Man will survive
The harshest conditions
And stay alive
Through difficult decisions
Decision 1: “Stop drinking”.
It seems that every day or every week I am facing tough decisions that I never thought one year ago I would even be contemplating. I guess because 1 year ago I made one of the toughest decisions of my life; that I now compare all decisions to that. I recently posted about how my priorities were now clear, and each is backed by a firm decision.
Recently those decisions have also been pretty fundamental. After deciding to quit drinking life and its priorities have changed. Not drinking is decision number 1 and the linchpin on which everything else rests. It was the hardest decision I have ever made, and one that took a lot of courage and self analysis and honesty with myself about my life. I hope anyone reading this takes some comfort from this blog, but I can never articulate the process of getting to the point I knew I had to quit. I’ll never forget the day I left ‘The Drive’ and it hit me I had to quit. Not cut down, not stop for a week, a month, a year. No, forever.
I left The Drive that day, my heart racing and panic coursing through my veins. What would life be like without booze, the one thing that made life bearable, my friend in the darkest moments…but really the enemy dragging me down. At that time the enormity of quitting was completely overwhelming. I needed to drink…a sure sign I needed to stop.
Decision 2: “If you’re going to do it, do it with all your heart”
I also decided to throw myself into work big time. I needed to fill a gap in my life left by all the time wasted in pubs and bars and sitting at home with a bottle of vodka contemplating life, thinking I was some kind of tortured artist. Not what I really was which was just a sad isolated guy hiding in a bottle.
But that was then. And I was good at my job then, and now I am awesome! Yes really.
That’s not ego, that’s because whatever anyone else thinks, I know I’m doing a really good job and more importantly I am really enjoying it. The mornings aren’t a struggle to get up, the afternoons aren’t spent waiting for the work to finish so I can go for a pint. The evenings aren’t spent drinking and reading and passing out.
So work has improved, although my job may be perilously close to being made redundant; but that’s ok. I’ve made plans, made sure those that need to know, know I’d move anywhere for a new role and that I want a bigger challenge. I’m ready. I’d move from Brighton to mainland Europe or wherever the work might take me, but with the constraint that I can still travel easily to see my estranged son.
But that’s just work…If one job goes I will get another, and another and another. Doing whatever it takes and whatever makes me happy. I may work too hard, but as long as my motives are genuine and it’s not an excuse to avoid other issues then that’s no bad thing.
Decision 3: “Push myself physically to the limit…and enjoy it”
I have also pushed myself to the limit improving my health. I always went to the gym, even when drinking but with work travels that has become impossible, so I have taken up running. Again I have posted about that before and one of the biggest moments this year was the half-marathon a few weeks back.
I am now up to about 30 miles per week in total distance and I’m really enjoying it…mostly. I hate running in the cold, in the wet, in the dark…but the days where the sun is shining there is nothing better than running along the seafront, pushing myself physically but also giving my mind time to unwind. I never run with music, I use it as meditation time and it’s a great stress relief. It also fills up the few hours I might have been wasting in the pub. So when the cravings hit, and they still do, I know if I go for a run the cravings will go and I’ll feel so much better for it.
So with my priorities set, no drinking, work hard, get super fit why am I tilting this difficult decisions? Well because life isn’t always great and some decisions are neither fundamental or so clear.
Decision 4: “Know your limits”.
With all the good stuff it’s easy to think I can rule the world. I can’t.
A peer I work with is loosing her job and there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t help, beyond just listening and offering a ear to be bent. I want to intervene but I can’t. I’m gutted by the decision that she has to go, I think it’s wrong, I think it’s unfair and I’m going to miss her. she’s just a mate but I am powerless to help. That’s life.
I have also decided I am not superhuman, and I am going to have to defer running the Brighton Marathon in April. Last weekend I managed my longest ever run, by far. Training was going well, and I made it to over 20 miles!
So, all looking good training wise and I was thinking how great it would be to complete a marathon. This weekend I had hoped to go a little further but it wasn’t to be.
10 miles…less than half distance. So what happened? About 4 miles in I got shooting pains in my hamstring. The pig-headed stubborn ‘I must go on’ voice in my head pushed me to carry on but by 8 miles it was agony….a short walk, try again, a short walk, try again.
Shouting at myself to go on, and on. But couldn’t. Standing in the street swearing like the nutter I felt….close to tears. I think it was frustration kicking in. I so wanted to go against everything everyone has said.
No one thought I’d be able to do a marathon and I wanted to prove them all wrong.
I wanted to continue my running success building on the half. I hoped to do the full 27 miles in under 4 hours. But now I have to accept my limits. I ran again the next day…at 2 miles I turned around and walked home. Decision made.
I’m deferring the Brighton Marathon, it’s in 3 weeks so I’ll never recover in time. But that’s ok. I’m gutted of course and my confidence dented, but my running doesn’t define my confidence. Maybe I’ll do a marathon later in the year, or maybe I won’t. It doesn’t matter.
These decisions I am now taking would never have been possible when I was drinking. Back then I thought life was ok, I thought work was ok, I was fairly fit and healthy so I thought…
I am so grateful that I can now make decisions true to my self. These decisions make me who I am and are made free from addiction thinking.
“Man will survive
The harshest conditions
And stay alive
Through difficult decisions”
Lyrics from Judas by Depeche Mode