“ Don’t worry about tomorrow, take it today. Forget about the cheque. We’ll get hell to pay.”
- AC/DC. 1980
I like to shop. A lot.
And I used to like to drink. Wine. Whiskey. Tequila. All of the kinds of booze. Quite a lot. I wasn’t falling into a ditch or hopping in my truck wasted. My kids still had Pinterest-worthy birthday parties and I was a very nice person. There are lots of people who like to shop and drink and they love themselves thoroughly so it works out okay. They usually don’t overindulge, but if they DO go a little crazy, they don’t get sucked into a shame spiral the next day or wake up at 3 am with the sugar-shakes, hating themselves. This is the difference between myself, and them.
I compared myself to "them" for SO long…trying to understand myself better by counting my drinks, attempting to only drink on the weekends, doing online “quizzes” to see if I “qualified” as an alcoholic… you name it. I tried everything except giving up alcohol completely and for good. For over 20 years I allowed myself to battle my mind and heart about whether I had a problem or not. I mean, everywhere I looked people were having a great time with a cocktail! Why couldn’t I just relax and not make everything so serious all the time? Why was I hating myself so much, regardless of whether I had one or one hundred gin and tonics? I journaled, and “took breaks” and listened to the few people I confided in who mostly told me “Tara, give yourself a break. You have a lot on your plate. It’s okay to want to relax a little bit…take your mind off things.” Oh my god.
Nothing about drinking helped me relax. It didn’t take my mind off things at ALL. I had MORE on my plate because I was worried about myself all the time. It wasn’t even the booze that was sucking the life out of me. It was the endless struggle to reconcile WHY I was drinking at all. It was ALL I thought about. A constant battle in my mind. In the end it didn’t turn out that I had a “drinking problem”…it turned out that I have a complicated relationship with myself and alcohol wasn’t serving that relationship. What a revelation. If it was just about me and my relationship with myself then that meant I actually WAS in control here. And so, as you know, I took control about 2 years ago and became a quitter.
Quitting = Super empowering. Just sayin.
Anyhow, this isn’t actually a story about how I quit drinking – I think you have heard that story. This is a story about the freedom that comes when we commit to ourselves and start believing in our own truths instead of looking elsewhere and outside ourselves for confirmation that we are worthy. It is a story about the glorious power we can feel when we stop trying to fill our void spaces with external stuff and start filling ourselves up from within.
Flash forward about a year and a half into my sobriety. It was not actually that difficult to be sober once I reframed it as a desire to have a better relationship with myself. Once I realized that I wanted to model to my kids that they could accomplish anything if they believed in themselves, I quickly learned how to celebrate differently and it was relatively easy to skip the drinks. And then I lost Darcy.
I am sure that at least a handful of people would have expected me to start drinking again but that was never an option, nor was it even a temptation. I sat frozen on a couch for days, just feeling everything about that horrific experience. It was as painful as hell, but even in that state, I felt deeply sure that I would rather feel it and move it out of my body, than allow it to build up, unfelt, and inevitably manifest into disease, addiction, anger. I was allowing myself to be the person that I wanted to be, even in that terrifying experience. That was a great confirmation to me that I was truly on a path toward my best life, despite the devastation I was living through. Even when the worst thing imaginable happened, I was committed to myself and my kids and our mental health. I wasn’t going to go backward…and this knowledge actually gave me some real confidence in myself and created momentum for my healing…
Still, this crazy experience was no walk in the park, believe me. I have had so much anger and frustration and confusion and sadness to manage but I did my best to accept that drinking was not the answer here. I did my best to remain open to new possibilities for actual healing - not just numbing and avoiding. Possibility for a deeper understanding of myself. Possibility for a deeper understanding of WHY I had reached to booze as a way to numb my pain from childhood, the challenges of motherhood, you name it. Possibility to better understand WHY I didn’t want to FEEL. After all, it isn’t just about stopping the behaviour – the drinking. That is just step one. Step two, is about understanding WHY we behave destructively in the first place. That is where the growth lies. That is where transformation occurs.
So…because I was open to it, possibility showed up for me. Possibility showed up in the form of a small and mighty woman with a whole lot of passion and devotion to her own healing, through the beautiful practice of kundalini yoga, breathwork and meditation. Veronika, an acquaintance at the time, (my soul sister now) showed up to me via Messenger, randomly, on a particularly hard morning when anger was boiling in my soul and I had no idea what to do with it. I shared how I was feeling with her in that moment of desperation because the aloneness was just unbearable and I needed to be heard and seen. She simply said… “Have you got 15 minutes? I think I can help. Go grab your mat. Let’s move this shit out of your body.”
You guys, I confess. I have been a life-long hater of yoga. I was forced to do it as a young dancer for flexibility and I was forced to do it again as a single thirty-something human living in the trendy Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver because… yoga and coffee. You just HAVE to. I think it's a requirement. Like paying your property taxes. (Thank God I moved to East Van before they started requiring us to wear tiny dogs like fashion accessories!)
Anyhow, as I said, on this particularly awful morning it was either yoga with Veronika or a fist through a wall and a whole lot of yelling at my kids. This rage had to go somewhere. I chose Veronika and something SO magical occurred…
To Be Continued….