Asleep at the Wheel

Have you ever heard of the term, ‘asleep at the wheel’?

A friend of mine just reminded me of it today as we were out on a socially distanced, masked walk, within 5 km of my place.

It occurred to me that this was the perfect analogy for how I had been living my life for the months of May and June this year. Mostly due to COVID, lack of a job, lack of purpose.

I was just going through the motions. Not in a good routine. The bars and restaurants had re-opened, so there were friends to see and socially distanced high-fives and hugs to be had. I did all of that. I even found myself having a few BIG nights. Completely by accident, but mainly because I hadn’t been allowed to. What was this rebellious adolescent reaction I was having? 

Grow up Robert!,” my inner voice detested.

I became obsessed with ‘The Last Of Us II’ on the PlayStation (a masterpiece, but man it’s dark). 

“Stop playing the PlayStation Robert!”

If it wasn’t the PS4, it was aimlessly scrolling on Instagram and Twitter – sometimes even the lows of Facebook.

“Look at all the other people on Social Media achieving all of this greatness, Robert! You haven’t showered in days, Robert!”

And I was consuming a lot of news. When your partner is in News, it’s just on in the house. Whether watching it for moral support or just because, what are the answers to all of the COVID questions?

When will I be able to leave the house, when will I be on stage again? Why is the government not doing more to help the Arts which contributes $111.7 billion to Australia’s economy – not to mention culture and shaping our own national narrative?

“Why are you so angry at the world, Robert?”

I was in that metaphorical car, driving, in no real direction, blind, and likely to have an accident any moment. I probably already had – I was in a hole.

And then two of my friends died.

Losing friends, family – death in general, makes everyone think about their own mortality.

What am I doing with my time here? What would Joe do? What would Michael do? They’d get shit done. They’d live their best friggin lives with the people who bring them the most joy.

I’m indebted … for knowing them both. And I’m indebted to the people they surrounded themselves with. Old friends and new friends. Two different communities of people, but all there for each other.

It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child. It takes a village to grieve. To grow. To be.

Finally, I worked out I couldn’t get out of my hole alone. I reached out to a few old friends over this last month. We shared stories of life and its challenges. We spoke of our growth with our psychologists, podcasts and of course which shows to stream. And though time has passed, the bond is still strong. It doesn’t take much to connect or reconnect.

This last month has been one of the best and worst of my life. I missed both of my friends’ funerals due to COVID-19 restrictions. But it gave me perspective.

I chose to detox. Detox from the booze. I signed up for Dry July to raise money for the Cancer Council. And I detoxed from social media and my phone. I had so much more time.

I ran 100 km in the month and completed my first half-marathon in a decade. I finished reading a wonderful novel by Trent Dalton, Boy Swallows Universe (an absolute must!). I listened to podcasts and I played guitar and piano, and I sang. I reached out to my tribe. And I had open and honest chats with my partner. But most importantly, I found the joy again.

I used the free Daybreak app by Hello Sunday Morning which has an amazing community of people who were all going through what I was – trying to change our relationship with alcohol. Most importantly, I wasn’t alone – and neither are you if you need it.

I just had to open my eyes and turn towards the light.

“Take a breath Robert. It’s all going to be ok.”


13 Comments

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  • Boy swallows universe is our next book for Daybreak bookclub! I’m excited to read it!

    By D
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • Hi Robert
    This helps me
    I have been sober for a month
    Mostly it’s ok but I have my moments

    By Helen
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • We are all flawed but using the strength and the knowledge to be our best takes courage. Great story Rob, well done.

    By Onesteph
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • I’m so glad you’ve found your mojo again Rob. I think your story is very relatable to many. Thanks for sharing!

    By Emma
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • Good to know you are back on track Robert

    By Marg Geraghty
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • A great read, thanks. It sure has been an up and down few months so very relatable!

    By Deb
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • “It takes a village to raise a child and a village to greive…” – thank you for sharing this truthful and beautiful sentiment.

    By Bev
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • Thanks for sharing this story. It resonates with me deeply, right down to your Last of Us 2 obsession! I’m about to embark on a similar detox, one I have out off time and time and again. I don’t want to look back in anger and with regret, knowing I had so much more to give. Good luck for the coming weeks of lockdown.

    By Daz
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • Thanks Rob. Yours is a story that will resonate with many of us, in our various depth holes.

    By Trevor Kingsbury
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • The regular self check-in is so important, especially after we’ve given ourselves permission to relax our “rules” when life throws us all manner of chaos. I pulled back on drinking a month or two into lockdown because I didn’t like the way I was responding to stress, and am now sleeping better, exercising more, connecting with loved ones more effectively, and having more good days than bad. Thanks for the reminder, Rob.

    By Carolyn
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • Thanks for sharing your story Rob. We all need to open up and be more vulnerable about what is really going on in our lives and accountability for our health is only on us. So glad you had a reset and the perspective its given you.

    By Kath Elliott
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • Thank you for being so honest. So many reasons to keep bad habits and so many to hit pause. Congratulations on running the half marathon-thats a great mental challenge right there..

    By Maggie
    |
    August 13, 2020
  • Thank you for sharing your story Rob. I’m sorry you lost your friends. I resonated with what you wrote. I’m 5 months sober & loving how good I feel. No going back for me!

    By Caz
    |
    August 25, 2020
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