I flew into Monterey on a wet and dark December day. The 22nd to be exact. That was nearly four and a half years ago. I remember passing a range of hills that looked as though wispy clouds had been brushed onto the tops – and thinking “I’ve got to hike those.” I was thrilled with the size of the airport – pocket-sized – and not nearly big enough to cause a panic attack.
I was coming in from a three-month stay at Betty Ford in Palm Springs – my longest stay in a residential treatment center to date. I’d never lived in Monterey and figured it was a great place to start anew. A peer from the center had offered me full use of her apartment while she stayed behind to finish out her program.
I discovered that Monterey is windy. It was while I was there. But I liked everything else about it. It’s a quaint artsy sort of town that reminds me of a ski town in Colorado, though I couldn’t tell you which one. My original plan was to get back into AA, find a job, and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I spent the first week or so exploring the city, but as I think back – I can see that I wasn’t grounded. I was actually very checked out. Not only did I not know a soul in Monterey, I didn’t know my own. And I had no idea how to discover my vision, my mission, or my life purpose. I had no idea what the whisper of my heart sounded like.
Or maybe I did have an inkling, but the thread that connected the idea to my heart was too thin for me to recognize. I have to credit something for wanting to go to Monterey in the first place. Something pulled me there. But I got lost in ideas of fleeing to safety rather than creating it. The danger I was in was living without a vision of my needs and values. This caused me to spiral. I didn’t attend AA or do anything to support my sobriety. But I didn’t relapse either – there in Monterey. A month after I arrived, I left for Huntington Beach, and began the descent back into alcoholism.
Up until today, my life has full of moves – zipping from one idea to the next, one city or state to the next – never committing. Never following through. Never taking time to acclimate. I’ve always had one foot out the door – no matter where I’ve been or what I was doing. I’m grateful to have found the field of life-coaching. I wonder if I would have found this eventually in Monterey had I stayed, or if it was necessary for me to go back out again and revisit treatment one more time.
Four and a half years later, I’m coming up on a year of sobriety – 11 May is just around the corner! I’m committed and grounded, and focused on listening to my heart. I even created a mantra! This coaching program business is helping me change my life and I can’t wait for the opportunity to help others into recovery with these same tools. It feels like a gift. My fieldwork for class tonight was to repeat this phrase as often as I can remember it today: Today and everything about today is perfect – just as it is.
Maybe in a different universe, I stayed in Monterey. Maybe in this one, I’ll go back.
But not yet.