my replies as a chore – I’m honoured that people would consider me worthy of offering them advice. I do believe that my experience as a drunk and as a nurse puts me in a good position to offer advice. I’ve faithfully tried to deal with my problems in an open way, and maybe my experiences can help other people. From my side of things it might not even matter – the selfish reality is that it is trying to help other people that gives me inner peace and not necessary the fact that my efforts do ultimately help them. Of course, I do genuinely want to be of service, and I believe that I have been, but I’m just being honest here.
The solution to getting back on track is obvious. I need to find more time to focus on writing content that is going to be of value to other people – particularly people who are struggling in life. I know what it is like to live in a world of shit, and I know how to escape this world. I want to spend more time sharing my experiences – that is what makes me happy, and that is my path.