It has been just about a year since I changed my relationship with alcohol. Just about a year since I put down my daily wine glass (or three) and picked up The Alcohol Experiment. Over the past year, I have changed my internal life so dramatically that it is hard to believe people wouldn’t be aware of this change if I didn’t tell them.
My drinking was never a public spectacle. Never a topic of conversation (as far as I am aware). I never felt that I was making a fool of myself or that my drinking was causing my life to fall apart. My decision to change my drinking habit was much less fascinating, less dramatic, and anticlimactic than most of the people writing about their return from Rock Bottom. And yet the shift it has caused in my life has been seismic. Like the slow rumbling movement of tectonic plates miles below our feet.
The thing that has surprised me the most about ending my drinking habit hasn’t been the life-saving sleep, the saved money, the calm mind, the stronger healthier heart. All those things are true and are worth their weight in gold. But the real magic hasn’t been the presence of something. Rather, it has been in the absence of things. With alcohol no longer taking up so much room in my life, I realized I had created this immense space. It is into this space that my life has grown in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I feel as though I have created a quiet and peaceful clearing in a once tangled, overgrown forest. This is the greatest gift I have given myself because in this space I have welcomed in potential energy that would have otherwise had no place to thrive.
I realize now, alcohol created so much noise in my life. The kind of noise that creates blockages and interference. Fog. Static. Meaningless emptiness. The opposite of energy.
This noise came in the form of thinking about alcohol. Imagining the drinks I would have out with friends. Planning evenings around it. Wondering how “good” the bar would be at the restaurant where we were eating that night. Budgeting for the nightly wine: could I justify a $20 bottle on a Wednesday? Maybe just settle for the $12 cheapy. Wondering if I was going to feel too tired in the morning to go to my workout. Wondering if I’d even be able to sleep that night. Calculating how much I could drink before I felt too tired to put my son to bed. Researching the effects of alcohol on my skin, my hormones, my fertility, my cancer risk, my life expectancy. SO MUCH NOISE.
I never noticed this noise until I realized I could simply turn off the switch. I thank myself and whatever higher force is out there that I did this. At first, I stopped drinking for 30 days, then 60, then 90. It took less than a month to notice that by turning off the “switch” of alcohol, I had created this really big space in my life.
At first, this space was really scary. The silence was too loud. What I noticed in the beginning was more noise in the form of doubts and fears. I worried about what would be left when I removed alcohol from my life. Would my friends enjoy my company less? Would I find life to be terribly boring and unfulfilling? Would I dread Friday evenings out with my husband? Could I even DO this not drinking thing and still recognize myself and my life? This space also came in the form of more TIME. Without alcohol, my brain was no longer drugged and foggy. I was waking up way too early but fully rested. I used that time to meditate, write, learn, and just SIT in that space, get to know its corners and crevices little by little, one morning at a time. Soon I was realizing this space wasn’t scary at all. It was a space full of potential. Full of formless energy that I had full control over. This was the gift I never knew I could give myself. This gift of vast openness, of potent life-giving energy.
It is in this space, I learned, that my Self was waiting to be rediscovered. I don’t mean my ego, my identity, my body. I mean the infinite, eternal, connected-to-all-beings-and-the-whole-universe Self. The self-less self. The self that seeks truth, experiences, inspiration, and awe when faced with the simple beauty of mundane life, the self that sees the perfect nature of all things, and is not disconnected from that nature.
In this space was the potent energy I had been manifesting during those early mornings. This was the silent space I was creating when I turned off all that noise. And in this silent sacred space, I was reintroduced to what we call “intuition.” I was suddenly, heart-breakingly able to hear that wordless voice that has no origin, that we cannot describe because it is of us, never separate from us.
In this clearing, my ears had tuned in to this silent voice and I knew I could trust it. I knew that in this clearing I would be able to find my direction and hear the answers to my questions, and if I allowed this space to be filled by noise again, I would lose this divine connection.
So, this is what I have been doing this past year. Keeping this sacred space clear and open. Visiting from time to time, but when there is no time to visit, knowing that it is there. Sometimes just knowing that space is there, available to me, is what helps keep me steady when life is storming around me. I guess that’s what some might call faith?
Can you relate to feeling like your life is too loud at times?
Maybe there are things in your life taking up too much space?
I wonder, what would happen if you found the courage to just let them go?
What might it look like if you allowed yourself to grow into the space that you had created?
I have lots of hopes and goals for the coming year, including new coaching programs, sharing more of my daily experience being alcohol-free in my newsletter, and finding new ways to reach people looking for support in their own journey toward freedom from alcohol.
I cannot wait to see where this next year takes me, and I am so glad you’re along for the ride.