Your current conditions are echoes of your past choices…

your current situationI have honestly not had a moment to sit down and write in more than two weeks, and what an incredible two weeks it has been.  It honestly feels as though the Universe has been preparing me for the incredible opportunities that she is presently showering me with and I am beyond grateful.  Yesterday I qualified as a Life Coach and I could not even have imagined that this was possible when I was caught in the grips of my addiction.  There were some times over the last seven months while I was doing my training when I really had to push through, because it required that I take a long, hard look at my “inner obstacles” and that’s never an easy thing to do.  But I persevered through the tears and the uncertainty, and have emerged from the experience more centred, empowered and focused than ever.  I simply cannot wait to start my new journey in aiding others in their journeys to personal empowerment.  I feel more liberated than I can ever remember and am overcome with gratitude for my present set of circumstances.

Last weekend was a weekend of firsts as I mentioned in my last post, and even though there were a couple of emotional- and alcohol-charged instances, as I always knew there would be, it was an incredible weekend.  The wonderful man in my life handled meeting my family and friends with a grace and calmness that only made me adore him even more, and it was so amazing to spend an entire three days together.  I believe that we have a far stronger emotional and spiritual connection than we did a week ago and I am more excited than ever about us.  There were plenty of tears of joy shed as we watched my brother and his bride tie the knot and we welcomed a new member into our family.  It was a long overdue family reunion too and there were more of us together than there have been for about twenty years, which was exceptionally special.

We danced, we loved, we laughed and we celebrated, and not once did I feel the need for a drink.  The bridal party ensured that there was non-alcoholic champagne for the non-drinkers and the bubbles were enough!  Being there, holding the hand of the man I am truly besotted with made the weekend more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.  The time flew by, but at the end of the trip I never had those feelings that I’d experienced when special occasions were over in the past, and I was feeling hungover and miserable.  I felt happy, together and exited about what the future holds, rather than nauseated, depressed and just blue…

And then there is my unfolding new professional path…  In a couple of months I will be permanently home in South Africa and completing my specialised training as a Recovery Coach.  Over the last few months, some proactive networking has paid off and I’ve established a connection with a few really incredible people involved in the field of Recovery Coaching.  One of them is an American coach & trainer who will be visiting SA later in the year to run a couple of  Recovery Coach training seminars that I am helping to organise.  Through this I have also been blessed to meet a wonderful coach who is not only assisting in the organisation of the events, bringing her established networks and experience to the planning, but has also graciously offered to be my mentor as I start my “calling” as a Recovery Coach.

I truly feel like the Universe is smiling at me and that everything is truly coming together.  There have been times gone by when I wrangled with the idea of how our past actions create our present situation, but I embraced the idea and now it feels as though my patience and acceptance of this ideal has started to bear fruit.  Maybe I just needed to power through the negative residue from my drinking years to move into this period of personal and professional abundance.  The feeling of having true purpose is something I’ve never truly experienced, but it feels as though there was indeed a plan for me and I just needed to get to the point where I was ready to pursue my true life ambition.

I know that there will be challenges ahead as I leave the security of paid employment to begin a private coaching practice, but I know that facilitating the recovery of others through their personal empowerment will be filled with rewards and opportunities for further self-development.  And I always maintain that anything is possible with a clear head and an honest heart.

‘Til next time

Sober Something

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

when was the last timeI’ve been wanting to sit down and write for over a week, but life in the desert has been manic, hectic and non-stop for weeks!  I completed the theory assessment for my coaching certification, have been practising for my final coaching exam, planning the visit of a Recovery Coach to South Africa for a training seminar and working towards building the brand for my Recovery Coaching practice, and of course there’s been my 50-hour-plus job at the university.  Needless to say there has not been too much time for anything else.  But I am feeling invigorated and excited about life at the moment, especially because in 11 days I am flying home to South Africa for my “baby” brother’s wedding!  And of course that is a wonderful reason to cross continents.

 

It’s my first wedding in South Africa for over a decade.  Living and working abroad may have its rewards, but these often come at the expense of other things.  And for me the big one has always been the weddings I have missed.  Of course there have been other events like the births of my best friends’ children, but for me nothing quite compares to a wedding.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the kind of woman who has been planning her wedding since she heard her first bedtime account of Cinderella, but I am a complete sucker for romance and well, a wedding day is about as romantic as it gets in my book.  And needless to say, I cry at weddings, no matter how well I know the couple, and I do so unashamedly.  The celebration of a couples’ love in front of their friends and families is a wonderfully joyous occasion, even the ones where the best man’s speech makes everyone want to crawl under the nearest table and the photographer starts to become annoying arranging everyone for hours into poses for group photos.

