Yesterday marked 31 days AF (alcohol free) for me.
Which means 31 days ago I had my last drink, and it wasn’t a glamorous one…think bad chardonnay via free Southwest drink tickets on the tail end of trip to Mexico while be rerouted to Amarillo, TX due to storms in Denver. Quite the opposite of glamorous actually.
But I digress.
30 DAYS COULD FILL A 30 CHAPTER BOOK
The amount of thoughts, feelings, insights, emotion and realizations that can occur in 30 days could easily fill up a 30 chapter book, and who knows, maybe someday they will. But today I want to start by simply sharing this with you, and a little about why.
You often hear me talk about whispers, shoulder taps and “signs,” the Universe’s way of gently guiding us to what we need to see and do in order to be happier or healthier or “better” versions of ourselves. God’s sometimes overt, but often covert answer to our prayers. (And the answer is rarely what we imagined it would be!)
Believe me this was not how I thought my story would play out, this wasn’t what I thought I’d be blogging about, but let me tell you, when you indulge those divine shoulder taps and comply with that which you’re being nudged to do, it’s amazing what can open up for you!
I’ll share the exact story of how this finally came about in future installment (because it’s an undeniably crazy synchronicity) but for now I just wanted to share that I’m doing it and a little back story.
I’ve struggled with depression and to a lesser extent anxiety, on and off since college, (not a secret per se, just not something I outwardly talk about beyond just the importance of mental health). Definitely more ‘off’ than on in the last decade or so but this last spring it kind of hit with an abandon that knocked me off my feet.
I am a “do-er” so feeling that shitty was not OK with me. I used to kinda wallow in it (20s) but I ain’t got time for that! So I started seeking out new avenues to fix things/myself, to be inspired, to “snap out of it.”
Side note: I should comment that this ‘do-er’ aspect of mine? While it’s gotten me far in many aspects of my life, was not serving me in this one. I eventually learned (re-learned?) that sometimes we just have to be. To sit with all the shit, the discomfort, the pain, in order to move through it.
Needless to say this was not something I was excited about doing or very good at doing.
In fact I was awful at it, and wine was really good at allowing me to escape it.
So how did I get from there to here?
I was at a birthday brunch in early June, sharing some of my frustrations and disappointments with a dear friend and one of my bestest spiritual running buddies. She suggested revisiting the Enneagram as a tool for self-inquiry and I promptly came home, dug out my old test that I had taken a couple years ago and done nothing with, and started reading everything I could about being a 3.
This gutted me.
A 3 is the “achiever” a quick descriptor includes: Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious.
In a flash of horror I saw all my attempts at perfection, both in my personal life and with my business begin to add up. I realized that I was constantly viewing them, and myself, as “never enough.” Day in and day out anything and everything that I didn’t perceive as a massive success was a massive failure and one I took SO PERSONALLY.
Something that could maybe slide right off your back would absolutely annihilate me. And let me tell you, in the world of online business, social media, and being your own brand, this shit is personal, and it happens a 100+ times a day.
No wonder I felt awful
No wonder I felt a soul-sucking disappointment after disappointment.
No wonder pouring myself a glass of wine at the end of an effort-filled day that in my mind was yet another failure was my escape, or my reward. Or both.
(Note: most people are slightly horrified when they first discover their Enneagram number. Usually because it highlights our shadow side so. damn. well. Fear not, as you work through it you can begin to see your true self there and that is a beautiful albeit sometimes elusive place to be!)
I promptly declared to myself that this wasn’t worth it and I must just be in the “wrong line of work.” I began to orchestrate my exit.
But wait, there was more, as I began to think about what life would look like outside of coaching, facilitating and leading women I got this pang of confusion and then anger, extreme anger.
I felt resolute in the fact that God had put this work on my heart.
I had no doubt that this is what I was put on this earth to do.
So then why wasn’t I able to ever be or “feel” successful?
Why, if I was doing the work I was meant to be doing, did I feel so defeated, so disappointed, so “not enough” constantly?
And that conundrum seriously pissed me off. (cue my BFF sav blanc to bring me a little comfort).
MY ‘DO-ER’ TO THE RESCUE
So, being the ‘do-er’ I am, I found a therapist through a trusted friend who was familiar with the Enneagram and from what I heard, counseled from a spiritual standpoint similar to mine (when I saw the Richard Rohr quote on his homepage, I was sold).
I entered that relationship with a goal of vocational counseling; however it became clear rather quickly that those waters ran much deeper. And we’re still doing the good, hard work to this day.
Fast-forward to the decision to stop drinking, as I mentioned it all happened with great synchronicity, which I’ll detail in a subsequent post. But let’s just say it was a divine combination of the right conversations, with the right people, the right resources that I never knew existed showing up in my inbox, and me coming from a place of true surrender and asking (begging) to be pointed in the right direction. Even if it meant doing something radical, something I never imagined in a millions years I would or could do!
