On July 4th, 2015 I put down my last glass of alcohol. I knew when setting the glass down, I was done. I remember placing the glass on a marble island in a friend’s kitchen and staring at the glass thinking, ‘this isn’t serving me’. I wasn’t drunk, like you might suspect. I didn’t just make a fool of myself or regret something I did or said. I was at a at a friend’s house with people I knew and some I did not. I remember looking around the room throughout the night and seeing people completely disconnected from one another. Although engaged in conversation and laughter, the night felt empty to me. At one point a woman at the party that I did not know was speaking to me and asking me condescending questions. In her drunken and rather rude tone she spoke to me as if I was a party favor, a side attraction. I was the most tattooed person there besides my husband and although we were at a friends home, our presence and lifestyle choice in this particular crowd were not the norm. The way this woman spoke to me triggered something in me. It wasn’t what she had said but the observation of her behavior that made me look around and notice that this completely checked out behavior was something I didn’t want to engage in any longer.
It had been on my mind for almost a year. I was internally coming down pretty hard on myself when I drank and I would be so disappointed in myself. I didn’t consider and I still don’t consider myself an alcoholic by society standards. I was drinking as much as most of the people I knew, which in my opinion now is far too much. Drinking in our society has become so acceptable that there doesn’t seem to be a place where you can not drink and often it seemed the entire point of coming together. You can drink anywhere - in movies, on planes, in parks, I was even seeing my local naturopath’s office having wine nights. I have a very busy life like most people but I don’t have the luxury of going home after work to relax, I have to continue to work drawing for clients. If I have one glass of wine or what ever drink of choice, it is enough to make me want to take a hot bath and go to bed but not before making a poor food choice. I was drinking less and less but even drinking one glass of wine was enough to affect my entire evening, my sleep and how I felt the next day. I felt that at that time that one glass of any alcoholic beverage shouldn’t be a problem, but to me it was. It was enough to take away any motivation to do what I needed to do and to be present. Alcohol is in fact poisonous to our bodies and I found that it affected me far more than I realized. It wasn’t until the Fourth of July when I finally put down alcohol that I started to realize how much it was taking from me. Using me. Turning me into someone I wasn’t and stealing my life. A sleep walker.
Now immediately after I quit drinking I began to feel a bit enraged with myself. I was so pissed off that I felt like I was missing out if I wasn’t drinking. I started to realize that I didn’t know how to have fun in the company of others who were drinking and not drink myself. That when I was with my husband or friends at a party, a concert, flying on an airplane, a movie theater, wherever, that everyone is drinking all of the time and that I did not know how to enjoy myself or not feel like I wasn’t missing out on the fun if I wasn’t also drinking. I also started to observe how quickly people checked out when drinking and I didn’t feel an authentic connection or presence with others in these environments. I used that anger as motivation. I didn’t want to feel this way. I didn’t want to feel that I needed to drink to belong. To have fun. To enjoy the company of my friends or to help me relax and unwind. Even though I was the only one not drinking most of the time, conversations began to feel pointless in these environments - without life.
I started to observe how drinking is advertised to us. Its everywhere!The radio, the ads on television, street billboards, movies, music, movie stars, housewives - it all seemed to be about the party or how to let go. Stressed? Have a drink. Let loose, have a drink. Feeling bad? Have a drink. Bored? Have a drink. Hard day? Have a drink. Celebrating? Have a drink. Need a reward? Have a drink. You deserve it. Treat yourself.
In a bigger world view I saw how the propaganda of alcohol and the so called war on drugs was the perfect solution for those who want you to live for your weekend. Who want you to stay asleep. I also feel this way about many things we are being spoon fed - television, politics, pharmaceuticals. Tune out and don’t look within. Look outside of yourself and you’ll always be searching for the answers.
All of these observations motivated me to stay sober. I found a sober app to use on my phone which also helped motivate me to see how many days I was sober and how much money I had saved. My relationships started to drastically change. Friends who I thought were friends didn’t invite me out anymore. I was told I wasn’t fun by some and it was really interesting to see who my friends actually were.
The longer I stayed sober, the better I felt. I always thought that doing a 30 day sober challenge would detox my body of alcohol. It was shocking to me, that after 6 months, 1 year, 2 years... that I felt better and better. I was in control of my life. I felt awake. The goals I wanted to achieve were happening. I was a better person, mother, wife, tattooer, business owner, leader. I started to realize that I had been numbing out what I didn’t want to hear inside. My knowing. My hearing, My seeing. My intuition.
Drinking caused me to stay locked away and not face what it is I know to be true and what it is I am meant to do with my life. It takes courage to be sober. To go against the norm and stay conscious. Drinking is so much a part of our culture, this expected part of what you should be doing and if you aren’t drinking, you must be an alcoholic, you must have a problem. I don’t have a problem with alcohol. I could drink in moderation or not at all. Even the smallest amount of alcohol for me, or binge drinking on the weekend, was keeping me from achieving what it is I know I’m meant to do. I have a problem with the fact that turning my life and time over to spirits was controlling me, was making me sleep walk through life and keeping me from taking responsibility for what it is I was meant to do and how I wanted to feel. What it is I believe we are all meant to do. To be leaders - to inspire others. To use our gifts as a service to others. To look within our selves and make change.
You will not see change in your outer world, your community, your country, or in your mind until you start to look within and take responsibility for the thoughts you think, the words you say and how you choose to feel and express yourself. For me this took quitting drinking and to start reprogramming my mind with what it is I want to see in my world. Turning off the television, news, radio and movies, being highly selective of what I let into my conciseness. The subtle and sometimes not so subtle messages of propaganda all around us. I believe this is all meant to keep us distracted and disconnected from our selves and our truth. What is it that you want? How do you want to feel and what is it that you want to achieve? Who is it you are meant to be? We have all of those answers within. Becoming sober and turning off outside noise that wasn’t mine was an important and necessary step in creating the dream I wished to see. What is your dream?