But the truth be told this will be the first wedding I have attended since I entered long-term recovery.  Many years ago during one of my failed attempts I went to a dear friend’s wedding and spent the evening refusing offers of drinks from people I didn’t know.  I don’t remember the evening being too difficult and at that stage I was in very early recovery, which sadly did not last.  I always said when I stopped drinking that one of the things that I would miss the most would be champagne at a wedding!  So the weekend after next will be my first wedding in this six-year recovery period of sobriety.  It’s also going to be my first weekend away with the amazing man that I am dating, and the first time he’ll meet my family…and I mean almost the entire family.  To be fair it’s not a very big family, but what we lack in numbers we make up for in rather loud, demonstrative behaviour.  Most of the family talk loudly, drink heavily and don’t sugar coat much of anything.  Luckily for him he does enjoy a good red, so I’m sure that’ll “ease the pain”.  It’s also the first time in seventeen years I’ve introduced anyone to my family which is something of a recovery milestone for me too and although I am feeling a little nervous about how everything could go (mainly because my family can be a little unplayable at times) I am very incredibly excited about the weekend.

I do know that I am going to have to keep my wits about me though and remain together and level headed as the weekend rijks-480-gen1progresses towards the wedding on the Saturday afternoon.  There’s a kind of rehearsal dinner on the Friday evening, and since the celebrations are taking place in the heart of South Africa’s Winelands and the family and friends are all rather partial to a bottle or two of good wine, I just need to remind myself that I need to stay vigilant about my anxiety and try and try and stay relaxed and calm.  In fact I think I’m going to be using every present moment trick and deep breathing technique I know…  I know it’ll be an emotional weekend with lots of old friends coming together to see my brother and his fiancee tie the knot, on what I imagine is going to be a very special day.  So the weekend is going to be full of recovery firsts for me, which is something to look forward to in its own right.  Not only will I be celebrating with my loved ones, but I will also be having a quiet moment or two to celebrate with myself and how far I have come over the last six years.  It’ll be wonderful to be there with a partner next to me, rather than the wild child who would inevitably end up leading many poor friends and relatives astray with my tequila drinking.

Being able to be there and remember this special time in all its detail is something that fills me with happiness and knowing that at the end of the evening my beautiful dress, bought specially for the evening, will not be stained or torn is also a very grown up thought.  So I’m literally counting the days until I get on that plane and head home for what is going to be a weekend of wonderful firsts, including having a lovely, new sister, being asked to read a poem at someone’s wedding and not being the one to dance on a table!

Til next time

Sober Something

Relax!? Don’t do it!?

I’m sitting here and staring at the keyboard, feeling like I want to post something today, but not quite sure what it is…  And the more I think about it the less I am coming up with.  I’m feeling a little distracted and in one of those moods when I cannot fully focus on one task in particular.  I find that sometimes the idea of buckling down and completing a job that requires any level of thought and concentration are way beyond me.  The idea of grinding away at something that will only bring gratification in the long term, rather than being instantaneous, is more than I want to deal with.  I have a long list of things I need to do even though it’s Saturday.  From tasks as menial and mindless as attacking the big basket of ironing that is glaring at me from the corner of my bedroom to spending a good chunk of time working through my coaching notes for my final assessment in a couple of weeks.

What I’d really like to do is lounge next to a crystal clear ocean, preferably in a hammock, quietly whiling away the hours with a good book and languorous conversation with my guy.  It’s not going to happen today, especially considering that I am surrounded by thousands of kilometres of desert, being scantily clad is completely forbidden and the man I mention is on another continent.  And then I start to feel a little guilty about the fact that there are so many things on my to-do list and I really just don’t feel like doing any of them.  But I need to stop now and remember my own advice and look for the positive intention that the lack of concentration is bringing me and there it is…  My brain is tired!  I work a normal(ish) 5-day work week, but my weekends and evenings are taking up coaching and studying.  And by sitting here and looking at what I should be doing and making myself feel bad about it, I should rather just accept that maybe I need an afternoon (or at least a few hours) to mentally recuperate.

