Sober, Week One

I’m exhausted. I’m totally, entirely, completely and wholeheartedly exhausted!

For the past few months I've been keeping track of how I feel every day (my cycle) and this has allowed me to notice patterns of energy, frustration and feelings of ‘I can’ or ‘I can’t’- amongst many other things. This new knowledge allows me to be in a pretty grounded place when I say - hey, this low I’m feeling has been going on for an exceptionally long period of time and in that way, is totes not normal!

Is it the culmination of the tasks and demands in my daily life?

Or, is it having to experience the demands of life knowing that there's no option to numb out?

Whatever it is, there’s no release.

At least not in the same way as before. The release that comes immediately after and during a glass of wine. That out breath, that decompressing exhale that for me and for years, came in the form of a drink. 

Everything is still there exactly as it was the minute prior. There’s no warm fuzzy feelings to sugar coat my reality, no rose coloured glasses. The stresses that existed on the inhale are still there on the out breath. There's simply no hiding!

For most people, (like me) it's probably a really new experience - not being able to numb out of reality or release from the discomfort that comes from truly feeling everything. And even though I was drinking in moderation and I haven't been drunk in over a year, there's still a physical and mental ease that comes from just one drink. It seems that you don't have to be drunk to experience the physical and mental effects of alcohol.

It became clear to me this past week that I was using alcohol (even in small doses and even when I was considering myself a very conscious and moderate drinker) as a coping mechanism, a stress release, a relaxant, to unwind - to forget for an hour or two, everything that was weighing on my mind and heart. 

Cold, hard reality (CHR) is a tough thing to face and I imagine that many of us either think we don't have the resources on our own to deal with CHR , or don't quite know how to access the resources within ourselves to deal with life - hence using alcohol, smoking, weed, pills, food and more as a coping mechanism. It doesn't mean you're faulty or bad or wrong or insignificant or anything negative - it's just reality for the time being. 

Here's the part of that sentence that's critical - "for the time being."

I had no idea that deep within me were the resources and knowledge that I needed and so, for all those years of my life I consumed more alcohol than I did water. I was drinking EVERY SINGLE DAY for a solid EIGHT YEARS! 

Little did I know just how determined and freaking capable I am. I just had to peel back layers of hurt, experiences, relationships, blocked memories and everything in between, in order to get to the confidence, the self-awareness and understanding that for years stayed hidden, locked away waiting to be discovered.

I say 'just' knowing full well that peeling these layers back has actually taken 1.5 years and a commitment to myself through psychoanalytic therapy, honest conversation, intense reading and endless journalling sessions. I also read through my past journals - yeah, those were some squirmy moments - and documented patterns of behaviour and beliefs about myself and other people. 'Just peeling back the layers' is actually a lifelong commitment, but eventually, you will get to a place in which you've developed a nice tool belt of resources and where you might feel empowered enough to take some chances on yourself. You'll be able to support yourself in your growth, knowing the why behind those choices and being able to fully commit to taking the steps you already know you need to take to be the best version of you.

They say that when we make a decision, our body and mind is already making adjustments at the cellular level to support that decision and I swear to you, I feel that this is true. I have gone many days without drinking before, but this time is different.  MY ENTIRE BEING KNOWS THAT I WON’T HAVE A DRINK. It’s a decision that I made with every fibre of my being and no matter what comes my way this year I’m not caving and my body and spirit know this!

Just one week in and my body knows that we’re done. 

The same body that for so long I treated like shit. The same person that I hated, I now love. The same person that thought she was incapable of having any will power, is kicking that myth on its ass. The same woman who could only get in touch with herself and her confidence when drinking alcohol, is doing just fine without.

Our culture seems to carry a belief that alcohol contributes to our happiness and well being in a pretty epic way. But what if that belief, just like other myths we tell ourselves, is actually not true? What if we're way more capable than we're being led to believe?