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I have loved an addict for many years now and this article (Johann Hari, author of 'Chasing the scream, the first and last days of the war on drugs) really resonated with me. I’ve spent hours of my life trying to understand - when I chose to stay with him I chose to understand him which, considering we often don’t know ourselves too well, is a big task to undertake.


I’ve read and written, cried and begged, cursed and prayed and that was just one morning of one day. But it’s been worth it. It’s been worth every tear shed and letter written. Every night I’ve cried myself to sleep and every morning I’ve sworn that I couldn’t do it anymore. Its been worth it because we’ve both grown. We’ve understood how much we’ve hurt each other, and ourselves, but we held hands anyway.

And now, it’s quiet, calm and ever-so-excitingly promising and I even dare to believe that it’s going to just get better. Why? Because it does.

When you sink your teeth into a hard task you feel, when you start, that you’re just never going to make it. Your muscles ache and wobble and cry out in pain but - as long as you don’t give in - those muscles strengthen, the crying abates and where there was despair you find hope.

The Johann Hari article is beautiful - long but so daringly and caringly written it can only make you stop and think about your own life. Because whether we care to admit, or not, we’re all addicts in some form or another.

Some of our addictions are accepted by society - those who work 14 hour days are revered as successful; people who nip and tuck the barest sense of a wrinkle are poster-children for what we should all look like; stressed children are paraded around as examples of what happens when hard work starts early. Call it what you like but, as this article, says "The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live -- constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us."

We were the lucky ones - we had an addiction that wasn’t accepted by society so we had to make a decision - let that become our life story or embrace the journey but journey on. We chose the later and it has made all the difference.

"Loving an addict is really hard. When I looked at the addicts I love, it was always tempting to follow the tough love advice doled out by reality shows like Intervention -- tell the addict to shape up, or cut them off. Their message is that an addict who won't stop should be shunned. It's the logic of the drug war, imported into our private lives. But in fact, I learned, that will only deepen their addiction -- and you may lose them altogether. I came home determined to tie the addicts in my life closer to me than ever -- to let them know I love them unconditionally, whether they stop, or whether they can’t."

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The truth is that part of me was resisting doing what I knew had to be done. You have to be the change you want to see and I’m finally seeing that in one of the key areas of my life.

You see I fought against him for months in fact it was really the only thing that we argued over - me blaming his excessive drinking on my anxiety but frankly I wasn’t prepared to put my money where my mouth was. I was expecting him to be the change but it had to be me, it always does.

I made a commitment to myself that I would give up drinking from the beginning of January until my sisters wedding towards the end of February and that is what I’ve done - am doing - and it feels utterly liberating. Utterly liberating - it has to be said twice it’s that powerful.

Even as I’m writing this there is a smile that has formed on my face and a depth of emotion deep inside me that feels like I’ve released a flock of white pigeons into their freedom. But it’s me whose been released.

So many times, daily even, I remind myself that the only person I have any control over, and even that control is limited at times, is myself. And yet a thousand more times I shouted words of displeasure about a situation that was really mine to control - as least my involvement in that situation. it seems utterly ludicrous that I paddled around in that quagmire of despair for so long when all it really took was the decision, by me, to change it.

I can hardly believe the simplicity of that decision but I know it’s never that simple - the decision is the hardest part really and I’m experiencing that now. The months I agonised over where I seemed stuck - acting in victimhood of the situation refusing to see that everything is a choice.

I don’t know what kept me stuck but I do know that, now the decision has been made everything has shifted and I’m eternally grateful for that. It reminds me that at times my mind becomes attached to limitation rather than seeing it simply as a distorted version of reality. What wonderful innovations could I create if I surrendered my preconceptions?

If we remain committed to letting every thought, word and action come from their perspective I know that everything unfolds as it should.

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And just like that it’s another year; the planning, shopping and mania giving way to the calmness, excitement and the peaceful energy of the festive season all of which is now being drowned out by retail sales, building work pressures, resolutions, goals and a general surge in the direction of the new year.

Don’t get me wrong I’m one of those pushing into the New Year but this year I’m trying to do it on my terms.

Every year seems to be a watershed year - some basked in only good memories others smothered in anxiety and stress. 2014 had, for me, some desperate lows (losing people who are marvellously loved is going to leave a blip on anyone’s radar) but ultimately it’s coming out in the wash as a great year.

Perhaps as we get older we learn the innate task of remembering only the things that please us and plastering over those that don’t (and no, Jo, this isn’t a spongey moment for me … there’s plenty of time for that!). I just can’t see the point in holding on to things that don’t serve us - negative thoughts, unkind people, bad experiences, lost ideas, misplaced words, unfilled ideas or general dissatisfaction.