This is something I never learned to do while I was drinking.  If I hit any sort of resistance to the things I was trying to do, I’d simply push through and then get to the stage where I was utterly exhausted.  Generally what would follow would be a good binge session to reward myself for all my hard work, to be tailed by at least one day of feeling high levels of physical and emotional remorse, only to complete the cycle by pushing myself extra hard to make up for the days I’d lost drinking and recovering.  A vicious, unhealthy pattern of overwork and complete avoidance thereof.  So if I have to be honest with myself I guess that there are still times I begin to enter into that negative cycle.  Except now instead of getting to the point where I throw up my hands and grab a strong drink (or ten), I am learning to identify that I am in need of some downtime and do just that.  Because sitting at my desk and not getting anything done is just fooling myself that I am actually working.

It’s taken me years of personal development and introspection to understand these elements of self, and sometimes I am still incredibly hard on myself.  But truthfully I have my coaching work and personal coach of the past six months to thank for these insights.  I may think I am being lazy or unproductive, but now I’ve started to see that I need to listen to these “negative” feelings and see what they are trying to bring me.  What’s wrong with being lazy once in a while?  What’s the harm in taking a Saturday afternoon off to enjoy a good book?  It’s a whole lot better than dashing off to the bar with the first person you can find to accompany you, and then spending the night getting steadily inebriated.  And we all have a version of how that story ends…

relaxIt’s so easy to get caught in insane patterns as a recovering alcoholic, replacing previously destructive behaviours with new “healthy” ones.  But addiction comes in all shapes and forms.  It’s a case of being constantly vigilant with myself and picking up the early signs that I might just be tending towards getting into a dark vortex of extremes.  Working too much, studying too hard, being too needy in my relationship or any other kind of extreme behaviour.  I guess I have to accept that this is part of who I am and be aware that replacing one addiction with another (even if it’s not the kind that’s tied to a toxic substance) is something I need to keep in check.  I’ve even gone through stages where I’ve become obsessed with exercising or healthy eating at the expense of everything else.  What I’m constantly striving for is sustainable balance and I feel like I am getting closer all the time, but I cannot ignore the “Little Professor” inside me who is constantly trying to remind me what I need to do to maintain this long-term equilibrium.

Writing this post has made me realise that I need to switch off from my work, grab a cup of tea and find a sunny spot to enjoy a few hours of reading.  That perhaps the best time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.  Then I will be able to come back to the things I need to do refreshed and mentally relaxed, feeling good that I honoured my need to just be.

‘Til next time

Sober Something

She’s making a list…!?

I realised today that through all the personal and professional work I am doing I have started thinking about my recovery a lot more recently.  As I’ve written about before I do not believe that we should let this disease define who we are!  If you had a life-threatening illness such as cancer, you wouldn’t lead with that in a conversation with a new acquaintance would you!?  You might get to it at some stage in the proceedings, but  it’s hardly what you open with…  I don’t want to be defined by my inability to control my drinking, not being able to stop once I’ve started.  Six years of sobriety have shown me that I am not lacking in willpower and strength, and that it’s just something that I honestly have no mental control over.

I can avoid bad food, I can skirt potentially hostile dinner conversation topics, I can commit myself to personal and professional endeavours, yet when it comes to saying no to another drink I am powerless in the face of its magnetism.  I find it odd that something that is actually potentially deadly for some of us has such a strong pull on us!  Temptation is not an overriding problem for me in general and I do watch myself around alcohol, but I’ve got the facts  and awful memories so clearly mapped out that I can access the reasons I don’t drink instantaneously.  I can run down the list of “why not to have a drink” without breaking my stride.  And “the list” is always close at hand for easy referral should I ever think that I would be able to have just one drink.

I’m not under any illusion when it comes to this…  It might be a couple of drinks the first time, but this number inevitably ends up growing and before long it’s back to the “Friday Night Binge and Blackout Special”.  I’ve been down that road a couple of times.  One drink is too many and 20 isn’t enough!?  So in my mind I carry around my list of “Why I don’t drink…”.  There are plenty of points on that list and different situations may call for me to tap into different reasons, but at the end of the day they all boil down to the same thing.  If I had one drink my life would start to unravel…slowly at first, but then with increasing speed as I drank more and was sucked back into the destructive vortex of my drinking habits.  So when I have a day that I think it would be nice to have a little glass of wine to take off the edge, I need to go to my list and find a reason not to.  It might seem strange to some people that I need to remind myself why I don’t drink at times, but there it is.  There are nights when I’d love to nestle down on the couch and sip steadily on a bottle of wine, while the strains and stresses of the week washed away.  But as  a recovering alcoholic this is not even a remote possibility.

