Hello, lovely ones! It’s been a little minute since last we typed, but I didn’t want the first Monday of 2022 to go by without a love letter from me to you, so grab a bevvie and settle in. I’ve got some things to tell you.
First of all, today marks 38 days since I decided that I wasn’t loving the way wine made me feel anymore. For the last 38 days, I have chosen sparkling water or tea instead of that ever-present glass of boxed Chardonnay. I did have a glass of champagne on New Year’s, but it was what we call a planned “blip” in my alcohol-free support community. I cut it with grapefruit Perrier, enjoyed that one glass, and did not have another.
Changing my relationship with alcohol has been the singular most precious gift I’ve ever given to myself. I mean, just look at those faces above. Day One – I was desperately depressed and anxious, and all too aware that I had tipped over from a pleasurable glass of wine now and then to a soul-sucking habit. Day 37 was New Year’s Day – the first New Year’s in about a decade that wasn’t spent with a pounding headache and a queasy belly. I taught that day, clear-eyed and fully present. I was in full possession of my will and my senses.
That little voice in my head that told me I was nothing without my wine – that my creativity would dry up, that I’d be bored all the time, that I needed it to get me through – has been proven a liar, because none of those things are true. My creativity is flowing. When I get bored (the danger zone for me for sure) I have activities I’ve chosen to replace the ones that drain me and do nothing to contribute to my general sense of aliveness in the world. The only thing I need to get me through is my *attention* and self-love and the toolbox of skills I’ve developed over many years of self-work and therapy.
In fact, I’ve discovered that a lot of my depression and anxiety, which I was using alcohol to medicate, was directly related to how much I was drinking.
As in I am no longer depressed or anxious.
I have all this energy now that I didn’t have before. My sleep patterns have changed dramatically. I’m in bed by 11 at the latest and I sleep through the night. New ideas fly at me from all directions and my ability to implement them has increased exponentially. There is nothing I’m phoning in. I’m excited. I’m optimistic. I’m alive in the world and I like it like that.
I spent the years from 2014 (when my marriage ended) until now gazing at the world through the fish-eyed lens of tear-stained eyes (Thank you Roger Waters for that line) because I legitimately did not know that what I thought was medicinal was actually poisonous. I didn’t know that what I was doing was keeping me stuck in protracted grief. I didn’t know that drinking was a gatekeeper, barring the way to optimism, hope, and change for the better.
But now I know.
And so, this is the way.
I don’t know if I’ll stay alcohol-free forever or if I’ll find my way to moderation. Some people can do that. Some can’t. I don’t know which I am at this moment in time, and I’m not in a place where I’m ready to experiment with that. That one glass of champagne on New Year’s was my way of saying “I am in control here” and it was a good experience, but I didn’t want to extend that experiment beyond that one glass on that one day. Perhaps in time, I’ll be one of those humans who can have a glass of wine with dinner or raise a toast on her birthday without descending into the hell that is daily drinking from noon and until midnight, but that time is not now. Now is the time to discover who I am unaltered, unfettered.
So far, I like who that is.
I am feeling all kinds of positive things about 2022. I survived 2020 and 2021, but just barely. As I pause here on the threshold that is the first Monday in a brand new year of days and weeks and months, I feel optimistic, hopeful, and energized. I feel ready to take my life to the next level wherein I am not merely getting through it.
I’m aiming higher.
I aim to thrive.
Thanks for listening.
P.S Throughout the course of 2022, I will be releasing new Journal52 art cards + musings. Here is the first!