Looking back over the time I had spent in Costa Rica and for that matter, the time after college I had held onto so much anger and resentment over how I thought my life should be going instead of the way it actually was. When growing up you are told with hard work and good grades you will have a great job and salary waiting for you when you get out of college. The truth is, that really is not true anymore. It is about who you know more than what you know these days. Getting that shot to prove your worth in the job environment of today is difficult in the competitive atmosphere of people that have a more complete resume than yours or that have more ties in a certain industry than you do.
Reading through inspirational quotes one time, I found one that I really liked and that I have tried to internalize. ”At this moment no matter where you are, no matter what you have done – you are right where you are supposed to be.” Life has a lot of ups and downs and it will push you to the brink of giving up but it is at that point you realize your true strength and determination.
Could I have let my time in the hospital and my open heart surgery define me and make me want others to feel sorry for me? Sure. But instead, I now see it as a turning point in my life where I was given a second chance to escape from the downhill slide I was on. Could I have given up each time that I tried a new project and it did not succeed? Absolutely. But instead we need to learn from those disappointments and not see them as failures but to see them as experiences from which we have learned in order to not repeat the same mistakes. Could I have forever given up on having a relationship after my heart being broken? Of Course. Well this one I am still working on…they say time will get that sorted for me.
I was so used to being angry all the time for the fact that I had not made a lot of money and I felt like I had worked so hard. But now with sober eyes there was clarity. From the time I graduated college until my open heart surgery I had been a practicing alcoholic. I had pushed people away in my life because of my addiction to drinking. It was more important for me to be able to continue to keep partying and drinking than it was to have people in my life that cared about me. Each time someone would mention that I had a problem, I would disregard their statement and no longer want to be around that person. The truth is hard to hear especially for someone caught in alcoholism. I had not only pushed away friends, but I had also isolated myself from my family who was tired of hearing the lies and excuses. It is only when you are lying in a hospital in a foreign country for 3 months alone that you realize it’s time for change…no one would have really cared or would have been surprised if I had died.
While drinking there was no chance that I ever would have made anything of myself. I was making enough money to continue my lifestyle of drinking, doing drugs, and surrounding myself with people that were of the same frame of mind. These are the same people that disappeared from my life when I became clean. The last thing a person with an addiction wants is someone around that has kicked the habit and started to get their life together. I remember when I went through rehab in Houston that one of the psychologists there said you have to change your surroundings in order to start your new life. This meant change the people around you, where you lived, and everything else that could be associated with your addiction. She was right, but it is not easy to completely redefine your life. It is why so many people relapse and fall back into their old habits.
I had basically been born again when I left the hospital in January of 2011. After the hospital release it took me about 6 months to be able to start working full time again and do the things required to start moving forward in my professional career. It took me another 6 months to figure out what direction I wanted to go in my life when it came to work. I loved marketing and I loved learning how to generate traffic and leads from the techniques I had learned. My job had become fun for me, and it did not really feel like work when I started my day. It was just getting up and doing something I enjoyed. Not many people can say that while fighting traffic to get to and from a job that they dread from the point they walk through the office building’s front door.
In essence I had only been working with a dedicated frame of mine and no alcohol in my system for about 2 years and although I was not raining money each month, my income had increased to a point where I was living comfortably.
Most of us want to see results and be compensated for our work and effort immediately. We feel that if we spend 20 hours a day working and building something, that financial rewards should quickly follow. Most of the time while on the road of life this is not the case and it causes us to be frustrated and angry. Internal questions start being raised. Why does that guy get to have money from his parents and does not have to work? What is wrong with me that my heart is not enough for that woman that chose money over love? Why does it seem that I am working so hard ethically and scammers make money and never seem to get caught? When is it my turn? With each question asked inside our heads we get angrier. Well, at least that is what happened to me.
Little did I know that this anger that kept building up inside me was like the alcohol I had consumed. It was pushing people away too. The aura that I was sending off was one that people would shy away from. There was no chance for me to have a healthy relationship with it inside me. There was no chance for me to enjoy life with it eating away at my soul each day of my life. It was almost at a point of pure hatred towards the world and it was no way to live.
Moving to the beach was the first step to try to find peace again and to start letting go of the past. But that was only changing locations. I still had a lot to let go of from the last years. I think that when you are an alcoholic and the place that alcohol takes you is so removed from your life that a part of you seems like it also disappears. It is almost as if that feeling of happiness (although false) that you used to get when drinking was a part of you and when it was removed, a part of you was removed as well. There is a feeling of emptiness and it has to be refilled. After I had been released from the hospital I had been trying to fill that void with anything I could; a relationship, work, writing, whatever I could think of to try to feel complete again. But there is a secret that no one tells you, it can’t be refilled because it was never empty.
The truth is that alcohol was actually was the thing that was making me empty. With each drink I put into my system, a little piece of me was taken away. The only way to fill yourself up again is to be happy with who you are. I had to accept the scars on my body as a part of me and understand that they were a daily reminder as to why I shouldn’t go back to drinking. I needed to see the positive things in life and to stop holding onto things that just brought that anger back into my mind. I had to grasp the concept of patience. You are not going to get everything you want right when you want it. Success and achieving your goals is based on continuing to take positive steps in the right direction no matter how small they are. I had to let go of the fact that the one girl I thought was my only chance to be happy was not going to ever be a part of my life.
It was time to start over and with fresh eyes tackle life again. As the sun set over the ocean, it felt like each wave that rolled in took one of my problems away. Life is never going to be easy but the most important thing to realize is in that moment, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. As the sun dipped under the horizon a little voice inside my head said all I needed to hear…breathe.
Next Up – Moving Forward