March 1, 2020—going deep

After my most recent post, where I waxed poetic and otherwise, about going deep into the heart of the beast to begin the ridiculously hard work of discovering and addressing the roots of my relationship with alcohol, a few people said they’d like to do that too, but don’t know where to start and asked how one would begin the process. For what it’s worth, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about what this looks like for me thus far…
Today is March 1. Annie’s offering another Live TAE beginning today. I’d highly recommend signing up again today and for this month, commit. And by commit, I mean make the nonnegotiable decision to give yourself the gift of 30 days without alcohol, fuck everyone and everything else. For real. You are THAT important. Period. Endstop. If this is all you do—for 30 days, commit to the Live Alcohol Experiment—everything you need or are looking for will begin to materialize and crystalize, and your mind will be blown by the seemingly fantastical magical nature of it. I am dead serious. You don’t have to read on, the rest will take care of itself. But if you want more specifics, feel free to wander into my mind…
First, commit to the Live experiment, then DO ALL THE WORK THAT ACCOMPANIES THE EXPERIMENT. Again, non-negotiable. I already know I’m capable of this level of dedication, because I’ve been insanely passionate, committed and dedicated, in all my efforts with alcohol. For the month, I decided to transfer that dedication to being AF. I began with an experimental mindset: I watched ALL the videos in the Live experiment, paying special attention to the ACT exercises, and I did them. Yes, my social life suffered as a result. Yes, my laundry didn’t get done in a timely manner and the dishes piled up as a result. Yes, I ate popcorn and bananas for dinner and crackers and sugar snap peas with almond butter for breakfast as a result Yes, my significant other was neglected as a result. So be it. I let go and trusted that this newly-focused dedication would come full circle and the end result would enhance all areas of my life in ways I wasn’t fully prepared to quite understand yet (which, trust me, isn’t an easy thing to do for this self-proclaimed control freak…)
The videos and exercises were absolutely critical in helping me shift my mindset. Until I directly addressed all the beliefs I previously had about alcohol and challenged them, they’d continue to rule me. i.e: does alcohol REALLY make me smarter, sexier, funnier, braver, more outgoing/whatever? I used to believe all that like it was my damned religion—but today, all I have to do is think about something like, oh, let’s use how much time I’d spend getting ready to go out for a night as an example, shall we? THEN recall the reality: what I looked like at the end of many nights—bloodshot, googly eyes, smeary make up, deflated hair, rumpled clothes, bloated face…recall the unmemorable conversations and regrettable embarrassing things I did and said, and my resounding answer is an emphatic, resounding, believe-it-in-the-nucleus-of-my-cells, honest-to-God HELL NO. Or, I’d come up with a laundry list of all the opportunities I missed thanks to alcohol, or self-sabotaging behaviors I’d blame on everything BUT how they resulted from my drinking…but there’s no way I could have come to these conclusions or truly inhabit my new belief system, or no longer feel like I’m missing out on something by not drinking, or not be tempted to moderate, until I dug in and got messy and dirty, and ugly-cried, and raged, and pity-partied. All the while, at the same time, I still did the work to unearth, identify, dismantle and replace ALL my former beliefs with true, factual information. Not just some. I’m talking ALL. THE. DAMNED. BELIEFS. Annie gives this information to us, and the tools to apply it to our lives, generously and graciously—accept it, graciously.
