One week away from ONE YEAR SOBER! Awemazing. The word that comes up for me the most, is “WOW”. Interestingly, I am in the process of creating a hospitality side business I call “How to WOW” , the art of delighting customers. After 20+ years in hospitality (mainly restaurants) and 15 years of owning businesses (two that I successfully turned around), which included (required!) a whole lot of WOWing customers, I feel quite qualified. “WOW” is my cherished word these days. Powerful!
WOW, I never, ever, ever thought I could be a non drinker. I probably gave it a small amount of head space over the past decade, but I couldn’t really imagine it. I had no idea who I would be as a tea totaler. Now I know – it is amazing. It is amazing to be so incredibly healthy, and vibrant, and happy. Not drinking alcohol is the single best thing I have ever done for my body and soul. I was never a “problem drinker”. I hear ALL the time “But I never saw you as someone who had issues with drinking”. However, the difference in how I feel as an abstainer compared to my years of having a solid and steady “drinking habit” is ineffable. WOW! I hardly need any sleep these days. In addition to the detox my body went through in the first 40 days, I tried a fortune’s worth of supplements to feel better, and several different “diets” to shake my extra COVID weight. The best solution for me and my body has been the “Whole Foods Plant Based” WFPB way of eating, which I am fully and completely loving: the cooking, the recipes, the EATING! I am bursting with energy, putting zero toxins in my system, treating my body, mind, and soul like temples, with adoration, appreciation, and respect.
WOW. I had no idea the euphoria I would experience from about Day 41 to Day 130. Three months of feeling ecstatic, the “Pink Cloud” effect. Included in those three months of ecstasy was a huge supply of emotional fireworks. I was exploding in rage, crying tears of sadness or joy, bouncing from one intense emotion to another intense emotion at the drop of a hat, sobbing as I watched FaceBook videos about dogs being rescued, acting way too impulsively, being triggered endlessly well beyond my tolerance levels, wanting to strangle a person or two in my life on a regular basis…it was exhausting AND exhilarating to feel EVERYTHING. I didn’t realize how much I had been avoiding my feelings, how much I stuffed my emotions and just sucked it up. I knew I had been a “runner” in relationships, fleeing when the issues became too uncomfortable, not wanting to sit in the discomfort. But I honestly didn’t know how much I avoided feeling the extremes of the human emotional spectrum until they popped out of me like a popcorn popper gone wild. I didn’t have a lot of control in those days, and my work environment was extremely challenging with bullies and ego-centric, naive, inexperienced management, so I felt like I was trying to keep the lid on my internal pressure cooker ALL the time, and I wasn’t always successful. There were conflicts, confrontations, righteous outbursts. I was unable to contain my displeasure and sense of injustice at being treated unfairly when I did not deserve it. Those were exhausting, yet amazing days.
Wow. What the hell COVID, laid off again? This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. I left the job that was making my sensitive spirit cringe and joined an establishment that was filled with integrity and support and love. I thought everything was going to be sunshine and roses, but COVID brought more changes along with financial insecurity and unending uncertainty. The depression set in and it was intense. I was lost and sad and incredibly discouraged. I became a miserable couch potato, forcing myself to exercise but feeling absolutely depleted. For over three months! That was my COVID hell, from approximately months six through nine. It was the most bleak Christmas I can remember, I had ZERO Christmas spirit, desire, or joy. It was even worse than the two Christmases spent all alone with my beloved Sadie (yellow lab) at death’s door. Sadie had managed to ingest substances that sent her to the emergency room barely hanging on to life, two years in a row, just a day or two before Christmas. I was determined to get through the depression without drugs, not wanting to become dependent on anti-depressants. I had read a lot about how depression happens for many people in the first year after stopping drinking. I acknowledged my four plus decades of regular alcohol consumption and knew my body and brain needed time. Lots of time. Time to heal and re-remember their normal function, to re-establish normalcy, to adjust back to their ability to cleanse and heal and regulate. It was awful, but I stayed IN it, wrote a lot in my journal, was extremely active in my online sober groups, isolated myself and was very quiet. I did entertain the idea of getting rip roaring drunk just so I could get a break from feeling so rotten. Fortunately, the thought of drinking repulsed my better sense of self, and I never relapsed. It was helpful to read the sharing from so many wonderful, raw, honest, vulnerable humans who were lamenting, regretting, and agonizing over their return to drinking. They were despondent, incredibly sad, disappointed, full of self loathing, and disgusted. OH! I remember all those feelings. NO thank you.
WOW. I did it! I made it through the storm. I was in the heavy darkness, I breathed through all of it and I survived it. Now the sun is shining brighter than ever, ever, ever. COVID restrictions lightened up, the world opened up again, and I thought long and hard about where I wanted to work. I decided I was worth NOT settling for any less that my highest aspiration-I was going to find the perfect company, the perfect fit. I researched, I read, I wrote, I visioned. And I landed in my HAPPY PLACE, where I do work I love, meet beautiful people who come to visit, work with beautiful people, feel great about myself, love the management and owner, and feel I belong here. The rewards have been wonderful. I am making the kind of money I made at the “other” place, and am loving how much I enjoy what I do. I look forward to every day, whether a work day or a non-work day. I am in love with everyone because I am in love with ME. I am SO very proud of this decision to be alcohol free. I don’t feel any need to preach, I am just living in it and that is a great reward, full of magic and wonder and joy. It is everything. I am beyond blessed with incredible, supportive, loving friends who tell me how proud of me they are; authentic, full of integrity friends who listen and laugh with me, who understand me and love me just the way I am. Honestly, life feels magical these days. The Universe is showering me with so many fabulous perks, it is mind blowing. All because of one big decision. The decision to move closer to living a life fully in integrity with my values. A decision to be the best version of myself. I never need to say “I am an Alcoholic”. I am not. I am someone who is on a journey of discovery, making choices that empower me and further my growth. I am woman, Hear me roar.