I’ve been in Hawaii for a few days now and it’s been a beautiful yet surprising/unexpected trip thus far. As I mentioned before, I spent some time here after Chris had passed away, just ‘floating’, which could be equated with beach-bumming and regular, usually heavy, drinking. It seemed like a good life, or as good as one could imagine for a heartbroken 21 year old, but a dream opportunity nonetheless.
Today’s been the most weather-ridden day since my arrival, even paradise comes with a price, but luckily it’s one that I’m happy to pay… anyone who knows me, knows I’m a fan of adverse weather, and most particularly rain. Also, luckily for me, mother nature’s been blessing me with weather to match my mood, for today was a bit more of an emotional day. The ups and downs are to be expected, but in light of where I’m at in my adventure (barely beginning), I know there’s so much that lies ahead, which can feel scary.
Feeling a little raw on all fronts – I haven’t been sleeping well for a week now, and when I do I’ve been plagued with intense, emotional, and exhausting dreams, I’m in the midst of an Ayurvedic detox, which in this round is heavily focused on cleansing my liver (coincidence? I don’t believe in those), and I’m even a touch burned, for perhaps like the fourth time in my life – I was feeling a little down. So when the clouds rolled in and the cycling tropical storms started, I was more than happy to welcome the moodiness of mother nature. Seeking respite in our cool condo, I could watch, listen, and smell the rain, left alone with my thoughts.
I’ve been thinking about the challenge of taking the “higher path”; not a religious or pretentious path, but the path that ultimately leads you to your higher self. And being here on Maui, many of my memories are laden (or spotty) with the partying and drinking I used to so regularly partake in. I felt overcome with sadness, the sadness of letting those wild days go, but I realized what I was actually feeling is more of a mourning for the easy path. Depressed as I may have been, I was also drunk, happy (superficially at least), and having fun, and sometimes, that seems hard to let go of.
I read an article yesterday about a girl who didn’t step in as she watched her friend, whose mom had died, spiral into alcoholism that eventually killed her. She was quoted saying that she regretted not “pressing her about how her mother’s death plagued her,” which really struck a cord with me. Not because I believe I was a severe alcoholic (I’m wise enough not to dispute that I did reach a certain level of binge-alcoholism), nor would I ever compare one person’s loss to another’s, but because I’ve seen that path, I’ve toyed with it myself, and witnessed it in others, and I know how easy it is to travel. Coming from Reno, which last year held the title for number one drinking county in the nation, I know that a culture can support drinking with it’s easy accessibility and an atmosphere in which it is condoned.
I’ve been feeling a desire to get involved with The Solace Tree in Reno, which is a grief counseling center that seeks to create a safe environment for children, teens, and adults who are dealing with the aftermath of death. While I understand that turning to alcohol isn’t always the response for dealing with death, in my case, and in many that I’ve seen, it’s an easy one; especially when you’re of age and in an environment where it’s the most easily accessed outlet.
I finally broke down to tears, reflecting on that time in my life when drinking was my escape, and how, despite the depression I was battling, things felt easy. But as the storm passed, so did my sadness, and I remembered that although the challenges can seem daunting, the payoffs are equally rewarding. Growing into this new phase of my life, characterized by a path of healthier living, school for spiritual training and work, and taking risks for the sake of my true happiness, I can only feel grateful; grateful for the people in my life who have supported me, for the spiritual training which has transformed me, but mostly, because I’ve made it through the storm.
**PSA: If you, or anyone you know, is grieving the loss of a loved one or turning to alcohol/drugs to deal with depression, don’t be afraid to talk to them about it! It’s not an easy conversation, but it’s an important one, and if you feel incapable of doing so, find someone who can, whether that is their family, The Solace Tree (or another organization), or maybe even me. Losing a friendship (which is usually only temporary) is far easier than losing another loved one.**
Stories from the road-trip that inspired moving to the PNW, and other travel adventures.