Today is my last day in Montreal. As I sit down to write this final entry I find that words do not come easily.
Many of you have written me over the past few weeks and urged me to press on with my personal writing; encouraging me to continue sharing the brutally honest journey of recovery. The more I wrote, the more I realised how complex the topic of addiction was. Multi-layered and ever-changing, I could, quite possibly, continue to explore the subject for years. However, I have decided to stop for the time being.
Although this creative process has been cathartic and freeing, it has also been emotionally draining. When I return to Toronto, my life will quickly return to its hectic pace full of work deadlines, social obligations and family commitments. My July days with an open agenda will be replaced with meetings, appointments and coffee dates with friends. Everyday things like paying bills, tending to my home and the continuous, albeit rewarding, grind of sustaining and growing the small business that is Shedoesthecity will, once again, take priority; soaking up hours of time each day.
My time here in Montreal has come to an end but my journey as a recovering alcoholic continues. Should I ever relapse, it won’t be because suddenly an enormous life challenge falls into my path. It won’t be because of anyone else. It will be because I either stopped working on myself, stopped attending meetings in church basements or manipulated myself into believing that I’m better, that I can handle a couple of drinks.
This month on my own has been a slice of luxury: a time to pause and reflect, to look at life from a distance and evaluate the significant changes and challenges that have occurred over the years. Had I not had the distance away from home, I doubt I could have shared with you what I have. And I’m not sure I’d be able to see properly either. Travel allows us to gaze at our life from a different perspective. Instead of being in the gridlock, we are like a helicopter or bird; a perspective that allows for a better overall understanding.
On my final morning walk today, I contemplated what I wanted to share with you, how I would finish this incredibly personal diary. I suppose I want to encourage you to plan your own journey. I had never travelled alone before. I had taken flights to visit friends in far away places but I had never carved out a chunk of time that was just for me. I did not know how my time in Montreal would look before I arrived. But I knew that I needed time to breathe, time to reflect. We all do.
It’s not always easy to get away. I am lucky that I can work from afar but I realise this isn’t realistic for many. If a month away from your life isn’t feasible, then perhaps consider a week or even 3 days elsewhere.
Who knows, you may find yourself moved to pen your own adventure diary. We all have a story, we’re all on a journey. Embrace the challenges that lie in your path and you may find a life more rich and rewarding than you ever knew was possible. I did.
~ Jen McNeely
On day 1, Jen outed herself as a recovering alcoholic. On day 2, she wondered why the hell she did that. On day 3, she compares the dark days of 1999 with vibrant life in 2012. On day 4 Jen randomly meets Steven Tyler while strolling the streets late at night. On day 5 Jen took a meditative morning walk through the Plateau.On day 6 she found serenity in the Fuchsia Tea Room. On day 7 she hits the town for mocktails and shots of OJ. On day 8 she broke down the stereotypes of AA. On Day 9, Jen had a run-in with the circus. On day 10 Jen talks about how she knew she had a problem. On day 11 Jen recalls her last drunk meal and gains an appreciation for good food. On day 12 Jen tackles why she drank. On day 13 Jen questions her motives and discusses anonymity. On day 14 Jen reveals an anonymous feature she wrote for FASHION magazine at 5 months sober.