Once the clock struck finishing time, I'd grab my gear, exit the office and hurriedly walk the few blocks directly to my home. As I entered the front door I'd announce my arrival with a loud "hullo!" then collapse on the couch. "How was work?" was always a question that annoyed me to no end, even though it was delivered with kind and loving intent. It was the same routine everyday, and if I was truthful about it I would have said "I hate my job, I hate the people I work with, I feel my life has become pointless and nothing has any meaning anymore", instead I'd politely say "it was ok". Within the hour I'd get fidgety for a smoke and a wine. Glass after glass would wash away my feelings of pointless existence. This would be every night of the week, I had a serious drinking problem.
Most of my adult life was like this. It was hard on our relationship, and eventually it became a way for me to 'deal' with relationship problems, some of which where caused by my drinking in the first place. It was also a way to 'deal' with the stress of bills, responsibility and a joyless and unfulfilling career. It actually didn't deal with anything, it devilishly created more problems. One of my old friends knew me well enough to take notice, she'd seen me at my worse and tried to help the way she had healed, with AA. I went to a meeting once, it was fucking horrible. The stories shared at that one meeting were heartbreaking. It put everything into context. It gave me the realisation of how far down the rabbit hole I'd come. I was a mess, and if I didn't pick up my game I was set to lose everything. I changed my ways for a while but eventually found myself in the same trap, back drinking, heavily smoking and making poor food choices which morphed me into a physical sack of shit. I was so unhealthy in mind and body that something had to give. I eventually lost my marriage, I lost a lot of friends, I lost respect, I lost the 'forever house' I'd renovated, and worst of all, I lost the right to live with my children full time, eventually we settled on 6/8 care.
Out of something devastating and negative comes a positive. I eventually found a new way of living, a new love, a new hope, a new home, a new start. But I had to change. I had to dramatically changed my very core being. I changed to be the person I wanted to be, not the person I had to be, and that in turn helped the way I thought, the way I felt. I'm much healthier now, it's been years of living like this, and I've been gradually making adjustments along the way. I have to mention that my amazing, supportive partner has a lot to do with it. She has been a real angel, and every time I think about her I almost (actually often do) cry like a sobbing mess. Actually struggling to see the screen right now. But change was possible for me. But I had a lot to do with it. I worked hard to make it happen. Most of the time it wasn't nice, it was a real shitty struggle. To change my habits, to re-think what I was fuelling my body and brain, with both drink and food took some serious discipline and dedication. I'm glad I persevered, because where I am right now is the best place I've ever been as an adult. I eat well, I don't drink crazy style, I don't smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and I train to improve and maintain some level of fitness. I recently turned 40, you could say I'm a slow developer, and I'm sure we'd all agree that everyone, gets to that somewhere, in their own good time.
I've just got home from a 2,500km outback road trip with my kids. I spent hours behind the wheel cruising the lost highway blessed with expansive vistas that reach deep into your soul to alter your existential perspective. While the girls read their books and drew pictures of the Emus and Kangaroos we passed, I had time to think, an endless boogie of thought. That brain of mine is frustratingly relentless, it's full of questions, sharp memories, anxiety and lament. An inner voice posing fragile scenarios and mysteries that free dance and play tricks, forging holes in my fundamental life truths. I thought about my past and how I've changed. I thought about my futile search for a happiness that I'd never attain, but the sense of contentment that was finally achievable. I thought of the old me, the one I stand on public stages and talk about all the time. I thought about change, and how it's possible and why I care about making it.
Recently someone online admitted to me they used to think I was a dickhead. Good on them, they where right in their evaluation. I was a dickhead, and to many people I probably still am a dickhead, that's the paradox of life online. Change is one thing I'm not a dickhead at. For whatever reason, be it my relatively conservative Christian upbringing or Catholic School boy education, I entered adulthood homophobic, socioeconomically judgemental and slightly racist. Thankfully I've changed in all these social facets, all because of the experiences I've had in adult life. A family member once came out to me, too scared to tell their parents about being gay, I felt it an honour to be told. I remember saying to myself, "what was all this fuss about gay people? I've known this person all my life and I love them, what difference does it make who they love?" There after I was no longer homophobic, there was no need to. Once again I had embraced change, a change in the way I thought. I realised humans are humans and it's our differences that unite us and make us who we are as a community.
I've travelled overseas and met humans that couldn't speak my language but shared common values in life, family, love, food, shelter, safety, all fair conditions really, and the basis of decent human existence. I had stepped out of my insular, fortified, walled, singular world, I then started to see everyone as equal, on every level, rich, poor, smart, dumb, muslim, jewish, black, white, drunk, sober, all humans, just humans all dealing with the same things, different things, but all the same. I learned to forgive, to accept. I become more open minded, in turn much less angry. Things that used to be important became less of an issue and I began to focus on bigger picture things. I stopped losing sleep over fickle matters, instead focusing on the things that do matter, of which the only thing that comes to mind after extensive life examination is love. It's the one thing I'll be thinking of when I'm facing my death. Who I loved, who loved me and how much we loved. Everything else will mean nothing.
One of my kids asked one of those tough questions the other day, if you're a parent you might have an idea of what I'm referring to. I struggled to answer it. The world has always been messed up, it's us humans you see, we can't help ourselves but cause chaos. We get lost in hatred and violence, we get caught in traps of bigotry and fear. I tried to explain the answer but with my self moderation, in an effort to hold back on sharing too much of the ugly nature of human interaction that we're seeing happen so commonly of late, I think the point was lost. I then spotted some Emus out the car window which worked out to be a perfect distraction.
I'm not the best father in the world, I'm not the best human, but I'm better than I used to be, I guess no parent ever get's it right the first time round. But I can lead by example. I can share my values, the things I've learned. I can share my own life as a story for how change can turn things around, to head down positive paths. I can teach purpose, love and a willingness for openness and forgiveness. None of this is very rock and roll, or 'Outlaw' it's more space cadet, hippy barefoot dancing in a sandy desert, but I've never been cool enough to care.
That's where my mind has been this week, this is what road trips do to me. I wish to thank all the people I love, my true love Kate Berry, my beautiful family and friends. To anyone reading this, and thinking WTF.....I hope we all make it to where ever we're travelling to on this strange and mysterious journey.
Peace xo Ro.