I am 40.
I started drinking at a very young age.
I drank for 28 years.
I drank to numb my deep feelings of abandonment. I continued to drink because numbing felt good. I drank heavily in my late teens and early 20’s because, well, by this point I was well versed in the process. I learned to balance adult responsibilities with “letting go”. In fact, they went hand in hand. I worked hard and long and got things done. Then I relaxed and "processed" with a few beers, a bottle of wine or cocktails. Every Day.
The last time I was drunk was my 29th birthday. Since that celebration I choose to drink responsibly, for the most part. I no longer fit the description of a Lush, but I definitely enjoyed a glass, or two, of wine most evenings. Champagne on a Sunday with friends was always so exciting. I loved being a mixologist and creating signature drinks for the holidays. I grew my own plants to make simple syrups. I love microbrews. I loved drinking and felt that my relationship with alcohol was now healthy. This is how I drank for the next decade while building businesses, having babies and delving deeper into myself.
You need to know that there was always a voice, albeit quiet and small, that let me know that this was not the way to Joy. As an adolescent it was there. As a young Woman it was there. As a spiritual practitioner it was there. As a Mom it was there. As a Partner it was there. It never went away...and I became very well aquatinted with its promise and with my avoidance of following it’s wisdom. In fact, drinking became the numbing agent to deal with the fact that I was ignoring this voice. What is true is that drinking at a young age to numb my feelings of abandonment actually created an avoidance mechanism to respond to my own needs; my ability to be present for myself. I was abandoning me.
This is what happens when we use something externally to create a sense of happiness or peace internally. It does not work. We want it to work and we tell ourselves it’s working, but it is not working. I knew this intellectually and applied it to many parts of my life: I exercised regularly because that felt better than not exercising and the dicsipline practiced by exercising brought me Joy. I ate the perfect fuel for my body (most of the time) because that felt better than not eating the perfect fuel and the discipline practiced by eating well brought me Joy. I created a meditation practice because having one felt better than not having one and the discipline it took to meditate daily brought me Joy. Got it?
I knew the reward of choosing what would feel better. I knew that if I learned to not need to drink anymore and instead choose to feel the emotions and watch the thoughts that I have - I would have even more Joy. Who wouldn’t want that?! I did. I also really wanted to give that small voice -that came from Me - the Power it was asking for. I wanted to trust it more deeply and work with it more cooperatively. Following the wisdom of this voice in the past had never lead me astray.
I had to do some work surrounding what I was afraid of loosing by not drinking. It looked something like this: I was afraid of loosing connection to my partner who I would share the wine / beer / cocktail with. I was afraid of believing that I couldn’t be in a relationship with someone who also didn’t want to stop drinking. I was afraid that without the buffer I would be more irritable and lash out at the Children. I was afraid of being "empty handed"; without the libation that I had depended on to define my maturity, sense of elegance and pizzazz. I was afraid of wanting. It would be “Hard”.
I allowed the voice, which had begun to get stronger and more clear, to guide me. “You will be better than alright,” it said, “You will be AMAZING!” I did a lot of thought work around my relationships and re-discovered (again and again) that we are each on our own path. “Becoming the next best version of ourselves” is personal. No one can tell someone else what is best for them. Healing and Growing and Evolving happens because the individual chooses it and does it for themselves. Period. This allowed me to let go of any expectations outside of my control. I can only control my thoughts, feelings and choices, which is an entire universe to play in.
So I stopped. It really was just as easy as that. Because I knew Why I drank and met compassionately with the Fears surrounding letting go of drinking as well as feeling the gratitude a head of time for what lay on the other side, I was able to let it go with Ease and Grace.
Let me tell you how this has changed my life.
I am more productive. I can finally wake up early to achieve the goals I have for myself (I have a 6 year old, 3 year old and a 6 month old baby, by the way). I can do this easily because I sleep better. I am clean, alert and alive. If I get space after the kids go to bed in the evening, moat of the time I have the energy and head space to accomplish more, because I have not “clocked out”.
I have deepened, one again, My Self Awareness. I am more intimately aquatinted with the negative emotions I was so afraid to feel before. I don’t lash out more. In fact, I react less and respond more. I can more accurately mirror my childrens' own negative emotions and show them how to meet those emotions with compassion and move forward through them to the other side. All the thought work I did to release my Fears of not drinking allowed me to expand my ideas on personal responsibility, blame and control. I actually feel closer to my partner than I did before.
I am a better friend and member of society. Because I showed up for myself in a really big way, I show up more, everywhere. Because my boundary with myself became clear and respected, my boundaries in all my relationships have become more clear. Without the buffering of drinking and all the mental energy I spent justifying / avoiding / reasoning I can now interact with the world from a place of abundant energy, compassion and inspiration.
I am better. Through the “Hard” I discovered a deeper strength and love for myself. It was through the process of stopping drinking that the Joy was found.
Where have you worked though “Hard” and what did you find on the other side? I would love to hear what you have to share.
In Love and Gratitude,