I just scrolled through my Instagram for 20 minutes as I geared myself up to write this. I procrastinated further before allowing myself to feel some feelings that I escaped for so long. Social media has that way, doesn’t it? Grabbing us by the throat and pulling us into the screen and before we know it, we are 7 years deep into that one guy’s photo history because we just had to see where he came from and who his friends are and what the hell kind of life does he lead anyway?
This week, I chose to get sober.
From alcohol. As in, no more of it for the foreseeable future.
There’s a box of red wine sitting on the top of my fridge and cold beers right inside the door when I open it and big bottle of gin in the freezer. And even though they sit there, I have no desire to touch them. At least this week I didn’t.
I live with my partner. He drinks almost daily and that’s totally fine. But for me, drinking daily did not feel good. For me, drinking daily meant I was covering up how I was feeling and why I was feeling it and the daily experience of my life itself.
I mean, quarantining has offered darkness for us all, I believe. Quarantine, for me, has been a series of foggy days as I structured my life around client calls: who was my client, what did they need, how could I offer insight and a freaking safe space for them to unfold their own feelings and sadness and challenges and worries and delights and all the rest.
But outside of that structure, I was beginning to loosen at the seams.
I was sitting in my office space, which is the refurbished attic in our home, just over a week ago. My joints hurt, I was irritable, I could not concentrate, and I found myself feeling quite sorry for how I felt.
I was in the midst of a indescribable funk.
My emotions seemed to spill all over the place and yet, I had no way of cupping out my hands to gently hold onto them.
Instead, I was billowing in the wind, flapping around like a worn torn flag that once had staked-down meaning, and losing grip of each emotion as it spilt away from me.
I was beginning to unhinge.
And I did not want that to worsen. I did not want to lose sight of myself, to continue to fog my mind, lay deaf to my heart, isolate to the world.
Over the years, Alcohol had created a definition for me that I was no longer comfortable with nor did I identify with any longer: “unlovable.”
So. This week. I chose to full on commit to sobriety. Commit to the notion that all parts of me are indeed “lovable.”
As I turn around and look at my life, I see patterns. Most of them I won’t go into detail here, but the one that I will is important to this part of my story.
Many times in my twenties, when something got too hard, I drank it away and walked out.
When I got injured in college, it was too hard to cross train and heal, so I drank instead. When I moved from Massachusetts to Chicago and left my family, the guy that I loved, and my home, I washed down the pain of separation with many blurred and drunk nights. When I got the great job to follow, I drank steadily and I left for a new one once things began to pick up steam. When I got into a serious relationship, I’d rather leave it and fly away, announcing that my freedom was at stake and then cried into a bottle of wine on various living room floors.
I look back at this pattern and now, as a 30 plus year old, I realize something.
That woman, that girl — she was trying her absolute best. There was only so much that she knew: about herself, the world around her, about others. She felt lost, alone, uncared for — and as a result, she sought out lightness, laughter and joyfulness from alcohol.
I look back at this pattern and this young girl in her twenties and I want to gather her up into my arms and hug her close and whisper to her as many times as she needed to hear it, YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE FUCKING LOVED, YOU AMAZING GOD DAMN WOMAN.
This week, I chose sobriety because I know now, in my heart, that I am loved. By me. By the world. By my friends and my family. By my dog and my cat. And again — by me.
I know now that I can create joy and laughter and striking memories without the punch of liquor or the buzz of beer or the cracked top of a White Claw.
I know that I am both fragile and strong, awake and yet asleep. I know that I can get closer to my essence, my whole self, when I loosen my grip on the crutch that I no longer need.
Because I am not broken. And I deserve to embrace life in the fullness that it is.
For me, that is by saying goodbye to alcohol.
Breakups suck. They are notoriously hard. But they are also famously freeing and excitingly empowering. This is by far the most empowered break up I have had to date.
So. This week I chose to commit to sobriety.
And this week, I chose to love the beautiful, unbroken me.