Sometimes I get annoyed that I had to stop drinking, because then I’d be able to alter my mental state when things are not going well.  I do get upset that I was hit with the genetic alcoholic stick!  Why can’t I have a drink or two to relax my frayed nerves?  Get out of my head and not worry about the things that are going on around me?  But the truth is that there is no escape from reality when you make the decision to give up drinking.  Of course there ways of learning to be more present, comfortable and centred, but they are a lot more challenging to master than lifting the proverbial elbow.  And then when I start to think like that it’s time to go to the list and remind myself how awful it feels to be miserable and hungover after a night of binge drinking.  That one normally does it, but then there’s also the increased disposable income, the health benefits, the clear conscience, the time for things I love and of course happy personal relationships.  And that’s a lot to give up for a couple of hours of mental respite.

inspiring-messageSo even though I have to admit that I wouldn’t mind slipping into a fuzzy head space every now and again, it’s not worth the price I’d end up paying.  There are the occasional cravings when I’m having a bad day or there’s a special celebration going on that I’d like to feel more relaxed at.  But then I think about why and refilling my water-glass or having a cup of coffee doesn’t seem so bad.  I love being sober and I love my life without hangovers, hazy memories, a depleted bank account and personal misunderstandings.  And I’m learning to balance my life better each day so that the wonderful elements of my life are the ones that take precedence. And when the less savoury parts pop their heads up, I am always quick to honour and acknowledge them, because they are a reminder of a time past when things were not as good as they are now and how long it’s taken me to get here.

And once the moments of craving pass I lovingly fold “the list” and slip it back into its own space so that I know where to find it when I will need to look at it sometime in the future.  I’m never sure when I’m going to have to take it out, but it’s always there when I do.

‘Til next time

Sober Something

In weakness there is strength…

I’ve had a really really tough week!  Yup, it was one of those weeks where every little trick I’ve learned for centering myself, being present and finding a personal balance seemed ineffectual.  I was quite literally an emotional and mental wreck for most of the last seven days.  And then I stopped and took stock.  I’d forgotten to honour my need to rest and recuperate.  I’d forgotten to stop for a minute.  I’d forgotten to put my personal needs above the needs of others.  I’d just been the “YES” girl and I’d let everything get on top of me.

Sometimes I forget that I’m still an infant in the area of knowing myself and my true needs.  That for many years whenever something challenging happened in my life I’d grab my bag, slip on a pair of fabulous heels and head out to the nearest party.  Because I refused to drink alone, as in my mind that epitomised alcoholism, I would simply find people to share my binges.  After all the bars of the world are full of people who don’t have drinking problems and are simply blowing off some steam.  What’s the harm in a night on the town to get over the strains and stresses of the week?  Of course I was kidding myself at the time, but a night of revelry was just the ticket to being in the moment in those days.  Maybe that’s why sometimes I find it so hard to be present at times, because if there is one thing that drinking does is that it keeps you so firmly in the now.  You’re not worried about tomorrow that’s for sure…not until tomorrow comes anyway!  And it always does, but until then each minute is lived to its very fullest with no regard for what will happen next.

There are days when I long for that escape, where time is of no consequence and the biggest worry of the evening is going to be who CHALLENGE AND CHANGEwill buy the next round.  So when I have a week like I had this week and there is nothing to help me refocus except for the skills that I have learned, it all gets a bit much.  Living away from the people I love doesn’t help in these situations because instead of coming out and asking for help and support, I tend to become clingy and needy.  Rather than simply admitting that I am feeling weak and helpless, I turn into the person I least like and whom the people in my life get rather annoyed with.  So this week I bottled it all up until I reached breaking point and the emotional walls came tumbling down around my ears.  Not really something you want to hear from someone who is planning to make their life’s work Recovery Coaching, but I’m still learning to find my core when it comes to these really dark weeks!  And then I stopped!  I breathed!   I rested!  And I honoured my need to be vulnerable and weak and in doing so I found my balance.

Taking to my bed and sleeping for an entire day seems to have brought me back to a place where I am not being ruled by unbridled emotion and where I can think and act with a greater objectivity.  When I am in these emotively driven spirals I almost feel like I am drowning and although the personal development work I am doing constantly means that I can get through these dark times a lot quicker than before, they still catch me unawares.  It’s been a while since I felt like this and it did catch me by surprise, because I wasn’t expecting it.  Yet when I look back on the days proceeding it I should have known it was coming.  Not only do I live in an environment at the moment that is completely foreign and unnatural, but I have very little real human contact.  I go weeks without even touching another person simply because the people around me are largely colleagues with whom I have a professional relationship.  It has driven home over the last months how incredibly important physical intimacy is.  And I’m not even talking sexually here.  There are days would I would gargle live scorpions just for a hug.  Then there are the daily stresses of work and an ongoing wrangle with my HR department over a large amount of money they owe me.  And the fact that the only place I really want to be is back in South Africa building the life I am envisioning for myself.