If this work is what I’m meant to be doing, which I believe it is, then I had to find a way to do it from a place of authenticity and inner peace. Neither of which I was wholeheartedly embracing when I was numbing out my constant self-deprecation and extreme disappointment at the end of the day. It had become a habit for sure. There are good habits and bad habits. Nothing good was coming from this one.
So to answer what some have asked and I’m guessing you may be wondering, no, nothing “happened,” there was no “rock bottom,” there was no “intervention.” There was no need for one. That was not my picture or my story and I don’t believe we necessarily need to get ‘there’ to make a major change.
There was just a deep realization and then decision that I wanted a life I didn’t want to escape from at the end of the day. I wanted to be a person I didn’t want to escape from. I wanted to do the work I felt called to do without fear or hesitation. I wanted real, deep meaning in my relationships, my work, my life! And the answer was crystal clear.
Now, as you might image, by just making this decision a rose-colored life does not make.
As they say, it often gets worse before it gets better (check). But I was committed and it was time to face all this shit, the uncomfortable feelings, the disappointments, the despair (yep, that’s often how it felt) fully present and fully sober.
Umm, it sucks, but holy shit, the amount of insight, a-ha’s, realizations and pure growth you can glean from sitting with it as opposed to escaping it, moving through it as opposed to avoiding it, you get the idea, is massive.
It’s also completely exhausting, but that’s yet another post.
EVERYTHING WORKS TILL IT DOESN’T
Just like many things we do in life; diets and exercise regimens, relationships, really anything else we use/utilize in our lives “help” us, they often work until they just don’t anymore. That was my relationship with alcohol. It worked for me, for a long time, (or at least I thought it did), until it didn’t. (And we haven’t even touched the physical aspects yet!)
It was no longer serving me and it was just time to break up.
So here we are. 30 days and a lifetime all at once.
OK, I realize this might feel like it’s coming out of left field for many of you! You might be feeling annoyed, triggered, confused by all of this. In classic “questioner” form, I tend to do a ton of internal processing and researching before I make a decision, but once I do, there’s rarely any going back. For some people, not being a part of this conversation feels almost like a betrayal.
Please know this is just how I’m wired and even though that inner deliberation was a long, lonely and pretty painful process for me, it brought me to a choice, a decision and now reality I am really happy with and to be honest, proud of.
Oh and what I’ve shared today is about 2% of what all’s ‘gone down’ in the last 30 days and beyond.
There’s a lot more to the story and so much unpacking is still happening (and ya’ll know I hate to unpack!)
But I really want you on this journey with me, I’m psyched enough about it, that I want to share it with you.
In Part ll I plan to share…
- More of my ‘whys’, including my my pro/con list from day #1 (that’s a doozey!)
- What I’ve done that has helped me the most these last 30 days (some healthier than others!) and what I’ve had to distance myself from.
- What I’ve done to take care of myself (by the way, I don’t think alcohol is “self-care” so giving it up has taken that meaning to a whole other level.)
- My emotional roller coaster: there have been some really high highs and some really low lows and man if they don’t come out of the blue. I guess now that I’m “feeling my feelings” so damn much this is to be expected to some extent.
- How it went when I started ‘breaking the news. Responses included: “Did something happen?” (no) “Are you pregnant?” (no) “Are you OK?” (yes) “Well that’s crazy!” (ummm…?) “Is this a forever thing?” (not sure).
- What I’ve lost and what I’ve gained (the latter is a much longer list!)
- The physical benefits I’m experiencing. Some are obvious, some have been a nice bonus.
Thank you for listening to what is just the tip of this iceberg and for coming along on this journey of mine.
I hope my story can shine some light into your own struggles, whether they have anything to do with booze or not.
My goal for you and for me is to live the happiest, healthiest (mind/body/spirit), most peaceful and on-purpose life that we can. This is just one part of my story and my journey towards that destination.
And, this is important, please don’t think I’m pushing any of this on you. In the wise words of Holly Whitaker, “It is not my job to convert people to my way of thinking. It is my job to speak my truth so that other people may find theirs.” This is what this is all about for me.
I’m just following my heart, allowing myself to be lead and reaping the benefits of the at times excruciating and at times exhilarating work. I know it’s worth it.
I love you
PS If you’re reading this on a desktop, the irony is not lost on me that the sidebar image is me with a glass of wine! 😉
PPS I recently put together a short guide on “Deepening your Spiritual Connection,” 10 EASY things you can do right away to enhance or even just start a spiritual practice. Suffice it to say I have been utilizing most all of these like a Mofo this last month! So if you think this might help you too, grab your copy here.
ONE MORE: Interested in taking a break from alcohol or anything else that isn’t serving you right now? Join us for Stoptober for Self-Care this October! More information here.