It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I am walking through the restaurant anticipating a late afternoon antipasto and coffee with my husband. What a treat! As I am led to my table I hear the low laughter at a table near by. When I glance over I can’t help but notice the half-finished drinks on the table, the relaxed looks and smiling faces on the couple sitting there. I am filled with envy. I remember the days of “letting go” with alcohol. Quickly I push those enticing memories away and replace them with other memories - dry mouth the day after, queasy stomach …. I walk on. Getting closer to our table I look to the right and see the bar with all it’s neatly arranged bottles, see my reflection in the mirror. I also see me sitting on a stool having my first sip of an ice-cold martini. Ah, the pleasure of the bite of the alcohol, and even better, the spreading warmth and soothing calm that would wash over me. Once again, I push the image aside and replace it with one of the crusty bread dipped in fragrant oil that I am about to enjoy.
Now - another day, another challenge. It’s my day to grocery shop. I am hurrying, it is the end of the day, I am tired and hungry (all danger zones for an alcoholic). I am trying to find the raisins and of course they have been moved - again. I have to walk all the way back to the far end of the store, am willing to do this (burn those calories) as I REALLY want them for a salad.
There they are. As I turn to hurry back for check out, directly across from the raisins are the shelves of wine …. Bottle after bottle of reds, whites and bubbly. They all promise me the gift of letting down after a long day at the office. My mind starts to imagine uncorking a bottle and pouring it into a glass. At this point any glass will do, a jelly glass would work, it’s all about the relief of letting down with that wonderful soothing glass of wine. Quickly I replace the picture in my mind with my current favorite drink - Vida Coco. I love coconut milk! This refreshment is something special I look forward to - it represents the letting down at the end of a long day.
These are a sampling of the challenges of living a life without alcohol for me. In the past I might have had to call a friend so that I didn’t buy that bottle or two of wine. At the restaurant I might have had to leave, or at least talk with my husband to diffuse the emotions and thoughts that surfaced with the desire for a drink.
After many years of hard work I have learned to use my visualizations to help me. I have used them so often they have power attached to them and can override the memories of the alcohol and it’s seductive lure, it’s siren call. Writing about this kind of self-care will follow in future posts - stayed tuned!
I have also had to make radical changes in how I live. I have learned ways to have fun other than drinking since almost all my fun and good times in the past revolved around alcohol.
Now my spiritual beliefs, rituals, and, practices have all deepened, grown and become more important in my life.
I remarried. When the time was right I moved closer to nature. I found work I love.
What is important is not so much WHAT I chose to do but the fact that I HAD to do things differently. For me it was many things. For me it was hard work sometimes and sacrifices. For me it was facing a lot of unpleasant truths and illusions. And I am still working on it all. BUT …. The joy that comes from the results of all my healthy choices, even if that joy isn’t immediate, is all worth it. Every step of the way. Every single day.
Has it all worked out perfectly? Absolutely not. Nothing is perfect. I still struggle, I search for answers and ways to live my truth more fully. I want to know the real Dawn - what she truly wants from life. After all that’s what life is all about, I think. At least for me. Living fully and honestly and knowing myself. And loving the person I find there. I realize all this as I surrender daily to a life without alcohol.