I am heading up for three years sober. Today is a good day.
In sobriety much has changed. Many things are new to me. I might have done them before but under the influence. Today, together we have reached another day without alcohol my friends, and this is an incredible milestone.
Sobriety in many ways left my dance card empty. Without the hours spent drinking and then recovering the next morning, time was abundant in my life. The initial year was akin to awakening to that feeling of dread when you recall your bad behaviour after a binge. There seemed to be no end of people eager to reenact verbatim a full post mortem of my outlandish antics. I almost dreaded going out in public and for many months didn’t.
That subsides. Now three years on many of the people I know, work with and have become close friends never knew me as a drinker. I would go as far as to say many of them would find it hard to believe that I was that person. You will initially think this onslaught will never end, but it will.
I´m feeling particularly chirpy today after a call with my mum. She had been my biggest supporter, and I owe her my life. After all, I put her through she is now my number one fan and that’s the thing I value most. Rebuilding that relationship tested me. After many years calling me the arsehole, She now calls me the ´sober monk´.
In the last 18 months, I have become more and more minimalist spending many hours looking for answers, meditating and trying to achieve balance. There is unlikely another human who has read more self-help books or googled enlightenment more than me. I have always had an interest in the spiritual side of life, a calling as such and this only intensified with the extra time bestowed me by sobriety.
Don’t waste your time or money. It’s already within you. Just maintaining a simple meditation regime, will align your questions with answers. No special breathing, no candles, no uncomfortable sitting position necessary. As you make your tea be in the moment then head for your favourite chair. Close your eyes and sit. If nothing happens, sit some more. Your ego will become irritated like a petulant child. The ego is always looking for the easiest path. The part of you that questions and realises this is the part you have to become more acquainted with. It’s like the drunk you arguing with the sober you.
Morning brings solitude and solitude is to be embraced. I follow six simple objectives a day. I do nothing more, and in between, I just live. Living takes up most of my day. I never miss a step. Sometimes I am late, but I never skip any.
- 4.30 am – Get up, tea, meditation, yoga, shower and dog duty with audio books. Love them
- 8.00 am – Check email, mobile messages and plan my classes (I do not look at my email, or phone again until 5.00 pm)
- 9.00 am – Food. I only eat once a day. Fruit, oats and an enormous green smoothy (Only water and tea till the next day)
- 1.30 pm – Dog walk and audio books
- 5.00 pm – Check email, mobile messages. (TURN THE PC AND PHONE OFF FOR THE DAY)
- 9.00 pm – Long dog walk, audio books, tea, meditation, yoga, shower and bed.
If you feel inspired in any way join me. I will answer any questions in the comments. Let’s motivate each other for another day.
Lee Robert Ness
For as long as I can remember I have had a thirst to explore spirituality. I would go as far as to say a calling of sorts. It is an awareness that there is potential I am not fulfilling.
The more time I spend looking for answers surfing google and watching YouTube the more confused I become. I can honestly say that until the event I will describe ´WAKING UP´ (enlightened makes it sound more complicated), I was no nearer to finding the answer than I was at the outset.
I´m 45 and though for the most part happy, my life before was very different. Maybe I will expand on that in another post. For now, I want to tell you about the events leading up to my self-realisation.
I am an alcoholic, three years sober. Leading up to my sobriety I had been seeing a guy from Columbia, who seemed by all accounts thoroughly wonderful. From the beginning, he was a little secretive and prone to the odd white lie concerning his age and financial status. I put this down to strict Catholic beliefs, guilt and the fact he was here, in Spain, away from his family and friends.
I thought we were happy for those three years, though his secrecy took its toll and being the intuitive sort, my suspicions were proven right and he had been cheating with guys in Valencia. He, of course, assured me this had been a one off, but I had already proven to myself this was not the case having carried out a full review of his mobile phone and messages. The Russian Government would be proud. Maybe I overstepped the boundaries, but the evidence was needed. I sent him on his way pretending I couldn’t care less.
Fast forward four months and a friend of his calls me to say that he has cancer and is currently in hospital in Valencia. I am devastated and well aware, like me, he has no immediate family here. I manage to track him down, and despite the fact he can’t keep his trousers pulled up, shoot off to do my mother Theresa bit.
Over the next three weeks, I clean him, feed him and listen to his worries. I wouldn’t say I was psychic, but I have an incredible ability to tell when something is not quite right. I have an empathy with people where I can sense lies, maybe I don’t know the truth, but I can see through the lie.
