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I find the term carefree living an interesting one. Sobriety has in many ways provided me with a lifestyle that is more carefree if anything it has provided me with an opportunity to care more about the world in which I live and the people that share the world with me.
Dictionary definitions of carefree include light-hearted, joyous, elated and cheerful.
‘Wear your sobriety like a flowing robe, not a hair shirt or indeed a hessian mankini’, these are words that I have heard issuing from my sponsor, the addition of the hessian mankini was a one time ad lib, but you get the point.
Sobriety has provided me a platform from which I can care more about the world around me than I used to, I can care for my family, choose to live in a way that I can add positively to the world rather than detract from it. With this potential comes responsibility, it does not however weigh me down it fills me with hope for the future, it gives me possibilities of health, love, fulfilled potential, of working towards dreams so that they might come to fruition.
This is a far stretch from the weight and heaviness that comes with alcoholism and addiction. The promise of drink and drugs for me was the potential to prolong the party, to remove myself from the humdrum everyday life that I found dull and tawdry. I wanted to my world to transform on the weekends, indeed as often as possible and substances helped me remove myself from myself. They turned all that did not glitter to gold, for a time, there were always consequences however there was a time in which I was surrounded by so many friends that I could keep at bay the darkness of alcoholism that would eventually overcome me as I like so many others before, and after me will attest to, the utter isolation and desolation which comes to visit us when we are truly alone and our one companion is the bottle and the drug.
I was always active and exercised, it is something that I managed to maintain not with strict adherence to I might add, throughout my drinking. It was a tool that I used to try and counter the awfulness I felt whist living in that way.
Alongside meetings, the climbing wall has become a place of solace and joy, the feeling of total focus, of a body working in harmony with mind is a wondrous thing, it helps me to reset in times of stress and gives me a space to think and be when I need. Admittedly I am no climbing expert however as you continue and progress, joys that seemed previously locked away open up to you, joys that for me without being sober would have been locked away.
Another part of the last six and half years for me has been a growing relationship and understanding of the sea. Surfing has been something that I briefly tried and loved whilst I was drinking, I could not focus on or give the time and energy required to improve. Memories of peeling blue heavy waves waves in Morocco, glittering seas, gorse and summer days in Cornwall and the pumping surf of Indonesia have all contributed to the mosaic that has made up a healthier and happier way of life in sobriety. Not always easy, however a life which if I were to die tomorrow, I would die safe in the knowledge that I had lived in a way that made my soul rejoice, not mired always within the fog, confusion and self loathing that comes with the bottle for the alcoholic.
Jersey was always an important character in my childhood; beaches emptying at sunset, the smell of gorse in summer, sandwiches with sand in and emptying evening beaches are imprinted into memories of my childhood. Contact with this wondrous part of the world has been rekindled since I stopped drinking. I do not get there as much as I would like however every few months, me and my surfboard make the flight from London and stay with friends. I cannot explain the joy that I find in pitching up at first light on a day with a good swell and heading out into the waves. It seems unthinkable to me today that I might live in a way that means I cannot access this joy, however that is what drinking and using mean for me. I am confined to a life of constant exhaustion from being up late and partying and for searching for that elusive high that is always disappearing around the next corner.
I have been to open air techno nights in Berlin, warehouse parties and festivals; all with my head held high whilst not getting high. I don’t go to these occasions all the time however when it feels right to I do. I still have a love for a heavy bass line and dancing until the sun comes up, maybe once or twice a year nowadays. I know these times aren’t for everyone in recovery and it feels important to mention that whilst these times can be shared with good friends, temptation is present and you need to ask yourself very carefully what your intention is before going to a party where drink and drugs abound. If your intention is good, then I think that a recovering alcoholic can still enjoy these times, be aware though they will drain you in an unexpected way.
In sobriety, I have hiked up mountains, learned to surf, climb, practiced the odd bit of yoga and continue to practice meditation, these are all activities through which I am able to find the joy in the everyday. The reality is that for me, a life of drinking and drugging, which I thought provided me with freedom and liberty was in fact prison that would follow me to the ends of the earth and beyond.
Life in sobriety provided many challenges, I have no doubt it will continue to do so. I do however feel that I am living in a way that is aligned with my happiness, and feel that I am living in a manner with which I can feel happy and in a way proud.
So yes I am carefree, I am also however careful, caring, responsible, joyous, grateful and hopefully working at and learning to be present.
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