This is my last week of being 40 and as I sit and reflect on the past year there have been a myriad of amazing things that have happened and a few that have not gone so well. But one thing I have learned from my addiction is to take genuine stock of things that happen in my life and evaluate the good with the bad. I am not saying live in the past, but I am advocating making sure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over again because we are not aware of what we are doing. Trying to pretend that everything has been fabulous is a definite sign that I am being dishonest with myself and that’s a warning sign that I am not keeping things real. Of course, like everyone, I prefer to focus on the wonderful aspects of my life, but to do so I have begun to realise, only gives the negative aspects of my life more strength. My coach and I worked very hard last week on how we cannot simply evict the negative aspects of self, but need to look for the positive intentions that they are trying to bring to us! I think that the same is true for the less-than-good experiences that we endure during the course of a year.
If we just try and imagine that they didn’t happen there is no lesson to be learned and no value to be gained from them. I’ve made some spectacularly bad choices this year, especially with regards to my professional life. I’m working in a job that is stressful, isolated and soul-destroying, for an upper management team that subscribes to the management school of “suck it up and, oh, have a cupcake”. And try as I may I cannot respect anyone who won’t at least try and support their staff under incredibly difficult circumstances. As a middle manager this means that my team feels like they’ve been left out in the desert to die of thirst and morale is terribly low. But even in this I am trying to find value and things to be grateful for. And I am immensely grateful that I am a person who has empathy, compassion and constantly endeavours to help others, even if those around me choose to marginalise their feelings and concerns.
But this is not a Management 101 entry, so what I am trying to say is that sobriety has taught me to be realistically aware. To not pretend that life is always perfect now that I am sober. There are times that are intolerable, but these days instead of reaching for the bottle I look inside myself for the answers. Instead of rushing off to the nearest bar when life gets stressful and demanding, I focus on what these daily struggles are showing me and how I can use them to empower myself and those around me. Of course it would be temporarily more satisfying to just get wasted, but the more I practice gratitude and acceptance, the more fulfilling it becomes.
Please don’t get me wrong there are times when I would happily throw in the proverbial towel and quit my job, but sobriety has shown me that this is not the best solution. Knowing that I am able to persevere daily without a drink means that I am bigger than my challenges and that if I look for the wisdom in the situation I will be far more at peace than if I simply run screaming for the hills! Some days it does take every ounce of willpower not to slam my resignation letter down on my boss’s desk and get on the next plane out of the country that I am working in at the moment. However, I know that quitting (though not always a bad thing!) is not the answer to this particular problem. My drinking robbed me of my self-worth and pride for so many years, that in cases like this I refuse to give up simply because I’m in the midst of something arduous. What I know is that seeing something through means that I can walk away at the end with my head held high, my integrity firmly in place and a set of new, though difficultly learned, lessons.
I feel like I am rambling a little tonight, but I am actually exhausted at the moment and need to listen to my body and give it time to rest before my stress levels become unmanageable. Remembering to take time for yourself and just “be” is an incredibly important part of staying present (and sober!!!) and being able to unemotionally evaluate what’s going on, because once I get too tired or emotional I start rushing around in the unreachable future and getting bogged down in the quagmire of the past. Being present, aware and centred and being able to use life’s ups and downs to my best advantage means I need to stay in the moment as much as possible and be an objective observer of my life to make it as rich and fulfilling as possible. So I am going to finish this entry, run a hot bath and have an early night and just be at peace with my day and what it has brought to me.
‘Til next time