So sitting here today, feeling more my positive and energised self, I have to say that being vulnerable and admitting that I am weak at times, does not make me a lesser person.  What it does do is make me stronger through it’s personal honesty.  It doesn’t make me any less of a person than I was, rather through admitting that I am not always as focused and centred, and that I am constantly learning and acquiring new skills, I actually become stronger.  So today I embrace my emotional vulnerability and honour the fact that even though I am constantly trying to be more present that there are times when I fail at this.  But I do believe that it is only through overcoming failure and personal challenges that we grow and develop as individuals, with more to offer, more to share and more to give to ourselves and those around us.  And that in weakness there is strength…

‘Til next time

Sober Something

Was yesterday your defining moment!?

you would not be here todaySometimes it’s hard to believe that there were weekend mornings that I could barely raise my head off the pillow, both from the pain and the shame.  Now if I’m not up and about before 8am I’ve really slept in.  My weekends are busy, productive times when I get to spend time doing things that I am passionate about.  I don’t dread the rising sun anymore on a Saturday, but rather welcome the chance to be engaged in meaningful personal and professional activities that bring me huge amounts of joy.  Of course there are days when I languish and honour my need to rest, but there are days like today when the hours fly by.  When I was drinking I’d spend my weekends curled up in a ball, nursing a hangover with fizzy drinks and fatty food.  Don’t get me wrong, occasionally I do still indulge in a greasy burger and fries, but it’s not my weekend staple anymore.

Today is a wonderful example of how my life has changed over the last six years.  I was woken up by a lovely “Saturday” morning message and was at my computer before 7:30.  The reason for this is that an exceptionally exciting professional opportunity has begun to unfold for me over the last few weeks.  I mentioned it in passing in a previous post, but it seems to be gathering momentum and I am giving it my all.  I’m very focused on completing my Life Coach certification over the next few weeks and with that done I am looking towards becoming a specialised Recovery Coach.  I’ve been doing a lot of research on the internet and have been contacting various schools about the possibility of doing a course in this field.  And suddenly a distance course has turned into a wonderful Recovery Coach and Trainer, Dr Louis Gonzales from Minnesota, possibly coming to South Africa later in the year to facilitate his training course.

It all felt a little daunting at first, but as I started to stretch my organisational wings, I realised that this is something I am well capable of getting off the ground.  My mind of course has been working overtime, but not in the destructive, harmful way that minds can work.  Rather in a productive and outcomes’ focused way that is not governed by ego and insecurity.  Not only will I be able to be one of the trainees, but now I have the chance to be involved in the organisation of the training seminars.  Along with this there may be the possibility of including sponsored delegates who work in the field of substance abuse and recovery in community initiatives and volunteer programs.  Maybe I’m being overambitious, but the way I see it I may as well go for broke.  There’s absolutely no harm in shooting for the stars!

And within the last 48 hours wonderful things have already started to happen.  I shamelessly sent emails to people involved in the Coaching profession in South Africa and I’ve had some very encouraging and exciting responses.  I also have a supportive personal network, with people close to me involved in the organisation and facilitation of training seminars who have offered to assist where they can.  And of course the internet and social media are a source of incredible potential in all sorts of forms.  Honestly, I haven’t been this excited by a project in some time and I’m so excited by the challenge.

So when I think back to weekends past and how I spent them in a mist of despair and angst, it only makes days like today even sweeter.  Life just gets better and better.  And no, not every day is flawless.  I too have horrible days when I want to hide under my bed, but those days are becoming fewer and fewer as I focus my energy on things I am truly passionate about.  So I’m going to give this my all and do my very very best to see it come to fruition in a few months.  There is every chance that things may go awry, but my focus is on a positive and successful result.  I know that through this event we can bring Recovery Coaching into focus in South Africa as a much-needed alternative or addition to the current substance abuse and recovery models that are being followed.  And by that I am incredibly excited!

