With today being my birthday, I feel it's as good a time as any to reflect on the past five months since I quit drinking alcohol and consider what lies ahead. At face value, my life is amazing. I have so much to be grateful for. Healthy happy kids, great job, wonderful family, good health, amazing man in my life... the list could go on. And, admitting this makes this blog post that much more embarrassing. How can I possibly have anything to be unhappy about?
For starters, I'm not unhappy. These days, I am experiencing tremendous clarity and am so grateful to be living a life that feels completely authentic to me. I could not have said that five years ago; heck, I couldn't have said that six months ago. However, I realize I'm entering a new chapter in my life. While this is fantastic in so many ways, it's also scary. I'm writing about it here because much of this new chapter is a result of my decision to quit drinking.
The biggest shift is related to my changing social scene. The friends I used to hang out with are still enjoying their wine - sometimes in copious amounts. I don't judge them at all for continuing to enjoy libations, but I'm just not in that place anymore. Do I want to go to parties where everyone will be getting loaded? Not really. I understand I need to find new people who are more like me. I'm not even sure they exist. And, if they do, what are they like? Maybe the bigger question is, what am I like? Does party Danielle still exist? I like to think she does. Albeit in a sober form.
I guess what all this comes down to is one thing. I feel kinda alone. It's funny because this is the first time since my marriage ended that I've really started to feel aloneness. Or maybe, more accurately, it's the first time I've sat with the uncomfortableness of it without drinking half (or a full) bottle of wine. It kinda sucks, to be honest. I've certainly been thinking how nice it would be to pour myself a big glass of wine to help erase this discomfort. I know that one glass would not be enough, though. I have also visualized myself drinking straight from the bottle when I'm feeling extra crummy. And, no that's not a sign of me being a recovering alcoholic. That's a sign that I want to run away from some of my struggles and the easiest way to do that temporarily is to get buzzed.
I know, with absolute certainty, that I will not succumb to my desire for wine. It's not the alcohol I want, it's the relief from discomfort. However, I also recognize that this period leading into my new chapter is supposed to be uncomfortable. Change is never easy.
I happened to read an interview with meditation expert Jon Kabat-Zinn this morning that really resonated with me. He is responding to a question on whether there is a place that represents mindfulness and calm for him, personally:
"As for calm, that can come and go, depending on how equanimous you are with what is actually unfolding in this moment, which can often be far from what we might have hoped for. Life itself becomes one long retreat, if you are open to seeing it that way. I love looking at life that way. Whatever unfolds is the "curriculum" of the retreat, and the challenge always is: How are you going to be in wise relationship with whatever arises, be that wanted or unwanted?"
Like, wow. How brilliant is that? I would love to be able to live exactly like that. Without the crutch of wine, I'm getting better and better at it. But, I have much to learn. I will be simply be at peace with what I am capable of, in this moment of time.