What a country….

Tonight son1 and I are in Nagarkot, a small conurbation about 20km from Kathmandu. We are staying in a hotel perched on a hillside with panoramic views over the Himalayas with (on a good day) a view of Mt Everest in the distance. People flock to Nagarkot for the beauty of the sun rising over the mountains, turning the ice of the Everest summit pink in the morning light. Sunrise tomorrow is at 06.50 or thereabouts, and we will be up, hoping for a clear morning.

In the last seven days we have really pushed ourselves. We have travelled to 4 different parts of the country and crammed in the most intense, immersive experiences. We have visited both Buddhist and Hindu sacred places, observed the funeral and cremation practices of Hindus. We have jumped off mountains, climbed to a world peace Stupa, rowed across lakes. We have ridden elephants, walked through jungles, canoed past submerged crocodiles and followed rhino as they went to drink.

What a country where all this is available …

it’s not easy in Nepal.. the water is not fit to drink, nothing has a fixed price, it’s dirty, dusty, and smelly. The roads have no markings, are full of potholes and being driven anywhere is an alarming experience if you are used to traffic lights and the Highway Code. The poverty is all around you, grinding desperate examples of humanity literally scratching a living from the earth. Cows wander the streets (they are sacred) and are avoided and venerated; stray dogs are beaten and have stones thrown at them. Electricity goes off randomly, there are no trains; buses are crammed to capacity twice over… hotels are SO variable, it’s pot luck (slightly improved by the power of trip advisor) … the Nepalese drop litter EVERYWHERE, and seem to care nothing for dustbins, they spit in the street, and double the price of everything the minute you walk into their shop…

But …. but: The Nepalese are friendly and welcoming, they are genuinely kind. They smile and try to help you, it feels very safe here. The scenery is breathtaking and the ongoing efforts at conservation of endangered species are really special. In Chitwan, for example, poaching of tigers has been eliminated by the stationing of significant numbers of Army living IN the Park, regular checks on visitors / permits and guides (four times in the day we were in the park) and rigorous prosecution of any offenders. Tiger numbers are increasing, slowly, but they are increasing. The new government is investing hugely in infrastructure – new roads, safe reliable internal air travel and there are a few small local co-operatives (eg in Sauraha there is one selling jungle honey where all the bee keepers join together, pool their honey to make the best and all charge a fixed price)

I’ve fallen in love with this country with all its problems, and below I’ve posted a few photos to give a taste of the infinite variety of experiences we have had over the last week.

There are so many more things I want to write about, to do with my relationship with Son1, about his maturation and experiences , about what I have learned about myself this week… but these can wait till the thoughts have percolated a little …

just a small word about alcohol. It has not crossed my mind to drink this holiday. I have not missed it at all. The one evening we went somewhere quite nice I had the most delicious minty, citrusy virgin Mohito … I could NEVER have done what I have this week with a hangover, fuzzy head or pre-occupation with the next alcoholic drink… I truly feel like an adult who does not drink because she doesn’t want to – and I have gained so much from this on this trip .. I wonder why I ever drank at all ?

Vanity, or self respect ?

The picture at the top of this post is my ‘sobriety pendant’. I had it made for me after about 2 months sober, seemed a little premature and maybe a bit self-indulgent, but it was also a statement of intent – after all, you can’t wear a sobriety pendant with the wrong sobriety date! So it has my sober birthday, March 12th 2016, ‘one day at a time’ and ‘love, serenity courage’ embossed on the three discs. I wear it a lot, particularly when I’m struggling – I think of it as a talisman and a solid tangible reminder of my commitment to staying alcohol free.

Yesterday I had a chat with my partner about drinking, or not. he did the month of June alcohol free and has had a couple of drinks in the last week. We talked about the benefits of being dry – that we had both felt and he asked me if I intended never to drink again – I said that this was indeed my intention. That’s the first time I have said it out loud. It felt good, to be talking properly and communicating my feelings to the man I adore (even though he drives me nuts sometime! ) and good to be able to share my intentions. He said he was proud of me – he’s said that before – and it surprised me again, in a nice way… I hadn’t really thought I had much of an option about being dry really!

He also told me I looked much better since I stopped drinking. This is true, for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is that I’m no longer drinking 70 + units of alcohol (which is a toxin) every week – my skin looks brighter, my eyes are not red rimmed and my face is not puffy any longer. But more than this, I am taking care of myself in a way that I haven’t for many years.I am wearing makeup – not a lot, but a little light foundation, eye liner, mascara and lipstick. It makes a big difference. I have now lost 5lbs (whoop whoop) without trying;  took a while to start, but I think the ‘promised’ weight loss is at last starting… I’m short, so 5lbs is noticeable.. This makes me feel better, my clothes fit better, I take more trouble with how I dress…so I look groomed and smart. Then I WANT to look better – so I have had my hair cut and highlighted, my eyebrows threaded and tinted, my eyelashes tinted… I have had a facial and a pedicure. I’m doing yoga regularly – I think my posture has improved , certainly my balance has – so I’m walking taller, with my butt under me. I’ve bought some new clothes that are more fitted, new and smart .. Now I am really feeling the difference. So then, after a lot of thought (and a personal recommendation) I had some Botox… and this, subtle (my partner hasn’t noticed and neither has my mother) elimination of the deepest frown lines and wrinkles, has boosted my self-esteem hugely.

I’ve been thinking about this. I have invested money in ME. Just for vanity, just because I want to look better – because it makes me FEEL better, proud of my appearance, not ashamed and scruffy. I have never loved my body, I had eating disorders in my teens and twenties – in fact right up to when I had children. I have cursed my short stumpy legs and pear shape. I’ve abused myself with starvation and purging, and latterly covered myself up to hide the lumps. I’ve not worn make up mostly – except on special occasions – I haven’t been bothered, subconsciously thinking I’m not attractive anyway so why bother.

Is it vanity ? (because vanity is a sin) or is it self-respect? Is making the best out of your face and body narcissistic and egocentric, or is it actually a reflection of an important self-love, about dignity, self-confidence and valuing yourself?

One of the character traits associated with an addictive personality is low self-esteem;  those who do not value themselves very highly are going to be more willing to engage in high risk behaviour, self-destructive behaviour, and are less concerned about the damage they are doing to themselves

People who have low self-esteem don’t expect much from life, and often become willing to settle for a mediocre existence & poor relationships, Low self-esteem prevents individuals from achieving success in life because they just do not feel like they deserve to be successful. This type of person not only lacks motivation to succeed, but they will often sabotage their own efforts to improve their life, as well. Ring any bells with anyone ?

My thoughts about this are not well developed yet – and I will reflect on it some more; but for now I think that removing alcohol from my life has removed a significant source of guilt and shame… and that once I am not feeling guilty or ashamed of myself, I have been able to start treating myself with care and love… And this is definitely a positive thing