Written by Patrick Hyland | Self Appreciation Series
I spent 13 years existing in oblivion until February 2015, when I decided that I needed to remove myself from not only a negative source of energy, but a toxic lifestyle.
During my early years, my friends and I would go alongside the river after rugby games and get some cheap cider or beer to enjoy. Sometimes one of the lads would arrive with a bottle of spirits swiped from their parents cabinet, but that was rare. In college we mostly drank at house parties and then ventured down to the nightclub already intoxicated (we were students, and very low on income). When I was actually old enough to drink legally and was able to pay for alcohol in pubs, I would just drink pints of lager, Guinness, and then hit spirits or what you’d call shots.
To you, wherever you are, getting hammered with your friends every weekend may not sound like much of a deal. It’s easy to dismiss, especially here in Ireland, ‘Oh it’s just our culture in Ireland, everyone does it’, some of my friends would say, and ‘Sure isn’t it great craic’ (a term we use in Ireland, which in this context, means ‘fun’)! This all may sound like typical teenagedom, but I spent 13 years existing in oblivion until February 2015, when I decided that I needed to remove myself from not only a negative source of energy, but a toxic lifestyle.
I had enough.
I had enough of putting my physical and mental health at risk.
giving fuel to a harmful stereotype.
the predictability… the same faces, same places.
I had enough of talking it, listening to it, feeling like it.
getting lost- both in myself and in the physical realm- in the darkness.
‘Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.’
– George Bernard Shaw
I had enough of being a stranger to myself.
following the crowd
living for the weekend
lying to myself over.. and over.. and over again.
I had enough of walking around with a crutch
avoiding my problems
hiding in my insecurities.
The false sense of immortality inherent in the stupor, which slowly fades as the dark cloud of amnesia begins to tighten its grip, a harsh realization of frailty which rises with the dawn. I had enough of that too.
‘O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!’
– William Shakespeare
Now, 13 years later, I realize that drinking wasn’t forced on me by circumstance or heritage; I chose to take part. That even at 15 years of age, I had a choice to make.
I didn’t drink every night, far from it. I was not and am not an alcoholic. What I mean is that I would drink to excess at the weekends; I would drink with the sole purpose of getting drunk. I like many youth in Ireland and I presume around the world, existed in a vicious circle, not knowing where I was going or what I wanted to do, not knowing who I was or who I wanted to be. I existed in a paralyzing haze, with no possibility of reaching my potential. I was living in darkness, pretty much.
I wanted to start fulfilling my potential, and take back some control, so I chose to stop.
Where I am now, as a result of getting out of that lifestyle? I am healthier, happier and more optimistic. I look towards possibilities, and seek out ways in which I can challenge myself, and progress. I wake up every single day with a sense of purpose and belonging, and enthusiasm for the day ahead. I have a greater sense of who I am, where I am going, and what I want to do with my life. Simply put, it has changed my life completely.
I honestly don’t think much of it anymore- it was simply something that needed to be done.
I don’t see it as something that merits a great deal of credit either. You wouldn’t approach someone walking down the sweet aisle in the supermarket, give them a pat on the back and say- ‘Wow, keep up the good work’- if you saw that they had fruit and vegetables in their basket.
Suffice it to say, I do enjoy my Sunday mornings much more these days.
I don’t want to give the impression that I take it for granted. I feel lucky that I was in a position whereby I was able to simply choose to stop drinking; I understand that some people, tragically, don’t have that luxury.
By removing negative sources of energy from our lives- however big or small- we make room for more of the positive. It may take some time to identify these sources of negativity, but if and when we do, and we decide to take action, it can be hugely beneficial.
Patrick Hyland documents his journey of self-discovery in The Irish Introvert (http://www.theirishintrovert.com/) a self-development website which was created to help inspire, motivate and educate, through the sharing of significant experiences, and reflections upon life defining moments. He writes as a means of providing an outlet for his inner world. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram