Dunguaire Castle, Galway Bay, Ireland
Last week I wrote about finding my truth and how it is now guiding me to live a life better than before. This week, I would like to share some of that truth with you. Today marks eight months since I began my journey into sobriety. As we all know, a lot can happen in one day, not to mention two hundred and forty-five of them.
I’ve shared bits about this journey with you here and there, since I first started blogging back in September. Now, today, for the sake of clarity, I want to summarise the main lessons I have learnt since choosing to keep my body free of the toxic impact of alcohol.
1. I opened myself up to the truth about alcohol by reading as much research and studies as I could. What I discovered is that alcohol had been disrupting the chemical balance of my brain for many years. I could only prove this to be true by abstaining for a time and I will admit, it took about six months before I noticed a real change.
2. Now that enough time has passed, I can see clearly that in the past few years of my life, I wasn’t living. I was just surviving. I only recently woke up to this fact. It got me thinking about the different phases of my life. I will attempt to illustrate this to you with words. Imagine my life has so far consisted of three columns. The first is 0-14years during which time I got my euphoric high from things such as Santa Claus, birthday parties, ice-cream and achieving major milestones such as learning to ride a bike. The return to normal everyday feelings was quick and felt fine. The second column is the 15-28 years during which I experimented with forbidden things and found euphoria after trying alcohol. It became a part of socialising but I always returned to that normal everyday feeling and was okay with that. The third column is 29-53 years when my reasons for drinking changed and I slowly began drinking more to cope with stress and other unwanted feelings. It became regular and it impacted on my brain’s ability to function normally. What used to feel normal, felt unbearable. Alcohol was the only way to feel normal again. I was lucky that I became aware of this before it spiralled out of control and I had the wherewithal to arrest it.
3. I used alcohol to numb pain and to relieve stress. It also numbed joy. I knew in my heart that it was wrong every time I woke with a hangover. I knew I was damaging my body, putting myself at risk of breast cancer, liver disease, mental health issues and heart disease. The more I drank, the more I hated myself for doing it. Alcohol therefore became associated with self-hate and self-destruction which impacted hugely on how I felt about the world. In recent years, I began to disconnect from others.
4. I find abstinence is far easier than moderation. Every Monday morning, with a dry mouth and banging head, I used to promise myself that I would not drink until the weekend. By Wednesday, and sometimes even by Tuesday, I’d be reaching for the 5 o’clock hit to take away the feelings of anxiety and stress. Little did I know at the time, it was simply the withdrawal symptoms from the weekend’s alcohol consumption that was causing the pain.
5. Because I am taking better care of my body, mind and soul, I am a better person. I am more loving, more giving and more present than I have ever been. My relationship with myself is the best it has ever been, and it has allowed me to reconnect with others in a way I had buried away deep within me.
6. Now that I no longer allow toxins in my life, I am more wary of all the other bad stuff that we are told is good for us. I am loving my new plant-based diet and the amazing way it makes me feel.
7. I am more compassionate towards others. I know what it is to be trapped in a spiral of self-loathing and substance abuse. I now know that nobody chooses a life like this. Alcohol and other drugs are dangerous, and people are vulnerable. Combine these two things and you have the makings of a painful experience. Anyone who is caught up in an addiction wishes they could be happy without their drug of choice. I empathise. It is a truly horrible place to be, where normal, everyday existence feels too painful.
8. When alcohol was removed from my life, I found my creativity again. It was there all along, but it was kept under lock and key. For me, creativity is the ultimate in self-expression and we need to be at one with ourselves for it to be free.
9. I wasn’t going to mention this because it doesn’t seem that important in the grand scheme of things, but since I stopped drinking, I have saved myself close to three thousand dollars. That is a conservative guess, based on drinking a few bottles of wine per week. It doesn’t factor in Ubers, dining out etc. I am mentioning it because this saving has allowed me to pay for half of the flying lessons my son needs to do before he can achieve his Pilot’s Licence. Now that’s got to be worth it.
If you would like to learn more about what alcohol does to the body and mind, then I strongly recommend you read The Naked Mind by Annie Grace. Her story is remarkable.
If you would like to learn more about a plant-based diet, you could do no wrong by tuning into The Ordinary Vegan podcasts.
I also strongly recommend Dr Greger’s cookbook How Not to Die.
Thanks for taking the time to read what I have to say today. If you know anyone who might benefit from its content, please share it. My hope is that somebody, somewhere, may decide they too have the chance to change their life for the better.
My quote for the day is one that I have written myself based on my own experience: