Today is Sunday, May 9th 2021, Mother’s Day. The forecast is chilly and rainy, which is kind of sad, but is at least a good excuse to stay inside and get cozy with my blanket and a book.
It is also my seven hundred and seventy fourth day without alcohol- just over two years. I wondered, especially after hitting my two year anniversary after living in the middle of a worldwide pandemic for an entire year, if I’d have the urge to drink. After all, when I hit my one year in March 2020, I was hell bent on drinking afterwards.
It was a few days prior, and I was standing in the kitchen with hubby. I basically told him I was going to drink and he couldn’t stop me. Well, the Universe was looking out for me. There was a couple events that happened that very night, that involved drunk family members, that strengthened my resolve to stay abstinent. When my one-year hit a few days later, I was long over my urge to drink.
I often think about what would have happened if I had drank. That was in the very beginning of the pandemic. I’m pretty certain that I would have been stuck in the cycle for months or years, and probably completely miserable.
When my two year was approaching, I wondered if that urge would come back. Ironically it didn’t, even though by this time we are all so incredibly sick of this pandemic and the politics and deceptions surrounding it. I didn’t think much about it actually.
I do get the occasional urge to drink. I mostly romanticize it. Lucky for me, I have a lot of memories of day drinking, passing out at dinnertime and waking up at night feeling like I missed half the day, waking up shriveled and disgusting (inside and out), feeling like I reek of alcohol, the list could go on forever.
If the memories don’t get to me, the nature of it does. I know, without a doubt, that it’s an addictive substance and one drink will completely change my brain, and possibly my entire thinking and beliefs. I think about how I’ll feel bubbly and light at first, but then I’ll feel nothing, but still will be unable to stop. Inevitably, I’ll drink until passing out. Drinking just one or two doesn’t even sound appealing to me.
I used to get very angry at our drinking culture/mommy wine culture. I’d see memes and they’d make me feel livid inside. Now they don’t bother me so much.
Occasionally the drinking culture gets to to me. When I’m standing in the checkout line at Kroger, and there’s a huge rack of mini liquor bottles next to me, that’s irritating. At the same store, the flavored sparkling water is down the liquor aisle, which annoys the hell out of me (note to self: send a letter to management discussing alcoholism and how they can help support people who are trying not to drink).
I’m on a pretty big health kick lately and enjoy loving on myself. When I’m in a difficult Pilates or spin class, I’m loving it because I know it’s good for me (and will feel good later). At Pilates two days ago, they announced some special events this month. I was looking into them on my way out and thinking about signing up. There was a walk, yoga and I can’t remember what else, you know why? Because I was too busy thinking about the wine served at each one.
What the what?
I was slightly irritated and didn’t sign up, even though other people drinking generally doesn’t bother me.
Why does wine get a free pass? It has an enormous amount of empty calories, is proven to cause cancer, has very little to no nutrients, I could go on and on with the negative effects of wine. Why would Club Pilates pair this with events, given the health aspect of it? To me it’s like saying, “Come on guys, let’s run a 5K and then eat the greasiest, nastiest non-food food there is!”
I know why guys, you don’t have to tell me. And I understand that I am being completely naive to think that every healthy person is going to give up a little wine. But I still won’t support it.
I guess I can thank our wine culture for helping to keep me sober. Things often pop up in my real life or on TV that remind me what my life was like as a daily drinker. That’s a reality I want to run as far from as I can.
At day 774 I spend most of my time not thinking about alcohol. This is a welcomed change from the beginning, and from being in that cycle where 100% of my thoughts were about alcohol 100% of the time.
Wanna know if you’re an alcoholic? It’s simple.
Don’t drink. For an hour, a day, a week, a month, I don’t care. Pick an amount of time and follow through. When you’re not drinking, pay attention to your thoughts. If you aren’t thinking about alcohol, then you might be okay. If you find yourself thinking about drinking, maybe even obsession over it, more than you’d like, then you have a problem.
People in sober groups ask about moderation all the time. They are usually met with a firm, “No!” Me? I tell them to go for it. Try it out, see how they like it. But you must pay attention to your thoughts. If you’re thinking about drinking when you’re not drinking, then moderation is not going to work. And if you can get it to work, I guarantee that you will be absolutely miserable with those thoughts.
The absence of drinking helped me with those thoughts, and as the drinking thoughts faded, so did my desire to drink. So for me, abstinence from alcohol is the only cure, or treatment, for my obsession with it.
In fact, the biggest and most profound change with 774 days is my head space. I am so much healthier mentally. When I was drinking nightly, I was operating daily out of dense feelings of guilt and shame. The giant flames of my ego were fueled with drinking and other forms of self destruction. My bossy ego ran the show while my inner true-self hid in the shadows.
Slowly, but surely, I relearned everything I believed to be true. And as I did, I fell in love with my inner self. I learned which thoughts were my ego, and which were mine, and I learned that we create 100% of our problems, and so I stopped creating problems in my life. And because of the self-love, shoving my face with cake or drinking till oblivion usually doesn’t sound very appealing.
So, my advice to you, wherever you are at on your life’s journey is to examine your relationship with yourself. How do you speak to yourself? How do you view your body/physical features? Do you need to forgive yourself for anything? All of these intrinsic thoughts and beliefs affect us way more than we can imagine. As Wayne Dyer’s quote says, Change your thoughts, change your life.
Look in the mirror and find your most hated feature. Examine it. Talk to it. Compliment and appreciate it. Daily.
Be on the lookout for Thought Worms. These thoughts are as damaging as a parasite and will suck the life right out of you! They say very mean things like, “You’ll never lose that belly. You’re so ugly. What are you, stupid? You shouldn’t have done __________, and now you should spend all your time thinking about and regretting it……”
When you notice a Thought Worm, thank it and tell it to be on it’s way. Then give yourself a compliment for good measure. This will create new pathways in your brain and the pleasant thoughts will increase while the negative thoughts dissipate.
Is your ego (synonymous with negative thoughts) unruly and out of control? This could be the start of a wonderful journey. You just have to open your heart and mind and be open to ideas that might go against the cultural norm (now remember, the cultural norm does not really do anything for your mental health/happiness).
Notice and removing those thoughts and practicing self-love are two simple, no cost things that you can start doing right now to improve your mental health. I can’t think of a better day than a delightful Sunday in May!
What are you waiting for? 😉