january 29, 2020—nearing the end of TLAE…

Well. It wouldn’t be the end with out one last epic post (epic, as in Beowulf. In length, I mean, not poetics) from me—oh wait—there’s one more day left! But, in case I run out of time and can’t deliver one more soliloquy before the real end tomorrow, I just wanted to share everything I learned on this 30 day journey with you. Yes. Everything. Grab a sparkly water, or some of that bullshit kombucha more than a few of you are so fond of, maybe a coffee to stay awake, pull up a chair and get comfy. Or you can just skip over my ramblings here, that’s cool, too.
  1. I have never gone beyond 30 days without alcohol (baring a medical situation in the mid 90s, which was “forced abstinence,” not a conscious choice), not since I began drinking when I was 18. I’m now 51. That fact blows my mind.
  2. I have gone 30 days without alcohol countless times in recent years. Each time, I considered that “proof!” that alcohol wasn’t a problem in my life, and quickly resumed my pre-30 day pace as soon as the month was up (failing to see the problem in that…). This time was waaaaaaay different, and I’m still not sure what the alchemy/formula/reason is—my guess is that previous attempts were fueled by willpower alone, not a lot of facts (if any), nor did I set the foundation by analyzing my own belief system/house of cards that I’d haphazardly stacked up around alcohol over the years. And other things, too, that I’ll come back to, if I don’t meander too far off down a sparkly tangent.
  3. “Not that bad” is a euphemism/synonym in my mind for “moderation,” and is a precarious place for me to be, where alcohol is concerned. Too much room for creative interpretation, and I’m nothing, if not creative. It’s time to channel that gift and energy to better use.
  4. I have never analyzed my personal history/relationship with alcohol like this, ever. Holy shitballs smothered in come-to-Jesus sauce….as much as I’ve learned about myself, I also know there’s still many more layers to slog through. But what I used to fear is now a process I’m honestly curious about and actually looking forward to digging in deeper—coming to terms with big chunks of my life that I’ve numbed myself/disengaged from for years and I know now have been holding me back from so much, for too long. The day of reckoning is nigh and I finally have a clear mind, peace in my heart and a whole-body curiosity to find out for myself, if what Annie Grace says is true: that instead of asking “How much do I have to give up if I stop drinking?”, I can reframe the question: to “Is this all there is?” (should I continue to drink), or “What will I gain should I stop drinking?” I want to know what’s on the other side of 30 days. A whole year without alcohol no longer scares me; rather, it intrigues and beckons. As Annie also says, I want alcohol to be small and insignificant in my life.
  5. “Feeling all the feels” never really meant anything to me before because it’s impossible to feel anything when anesthetized by alcohol. Even if I wasn’t actively drinking, disengaging had become my default mode. “Feeling all the feels” means the world to me, now, because it’s exactly what happened when I decided, with intention, to be AF for the month and do the work that accompanies this experiment. Makes #1—4 up there really, really, really uncomfortable and overwhelming at times, but for the first time in forever, I haven’t reached for a glass (followed by 5 more glasses of wine) to “deal;” instead, I am crying authentic tears of grief and joy, and laughing deep, soulful laughs, and really listening to what others have to say in conversations, and thinkng before knee-jerk responding…I feel more compassionate and empathetic. “Feeling all the feels” feels like being a kid again. I love it here, and right now, feel like could live like this forever.
  6. I can literally do everything I’ve always done, without drinking. Well, except, of course, drink. And that doesn’t bother me and I’m surprised as all hell by this, but accept it, gratefully and graciously. I am damned lucky.
  7. I was never taught to drink responsibly (is anyone, ever?). Out of the gate, the expectation was: drink to get drunk. Period. Which means I’ve been “drinking to get drunk” since I was 18. Did I mention I’m now 51? But mentally, I’m 26, so it all evens out. I don’t even know what that means. Welcome to my AFAF ADHD (undiagnosed, unmedicated, fully expressed) Creative Math WTF world.
