Excerpt from Numbing to Knowing (D. Thomson, unpublished)
Learning to Surrender
Where do I begin? Was I spinning when I put the wine in the freezer, just in case? I was spinning, absolutely spinning and only when I decided to make a chocolate pudding pie did I feel a bit grounded. What does that mean? Does it mean anything? (I was learning to surrender…I just had no idea what that meant.) I said to Dave that I was working on my “black & white” thinking…but when it comes to this, to the wagon and doing my best to stay on it, is there any other way to think? Is there a grey area when you quit something that does NOT serve your highest self?
As I sat there drinking my glass of wine, which maybe should have been my only one (and it wasn’t) I felt good. I enjoyed it. I reveled in it. I soaked up the sunshine, put on music and pondered not thinking about work…any of it. Afterwards, with a slight glow on, I opted to not have another (yet) and prepped the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.
As I stood there pulling meat off the carcass, I could see the empty glass and I found myself thinking about and excited to have another. But I didn’t rush it, I wanted to make sure that if I did have another it would also be consumed when I could sit and enjoy it. I didn’t want to be chugging wine in between stirring potatoes and yelling at kids to “stay out of the kitchen…everything is hot!” Earlier when I was in full contemplative mode, when I was working up to the idea of opening the wine in the first place, I did my best to work through some qualifiers…
- There were other grown-ups in the house, so no “single-parenting” pressure.
- There was a huge delicious meal being prepared (by me), so “empty stomach drunkenness” was not likely.
- I would offer others some wine (and was confident they would say yes) so “finishing the bottle myself” was off the table.
I thought about my “qualifiers” and about the advice I recently gave to a friend (who is also abstaining from alcohol) when she said that her “strategies” for not drinking included going to the gym more often and focusing on eating healthy food. And I said to her “For what purpose do those (great) strategies serve?” If you can define the purpose, then you will be open to additional, not so “black & white” options…i.e. sitting on the couch with your hubby eating chips…if that also connects with your purpose, could be an equally good strategy. Aligning with the purpose of relaxing on Thanksgiving, helped me to “justify” or “quantify” my behavior.
Am I an alcoholic?
Do I need to abstain, because if I don’t I will slide down the slippery slope of hell, ruining my life and essentially negatively impacting the lives of all the people I care about in the process? When I was talking through some feelings with Dave I said “It needs to be okay to do nothing on Thanksgiving…it NEEDS to be okay that I closed my computer before I was done. It needs to be okay with me!” And his response stuck with me…not because it was wrong or right…but that it was his perception of my behavior (which greatly differs from my own). He said…
“That really is important for workaholics like you to figure out.”
That’s how he sees me? Not someone who is busting her ass to make our lives better, who is sacrificing all of her “free” time because that is how empires are made?!? Not someone who would prefer to relax? Who is so desperate for it, but can’t fathom stopping because it will slow down her chances (or actually stop all her chances) of making money. (holy fucking limiting beliefs here Dionne…is anyone else seeing this…fuuuuuuucccck!)
Am I a workaholic…and need a substance to pause that behavior…a different form of “aholic”, to feel a sense of balance? Or am I simply a driven, ambitious, self-labeled high-achiever with not-so-great coping strategies? Does it even matter? I believe that I am doing all this work so that I can get to a place where I can relax (whatever the F that means). Creating a lifestyle where money continues to come in and I am fully leveraged… that’s the dream! And I believe this lifestyle that I desire will not happen if I don’t keep working for it…True and…define “work” Dionne...
hmmmmmmm…pause…I’ll have to get back to you on that!
So about my drinking…
Yes I started to get a hangover before I went bed…and yes I woke up with a hangover, physically and emotionally. I was learning to surrender…I just had no idea what that meant.
I am not perfect. I am not perfect…
Can you hear me Dionne…you are not perfect and that’s okay.
How does that saying go…
fail fast, fail hard, fail often
I can get behind the fast and hard… the often part maybe not. Crash and Learn…that sounds about right! What have I learned? That I am still desperate for a sense of relaxation… and I only have one picture in my head of what that looks like. I feel relaxed when I am outside, however there is a part of me that wants to punish myself for relaxing (oh that’s f’d up!) so I stayed in and literally spun around my house just waiting for the seconds to tick by. I know I want to relax, to stop. And…problem…I see my desire to be “unproductive” as flawed. And even though part of me (my left-brained logical part) knows better and can think of positive options like…experience nature, read fiction…I look at any (all) relaxation experiences that do not provide me with secondary gain as a waste of time (and again…fuck!)
Wasting time is super high on the “Never Fucking Do” list and when I do, I feel bad and then do things, like drink, to punish myself or at the very least match shitty behavior to my shitty feeling. Just thinking about sitting doing “nothing” makes my skin crawl.
So there I was trying to stop my skin from crawling and I thought “well I could go for a walk or take the kids to the park…that might relax me…” again, then I come back to “what’s the secondary gain?” Walking…okay go a little faster, get a little sweat on…make this worth your while. The park…okay look for the teachable moments, don’t hover but be present…don’t instruct but don’t let them just sit there…Nope, none of that sounds very relaxing to me. (And who’s fault is that Dionne?)
By this point I was bouncing off the walls desperate for a task to fixate my mind and keep me from shoulding all over myself. Fuck I’m good at that…you should do something, you should relax. You should be working on that empire you keep dreaming about. You should be more productive, more efficient and that should help with the overwhelm. You should be able to handle all of this. You should be making more money. You should be, should be, should be…fuck me!
Seriously how much fucking self-help does one person need? As much as it takes until you slow the fuck down and rest. Which is pretty much the answer I got from the universe the next day when my 3 year old brought me a book to read her (while I was trying to make the best of some quiet time by reading a…you guessed it…self-help book!)
This is what she brought me and as I read it I could barely keep it together.
Do you remember these books. I know they’re great!
I decided to hold on to it after she left to go and be 3. The last few lines got me right in the feels… I cried…for little miss busy.
She had only one thing left to do.
And that was…
learn how to relax.
I am learning to surrender…I now have a pretty good idea what that means.
I am so grateful for every moment that I go through on this journey of self-discovery. I am constantly learning and constantly growing. Every day I get a greater sense of what it means to be truly whole and even though this entire experience was gut-wrenching at times, I would not change a minute of it.
Did I fall off the wagon? Yep! Yep I did and I am super grateful for the slip, because down there on the ground, flat on my face I could begin to see what has been pulling me down. It was during the fall that I learned to surrender to the process, to really give into my discomfort and let myself ruminate in it. This is not the first, nor is it the last time that this will happen. And each time I will grow and expand filling the space between my ears and between my ribs, with love and light. Learning to Surrender takes a few trips, a few falls…and is totally worth it.
All good things are rooted in love, laughter and learning!
PS I know this resonated with you. I know you are wondering why you are feeling so moved right now. Are you asking yourself “What do I need to surrender to?” You know I get it, I sooooo get it, I get you! Is it time to explore that desire to move towards a sense of wholeness…book in your free Connection Call HERE. Let’s chat and get you started!
PPS Not done reading…check out Authentic is the New Perfect!