Returning to London for the first time since I relapsed down there was always going to create an element of anxiety so I made sure I was prepared for the trip yesterday. I chose not to stay overnight even though the offer from my employer was there and despite the very long day (alarm went off at 4am and I got back home around 11:30pm) I made sure I drove to and from the train station. In the past I’d avoid such a long day by taking advantage of a free hotel room and I wouldn’t take my own car to be parked at a train station overnight so I’d get a taxi (again paid for by the company) which set up the perfect storm to drink.
Putting those plans in place doesn’t completely remove the risk of drinking alcohol though and I did have a little struggle once I left work around 4pm down in central London. I knew I had time to kill before my 7:30pm train back home and my addictive voice was quick to remind me that there were plentiful pubs and bars I could visit, even if I just had a soft drink. I chose to walk back from the office to Kings Cross which took around an hour but it gave me something to do and allowed me the opportunity to stretch my legs after sitting on a train then in meeting rooms for best part of the day.
My addictive voice didn’t let up though and every time I walked past a pub or bar it was telling me to treat myself and that I could moderate because I had my car back at the train station so would have to draw a line at how much I had. My response was that I could have a pint, of course I could – nothing is stopping me having a pint but I’ve chosen a life of sobriety. The new me doesn’t drink alcohol.
For me, returning to London (where I’ve been many times before) was about rewriting my history book. I didn’t want my lasting memory of London to be the place I relapsed on whisky back in May after 458 days of abstinence. On my own that day I was anxious and on edge returned to the poison which had caused me so much pain.
I lost my last battle in London so yesterday was about changing things and reclaiming the place. I will travel to London again and again (both work and play in the years ahead) and I want to travel there with no underlying pain and regret because of what happened there. My recovery journey has largely been a very positive one and since I started this path in February 2021 I’ve only had one relapse which has taught me so much.
So anyways, I made it back to Kings Cross in tact and spent my final hour wandering around the boutiques at St Pancras before boarding the train home. I spent the trip home reflecting on a successful albeit tiring and anxiety ridden day. In addition to abstinence I struggled with the work event because I’m so out of practice spending the day in big groups talking, mingling and generally putting on a smile. Work has changed massively for me since the pandemic and I’ve been working from home full time now since Feb 2020. It’s a rather isolated and remote existence albeit I talk to colleagues virtually. It was nice to see people and have a catch up here and there but it was exhausting, and naturally so.
My decision in life to no longer drink alcohol is my own choice. Nobody else is telling me what to do and I know I could drink again whenever I choose because ultimately the decision will always be mine and mine alone. However, I have chosen to never drink again and to have a life in which I’m not weighed down by the unhealthy relationship which developed over the 17 years I did choose to drink.
I was an angry, depressed, arrogant, reckless and irrational bloke when I drank and subsequently this impacted me on the days where I didn’t drink too. I have a choice to never live like that again but I’m not going to deny the fact that some days I have to dig deep.
Finally a shout out to the great support I got from those in my Recovery circle yesterday and to one of my best mates who I reached out to when I was in London to be on standby should I need a familiar voice to talk to. Doing this alone is what your addictive voice wants so surround yourself with others and speak up when the going gets tough.