Bren Murphy / BrenMurphy.net
After twenty years, I thought I knew a thing or two about drinking. It all came down to getting everything out of the way so I could get thoroughly drunk.
Once I quit and launched full on into sobriety and all the personal growth and self development that it entails. In the middle of all this, I was struggling to wrap some meaning around all those lost years where I rushed home to drink. What did it all mean? Had I wasted half my life drinking?
Right at the start of my alcoholic rehab I made it my business to jot down important quotes and notes that were especially pertinent to me.
"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." / Viktor Frankl
For over twenty years I had chosen drinking alcohol as my response. And alcohol had left me bitter and broken with a life in tatters. I was angry and frustrated and I set about changing this right there and then.
I looked at how I could lessen my anger and frustration and it was very simple.
Respect Sleep. go to bed before 9pm and quit my shift work job. No more running on empty and expecting results. I had to start treating my body correctly—starting with the basics.
Respect Exercise. I had a stop start exercise plan - and it was far more stoppy than starty. Now it demanded structure and discipline. I set about locking in an exercise routine that was top three priority every single day. No more delay, distraction or denial.
Respect Food. I stopped eating junk. Never ate in my car again. Never went drive thru again. Bought a smoothie maker and now I blend my own raw fruit and vegetable drinks. Stopped eating bread. Cut eating processed foods. Drank bottles and bottles of water everyday.
It was a masterful turnaround and I experienced some startling results just seeing myself rested and eating fresh food. I slept better, I wasn't tired and just like that my mood improved and I began to notice less of that internal negative chatter. I was changing my thoughts through changing my diet and my habits and my lifestyle.
Suddenly, I had found meaning in the most simple, taken for granted things like food, rest and water. All the old beliefs about philosophy and existential angst and theories paled into nothing compared to the simple clarity of feeling good through exercise, rest and nutrition.
I also found deep connection with the discipline of yoga and the thoughts of not striving and not competing all the time as though there was some measure I had to fulfil. Doing the process thoroughly and completely with discipline and commitment and regardless of milestones or recognition is profound.
I have found meaning and a sense of self compassion in sobriety through radical self care first and foremost and being open and accepting of new ideas and beliefs.
Whilst there is no single path to sobriety, a core part of sustaining my sobriety has been finding meaning and allowing myself to connect authentically.
And as for wasting half my life drinking—maybe I did—it's not really for me to judge and compare and define myself in terms of what is waste or well spent. What I can say is that if I was drinking in a search for meaning, I have certainly arrived at a point of genuine meaningfulness. Sobriety has allowed me to do this and if I were still drinking, I would no doubt still be that angry chubby man, stumbling around, muttering under his breath. As Viktor Frankl said "Every human being has the freedom to change at any instant" and right now, this very second, is that instant.
About the Author
Bren started drinking at 14 and stopped the final time at 38. During those years he devastated his family when he failed law school. Then he had the temerity to leave college without any degree—and effectively surrendered his claim to any inheritance. Now delightfully estranged from his birth family, Bren enjoys deep stretches in yoga, long introspective runs alone, and tending to his three spirited daughters and long suffering wife. You can follow Bren's journey at BrenMurphy.net