The doctor was uneasy around me, perhaps with me not being immediate family, I thought. His friends whom I scarcely know appeared distant, and whenever I was with them, they went quiet. Given his dramatic weight loss and the fact that he didn’t seem to be receiving any cancer treatment things did not add up for me. But who in the world would lie to me about having cancer?
After the first few days, I called my best friend, Julie. I blurted out that I thought Harry had AIDs. She told me I was crazy. She reassured me that he would have told me and would have had to have been hiding this for years. She went on to say that she was sure my mind was working over time. Her words comforted me a little but his ongoing refusal to let me speak to his doctor and the continued aloofness of his friends only made me more suspicious. I must be wrong; he would have told me.
The doctor appeared one-morning first thing. She informed me that I now had to wear a surgical mask as my ex-had now also been diagnosed with tuberculosis. I could see in her eyes that she wanted to tell me more, but she held back. In Spain, you stay all night in the hospital with the patient. The nurses do not assume the role of carer in that sense.
I was tired, stressed and full of judgement. That morning I was washing him and as if he were making small talk he mentioned that his boss and her daughter had gone to be tested for tuberculosis. As he had spent time with them recently, the doctor has advised him this would be due diligence. He never once mentioned anything to me who had washed and changed him for the last ten days. Maybe he thought I was immune to tuberculosis to. I asked him straight out then and there if he was HIV positive knowing that TB was an opportunistic infection in those with an impaired immune system. He turned red and angrily denied it.
I headed home on the hour long train journey thinking how selfish he had been not to consider my risk from TB. My suspicions wouldn’t subside. I somehow knew he was lying, worse still lying about cancer like somehow that was the more acceptable of the two.
The next day I asked him again. After a heated exchange, he unwillingly gave into the truth. I will never forget how he finally told me. “Yes, yes, but I can’t understand because I am a good person”.
Rage, not empathy consumed me. I shot out the room and set out to track down the friends. I expressed my disgust and anger for their deceit and spared them none of my wrath. His best friend actually said to me, “For all, we know you could have given it to him”. It took everything in me not to beat her.
The fact that we had been together for some years and he knowingly withheld this from me makes me ill. Never did he once say to me during the three weeks that I should get tested knowing all that time that his lies were stopping me receiving any treatment I might need. What of his other conquests? I was saving my sympathy for those poor bastards, not him. Would he ever tell them? Or was he going to play God in their lives to?
The journey home that last day was endless. I now had to face the fact that I might be infected. I had been in this relationship for three years wrongly assuming that it was monogamous. I left myself open. What an idiot…..
THE DAY I WOKE UP!
I cried like a child, was more scared than I had ever been. I was disgusted, angry, disillusioned and selfishly thinking about my mortality. Frankly, I was broken. At three in the morning, I headed to the hospital with a panic attack, explained my position and they agreed to do a blood test. Now it had been four months or so since our break up, and things were only to get worse as they told me that the results would take two weeks and further more I would have to return two months later as the incubation period was six months.
I couldn’t bear speaking to my mother or friends as I didn’t know the outcome. Not only that, I would not know for sure until another two months down the line. This was rock bottom. I started to write myself what can only be described as a suicide letter. I hadn’t planned suicide but looking back that’s what the letter is.
I failed miserably. I am a spiritual fraud. I can muster no compassion for Harry as I wait to hear of my own fate. I should never take anything for granted, and if I weren’t so flippant, and stopped long enough to think, none of this would be happening.
I am a hypocrite. People come to me for advice, and good advice is given after deep thought. Why can’t I live by that advice? Who is there to share good advice with me?
Lee (I never sent it)
In hindsight, this letter was to me. Sometimes the answer to enlightenment is found in a letter you never mean to send.
I was fortunate in that I never tested positive. All the searching for answers to enlightenment was fruitless. I was as vulnerable as before. My darkest moment enlightened me. I often read this letter, and it’s my scripture. I have never spoken to him since that day. I know he is receiving treatment and is better as I have seen his profile on GRINDER the gay dating APP, standing in his underwear looking for hook-ups.
I am still enlightened. It is simple. I look no further. I wake up at 4.30 am every morning. Drink as much tea as I can. Then I sit in silence, and I listen. No chanting, no visual focus. I only sit. I think about the day ahead. What decisions I have to make. I listen to my first impulsive instinct (the ego has no patience, he always want to go first), then I wait to hear the voice of reason.
I can concur that the answers to finding enlightenment and true happiness are not hidden within scriptures, pages of a book or to be found during a hallucinogenic drug trip. In silence, you can’t escape your ego. He is persistent. But given time, his influence subsidies.
Lee Robert Ness