My sister donned a phrase when we were younger (when the quantity of friends was may more important than the quality) and that was a ‘friendship audit’. It sounds mercenary (and coming from a lawyer perhaps could have been deemed as such) but really the aim was simply to learn to choose, keep, and be the type of friend who pushes you to be the best version of you, always. 

In some goal-setting and planning for 2015 I’ve come to realise that there’s not a single soul in my life whose not an absolute God-send and, for a moment it seemed quite startling to me - who knew i could have become that good at auditing!! In actual fact it’s nothing as well-planned as that it’s simply just being conscious, deciding - finally, who I wanted to be and being that. The rest just seems to fall into place.

So beautifully put ‘ the future belongs to whose who believe in the beauty of their dreams’ (Eleanore Roosevelt) so here’s to dreaming.

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Cliched as it may be but this rainy Jozi afternoon has got me thinking about another watershed year. 2014 has been, for me, about getting real with myself and those I choose to have in my life. I passed the 40 mark last year and with it I shed the need to please … which is hard for a people pleaser like me! But in shedding something I'm faced with the ‘ what now’ and ‘is this it’. If you leave something behind then doesn’t the ‘what am I without my story’ resonate?


We all play many roles in our life and mine include, amongst others, friend, girlfriend, daughter, sister, student, teacher, helper, listener, learner, provider but I think our true role has to be pioneer into the unknown. We need to lift the veil for each other, be courageous and heroic, push out our own boundaries. I’ve said this before, so this is a reminder to me, that we need to give beyond reason, to care beyond hope, to love without limit, to reach, stretch and dream - in spite of our fears.


I’m tremendously conscious that as I clock up the years it’s all too easy to get comfortable and I’m not going there, into a comfort zone that is. So I’m surrounding myself with people who will remind me that we need to push ourselves, be more, give more, to illuminate the darkened paths, lift broken spirits and change the course of our history. So, together, let’s do that?


I read somewhere that 'A joyful life isn’t about others; it’s about the brightness that is associated with being alive. Your path to it is through anything that replaces thinking with pure flight, pure joy.’ As 2015 rolls around I wish you, and me, the clarity that comes with knowing we can choose our path and in that choosing life becomes the meaning and measurement that we’ve craved all along. Life is good. I wish you that, and more. Onwards friends.

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I think it will always be like this. 

As I sit quietly at home this morning - in the wake of his rage and drama I just feel quiet and tired and simply exhausted by it all. I am grateful he’s broken another promise - I need a break from the mumbling harsh words under his breath juxtaposed with the accusations and threats - I am pleased for the quiet. 

I get stuck in my home and in my head. You see I think I'm easy on him now - I take the path of least resistance and we mostly just live separate, like college room mates who - at times - sit over individually prepared suppers and idly comment on the tv.

How do you know when it’s enough?

I don’t know if it’s another broken promise or sheer exhaustion on my part but something has clicked this morning - as I write these words I don’t think I even trust myself anymore which is the saddest part for me. I’ve begged, pleaded, prayed and promised and that’s just with myself. There have been so many times that I’ve talked myself off this ledge promising him just one more chance but what about me? When do I get a look in here?

Last night I dreamt that I received a call - this guy was on the end of the phone asking me if I understood what he was saying correctly because he’d been accused of not being clear before - he asked if I could hear / see a helicopter in which was someone who was going to come and take care of my life. He kept asking me these three questions:

Do you know who you are?
Do you know what's happened to you?
Do you want to live this way?

I hung up - perplexed of course. The very next minute I heard then saw this chopper, in no time it had landed - right outside my sitting room door in my tiny garden. I was immediately nervous - I forced myself awake long before my alarm fearing that this meant something was wrong. But the longer I am awake the more this all made sense to me.

Do you know who you are?
Do you know what's happened to you?
Do you want to live this way?

Yes I know who I am. Yes I know what’s happened to me and no I don’t want to live this way - not any more.
 
Like a helicopter I can rise above this situation, this relationship. Like my garden I can cultivate new life, new energy.  This is my life

A love for almost 15 years isn’t something easy to question or let go of but I feel like I’m the one whose been holding on so tight, I’m the one whose been fighting here and if I’m truthful to myself I think if I stop the fighting he’ll just let us go.

This morning the first email I receive has the heading ‘Today is the best day of your life’ and I thought why not. Let’s see where this takes us.

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