A heightened self-awareness, a commitment to self-discipline and a deeper understanding of what reality feels like has brought me here, to a place I never thought I’d be.
I was walking around the city on a blue-skied bank holiday, looking around at how people were choosing to spend their long weekend off work.
Beer gardens were full, everybody had a glass of something in their hand and by the early afternoon, bodies were swaying, words were being slurred and people were falling over.
And standing from the sober sidelines, I didn’t feel envious at all. I didn’t feel a longing to be back part of that world, in fact, I felt sad that alcohol has come to be our bestest friend and our greatest escape.
My love affair with alcohol started in my mid-teens and developed into a full-time relationship by my early twenties. And it’s only now, through looking back at those times and journaling about them that I realise just how much I was using alcohol to mask over my reality.
I remember walking into bars when I was seventeen or eighteen years old and everybody in there would turn to look. I was so shy and so nervous – I hated the idea of all eyes being on me, so I’d head straight to the bar to soothe my nerves, and before long I’d be feeling confident enough to relax.
In my early twenties, I drank for fun. I went to parties and all-night raves that lasted til the sun came up. I went to festivals where a beer for breakfast was more than acceptable and hair of the dog cocktails were the only way to get through.
In my late twenties, I was drinking for taste. I fell in love with espresso martinis, biodynamic wines and tawny ports. I went to tastings and dinner parties and glamorous events full of cocktails and canopes.
Drinking has always been a huge part of my social life and being social has always been a huge part of my life.
In my early thirties things started to change.
My mind was deteriorating from the cruel effects of a toxic relationship and it didn’t matter where I was, who I was with or what I was drinking – I was no longer drinking for fun. I was drinking to escape the the reality I didn’t want to admit was my own.
The Devil’s poison began latching onto my thoughts and contaminating them even more and I could feel its cancerous effects spreading out around my body. I found comfort in the numbness.
For a while I carried on as usual, I went to parties, I hosted dinners, I had prosecco picnics and cosy nights in – all with a glass in hand. But after a few years sinking down and down towards rock bottom, a switch flipped and I took control.
I began channelling my energy into doing good stuff to be a better me, my curiosity was heightened and I was applying critical awareness to everything. And as I did, my desire to drink became less and less and less.
I became instantly aware of what was happening to my mind and body with every sip.
I could feel my head getting lighter, my pace of speech slowing right down and my posture beginning to slump. I knew that my perceptions were being altered, my inhibitions lowered and I was no longer in control of what I was thinking.
I was sinking deeper and deeper into a pointless state of nothingness as alcohol’s anaesthesia poured through my veins.
As time went on, I swapped my mimosas for meditation and daiquiris for downward dogs – and before long, my love affair with wine was officially over.
It’s been a lifestyle overhaul that has brought about so many benefits to my mind, body and soul but also given me an immense and unexpected sadness.
I became painfully aware of the damage alcohol is doing to the world around me.
I realised just how many people are suffering with either misuse or addiction and in fact, how every single one of us, whether it’s to that extent or not, have an unhealthy relationship with our liquid elixirs.
And it affects all of us.
I know incredibly successful people with demanding jobs who consider it normal to wind down with a bottle of wine most nights of the week. I know people who are noticeably moody or get the shakes until a frothy pint is in their grasp. And I know others in their thirties who still behave as recklessly as they did in their twenties – drinking to remember and drinking to forget.
Alcohol has got to be the number one way we escape our reality today.
The Pom Mountain Piss Up
Our world is saturated in sambucas and sadness and it’s something I’ve thought about relentlessly as I’ve questioned my own perception of reality. I
When I was living on the island of Koh Samui just a few months ago, every few days I’d head to Pom Mountain for a four hour hike to fill my lungs with fresh forest air and stare out over the white sands and bright blue seas.
Just before my climb, I’d stand there at the foot of the mountain with my eyes wide and smiling.
To my right there was a small field with towering palms reaching miles up into the sky and beneath them stood a friendly buffalo I, for some reason, named Ethan. To my left to my right there was a thick forest with long blades of grass and every so often you’d hear a snake rustling in the grass or a peculiar noise from the tree tops.
And before me was the most stunningly beautiful tropical jungle you’ve ever seen.
And yet when I’d walk a little further on, I’d approach a tiny wooden hut where a little old lady lay snoozing, with her tiny brown legs dangling out, toes down, through the doorway.
It couldn’t have been bigger than the average garden shed, but this was her living room, her kitchen and her bedroom all rolled into one. And every time I passed, the pile of empty glass bottles was getting higher and higher and higher.
I remember thinking to myself, how can you want to drink your life away when every time you open your eyes you have this – everything you could possibly ever want to remind you that life is magical.
And I guess that’s when it really dawned on me; even living in paradise can’t cure a tortured mind.
Our reality is world within us and that’s the world we’re trying to escape.