Today is my third birthday. 1096 days sober.
I’ve rightly fallen off the blogosphere since my last post. Reason being, I switched over to my other blog and started posting there, and then I fell off that one too, oh lolledy! I’ve still been writing, but I’ve been in dodgy internet countries for the last five months, and (lez be real) I’ve also been shockingly lazy at actually piecing posts together. I’ve got hundreds of loose thoughts scrawled on one eighty-five-thousand word document; probably a decent representation of my mind at any given moment.
Now I’m in India, about two-and-a-half hours into the mountains from Rishikesh. Perhaps another time I’ll go into the magic of what this country has been for me, but for now, I just want to sit here outside this old cottage and watch my three candles burn down to the wick and appreciate that this is where I am right now, drinking warm milk from the neighbors’ cow, watching the silhouette of the mountains opposite become swallowed by the deep blue sky.
I’m so glad that I started this blog. It began in anonymity, for no one but me, and with no intention of sharing it with anyone – its purpose was to get me back into the habit of writing, my first love.
A writing exercise, if you will. Then a handful of people started to follow it, and with almost every post, I’d usually get at least one message or comment from someone saying that it had really helped them, or something had resonated. So it actually became something bigger than me, and in a way, that’s the same progression that many things have taken for me in sobriety. From the small, selfish and the mundane to the expansive, inclusive and extraordinary.
In the beginning, for example, these milestones served to motivate me. After about a year, they mattered only to motivate others.
Quite early on, though, I made a quiet promise to myself that I’d keep my mouth shut, at least publicly, until I hit three years. I’ve shared with many people in person, because I’ve no shame at all in it, and because as individuals and societies, I believe that we’re only as sick as our secrets. What’s to be ashamed of? I’ve found a way of life that is bigger, brighter, wilder and more wonderful than anything I could have imagined three years ago. The only shame is that I almost have to downplay how good it all is, even when it’s shit.
I’ve always thought that I would eventually do something radical for the face of alcoholism in Ireland and wanted a bit of time under my belt and a seriously diminished ego before I even entertained that idea. For some reason, three years seemed to me like a good, solid, now-people-will-take-you-seriously amount of time. But my main motivation for not gushing about how amazing sobriety is for all this time is because I didn’t want my family to have to deal with the questions; in small-town Ireland this is still pretty taboo, and although I don’t live there (or give a fuck), I have to respect the fact that they DO. Live there. And maybe give a fuck. And if I were brought up in the Ireland that they were, I probably would give a fuck too.
In saying that, I always knew that there would come a point when the importance of sharing would override the importance of not airing my so-called dirty laundry in public. But now that I’ve hit the three-year mark, I don’t feel like sharing much.
In time, I’ll talk more about addiction – I have to. But for now, I just want to enjoy this beautiful night, this gorgeous, effervescent life that is blooming and flowing all around me, because all that’s real is this moment. I could talk about three years ago and beyond, but all I am is who I am now, and right now I am full of joy, gratitude, and love.
Every single person that I’ve met in the last three years has been a spiritual teacher in some shape or form. The people who were already in my life – family, friends, Jonathan – I can’t thank you enough for sticking around first, and then for supporting me. This is your day.
I really don’t want to make this about me.
Here’s what I want to say to anyone who is struggling with anything – stop pretending like you’re not a fucking miracle. Again, I don’t want likes or praise on Facebook – my ego doesn’t need that shit. I just want to put it out there that there is another life, that there’s hope, because if I can do it, so can anyone – I sincerely mean that.
Also, I am here for anyone who needs my help. This is a standing and open invitation. I know that for many social media friends, I’m one of those roaming pals that you can’t quite call for a cup of coffee all the time. Many of you I’ve only met only once, many of you I had a beautiful connection with somewhere in the world, some of you perhaps don’t even remember where we met, and some still reading this I probably don’t know at all. But if anyone EVER feels like they need to just talk to someone about something, I’m here. No judgement, no lecturing, but I’ll be here, and I’ll understand.
For the rest of you who don’t need my direct help, I invite you to sit down for a second (with/without a nice cup of tea) and delight in the sheer implausibility of your existence. Of all existence. And feel the love rising in your chest until you think you’re about to burst, and then remember that you’re just a channel, but you’re not ‘just’ anything, are you, you are you and you are divine.
Do I sound like I’ve figured it all out? Well, I’m on the edge of a mountain covered in paint and I’ve been taking bucket showers for weeks. The dirt has literally grown into my feet such that I doubt they’ll ever be clean again. I’m soon to become a divorcée, yay. I don’t have a clue where to call ‘home’ anymore – probably someplace on a boat halfway across the Atlantic, although more likely this house in India that I’m living in, or perhaps the Philippines, or maybe Russia because I feel like I had a few past lives there. Two years ago, I was still smoking. A year and a half ago, I was hammering 5-6 Red Bulls and 10 cups of coffee a day. I still have days when I don’t know my arse from my elbow. I have days or weeks when every time I sit in meditation I’m either thinking about food or fellas. I catch myself judging myself or others, being greedy, being selfish, behaving compulsively, and why? Because sometimes I TOO forget that I’m a goddess, and it’s much easier to pretend that I’ve forgotten that than it is to act like I know it. But I do know it. And although time can’t measure the quality of my happiness, or even of my ‘sobriety’, you know what, the further I get from that last drink, the closer I get to remembering that real me all of the time.
The universe placed a spiritual teacher in my path who brought me to this wilderness I’m in, because in nature, he said, “we cannot run from ourselves” – in Mother India, if you ask sincerely, it seems, your wishes become manifest very quickly. Yesterday as we were working in the sweltering, relentless afternoon heat, he said to me: “The day will never come when you ‘get enlightened’. But the day may come when you realize that you were enlightened all along”.
I was always chasing something, with alcohol, always chasing that perfect “drunk”. And then into sobriety, I kept chasing, seeking something elusive and unknown. But what I’ve found is that there’s nothing to be found – it’s all here. It’s just about presence. Sheer, undiluted and total presence. The very thing that I’d been avoiding for so many years.
I know this, and then I forget. But isn’t it just lovely that when we watch the sun go down and climb into bed, we let go of the day and drift into the astral plane and come back to earth as the dear sun is rising again, and here we go all over again, a new day fresh as the dew, and you, fresh as the day you were born?