"What's your poison?"
I remember being asked this question during my years of drinking alcohol and finding it funny. Why would drinking poison be funny? It isn't, yet it's a reality for millions of people. I used to be one of those people. Not anymore. I quit drinking booze two years ago.
Life is a rapid succession of instances, if you blink you'll miss it. If you spend too much time planning, or dreaming of when the day comes - you'll miss the opportunity. If you devote too much time thinking, inside your head - you'll miss it. From one blinking instant to the next your life is happening and you are to pay attention to what is happening right now. There is no other time. The time to quit alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, over eating, over exercising, is NOW. The now is all you have, "some day" is a place that dwells nowhere.
Here are some happy little tidbits of what happened to me after I put down the poison. Exited the booze train. Began a teetotalling lifestyle. After quitting with willpower and determination. And if I sound excited, I am! Dammit! I'm so jazzed that I was able to stop drinking. On my own resolve. No 12 step programs. Just pure grit and a decision. After a crazy tiring four days at the start (that's literally all it was, though tough at the time), things progressively got easier and my resolve to stay off the train, even stronger. The gifts of sobriety are many. Here's a few:
How about that, I sleep like a normal person again. What the actual hell? I don't need an alarm to get up? Not anymore Satan, not anymore. It's weird, I used to be dead to the world, not able to rouse myself out of bed even if Channing Tatum roller skated in with a platter of avocado toast! "What, it's morning already? I just went to bed," insert crying, self-pitying face here. Which made sense, how can someone jump out of bed refreshed with sleep if they have passed out cold from drinking the night before? Now my sleep cycles in sobriety are wonderful. Restful. Full of beautiful dreams. When I drank two or three red wines in order to pass out cold, there was no restorative sleep happening. My memory, concentration, motor control, performance and mood- were all exaggerated by my dull, lingering hangover. I drank to help cope with sleeping issues. I had horrible insomnia, a young family to raise, a business, and insurmountable stress. I assumed wrongly that if I could fall asleep with ease after a few glasses of wine, that I would be cured of my insomnia. But it was the golden goose. It was a solution based in fantasy - in fact alcohol consumption disrupts hormones and sleep cycles (Circadian rhythms) so much that deep sleeping cycles are messed up completely. My heart rate and blood pressure would sky rocket, so even though I was entering deep sleep faster due to the alcohol, I was getting such a nervous system workout that I would have night sweats and wake up exhausted and looking like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards. There are thousands of women who are in those same shoes, who drink to cope with the pressures of simply being a woman who has to "do it all" in today's society. My days were full of regrets, "should have's", and shame. Shame that I felt the need to do this night after night. That's another useless train some of us ride, the shame train. It's not taking you anywhere, it's a broken down train parked in the station and there is no destination. I got off that train too.
If you are a drinker and reading this and telling yourself that you don't get hangovers, you do. You've simply developed such a high tolerance for alcohol and you are able to recover faster. But the damage to your body is the same or worse, regardless of your tolerance. The more alcohol your body processes, the more your tolerance to short-term effects increases, but the long-term damage to your body depends on how much alcohol you have processed in your lifetime.*
Oh, and addiction to alcohol only added to my stress, making the vicious cycle worse. Therefore, this was not the sleep answer I had been looking for. Once getting off the booze train I investigated ways to heal myself in this area, I needed a solution that would work because addiction isn't a solution. I added a few key ingredients together to help solve this dilemma: breathing techniques while falling asleep, Kundalini yoga, diet and nutrition, regular daily exercise and persistence in all of these areas. Now after two years to the DAY of sobriety, I can pretty much fall asleep in seconds flat and wake just as easily. It's such a nice change really, starting the day off without dreading it. Sobriety will gift you this, if you get nothing else out of it. But you will. Oh you will.
The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique for falling asleep.
Sobriety came with upgrades to my operating system, and it was way beyond my scope of comprehension. Life began to change in ways I'd only dreamed of. In ways that happened to "those other lucky people" and yet now, it was my turn.
For instance, I used to think people who didn't believe in eating animals thought they were better than me. Can you imagine? I actually believed this. As if life was a competition about who can eat the best. I assure you, it's a completely evolutionary and rEVOLutionary act to choose to stop eating animals and animal products. I honestly feel it's only a matter of time before people look at meat consumption the way they look at cigarettes. (With disdain, of course!) I was a cheeseburger a day girl, however in my sobriety journey I've found that I feel my best when I eat foods that are electrical and alive. Not dead, and previously sad and suffering. Animals aren't food. At least for me they are not. Quitting the booze made me feel so damn good, I thought I could start to feel better in other areas too, hence this change. There is a ton of research supporting plant based diets out there, and if you've been toying with it I suggest giving it a whirl.** I took baby steps, eliminating one thing at a time while replacing that one thing with something else. It's a process and a learning curve. The whole family is starting to eat this way now. And cows can relax a little more now, knowing I'm not going to jump out and stab them! Just kidding, silly. No meat eater actually kills their own cow, they pay supermarkets to do that.
Here is your gratuitous Kundalini Yoga nod. Go ahead, laugh! Well what did you think? You were going to read a whole blog post about sobriety that didn't pay homage to the almighty Yogi Bhajan? Sorry, have to. What started as a curiosity ended up being the greatest teaching and the best spiritual move I ever could have done and yes, it's a life changer. I'm not studying to teach it, I take the classes and am perfectly happy being a student because I have THE BEST teacher who leads by example because she applies the teachings to her life and as a result has transformed for the better also. I cannot even put into words what this has done for me. So it's best read this right here and see for yourself. Find a class. It's magic. You keep hearing about Kundalini Yoga and you are sick of it? Well you obviously need to actually take a class! There is a reason this yoga is catching on and transforming lives. To quote my teacher, "It's a lightning bolt to the soul." And it delivers on every promise that alcohol could not.
Another benefit to adopting a teetotalling lifestyle, ROSE COLOURED GLASSES...the natural way. Yes, you know when booze is involved, I tend to speak my mind about people. Out loud. Because, idiots. Well since choosing a life free of anything addictive...I no longer even care what those people do, think or say. In fact, my perceptions of them are even sharper, and they can carry on being who they are because you know what? I've learned something precious - "Ain't nothing to do with me!" Things, people, and situations are only going to get to you if you allow it. I've chosen to go high, when they go low. I'm so much happier for it too.
This was just a quick post to say I'm loud and proud to have two full years without a drop of alcohol in this beautiful body. I have new perspectives, new hobbies. I let go of things, people and situations that do not matter. I focus fully on what matters to me the most - myself, my family and my friends. I live my life to the fullest. It's funny, but these last two years I've been my absolute best. (And I'm getting better every day.) I'm almost 47 so I wish I had started earlier but you know, I'll be happy to carry on like this until I drop. It's never to late to adopt a lifestyle that supports you in your journey, instead of hindering you like alcohol does. It's poison, guys. It literally is poison. I will never miss ethanol/alcohol now that I understand how liberating and enlightening and healthy it is without it.
What's my new poison you ask?
LIFE, baby. LIFE in all it's technicolour glory. And I'm present for all of it. Early mornings and all. This train station is by far my favourite. Next station, Happiness. Ring the bell, it's your stop.
*Read more here
**Read more here too