It took me a long time to return to the present moment in my life. In retrospect, I had spent many years of my life using alcohol and other escapes to escape from being in the present. It wasn’t just excessive use of alcohol though – my choices were consistently about running away from reality. I spent several years working in camp jobs where I would fly to remote locations and work every day for three to five weeks at a time. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I would leave for my week off before returning to camp, I would spend all my time at the bottom of a bottle and in so doing when I was at work, I wasn’t in “the real world” and when I was off work, I certainly wasn’t present.
It’s only now, almost 30 years old that I have returned to the present. By realizing that I have the ability to make my own choices and take control of my own life, I have at the same time found strength and personality that I didn’t realize I possessed before. My sisters were visiting me recently and my youngest sister said something that really resonated with me, “it’s so nice to see you not always drunk. When we spend time with you now you’re actually here.” It made me feel really good and again I had a flaring up of something else that is new for me – gratitude. I was grateful that I was able to be there for my sisters and rebuild relationships where they always thought that I would be lost.
Being in the present is something that takes a lot of work, every day. You can’t escape the present because it’s when we always are. You can put your past to rest though. I take time now to demonstrate genuine gratitude for those in my life and even simple things in the world around me. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I feel more equipped than ever to tackle my journey of personal growth and recovery and I see the way that building strength in the relationships in my life has a cumulative effect. By being thankful and demonstrating how I appreciate those in my life, in turn, they can bolster their own personal strength and understanding. Writing helps a lot too. It’s the consistent reinforcement of positive values and hard work that changes bad habits to good habits over time. I’m going to keep at it.