February 17th, 2020
I stopped drinking alcohol.
My Struggles With Alcohol Can be Read in These Blogs:
Reflections – Year One
As I sit here, sipping my morning coffee, I think back over my first year of living alcohol free. There were many, many times I wanted to drink. Taking CBD for anxiety, helped reduce my cravings. Attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings during a particularly rough patch, really helped. This modeled the importance of peer emotional support and connection, as we strived to remain alcohol free.
What Did I Learn?
I learned that drinking for me, was not only a habit and a visceral craving I could feel in my abdomen, it was a go-to to help relieve me of my anxiety. I realized this as I came to see that CBD gave me the same relaxed feeling as alcohol did, without the messiness of drinking. CBD calmed me like those first few glasses of wine would. But, with alcohol I could never have just one glass of wine. It was the entire bottle.
CBD became this warm blanket that calmed me – but it also made me feel lethargic. I also experienced the occasional anxiety attack.
I started taking more and more CBD to alter my consciousness – to make me feel better when I was stressed out. But, this backfired as I would spiral into dark thoughts. I was relaxed as this happened – but caught in a loop in my head – while feeling exhausted.
At first, CBD was the best thing ever, because it truly helped me. Over time, I became dependent on it to change how I was feeling. But this is the entire point of taking CBD – to change how I’m feeling.
I decided to stop taking CBD for a bit. However, I soon realized that overall, CBD made me feel better. What has to happen is that when dark thoughts hit – this is the opportunity to use meditation and mindfulness techniques to observe the thoughts – step in when I need to – then step out again – to go through the process. CBD is part of helping me be calm enough to do this.
Socializing is the HARDEST
I’m an introvert and socializing is very difficult for me, for a few reasons. I tend to absorb the energy in the room, and this drains me. I ALWAYS wonder if I’ve said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing, talked too much, etc… As well, small talk is PAINFUL. Sitting at a table with a group of people over a meal, while trying to engage in the varied conversations happening at once, is just horrible for me. My brain seems to shut down. I stumble over my words. Everything feels so very serious. I just want to laugh, be silly and then dance! You know – PARTY! It seems such a waste of time to be sitting there talking about world issues or differences of opinions. Who cares! Let’s PARTY!! My work week is serious enough, I don’t need my socialization times to be serious, too!
But, PARTY for me means drinking, letting loose, going wild. I do love going wild!
And That is My Quandary
How do I let loose, go wild without alcohol? Alcohol lowered my inhibitions. Parts of my true self felt free to come forward and steer me to lots of fun.
Now, I feel all confused. Not sure how to navigate this.
It takes a certain amount, no A LOT, of confidence to be the wild and crazy I want to be without alcohol – because I have to be able to block the haters who judge me.
What kind of world do we live in, where wild and crazy is so frowned upon? I’m thought of as loud. Inappropriate. Yada…yada and all that judgement. Where others are drawn to my light, my joyfulness. My effusiveness.
Problem is, I focus too much on the haters, not those who accept me.
Photo Credit – Amazon
But, I’m Supposed to be Settling Down – I’m 51
Who cares! Age is a number. Am I supposed to change who I am because of a number? Am I supposed to turn the volume down because of a number? Because others will judge me?
Yet, I am my harshest judge. I’m ALWAYS fearful others will judge me. Locked in these fears that are scars of the past. But, they are just that – scars.
Meditation teacher and fellow Canadian, Jeff Warren, taught me about scars in his celebrated series The Daily Trip on the amazing website, Calm. That the visceral issues we tackle, such as fear of abandonment, rejection, not being liked, feeling invisible, etc, are just that – scars. We honor them as a part of who we are.
Learning to be Human – Not Having to Anesthetize My Existence
What I like best about Jeff Warren’s series on Calm, is how he teaches me to be human. That all the qualities we strive to be and learn with meditation and mindfulness – kindness, acceptance, non-judgement, patience, etc… are lessons we come back to, with awareness by being mindful, using meditation to slow me down enough to do so. Something like that, as I’m still learning. There is the reality of being human and the ideals taught to us in meditation; and how us humans will never stay in an ideal forever – we move in and out of them – with deepening awareness.
Feeling shame because of my humanness, this inherent feeling I’m flawed in some way – because of my struggles with addiction, anxiety, depression, my desires to be wild and crazy and not a “well-behaved, serious young lady” – is my humanity.
I don’t want to anesthetize my existence. Life is messy. Life is impermanent. Life is joyful. Life is love.
So Here I AM
With one year of living alcohol free under my belt. Struggling with my humanness. Not wanting to anesthetize my existence. Still struggling with small talk and socializing. Oh, and fear of authority figures. Someday, I can’t wait to be my own boss, with my own Reiki practice, and have completely stepped out of mainstream, hierarchal employment.
I see myself as this mixed bag of calm and quiet and wild and crazy. But by choice, not because of society’s expectations. I guess it all depends on who I feel comfortable enough around, safe enough around to be my true self. But, I want to be more than that. I want to have the confidence to be able to be all parts of myself around all people – and not care what they think of me.
To shine, like Marianne.
To blossom, like Anaïs.
To live Fearlessly about who I am.
I see myself still maintaining a healthy lifestyle: still alcohol free, still running, still reducing refined sugars from my diet, and not eating meat. I eat seafood – I guess this is called a pescatarian diet.
I’ll probably still be struggling with socializing. But that’s okay. It’s a bell curve.
Isn’t everything a bell curve! (My husband Michael just said that as I typed the above sentence!)
I guess, it is…
Here’s to Year Two! Yayyyy!!!!!!!