‘Til next time

Sober Something

 

The Habit Of Gratitude…

Denali National Park in autumn, Alaska, USA, North AmericaPractising gratitude is something that many people advocate and over the last few months I’ve made a concerted effort to include it in my daily routine. Normally there is something that happens during my day that I am truly grateful for. It doesn’t have to be anything monumental… Perhaps it’s a message that I receive or a little event during the day that reminds me how truly blessed my life is. And there are days when I have to think about it more deeply. Yet there is always something. And the more aware I’ve become aware of expressing my gratitude, the more I have had to be grateful for.

I’m not saying that every day is a blissful experience for me because of this, but I am saying that even on the bad days (and we all have them) I can find something to be thankful for. By opening myself up to possibilities by doing this daily, countless opportunities are beginning to unfold for me. Over the last few weeks I have experienced a deepening of a personal relationship, exciting professional developments and an ever-increasing sense of inner peace. Along with being grateful, I’ve also spent months really working on my personal development which has brought me greater empowerment along with a far better understanding of self. This hasn’t always been easy and I’ve dug deep to find the answers within to keep me growing as a person.

I’ve recently completed my course to become a life coach (I just need to complete my assessments) and over the next few months will begin specialising in Recovery Coaching. I’m in the process of planning a business, developing a website and communicating with people in the area of further training. The days don’t feel long enough at the moment with all the planning, research and study I am doing towards my aspirations to becoming a recovery coach. For the first time I finally know where my true purpose lies and the work that it’s going to take to get me there is invigorating rather than being daunting. I’m constantly thinking about ideas, writing notes and setting up systems that I am going to use to bring creative awareness to the recovery of those who chose to make the journey, as well as my sustained sobriety. One thing leads to another and I am discovering that I have a unique skill set that will allow me the privilege of aiding in the recovery of others. The thought of being able to pay this wonderful experience forward fills me with energy and focus. I read a wonderful blog post this morning by William L. Smith about how recovery is contagious and I loved the idea of this.

All the personal development I have endeavoured to do has started to come to fruition and make sense as I spend more time in the presence of the present. Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” which I am reading at the moment is also reinforcing that having embraced my vulnerability and opened myself up to opportunities and possibilities in all areas of my life, no matter how scary they may feel, has also had an enormous impact on my personal development. There are moments when I still question and worry, allow the anxiety to take root, but these are becoming shorter and more infrequent. And the beauty of the work I am doing is that I recognise these fearful moments now, look for the lesson they are trying to bring me and rather than fighting the feelings for long periods of time, I acknowledge them and they seem to disappear. I was dubious when I was first introduced to this idea, but I sit here after a few months of embracing this notion and have to admit that it works.

So today I am truly grateful for everything I have experienced and learned over the last six months of my recovery and coaching journey. And as I continue to practice the Habit Of Gratitude, I know that as the months and years unfold there will be more precious people, experiences and events that will fill my life. So before you go onto the next thing today, just take a few minutes to be thankful for something, just one thing, that you have today, because tomorrow there will be more.

‘Til next time
Sober Something

What are we going to do today Brain!?

I had the most incredible eight days at home last week and I am feeling more fired up and passionate than I have a long time. It wasn’t just about spending time with the people that matter to me, but also getting the opportunity to stretch myself mentally. Learning and growing intellectually has always been important to me and since I stopped drinking it has become more of a focus than before. I found that when I was drinking I’d get very enthusiastic about ideas when I was caught up in the moments fueled by alcohol, but not feel as excited about my newly hatched plans when I woke up in the morning. What I’ve found though is that now when I make plans they are far more long-lasting and my designs don’t fade in the harsh light of day. Rather my conceptions grow and develop the more time I spend nurturing them.

In my twenties and early thirties I had all sorts of grandiose schemes that I’d conceptualise with friends late at night. Often they’d be hazy the following morning and even feel silly, and within a few days or weeks they’d be discarded to be replaced the next Friday night with something which would prove to be equally fleeting. I don’t think that it was the ideas that were ridiculous, rather that I lacked the self-worth and confidence to follow through on them. And of course bringing plans to fruition takes dedication, hard work and even personal sacrifice, none of which I was willing to undertake while I was destructively fixated on my drinking. Plus these would definitely detract from my drinking (and recovery) time and seemed far too much like drudgery at the time. So I’d flit from one set of goals and aspirations to the next, never settling on anything for long enough to bring it to life.

