I was surprised to realise that my last post was 11 weeks ago. I was on day 88 then and I went on to do 109 days. On day 110 I had a drink and have since been wandering in the grey area I attempted to label as moderation.
That first day I drank one large glass of red wine and got a dreadful hangover. It was a stark reminder that alcohol is a poison and not something we should be putting in our bodies. After so long without alcohol my body basically went ‘WTF? Seriously, you wanna do this??!!’ each time I drank and as a result it was a few weeks before I drank any more than half a bottle at a time. At that point I could fairly easily have a couple of drinks on one day and have a few days off without cravings.
At this point I’m aware that there has definitely been some creep towards the troubling side of drinking. It’s still not at terrible levels but I have had some ‘red flag’ moments and can clearly see down the shadowy path that could take me back to that place. I’ve observed once again how alcohol tends to contract life into something smaller and less fulfilling. It’s also a very bad influence on my attempts to eat better and avoid foods that I don’t tolerate. I’ve put back on the 7lbs I lost, my skin issues have flared up painfully and I have a lot of GI issues again. *Sigh*
I realised something important from a psychological point of view but I haven’t fully digested its implications. I expected to feel really weird and guilty when I drank but the overwhelming feeling I got was one of relief. The most obvious interpretation of that could be that it was simply an addict finally getting her ‘fix’ but as my body was initially quite grossed out by wine I’m not sure it was that. It was more a sigh of relief at the release from a set of strictly imposed rules. I’d become as obsessive and fixated on abstinence as I had on drinking. I hate being told what to do in an absolute sense, even by myself.
I’ve had some interesting conversations with work colleagues recently, without actually ‘outing’ myself. In my smallish team I have 4 colleagues that don’t drink. One is the child of a severely alcoholic mother who went through the British care system as a result so doesn’t want anything to do with alcohol. Another has quit because of pancreatitis. 2 others are long-term abstainers but in a way that it’s not really a ‘thing’ for them. One woman laughed that although she was previously a heavy drinker on nights out she’d gone off it over the years and hadn’t had any for about 18 months. One of the guys commented he’d toasted at his wedding but that was it for probably 9 months at that point. I find it fascinating that they’re just not particularly interested in drinking and don’t have to give abstinence any thought or effort.
It made me think of a new concept (new to me) and possibly a new goal. I’ve done plenty of obsessive drinking and some chunks of obsessive abstinence. How about getting to a place of non-obsessive abstinence? Or is that just another way of describing a ‘normal’ drinker or a fully freed alcoholic? I don’t know. I’d love to hear other perspectives on this.
I’m still convinced that addiction, whatever the substance or behaviour is still just a symptom of a bigger spiritual problem. Alcohol is an unbalancer. It tips the balance towards the negative side of the bigger, deeper dichotomies in life. From growth to contraction; from full to empty; from light to dark and heavy; euphoria to depression; engagement to indifference and so on…
There’s a song I like called Closer to Fine, by the Indigo Girls. It has an interesting couple of lines:
Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.
It’s so easy and tempting to be the one diving head first, screeching ‘Hell yeah!’ into those deep pools of dark pleasure and to hell with the consequences. I’ve learned that during abstinence the call of the lightness was definitely a bit louder and easier to hear. I’ve also realised that alcohol is noisy and when it is allowed back in on a regular basis it’s all too easy for it to completely drown out the quiet call to the light. I want to choose the light. I’ve had some remarkable experiences on the lighter side. It’s important to me.
So, it looks like I’m heading back towards not drinking. This time I’m not setting any absolute rules or day counting. It has to be a daily choice, to show up and engage with life or to check out, shy away and shut down. It’s a new experiment…
Have a good weekend x