a secret, seductive relationship: mindfully moving forward

Last Sunday, I woke up with two incredible feelings:

  1. “Oh my fucking god, I love Chris so much. “
  2. “Oh my fucking god, I am hella hungover.”

Both of them rocked me, propelling me into action. I turned over and felt Chris, my partner, laying next to me. He was snoring, softly. Typical. His snores usually prompted me to nudge him into a more comfortable silence. Yet, somehow I found it endearing that morning. His brunette curls killed me inside, as they splayed across his forehead and bounced ever so slightly with each snoring breath. I brushed them gently to the side and kissed his face. My stomach immediately signaled that it was not having it. And I rushed my way to the bathroom to get rid of the uneasiness.

This last month, I’ve held onto a secretive– and seductive– relationship. Not with a person. With alcohol. It had wriggled its way back into my life, with the promise of relaxation after a long work day and the sensuality of an evening in with my guy, the babe with the curly locks snoring peacefully while I hugged the toilet bowl miserably.

About a year ago, I sat down with a health coach. We talked about my insecurities as it related to my upbringing and how that steeped my daily life. You know — underlying beliefs that I held onto that were limiting me in some way. (Raise your awareness of the subconscious, change your life, people!) In this conversation, I brought up alcohol. How I knew it affected me. My relationship to it. How I wanted out, just like a toxic relationship I had been in the past. Instead of assisting me through this desire, she gave me her own belief: “Alcohol can be totally fine, Barbara! Create a positive relationship with it.”

So, I tried. And although the toilet-bowl-hugging was not the norm, pouring a big glass of wine was. I thought, “I can have one. I deserve this!” And that single glass could turn into finishing a bottle before I realized it.

Hella normal, though, isn’t it? Drinking is everywhere. Drinking is largely okay. Drinking is a respectable, adult thing to do in this crazed world of politics, pandemics, and well-deserved partying. I can even drink mindfully, with slow sips and really tasting the wine and inhaling all the gorgeous scent of aged oak or blueberries or chocolate notes!

And then, I quit drinking a few months ago. I wanted to feel secure in my decision. I made it seem like I was holding myself accountable by proclaiming my shift in a blog and facebook post. I downloaded a sobriety calendar app to keep track of my progress. I somehow believed the hardest part was over by claiming this new reality for myself: I no longer drank!

And then — BOOM. STRESS.

The inevitable happened. I began juggling and maneuvering the news on COVID and justice for George and coaching and taking care of my home and staying put in my home and grieving over lost friendships and transitioning to working from home and losing out on stability outside of the home because of the pandemic — OOF! I was NOT prepared to take that all on. So back to alcohol I went; back to the promise of relieved stress, and coping with the world, and blocking out the big emotions I was feeling.

This is something that I do not feel remorseful or guilty or resentful to myself about, by the way. Do me a favor and read this essay with that in mind. This shift back to alcohol was absolutely a coping mechanism for me, as it was and is to so many. There was less social time with others and more time parked on the couch. The uncertainty of the world was (and is?!) a big and inconvenient slap in the face. Coping comes in many forms and for me, it included the daily evening ritual of a glass or two of wine– and the occasional over drinking on the weekend. I breathe in deep understanding and love for myself; and I breathe out any insecurities or hurt.

That said — Something clicked last Sunday.

That big love I felt for Chris, I felt for myself, too. BIG TIME felt it. The life I have been building, creating out of love and hard work and strong effort and failing and succeeding — this life was so deserving of how I wanted it to take shape. I have that ability to peel back the layers on my drinking — no matter how harmless it might seem — and take ownership of what is important to me: my health. I deserve a life of love and health and happiness and brightness! (Practice that in your own mind — mental rehearsing is a gift!)

And to me, my health is backed by my heart and supported by my mind. Which I can — and do –nurture.

It’s now been one week. I have supported myself so far through daily meditation, journaling, talking to Chris about my shifting and resetting, and reading This Naked Mind. I’ve already had a chance to practice saying, “I’m not drinking.” And to experience full, deep sleep and less churning of stress in my chest. I’m writing this blog post to be honest, to be real: to myself, to those of you who follow my writing, and anyone that might stumble upon this (drunk or sober!). More importantly, I’ve written this to my sober and healthy, happy, deserving self.

Yes, I am an athlete. I am a coach. I am an advocate of health and wellbeing and a positive mindset. And yes, I, too, have limited beliefs and challenges and personal struggles. This is life. This is real. This is needed — more openness and taking down the barriers of assumption of others based off their social media pages and websites and other online platforms.

Let’s be more real. Let’s be more open. Let’s be more kind.

Big love to all – be well in whatever journey you might be on. Stumbling, falling, and getting back up are all necessary. Know that you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone — take the steps you know to be true for you. xo

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