Emerging out of a decade of drug addiction in my mid-forties I was faced with a dilemma, what now? I had lost track of myself and my purpose, drugs the ultimate avoidant, which kept me away from a life I couldn't make sense of. Ever since childhood I'd felt like a possum in the headlights.
This had lead to a cycle of psychological crises over the years. Finding myself in jobs and life-situations that made me unhappy, I turned in on myself, in a torment of self-doubt and self-loathing. Drugs offered me the relief I'd been searching for. What I liked most was the instantaneous psychological transformation, self-doubt disappeared and I felt fabulous.
That I couldn't maintain a sense of wellbeing without the assistance of drugs, was an issue I avoided by taking more. For the whole of this period, my life stalled. I was able to maintain the semblance of a career but there was no planning, no development. This was deeply damaging to the relationships that mattered most.
There was an inevitable crisis, and I cleaned up, finally convinced that I could never take drugs or drink alcohol again.
Very early in recovery, I called a friend to talk about a life-decision. You need a plan she said, you've got nothing to guide your decision-making. This was an epiphany, which would set a course for the next decade. I set goals for the following six months, which became a reference point. Since then the goals have developed, the direction of my life more clearly focused.
I am in a continual process of reflection and evaluation. What is my higher purpose? How do I contribute? What makes me happy?
The possibilities have become more expansive over the years. I want to grow and develop; I never want to feel that I am in the same place, treading water. This sense of growth and development is very central to my happiness; without it I am left with a sense of low-level and continuous discontentment.
More than contentment, what I am looking for is joy, I want to feel exhilarated by my life. This is attainable but it takes effort, and often requires me to push myself into the most uncomfortable and challenging spaces. It is here that I discover my capabilities and they are limitless.