Okay here’s the deal…starting something new, big, bold, tiny, monumental, life-changing, inconspicuous, heart-felt , values-driven…(pick a reason any reason) is scary as fuck. Because starting or more to the point, deciding to start, is required for shit to get better…and sometimes we decide that our fear of the unknown is greater than our desire for change…
I say fuck that!!!
Yes there will be some scary moments…and yes you will second-guess yourself…and yes people may not understand or agree with your decision to be real, to be your most authentic self (which btw is because it may challenge them to do the same…scary begets scary). I say bring it on, because the truth is, right before it gets really, really, really good, is when we experience the most fear and doubt.
My advice…embrace it all! Embrace every last ounce of energy your fear throws at you and use it for that one last push. That one last email, photo, strategy, conversation, decision. See that one last push past all the shit as your rite of passage to a life forever changed for the better.
On the heels of my post a few weeks ago where I spoke very openly about my shame storm…I have decided to dry out for 1 year, yes that’s right no more booze for 365 days! (Whoa that was scary as fuck to say out loud!!!). I have had enough with writing in my Morning Pages everyday…”I feel like shit, I am hung over again.” I have spent 2 years writing that, and almost 20 years of feeling that way…and I finally found the courage to push past what had been holding me back…fear.
Fear that I would lose myself, that I wouldn’t be able to relax, that I wouldn’t be any fun, that I wouldn’t be able to get turned on, that I wouldn’t be able to curb my anxiety, that I would be seen as awkward, that I would have to be more productive, that I would have to clean more, work more, be more, that I would have to be smarter than I am. Alcohol made it easy for me to justify any behavior that I had decided was wrong…anything I did, that didn’t match my (unrealistic) expectations of a good girl.
Just to be clear some of those unrealistic expectations are:
- Be busy but don’t look busy…(be better at compartmentalizing your feelings)
- Be able to relax on a dime… (in case there is 5 minutes left for you)
- Be fun and be funny…(people like someone who can make them laugh…btw put yourself down that always helps)
- Be smart…(some people think you’re brilliant…you don’t want to disappoint them)
- Be pretty and put-together…(you’re getting older and that’s no excuse)
- Be sexy, good in bed and always ready… (remember it’s your job to make men happy)
- Be productive, use every minute of the day effectively, don’t waste time…(show me what you did today…is that all?)
- Be a role model…(um no pressure..you’re just creating humans…assholes or angels…that’s on you)
- Be the household manager i.e. food, supplies, chores, schedules (Mom we’re out of…I have to go to…why didn’t you think of…how come this is still dirty?)
- Be 5 steps ahead of everyone’s needs and wants…(It’s just easier if you do)
- Be all of these things at the same time…(what are you complaining about?)
This decision is huge for me. Quitting drinking has come up as an idea, an option, a necessity, many times over the past few years. And I have struggled with the idea of being an alcoholic…I have no idea if I am and I don’t feel that the word best describes me. I look at my situation and think about others I know (and care for) who are struggling and I would not want to disrespect them and their battle with alcoholism…Funny (not funny) as I write that, I wonder if perhaps I too have been battling in my own way?
I found that many of my shame storms and moments of pain and guilt, were highly exasperated (if not brought on) by the amount of alcohol I had consumed. And the shittier I felt, the more I wanted to escape…text book case of vicious cycle.
I know that I have written about this before and if you were around when I did, then you know that the post, where I shared that I knew I had a problem…that drinking had become a terrible habit that I “needed” to break… disappeared forever in an internet glitch. I have come to think that my words literally disappeared because I had yet to find the courage to act on them. I see now, that I was not completely ready to make drying out non-negotiable. I believe that I had a clear understanding, yet I lacked a clear purpose.
Breaking the habit seemed like a good idea on paper and yet I hadn’t connected the act of quitting, to my value, to my worth. I understood that I didn’t like the way I felt and felt disgusted with my behaviour, yet I had yet to see myself as worth quitting for. I didn’t comprehend that my actions were hurting someone I loved…me.
This time I have chosen to write down my thoughts and feelings everyday…the old fashion way…pen to paper (no internet glitch this time). In the wee hours of the morning, I open up and dig deep into my thoughts, my triggers and most importantly how grateful I am for feeling clear, calm and myself.