  8. Drinking to relax, or take “the edge” off, or whatever I formerly thought about alcohol, for me, is not true. I believed it to be so, though, for so long, simply because I never challenged this supposed belief (how convenient—I get to keep doing what I’m doing, if I simply ignore the disharmony! And by “ignore the disharmony,” of course I mean “drink.” Willful ignorance is not bliss). But when I applied the A.C.T method to it (and essentially every other belief I formerly held about alcohol), I have to admit, that yes, that first drink chilled me a bit, but I can never recreate that initial, fleeting relaxed mild euphoria. With each drink, I become more on edge, paranoid, mouthy, defensive, overly sensitive, reckless, judgmental—a whole lotta things I’d never tolerate in a friend or lover or family member, even… AND, let’s be real , everyone: drunk sex sucks big time, and not in a good way. WHY THE HELL HAVE I NEVER BEFORE QUESTIONED THIS FACT?!!!
  9. All of the brave photos that everyone shared are compelling—heartbreaking and hopeful. There’s no denying it: drinking makes all of us look exhausted, sad, defeated, ill—how much more proof do we need than those Day 1 photos? BUT, what about those later photos?! Quitting drinking took 10 years and 10 pounds (sometimes those 10 lbs were metaphorical, not physical, but in my not-so humble opinion, matter far more) from our heavy loads, and lit a flame of hope in every set of eyes—the evidence was apparent in just a few days for some of you! I absolutely loved to see all the smiles, however tentative, reappear. Right there, looking back at me is proof of all. the. good. things.
  10. I used to think that bolting wide awake at 3:33 a.m., with rapid heart rate, sweats, mind spinning on puree was residual Catholic guilt haunting me for all my drunken transgressions. Turns out, it was kind of Catholic, an exorcism of sorts—my body desperately trying to expunge a toxic substance. That fact alone drops me to my knees. In spite of such abuse, my body will still do everything it can to save me from myself. oh my…huge breath…
  11. When I compare my Day 1 to Day 24 (I think) photos, I am most struck by my Day 1 picture. It brings me to tears to look at my face and see the hard evidence of how I’ve hurt myself, for so long. I don’t ever want to do that to myself, again.
  12. I asked if you all would share anecdotal evidence about changes in health conditions, and you delivered the goods in mass quantities: skin conditions clearing, weight loss, mental clarity, anxiety lessening, digestive issues resolving, blood pressure/heart rate, cholesterol, blood sugar results improving, sleeping better, energy levels rising, better sex (SEX SELLS, Y’ALL!), more productive at work or with home projects, more motivation to work out/returning to yoga or other mindful movement practice, puffiness gone, joint pain and other pains disappearing, bellies shrinking, confidence improving, relationships more meaningful, reduction/outright cessation of anxiety/mental health medications, memory improving, becoming aware of health conditions that were being numbed out by alcohol—you all BLEW ME AWAY with your reports from the field, and all have had an instrumental role in my decision to continue down the AFAF path.
  13. I once read that “your soul loves you so much, it will use your body to try to get your attention.” #8—11 above speak profoundly to that wisdom. Our souls are speaking loudly to us. It’s time we listen.
  14. This program is here for us, for life. #AFAF4LYF
  15. Lucky 15 (I tried to stop at 13. Big surprise I couldn’t). I was 100% skeptical when I signed up for this facebook group—it was honestly almost the deal-breaker. I did not expect to fall in love with 2224 strangers, or care so much about you as I do. But I do, deeply. Thank you, everyone single one of you, especially Annie, Scott Pinyard with the beard of legends, and all the mentors/moderators, for your generous, grace-filled, courageous, loving presence on this journey with me. I learned so much from each of you, and wish we all could continue together, supporting each other as we have been, like one big (mostly) happy dysFUNctional family, just like my own real family, but with 2219 more siblings😅! I hope to cross paths with you all in other dimensions of this journey. A wise woman once said, be kind, it’s chaos out there. Miss you already…💜💜💜💜💜

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