Today I turn 33.
Today, I am proud to be able to say that I now celebrate two annual birthdays each year; the day I was born, and the day that I chose a different life; a new life for me.
Birthdays have always been significant to me as it is a day where I felt celebrated, loved and respected by others for who I was and how I was. It lent itself as an opportunity for me to measure how many people valued me as a person by the amounts of messages and wishes that I’d recieve. Looking back at that now, that longing for acceptance and approval from others has been a constant chase.
I still LOVE receiving best wishes from others as it is such a heart-warming thing to know that you’re in someone else’s thoughts, but they no longer jeopardise or measure the thoughts and values that I now have for myself.
This morning I awoke on an island in Bali; Nusa Lembongan with one of my best friends Polly. We ate birthday cake for breakfast and looked back on the previous 12 birthdays that we have celebrated for one another. I sit here, cocooned within our four-poster bed, masked in our mosquito net, and I feel safe. Safe from the sabotage of mosquitos, and safe from self-sabotage too.
I haven’t written much about my sobriety during this journey since now, I admit. However, I did proclaim that this blog would not document a journey dedicated to a sobriety, but rather a journey which was being embarked on by someone who happens to be sober. I haven’t deliberately ignored the subject, I have genuinely forgotten about it. Yes, honestly. I have rarely thought about alcohol, and the concept of even having a drink is completely extinct. This is not a gloat, nor a statement to imply that this has been easy, but more of a statement to celebrate a relief; relief that I am not tortured by temptation. SUCH A RELIEF!
My sobriety has now taken centre stage within this journey of mine. This part of my journey has become the very tools to assist me within my next chapter; no longer viewed as a weakness, but a strength which I am proud to utilise as a tool to build on my life. It has gone from stunting and limiting my life to exposing me to a wealth of opportunities and freedom.
I believe that time is on our side, if we stop fighting it. The past five months have offered me times to take my eyes off sobriety, and focus on the beauty that lies beyond that. Beauty that I would have overlooked unless found at the bottom of a glass. It has given me countless of opportunities to experience liberation, celebration, freedom, frustration, joy, and sadness…SOLO and SOBER. To some this may seem like a test, and in hindsight this is true, but throughout it all, it’s been more of a treat.
I have taken many steps during this journey thus far; physically and emotionally, and now, as I step into my 33rd year, I also begin my 12 steps within Alcoholics Annonymous. These steps are something that I have only now felt necessary and nutritious for my self-nuture.
The Best Years
A simple google research brings up results suggesting that life in your 30’s are your best years, with particular praise being the age of 33 years old.
In 2012, a British survey found that 70% of people over age 40 claimed that they weren’t truly happy until age 33.
The results showed that over half of the survey’s respondents agreed to life being more enjoyable at the of 33, 42% claiming that they were more optimistic about the future at this age, and 38% saying that they experienced less stress at age 33 compared to when they were younger.
“The age of 33 is enough time to have shaken off childhood naiveté and the wild scheming of teenaged years without losing the energy and enthusiasm of youth,” claims one of the survey’s authors, psychologist Donna Dawson. “By this age, innocence has been lost, but our sense of reality is mixed with a strong sense of hope, a ‘can do’ spirit, and a healthy belief in our own talents and abilities.”
Cheers Donna…I am with you on that one. I really do feel a sense of confidence, self-assurance, and optimism.
I am grateful for all the opportunities that have introduced themselves during this journey of mine. This travel for one. Rewind to the start of this journey and the start of my blog, my sentences were weaved with fear, doubt, worry and insecurities.
Fast forward to today, and I am struggling to write down a worry which I feel inadequate to; something that I cannot overcome or let go of. That in itself is a miracle for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still experiencing days where I experience worry, sadness, frustration and insecurity, but I am able to now watch it pass me as quickly as it approaches.
This post is not just about me…or Donna. It’s also about Scott.
The Bali Nine
Scott Rush is also 33yrs old.
In 2005, a group of boys were convicted in Indonesia for drug trafficking. They were infamously titled ‘The Bali Nine’. Scott Rush was one of the nine. During his first trip to Bali, Rush was arrested at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar with 1.3 kg of heroin concealed on his body.
Scott was sentenced to life, and 14yrs on remains within Bangli Prison.
A few employees at the rehabilitation centre, including myself, travelled up to visit him for the day.
As we walked into the large open room, Scott stood there within the four caged walls dedicated to visits from friends and family. A soft smile eased across his gentle face with his ice blue eyes accentuated by the prison uniform. A few silver strands of hair highlighted his short brown hair as well as highlighting the time that he had already spent behind these bars in Bali.
We spent an hour talking about literature, politics, spirituality and mindfulness.
Behind that cage lives a man. Within that shell of that man remains a trapped boy. Vulnerable, alone, depressed, and yet…still hopeful. Hopeful that one day the Balinese government will hit the refresh button on their laws and finally catch up with the western world. Here, you get four years if found possessing a single joint, and ten years for murdering your mother-in-law and packing her body into a suitcase.
He said that prayers work. That people’s prayers work for him.
This year, for my birthday, I would like for you to find a moment in your time, and in your hearts, to pray for Scott Rush. A 33 year old boy who traded in his life as a man when committing a mistake as a child.
I cannot fathom what Scott must be feeing. The suffering that he must be enduring emotionally and physically. Living behind bars for the rest of his life. What I can relate to though is that feeling of entrapment. The difference bebetween Scott and I is that I am capable of stepping out from behind the bars I hide behind because I am the one who places myself behind mine in the first place. Many of us are guilty of doing this to ourselves, whether it be due to social expectations, opinions, or ego. Some of us have stepped out from behind the bars and found ourselves in danger, only to hurry back behind them for safety. We do not see these experiences as lessons but rather punishments.
I am grateful for my lessons, and I’m hwoefully for many more.
I will finish it with this sentence I came across today whilst reading Eckhart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’.