When I think back on where my life has taken me in the last year, I am riddled with mixed emotions. At times I hate that I missed so much time away from family, from friends, from life. Yet, on the flip side, I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today if not. Life has changed so much and I wouldn’t change it back for the world. I wish I realized what I needed before going through everything that I did. I may have gotten started earlier. However, I probably still wouldn’t be where I am now still. So, it sometimes is the journey along with the destination. A journey shapes us for our destination, for our destiny.
I wanted to write a few things that life has taught me this past year. I am equally as grateful for the ups as I am for the downs. Maybe this will help someone who is struggling with purpose or battling with the inability to have gratitude in life. This is merely a self-reflection on my reality and my human experience this past year. DISCLAIMER: This is not a COVID post. COVID is SO 2020. This is merely a 2021 outlook on my life.
I Can’t Lie to Myself
When I got out of rehab my second to the last time, I tried to lie to myself, again. I told myself I was ok. I tried to deny the inner pain and insecurities that I felt but hadn’t dealt with. I should have known with the cloudiness I felt with my spiritual practices, that something was messed up within my being. I can tell when I am on the right track when I feel my higher powers connection. My second to the last time in treatment I found myself lost but pretending I knew where I was emotionally. It was all a lie that I tried to tell myself. But I was not ok. I was a time bomb waiting to blow and there was bound to be casualties.
When I finally snapped this last time, the shame got to me where it wanted me. I wanted to die. I wanted to drink myself into darkness’s oblivion and wait to see the light of the afterlife if the light was even where I was destined to be. I hid behind a calm demeanor and a smile. If I looked myself in the mirror and told myself the truth I wouldn’t have gotten to such a low point. I guess, however, the lowest points that we get down in, makes the highest peaks that we reach become that much more rewarding. Anything else both low and high would have been nothing compared to the daring feat I walked through prior.
I am NOT invincible.
December 2021 started off great. Just freshly back from visiting family in Delaware for Thanksgiving. Now I was refreshed and ready for the rest of the year. I had been working two full time jobs for a while and I was chugging a long working 80-90hours a week. I felt good so great about it, I was racking up money to pay off bills. That was until I woke up with both feet and hands swollen.
My body had enough. I have been in and out of the ER and Doctors offices. I have had to fire a rheumatologist because he stated there wasn’t enough evidence but the one I had in Delaware has it documented that it was PsA. Still dealing with the pain even now in 2022. My doctor believes it’s a combination of issues. Psoriatic Arthritis, Unspecified Myalgia and Raynaud’s. I am trying to get medication but it’s tricky if the Rheumatologist feels that there’s not enough evidence to prove a diagnosis, thus, approving the medication would be impossible without one.
I thought that I was perfectly fine working long hours. However, I am not invincible nor am I a robot so by body had other plans. The human body needs its’ sleep. Without it, the body will make you slow down.
Change is Scary… But Doable
If you told me this time last year that I would be sitting in the center of Austin, TX with a Starbucks coffee in my hand writing a blog post about my journey to get here, I wouldn’t have believed you. Alas, hear I sit. Watching people go about their lives. Each person I see I know has some kind of problems that they face everyday. It can be scary, especially when you’re faced with changes that can completely uproot your life. That is what I had to face to get here. I am safe, I am healthy for the most part, I have a job, a place to live, a car to drive, food too eat…
ALOT OF FOOD. AUSTIN HAS SOOO MUCH FOOD…
All of these things that I still have even through I was so afraid of failure. I was afraid of the unknown that change can bring. Change is doable and it all you have to do is make the move. If there is something that you are looking to change but you’re too afraid to take the leap understand; that even if you sit right where you are, the path is still unknown. Why not have a little fun with it. Embrace the change.
I Can have Fun Sober
The reason I decided to try sober living as my first jump off point, is the benefits it brings. Some people most certainly had life worse off than me. I was never in trouble with the law, I never had a strong addiction to drugs. Mine was that I just liked to drink… like, A LOT. Sober living has helped me with accountability to stay sober and figure out life the way humanity was meant to. Free from mind-altering substances to escape my problems. Instead, face them with pure raw emotion. Pain is a part of sobriety unfortunately. There are, however a lot of perks and I was able to experience those living here.
I took a trip to Galveston, TX a few months ago. I was suppose to go with a couple girlfriends of mine. We reserved an Airbnb and had plans for a beach day. However, plans fell through on their end and it left me with a decision to make. Do I cancel the reservation and have to pay the fees associated? I decided to go by myself. I didn’t want to waste the money. I paid money to the ones who helped pay for the reservation and off I went. I think it was the best decision that they could have made because it rained the whole time. However, I did something I did not originally intended to do.
Naturally, when we get somewhere by ourselves, as social creatures, usually, we are meant to meet new people to not make the trip lonely. Unless that’s what you’re looking to do. However, when I had plans to go with friends that was my company. Suddenly I was in this house by myself. I needed community. How was I going to do it?
Gay men feel the same way, however, we do it a little differently. I met this guy on an app who invited me out to a local bar on the beach. He was actually the bar back for this bar and, though I was apprehensive of the idea because I was still in sober living and I have never been in the bar scene in quite some time. That being said, I didn’t want to be cooped up in the house the whole time so I made the decision to go. I spent the whole night drinking club soda and lime chatting with this guy, friends of his, karaoke was done, new people were met. We shut the bar down and I was 100% sober. I had so much fun even though I didn’t have a single mind altering substance to get me there. I was confident and happy to get in my car to drive, to get a UA when I returned to the house, to go through the whole process knowing that you are 100% in the right. Also, to be invited back on multiple occasions shows me that I am not as awkward sober as I thought. I am still a social butterfly.
My Higher Power
People have this fear that every time we mess up or hit a stumbling block we lose our ability to connect with our higher power. Some even feel as though our higher power leaves us and chooses not to connect with us unless we prove ourselves worthy. I don’t believe either. I don’t believe we lose our higher power because that power lives within us. We choose to put our focus in other things that gets us to lose sight of that power but the power is not severed now are we in time out.
I realized after being sober for a while that I just needed a clear head and conscience to connect. The spirit that I am always drawn to and connect with is stronger than it ever has been. It is exhausting even at times. For those atheist and agnostics please think of this your inner power within. I am not here to preach of a man in the clouds because I don’t believe in that either. I simply suggest that the thing we hold tight to in midst of trouble is something that is never going to leave us. We just change our focus from its leading. Whether it be spiritual or that inner rationalization. The focus provides the power.
One of the things that has shocked me throughout this whole ordeal is the amount of support I had behind me. In our darkest times we forget the people we have in our corner. At least, I did anyway. Both here in Austin and back in Delaware the amount of support I have around me is innumerable. So many people even still, to this day, have ask how I am and how life has been treating me. Old co-workers, friends, family…etc.
Living in Austin, TX, I have gained so many amazing friends. Some of the most amazing people from the most unlikely places and from all walks of life. I have met both in my recovery and also from just living here and meeting people, I have gained a pretty great network of people. The love I feel makes me remember every day how lucky I am. I am right where I need to be at the moment. I have no plans in changing my destination. Life has a way of doing that on its own. I am just grateful for the ride and the people who have joined me in it!
The Next Steps
The most exciting part about this paragraph is simple… It’s unknown. I like to take one day at a time to figure things out. It may take longer, but that’s my prerogative. The next steps are just continue to do the next right thing. I have a business that I am in the process of starting, a possible new place live, maybe a new job down the road. Either way I AM HERE FOR IT.
2021 was a year of transition for sure. New accomplishments achieved, new progresses made… I never thought I would find myself living further down south. I love the seasons and thought that I would travel up north. However, such as life my throw you for a loop, I am where I need to be right now. Who knows what 2022, 2023 or even 2024 and so on will bring. All I know is right now, if this past year has taught me anything, its that I am OK.