On my call with my life coach, C., Wednesday, I told her how I was just committing to 100 days and then I’d see how I feel. I don’t know why it’s so scary to say it’s forever, even though sitting here, I can’t imagine starting to drink again. I know that doesn’t work. I can sit here with my logical brain and know I don’t want that. And yet…I went through examples of people I know about who have started off with a short-term goal and then just…kept going. Like Belle. Like Hey Monster. Like the guy I know who quit drinking when his wife got pregnant and that was over a year ago and he “just kept going.”
So…I figured that is a safe way to start.
“I’m going to challenge you on that,” C. said. “You have been telling me for months about all of the very good reasons why you wanted to quit drinking for good. Why would that change after 100 days?”
She was right, of course. It’s scary to say it’s forever. I’m not sure why, but it is.
“I know why,” she said. “It’s the finality of it. And it’s a loss. It’s okay to admit that. You’ve had a lot of your identity tied up in red wine, and that doesn’t change overnight. It’s a big deal and it’s really hard.”
I love her for the way she gives me permission to feel things as they should be felt.
Because even though I’ve read Jason Vale and Allen Carr and Annie Grace, and I really do believe it is a good thing and I am gaining in huge ways by quitting, I still have to let myself mourn and process this loss. This is a healthy thing.
“It’s a lot like when you are at your college graduation, and you have that best friend who is moving to the other side of the country, and you say ‘This isn’t goodbye, I’ll see you soon!’ but you know IT’S A LIE, because life is changing forever.”
I also love her for her powerful metaphors. I could totally put myself in that place, there with the pain and fear of the finality of something like leaving my best friend for the other side of the country, and nothing will ever be the same again. Even if it’s a good thing, it’s still bloody scary to admit.
Yes, the finality of it. There’s something so existential about it. So BIG. I’m still working out why it’s different than when I quit eating meat, but it is. I mean, despite the ubiquity of bacon, on a lot of levels, alcohol is a much more powerful influence in our society and our communities and our sense of selves, than the meat we eat. And I enjoyed meat (until I didn’t), but wine provided so much comfort and emotional support (however hollow), there must be something to that too.
It must be the part of my brain that still remembers the friend/lover/confident I thought I had in a big bottle of red. The dysfunctional relationship. The bad habit. It hasn’t really been that long since I broke up with red wine and he still sends me love letters from time-to-time, begging for me to come back and give him a whirl.
I can’t quit you, red wine!
But I can.
C. was totally in support of my finding my voice in this. Going from avoidance to “I’m on a cleanse”-type excuses for not drinking, to hedges like “I haven’t been drinking,” to “I don’t drink.” It’s a process that takes time. That’s normal.
“It’s a lot like the coming out of the closet process,” she said. And she has some experience on the subject.
I laughed. “Yeah?”
“Yeah, at first someone might be, like, I kissed a girl in college but it didn’t mean anything. Then later she might say, Oh yeah, I make out with girls but only when I’m drunk. Eventually she works her way up to coming out as lesbian or queer or bi or whatever, but it’s normal for it to happen gradually. In layers.”
I can honestly say I haven’t heard that comparison before. Haha! But I can totally get it! Makes sense. Putting one’s sexuality out there is huge and personal and people sometimes judge — and once it’s out there, it’s hard to take back.
I was in a meeting this afternoon and I was a bit cocky (teasing) to my bosses at one point. My big boss (the President) said, “Rachel is sure on fire today! You need a drink!”
A totally harmless thing to say, but every time he or others make off-handed comments like that, I’m brought back to a place of uncertainty. Discomfort. Of course, if he’d said, “You need a ham sandwich!” I would have laughed and said, “Ha! I don’t eat meat!” But instead, I just laughed it off and changed the subject. No need to announce to a room full of colleagues that I DON’T DRINK! That would just be weird.
And soon enough I’ll be comfortable and secure, and won’t tense up and panic a little when someone surprises me with a mention of drinking. So, now, I’ll honor my feelings and embrace the process of coming out sober. I’m definitely still straight (although I have kissed a girl when I was drunk :)), but I don’t drink.
Yo, repeat after me…totally chill, with a quiet confidence: Haha, well that’s especially funny since I don’t drink.
Rachel. Day 6.
94 days to go (+ forever) Oof, the finality of it. Even Belle tells herself she can drink again when she’s 70. That works for her to take the pressure off. I can see the wisdom in that.