For the past three and a half weeks, I've been living in a snow globe on the side of a sacred mountain. What could possibly get me down?
Just like everything else in my life, I expect myself to be perfect right away, or maybe I'm just annoyed with myself for making it 70 days already only to begin the year again.
But...it's about finishing what I've started.
Here in Banff I've met wonderful people who I have quite enjoyed getting to know through conversation and the sharing of our work. And, while I've done well for myself here, there have been moments of wanting to join in the ritual of unwinding with a beverage in hand.
There have been a few days in particular (with snow falling morning through night) that it seemed the wine glass was calling me and, if it weren't for a new friend who insisted I stay on course by ordering us both a Shirley Temple, I might have fallen off the wagon.
That same night I ended up visiting a gathering/party in one of the music huts. The hut was warm and filled with excited and animated people letting loose after a week of study and focus. Drinks were flowing, smiles and laughter aplenty.
I did my best for about ten minutes to join in the fun, dancing as comfortably as I could considering I hadn't the same social lubrication as the rest of the gang. Incredibly aware of this, it felt as though I was dangling a carrot in front of my own face.
The thing is, I wanted to be there. I like having fun just as much as the next person and I enjoy dancing, chatting and letting loose. But, the obviousness of not being on the same mental plane as everyone made me feel highly uncomfortable. Socializing simply wasn't non-thinking. Moving my body wasn't as easy and thinking about anything other than that was impossible for me.
As I watched the drinks being poured and considered my reasons for having one, I also considered the option of leaving. The only thing that was going to separate me from having to ask myself if I wanted a drink was removing myself from the situation that ignited these questions.
I could have had a drink, I thought...but I didn't want to make a hurried decision in that moment and I didn't want to drink to get drunk, or drink to get buzzed or to feel at ease and more comfortable...
So I put my coat on and walked out.
I kept walking through the lobby of the hotel and up to my room. Already 1:30 in the morning, I was wired with thoughts.
The thing is, this stuff is so complicated. There are so many angles to view things from and so many perspectives to take.
On one hand, I could easily view this entire situation and decision to go sober for a year as a form of torture. A kind of self-inflicted punishment that mirrors other areas of my life where I seem unable to allow expression and enjoyment.
At the same time, the Year of Sobriety pledge can be viewed as an incredibly spiritual decision - an offering or a commitment to the divine/god/energy/whateverelseyouwanttocallit - that clearly demonstrates my growth and readiness for this next phase of my life.
Because at times, it is SO hard to stick to my decision and to remember all the reasons for committing myself to it in the first place, surely, on the other side of this year is mega-growth. Big, All-Encompassing, Passionate growth, where the lessons learned are the foundation for my journey ahead. Whereby committing to and following through the hunch that I felt or that gut feeling that told me to explore the year sober, is truly leading me to a magnitude of life-truth that I cannot quite fathom at this point.
This Year of Sobriety feels like something I have to do. It's like that trip you've always dreamt of taking. It's the not doing it that you might always regret or at least be curious about. I can manipulate the conversation to support any decision I make, but I know that at the end of the day, the expansive choice is to live in a Year of Sobriety. The expansive choice isn't to drink once a week and always be in control of the amount of alcohol, creating boundaries etc, the expansion is through the total commitment to the learning, growing, changing, shifting, detoxing and so on.
There is nothing "wrong" with social lubrication and indeed there is an element of healthy relaxation involved with balanced consumption, but not having the option of dressing my personality up in different clothes or painting it with the different colours that come from being buzzed and relaxed, always forces me to confront my SELF in all its imperfect and insecure glory.
Yes, there are moments when I want to have that sip of I.P.A, but at the end of the night, as I consciously tuck myself into my bed and read subject matter that inspires and elevates my mind, I am so happy that I didn't.
When I wake up clear headed and connected, I pat myself on the back and feel certain that I am doing what needs to be done, that I am strong enough to follow through and that the level of trust in myself and the spirituality behind my decision, is leading me to an understanding that I can only glimpse at this point.
The symbolism involved in my decision and the internal battle I fight every day is real. Sometimes I forget that I used to drink every day or that going out to a restaurant without ordering a drink was absurd. I forget that my heart rate would skyrocket and I would question my worth as a human, a woman, a life. I forget that I was louder than I wanted to be or more open than I wanted to be, spending more money than I could afford and making the drink my priority instead of myself.
When you start to love yourself, you begin to break away from the mould that many of us have been stuffing ourselves into since day one. When you care deeply for yourself and your well-being, you make decisions that future you is proud of and grows by. When you practice self-care, you get to know what it takes to make yourself happy - what you need to feel at ease - and it becomes easier and easier to be at peace with yourself. Slowly, a whole world of connectivity to yourself and your own life unfolds, thereby connecting you to all life around you. A new kind of consciousness arises as well as a desire to fuel that consciousness more and more.
Two years ago I never would have imagined myself contemplating alcohol in this way but since the veil has lifted some, the interaction that alcohol (or anything for that matter) has with my understanding of life is the best question that I can ask myself.
I haven't been drunk in a very long time. I don't actually worry whether or not I will get drunk, it's about where my focus goes. The alcohol conversation takes me away from thinking about my goals, my role in life, my connection, and at this point, I don't want a single thing to take me away from that.
I never imagined that cutting out alcohol entirely would catapult me into a new perspective that is facilitating a transformation in all areas of my life but it has.
Whatever your "alcohol" is I encourage you to venture down the path of what "it" is asking you to do. What symbolizes that trip in your life that you will regret not taking?
I am no expert. I fell off the wagon at 70 days. But I got back on the damn wagon and I know that if I had a glass of wine instead of that Shirley Temple, I would have hopped back on the same wagon that next day.
Whatever your "alcohol" is, take note and go for it.
"The spirit is really the bouquet of life. It is not something breathed into life, it comes out of life." - Joseph Campbell