However, as my sobriety becomes deeper and richer I have started to become increasingly excited about my plans for the future. And the more inspired and motivated I have become the more opportunities have begun to unfold. While I was in South Africa I got the chance to attend one day of a Wealth Seminar hosted by Wright Thurston, which was an event that has opened my eyes to many new and interesting ideas. This event was just one wonderful experience that materialised in the short time I was home. It has started to feel like all the practices I have put in place in my life are all starting to pay off. My personal commitment to practice the “Habit Of Gratitude” on a daily basis is beginning to shower untold personal gifts on me. Yes, I try and stay positive and upbeat, but over the months I’ve also learned how to overcome obstacles in my life, not by trying to ignore them, but rather embracing them and seeing what they are trying to bring me.

Becoming more clear about my goals and ambitions has also brought a new clarity to my future. Rather than wallowing around in a misty fairyland I have started to implement systems into my life that will lead me towards achieving my big dreams. I’m a long way off, but instead of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task as I would get when I was drinking, I am invigorated by the steps that I am taking to reach my destination. I’ve started to take more and more pleasure in the journey, rather than wanting the instant gratification in which addiction is so solidly based. Of course there are days when I stumble, but instead of retreating to the closest bar, I pick myself up and reevaluate the situation. This is something I never did in the past and I’d throw my hands up at the first sign of difficultly and move onto the next best thing. The problem with that is that I never saw anything through and never actually got to the point where I was even sure whether these ideas where even something I could accomplish. It being far easier to give up than fail in my mind. I’m learning that failure is not the end of the road, rather just the chance to take stock and decide what action to take next.

So plan, dream, aspire and stretch yourself as you move through recovery and never ever be scared of falling, because it makes you stronger, wiser and more determined when you pick yourself up and keep going!

‘Til next time
Sober Something
progress

I am not what happened to me…

Being in a new relationship can be emotionally overwhelming and something of a roller coaster ride, especially when it’s time to talk about your addiction.  But being honest about it can be incredibly rewarding when the person you open up to is understanding and supportive.  Of course people are curious as to why I don’t drink and because I am not prepared to let my alcoholism define who I am, I want people to get to know that there are so many more facets to me than the fact I have battled addiction and that continued sobriety is a fundamental part, but it’s not all, of who I am.  Last night I had the opportunity to have an honest, open conversation with an incredibly important person in my life.  It’s not like I’ve been hiding it from him, it’s just that I didn’t want it to be the part of me that we focused on as we spent the last months getting to know one another.  I’m pretty sure we’d have had the chat sooner if it wasn’t for the fact that we are in a long-distance relationship at the moment and it’s something I wanted to do while we were together.  I don’t think that there is a perfect time to have this discussion, but I chose to wait until we knew one another better and it seemed less daunting.

You can never be sure of the reaction that someone will have to this complete disclosure, but I do think that letting it define who we are means that it becomes a focus, complete with the fears of what the future may hold.  Nothing is certain in any relationship, but at some stage it’s central to the progression of truly letting someone into your life.  It’s scary thinking that it could be make-or-break point, because perhaps the person is not prepared to take it on in their life.  Yet I was pleasantly surprised at the easy nature of the conversation and his willingness to accept that it was part of me and that I am in the process of turning my addiction into my new career in the field of addiction coaching.  It says so much about a person when they remain open-minded to this element of who you are, rather than letting it overshadow everything else they have seen of you.  I count myself among the very lucky ones who has found someone who sees me as a whole person, complete with things in my past that may not be something he would chose in a partner.  He’s prepared to continue the journey with me and should there be anything that arises in the future closely linked to my sobriety, he’s agreed that we will deal with it then.

This morning as I write this I feel like our relationship has taken on a new depth and that the honesty has brought a lightness to our i am whatbeing together.  Perhaps he better understands that some of my less attractive qualities, like my deep-seated need for assurance and emotional support, stem from the fact that I have not always been able to look to myself for these things.  We spent an incredible evening together and both spoke frankly about who we are.  This being my first relationship since I stopped drinking I am learning all sorts of things about myself that I didn’t know and how to consider another person and their feelings about certain types of interaction.  It’s another exciting dimension of my sobriety because I’ve been more than a little nervous about how I would handle myself in this situation.  And there have been times when I haven’t done it particularly well, but it’s almost like learning a new skill set.  I’ve stumbled a few times, let me neediness and self-doubt take over, but the more time I spend in an intimate relationship the more I’m finding my feet and starting to feel relaxed in this new place I find myself.