Spoiler alert: challenging my beliefs about alcohol made me realize that they’re intrinsically connected to issues that took seed in my childhood, which is where I am now—digging down even deeper, tracing old, faulty patterns of thoughts/beliefs that took root in my childhood, and dismantling them and reprogramming with fresh, new, functioning ones. Yes, more fucking work. When will it end????!!! spoiler alert: probably never, but the fruits of this labor are mind-boggling and heart-filling, and grace-giving, and mood-altering, and life-changing…
I did ALL the journaling (disclosure—I was also very active on the Live page, so I often counted that writing as journaling—I mean, LOOK at the length of my posts!!!!). I felt ALL the feels (coming to the profound realization that they’re so insanely uncomfortable because I never allowed them to exist before—my knee-jerk reaction, for decades, has been to anesthetize with alcohol). Even if it meant I only scribbled a few unintelligible words some days, staying in bed other days, eating everything in the fridge most days, I was 100% dedicated to digging in and trusting that this process was going to work, in spite of the mess that I was creating by digging in deep…
I took my Day 1 photo, and looked at those sad, broken eyes every. single. day. As I worked through the 30 days, disgust, repulsion and shame gave way to compassion, forgiveness, love, and grief…that was so unexpected, and to feel this level of self-love is foreign but feels so good—I breathe with ease, my thoughts are clear, my sleep is sound, my interactions with others deeply connecting. I am overcome with the mission to never again intentionally hurt that person I was on Day 1 with alcohol or anything else; instead, I desire to protect, defend and help her grow and experience life in a completely new way, with all my senses intact…this is how cycles are broken, y’all…mind. blown.
I eliminated the temptation to “collect a data point” (by drinking) out of the picture from Day 1. I already know what alcohol does to me—I’m intimately, acutely aware of this (I believe engaging in the ACT exercises helps to solidify this awareness). I don’t need to collect any more data points as far as that’s concerned. By eliminating those kind of “data points” it eliminated so much exhausting mental gymnastics (again, Annie’s videos go into great detail about the idea of “willpower” and “moderation” and how “maybe” or “I’ll see when I get there,” or any other variation of non-committing means “yes,” every damned time to our brain. Instead, my “data point” collection became an exercise in curiosity, a scientist collecting new data—being alcohol free in circumstances where I’d typically drink, I’d observe, take note and record how I felt. I took on the role of scientist, rather than someone who was being deprived of something, and it has now become a fascinating, often entertaining (sometimes ridiculously annoying) game for me. At this point, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything by not drinking. I can literally do everything I used to do, only now, I do it AFAF.
I visualized the experiment as 30 days in ICU—I was going to take the month to intensively care for myself. I tried to stay hydrated, I slept as I needed to, tried to eat well, but didn’t restrict if I felt I wanted sweets or chips or whatever—there was a part of me that just “knew” that right now, dedicating my efforts to eliminating alcohol was the priority; eating and exercise would factor in again, soon…In time, this ICU imagery gave way to something like a superpower, I am now a Dominatrix—instead of being dominated, I am the dominant one, leather chaps, whip and all…(welcome to my mind, y’all…😅) being AFAF now feels like freedom, not a burden or punishment or depravity. I honeslty don’t believe this mindset would be true if I hadn’t committed. It honestly is that simple, yet so hard to do, because it goes completely against how we’ve done everything up till today.
Once I committed, other resources began “showing up” in my world, and now I’m layering my foundation with other resources, and yes, it’s still a damned lot of work, but the rewards I’m reaping as a result are priceless…
If you don’t think you can commit to the experiment 100% for whatever reason you come up with, recognize that’s where you start—by recognizing that there is a massive barrier between you and being AF that needs to be addressed (spoiler alert: it’s YOU. More specifically, your ego). It will keep on reappearing, dragging you down, holding you back, filling you with false truths, until you face it acknowledge it, accept it, dismantle it, and replace it with new programming. The ego can be an asshole but it’s intentions are understandable: it’s only trying to protect you from the unknown, which can be downright scary. While it keeps us safe from danger, it also goes overboard and keeps us from growing, by keeping us back in “safe, familiar” territory (of drinking…), then we “get to” keep using the same old faulty narratives that have long outlived their service…
Having said that, if you’re not in a place to commit, THAT IS OKAY, TOO. This opportunity will continue to present itself to you again and again and again, until you are ready. It ill never go away, I swear it won’t, because it has patiently, persistently appeared and reappeared in my life for decades, but until my discomfort with my status quo became more painful than the desire to change, I conveniently ignored, dismissed, chased it away…okay, that’s all for now…now I need a nap… xo.

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