Its exciting growing up and thinking what you want to do when you get older, from the jovial playground conversations as a child to the more painstaking serious ones with the parents about grades and careers.
For most boys its fireman, footballers or astronauts, where as girls tend to want to be pop stars or dancers, but the reality is that as we edge away from our teens, and start having to ‘pay for stuff’ we more often or not follow the direction of those little pieces of paper with the Queens head on it.
For me I always wanted to join the Royal Marines or the Royal Navy and these were realistic targets as I was fit as a fiddle through playing a high level of tennis in Essex however a diagnosis of epilepsy that soon put pay to that, it was then that I realised that you kind of bumble along from job to job more often than not motivated by money rather than passion and we veer away from what we love in life.
I always became passionate about the jobs I undertook, always ambitious and always looking to climb the ladder but never took the job because I was passionate and I think that there is a real difference and this definitely affects the longevity of your career and the all important work life balance which we all seek and need.
It was only recently in what I can only describe as my darkest hour in the deep dark depths of addiction and depression in my temporary home which is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in South Wales did I actually sit down with my therapist and have the questions thrown at me; “Who are you?, what makes you tick?, what are you passionate about? , If I could give you a magic wand what would you do with your life?”.
This took me back 25 years to the playground, the little boy in me said I want to be a footballer or a Pilot but the 34-year-old man with a mortgage and responsibilities thought “could this get any worse?, I’m in my darkest place and I’m now having to discover myself, like I haven’t got enough on my plate as it is. GREAT!! My initial emotions were fear and anxiety, the two emotions which would fuel my addiction for a great length of time, so sitting with these emotions was uncomfortable to say the least, however in true therapeutic fashion I rode those emotions until they subsided and what I was actually left with was excitement and curiosity and a blank canvas.
It was at this point i sat down and did a bit of mind mapping, and wrote all the things I love doing and are passionate about, and see where it took me, and I came to the conclusion that I love writing and I love sport, so I’ll try out sports writing, that can’t be all that hard, Can it? So I did my research and ironically enough stumbled across an article in one of the mainstream papers from a few years ago which basically said, unless you have been to university, gained all the relevant qualifications, attained a shed load of experience, and knows someone who knows someone who is friends with the editors dog sitter then you’ve got as much chance of success as Great Britain has of winning the Davis Cup in tennis. Now, I would have seen this as some kind of setback, given the aforementioned negative comments however Andy Murray and his Great British compatriots helped lead Team GB to the Davis cup triumph in the Summer of 2016 so is it impossible or is it yet again someone casting negative views and putting unnecessary obstacles in our way? Can someone who has been down in the gutter for so long drag themselves out to achieve something that they never thought they could when everyone else is writing you off? A dream or a fantasy? That’s when my favourite quote of all time came into my mind;
“NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE BECAUSE THE WORD ITSELF MEANS I’M POSSIBLE”
We seem to live in a culture whereby we are guided by others opinions, comments & viewpoints, especially in the age of social media. Now don’t get me wrong Social media is my first outlet for blogging and potentially developing a career but I think we need to stop, take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves these basic questions. Who am I? and What do I want from life?
Is becoming a sports writer impossible? the newspaper headline would make good reading, “FROM JUNKIE TO JOURNO”, however my answer is no, it’s not impossible and the reason is you will never face a bigger challenge than the one which you face in addiction and if you can overcome that then you can overcome anything.
Junkie, Druggie, Crackhead, Alchie are all some of the charming and less than pleasant names given to us who are ‘stereotypical’ addicts and anyone who have been unfortunate enough to get caught up in addiction will have been called these names and no doubt much worse by family, friends and strangers, but not least, by ourselves because I’m the first to admit I did some awful things that probably warranted these names and punished myself endlessly. Generally speaking though, little is known about the cause and reasons behind the addiction, after all nobody is born this way, it’s not genetic, it’s just dictated by circumstances and a series of wrong turns that we’ve taken, but ultimately we made the wrong choices. But why?
For me it was a recreational thing for many a year but after the loss of my mother it became a coping strategy, a need, a daily urge, not a physical dependency, but a mental one, I had trained my brain for so log to dampen certain emotions that before long I was on the brink of losing everything, from a successful transport brokerage and new insurance brand to a beautiful wife and home and my gorgeous baby daughter.We hear the term ‘functioning addict‘ quite often and these for me are the scariest type of addicts because you become so good at hiding your drink or drug of choice and getting up for work and delivering your daily chores whether that be, business, gardening or being a father that you literally managed to hide it and boy do you become good at it and seriously resourceful. Something else that you get good at is believing that “this can’t happen to me”, “ill be able to stop” blah blah blah, but before you know it it’s too late, everything has gone, you’ve isolated yourself, you’re in the deep, dark black hole of depression feeling like the only way out is to take yourself out of the equation by taking your own life. It’s so stupid in hindsight at in that moment it feels so rational at the same time.
There are millions of people who’s lives have been dictated by the drugs and alcohol and other addictions, because of depression, financial strain, loss of loved ones etc but the modern-day approach is still very prehistoric in regards to the way addicts are treated & perceived. We are hammered with the label (for life) and hung out to dry, this is demonstrated no more so that whats going on in the Philippines with the President putting bounty’s on the heads of drug dealers and addicts, now dealers I can understand but addicts? really? This model leaves you with zero hope of progressing in our lives . What about those who want to turn their lives around? People like me and millions of others, ones that have fought for their lives and families, should they not get a chance?
In 2001 Portugal decriminalised all drugs and as a result of this the country has 3 overdose deaths per million citizens, compared to the EU average of 17.3, which is a staggering statistic given the issues before the year 2000. There has been a rapid reduction in heroin use, HIV cases and drug related crime. Their governments have even taken it to the next level and invested the finances which would have been costs for policing, courts, prisons etc into getting reformed characters back to work and reintegrated into society even by subsidising their salaries. Genius. I think the rest of the world should sit up and look at this model because it’s clearly been proven to work over a substantial period of time where as the current model of ‘labelling addicts for life” doesn’t.
There is a lot to be said for sitting down, working through the mind and the issues behind addiction and finding alternative ways and behaviours to deal with the emotions that cause us to use in the first place.
As for me I’m at the blank canvass stage of my life, back to the playground, so I may not be in school with the boys, kicking a football with aspirations of being a pilot or footballer, but I have a good chunk of my life ahead of me and as the most iconic man in my life, my Father, told me “TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE” and for me personally that’s truer today than ever before having wasted the last couple of years of my life.
I’m going to live for me and for today, live in the moment, follow my passions and dreams and re-write my future because lets face it if I would have continued along the same path even Michael Fish wouldn’t have got that forecast wrong.