I’ve made myself vulnerable, admitted that I might well make mistakes and that I am learning as I go, but the rewards are so exponential.  It’s taken a long time for me to get to the place where I am able to feel comfortable enough in my sobriety to get involved, because I believe that I am able to bring more to a partnership than I have ever been able to do.  That I’m not going to fall apart the first time something goes a little off course and I’m faced with emotional difficulty.  I’ve become more adept at dealing with the daily challenges that life presents and not running off to find solace in a stiff drink – better equipped to approach life with a maturity that I’ve not felt I possessed until recently and rather than being an emotional burden on someone.  Developing the interpersonal skills to be the type of person that someone is proud to be with.  Someone who is a supportive, loving and believes in us both without losing sight of who I am.

I’m not shy to admit that I’m feeling really good about this progress and how far I have come, especially when I think back on the unhealthy, destructive relationships I have had leading up to here.  I know that I still have a long way to go in my emotional development, but I acknowledge this about myself and know the areas that still require hard work and commitment.  My coach and I work on these parts of self that need bettering and if I look back to where I was a mere nine months ago I believe that I’ve grown immensely as a person.  It’s been scary at times, looking so deeply into self and confronting the personal obstacles that are standing in my way to being the person I really want to be.  Last night however was another stepping stone across the river of personal development and once these points are passed new ones may arise, but the growth cannot be easily undone.

Today I am incredibly grateful for the growth that an open mind and an honest heart bring.

‘Til next time

Sober Something

Do your dreams scare you?

The last 13 weeks of my life have been incredibly grueling and to be honest there are days where I have not coped very well.  There have been times when I wanted to pack my suitcases and run screaming for the airport, which is only ten minutes down the road.  But I’ve endured and through doing so have learned more than one lesson.  One of the biggest might be that by persevering when times are incredibly tough and digging really deep, we find a source of additional strength that we didn’t know we had.  I make no excuses for the copious tears I’ve shed over the last three months.  I embraced homesickness and separation and wallowed in it on certain days.  I’ve honoured the fact that I was feeling miserable at times and took to my bed for a couple of weekends.  But the one thing I didn’t do was give up!

And the beauty of it all is that it has taught me that I can endure.  Some days I feel that I use all my strength and tenacity to stay sober, but these last nine months in this country of sand has shown me that there is more determination in me than I realised.  There were moments that it took every ounce of my willpower not to hurl verbal abuse at someone because my frustration and stress levels were off the charts.  However, I’ve held my tongue, kept my integrity intact and can leave for a short break from this incredibly soulless country with my head held high.  I’ve also crossed the half-way mark of my contract and on return from eight days’ back home, I will have a mere four and a half months before I return permanently to home.  When I look back on my ten years away from South Africa I marvel at the things I’ve accomplished, the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had.  It might not always have been the most stable existence, but it was in the midst of this  tenuous existence that I got sober.

I left in August 2003 (probably incredibly hungover) and will be returning in June 2014 a very very different person.  I believe that my time away has brought me more than a stack of photos, a collection of memories and a wealth of friends.  It has also given me a new life.  Somewhere on an island in Asia, where I spent years not understanding everything that was going on around me I found complete clarity.  When I wasn’t able to properly communicate I found my own voice and my personal truth.

And I’ll be returning with far more than the luggage I carry, because over the last six years I believe that I’ve found my true purpose.  The more I move towards my goals, the bigger they get.  The more I build on my dreams and aspirations, the more exciting and inspiring they become.  At times they feel downright scary and even a little unattainable as I keep taking them to new levels.  Before I got sober I could hardly pull myself out of bed in the mornings, now the majority my days are packed with forward-focused actions.  I aspire towards the greatness that I used to only glimpse on a very good day, but now feels like it is constantly bubbling within me.  As I visualise, verbalise and record my plans I can see no reasons that I cannot become the person I’ve always had an inkling I could be.  In sobriety I know that there is nothing that can stop me except me!

if your dreams..Drinking robbed me of my motivation, my ambition and my determination but now I am going to achieve all those things that I didn’t have time for when I was drinking.  Now I am going to go out there and accomplish the things that I know I can.  It’s invigorating and exhilarating to think that even though I might have wasted a few years, that doesn’t mean that I can’t still go out there and make the difference in the world that I’ve always felt I was destined to make.  So believe in yourself and create the life you might only have imagined could be possible when you were trapped in the hell of addiction.  And if you have some bad days (or weeks) along the way be gentle and kind with yourself, because it’s all part of the process.  I’ve come through the bad times stronger, smarter and more focused than I was before and I know that there’ll be tough times in the future, but I am prepared to keep moving forward with an clear head and an honest heart.

‘Til next time

Sober Something