I now get a sense that my wholeness (which is my deepest desire) is dependent upon whether or not I choose to engage in activities that split me apart. Similar to negative self-talk, gossiping and putting negative energy into the world, drinking out of habit, was a habit that broke me…and I let it.
(just so you get a visual on how habitual it had become…I could literally be holding a vodka bottle over a glass filled with ice and have no idea how I got there…)
The good thing is, I know I can change. I can break my destructive habits and fill them with ones that serve me.
I’ve been dry for a short while and I feel lighter, calmer, cleaner. I know this is only the beginning and that I will have ups and downs. I am grateful for my awareness of my triggers and of knowing my purpose. Don’t get me wrong…I have no issues with anyone else’s drinking…
It’s that I do not have a great relationship with alcohol.
If you do, if you can sit quietly and have 1 nice glass of wine and walk away that’s f’n awesome. If you can take it or leave it…brilliant. What I couldn’t seem to do is get a handle on why I habitually poured myself a drink (or 2 or 3) everyday. And let’s be super clear 1 drink for me is 2-3 oz of vodka or rye…so if you do the math that’s 4-9 oz of booze consumption a night. Right… now you see my issue.
The first drink would always be triggered by the time of day, how sunny it was and how much I had accomplished already. God damn any Saturday or Sunday when the sun was beaming and I had had the time and energy to put in 4-6 hours worth of work (be that housework or my business), when 4pm rolled around I would be lounging in the back yard, book in hand, a bag of chips and a cocktail in the other, ready for my 1-2 good hours of relaxation.
But guess what happens when you are a mom, and dad is at work, and you have been “ignoring” your kids all day just to get to this moment…you get interrupted. In anticipation of that, I would often guzzle that first drink to get to the buzz before anyone asked anything of me. And that moment would be sweet. I would close my eyes and let the rays of sun fill me up. I would ponder all the great things in my life and feel so grateful for this moment to get away from the hectic life (I had created).
A major drawback of this behaviour would be the inevitable super-woman feeling that I would get with the buzz having set in too quickly. It would prompt another drink and if I was dumb enough to drink that before I made dinner, then food (other than that bag of BBQ chips I had inhaled earlier) would not be something I would concern myself with. Yes… I would feed my children and I would normally spend the rest of the evening cuddled up with them watching a movie. Then at 8:30 – 9:00pm we would all go to bed…them, because… well their kids and me, because my 1-2 drinks would render me utterly exhausted and I would barely be able to keep my eyes open.
Did I ever relax? Was the onset of exhaustion from a long day coupled with lack of food and only vodka for sustenance, something that felt relaxing? Fuck no…but it is what I did. Not every night…but almost. I realize now that I was playing out a very tired pattern. One based on a reality that may have never existed. Was I trying to relive my pre-kid days where I could curl up on the couch and have an afternoon nap in the sunshine? Was I trying to unlock some kind of joy? Was I trying to find a sense of wholeness…I have no fucking idea…maybe all of that, maybe none of it.
What I do know, is that the more I played out this tired pattern, the less I felt like myself.
I have recently taken up a meditation practice. Everyday I meditate between 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the amount of time I have. And in those introspective moments, when I am guided to places within myself that sparkle and shine, I realize how much I love myself. I sense a deep pride for who I am, the good I do and the energy I share with the world. I am proud of the parent I am becoming and the wife my husband always knew I was. I love my messiness, my awareness and deep compassion for others.
I do not have a great relationship with alcohol and perhaps after this year I will see things differently. Right now I am choosing to focus on what serves me and what honors the love and positivity I want to share. This is a journey, each day I reflect, reconnect and recreate myself and I am so grateful the opportunity to share this with you.
Thank you for holding space for me as I walk this path. Talking about quitting drinking in today’s society, where alcohol is pretty much glorified, had me scared shitless…surprising I know since I am usually pretty candid about most things...Anyway…
I want you to know how much I appreciate you taking the time to read about what I am working through right now and for supporting me through the process.
All good things are rooted in love, laughter and learning!