My hike to freedom continues and has taken some expected and unexpected twists and turns. Last I was wondering where the trail was, wandering around lost in the woods. With help from my fellow travelers further on up the trail, I realized that yes indeed I was in NML and though some of my thoughts were to be expected, some were of my own creation. I cannot truly explain how I felt - my thoughts did not fall neatly into cravings or urges, they were something different. Did I feel a loss? Or was it that I had not fully covered the path that leads to relapse? I think it was a bit of both.
My trip to the "left" coast brought me new trails both literally and those on my journey to freedom. There was no mistaking what I was encountering - they were the strongest urges I have had since about the second week of my quit. The trail had become familiar, the same routines everyday, I had become accustomed to putting one foot in front of the other. All of a sudden large boulders were in front of me - the times we’d gone on vacation, stayed in a motel, I’d step out for a smoke, I’d get up, go out looking for “good” coffee (both my wife & I like strong coffee), which would mean I got to smoke a couple. Let me figure a way around this boulder - we settled for the coffee in the room! Situations kept seeming to arise that were new as an ex - climbing hard, looking for alternate routes, making sure I didn’t choose the wrong path.
Early on, my wife joined me on the trail - I confessed to her my guilt, my misgivings about not being there for her when she quit. She understood where I was then - that she had to quit for her health, I wasn’t there yet. She wanted me to quit for me, for my health, so I can continue up the mountains - not just for her. Not to say there aren’t benefits to her besides me being around and healthy - cleaner air, no more stench on my breath and clothes. Another companion on the trail!!
The first few days were the roughest climb, constantly battling obstacles thrown at me trying to break my resolve, make me choose the easy path. Thankfully with my wife by my side and everything I’ve learned here, I chose to remain on the right trail - the one that leads to true peace. As the days wore on, climbing and scrabbling over rocks, the trail began to level out and low and behold - a beautiful waterfall! I had succeeded in overcoming the unforeseen obstacles!
I know there are still rocks, steep sections and yes, cliffs I must avoid. Everyday I feel stronger, able to continue this climb. I’m still in this really rough section for me - previous quits have almost always ended somewhere between 2 and 4 months. I keep my eyes on the light ahead, where I reach the summit - somewhere still far away but certainly attainable. For those behind me, I'll help keep the trail clear and as easy as possible.
Thanks to God for the strength, thanks to my wife for her understanding and support and thanks to all here who not only showed me the right trail, what to pack in my backpack, but who have rescued me more than once, most recently when I was at “Desolation Point”.
The hike continues…
In case you're wondering - the banner image is from the Redwoods National Park and the waterfall is Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite National Park.