Part of the reason I am up writing this is because the alcohol in the giant… wait.
…the monster margarita that was served to me is metabolizing. And so now, I am awake.
But I am also aware of the continuity of the daily blog and the point of telling a story, post to post, about the themes I run into in my life.
So what I am going to do is be really honest about the fact that I have struggled with alcohol being the center of experience (instead of my own health and happiness) in my life. I want to offer a little more context to my recent comments about not “drinking too much, too fast or what I don’t want to”.
True to my life:
I have made the shift to drinking tea instead of wine on girls night at times where I want to see my friends but don’t feel like drinking.
I have decided to not drink, or to drink just one glass of my favorite wine or beer, on weeks I have the girls out of respect for the fact they only get me every other week.
And I absolutely do not drink more than two drinks at work happy hours.
I have decided to be OK with not finishing a drink (or a chimichanga, for that matter) even if that means I “am wasting it”.
I pay attention to when I start to drink fast, and slow down and enjoy it.
Aside from the work happy hour thing (Enterprise management training drilled that into me), these were not and are not always easy things. But, for me, they are necessary because it is in my nature to lose self control in this area, and so I take extra precaution.
Additionally, because I feel called to care for and guide others into healthy relationships with their body and footing in their spiritual lives, I do take it to heart to live above reproach. It doesn’t mean sinless. Nobody can do that. But I don’t want to lose my personal footing. Nor do I want to give power to something, claiming it makes me more willing or able.
I will have a dance party in my living room, birthday margarita or not.
I will be the first one on the dance floor, drink or not.
I will make a new friend when out on the town, drink or not.
It took me a long time to fully wrap my head around who I was without drinking and be secure in myself. And then it took more time to feel like I could confidently talk about my boundaries with alcohol. I feel like a lot of people don’t set boundaries with alcohol because they don’t “think they are an alcoholic” and they don’t want to stop drinking completely. But boundaries with anything are good and necessary and OK. You need to feel good about the decisions you make in your life, especially in regards to your body.
For me, this is not me being perfect. This is about me being who I am and refusing to let alcohol take over my experience because of the culture norm that puts alcohol in the center.
I have friends who don’t drink at all. I asked one of them about it, and she said she has simply never had alcohol and she has always been happy. She says she can see there are not direct benefits for her. So “Why,” she says, “would I potentially make myself sleepy or not understand the things I understand when I like how I feel and how I think?”
In reflecting on this, I have thought about not drinking at all. But that isn’t what I want. There are experiences that I do enjoy. The delicious red zinfandel. The birthday margarita. The summer hard apple cider and homemade pizza. The hot cocoa and fireball when walking my dog and shopping an outdoor market with my sister on a winter night. << very specific
For me, I needed to create boundaries with alcohol. And, if you do too, I offer you encouragement because it isn’t always easy. And if you do blur the line, use the experience – whether its the money you ended up spending or the way you ended up feeling – to validate the boundary you want. And if you need help, get help.
Just start being honest about what you want. Don’t do things just because it’s how you have always done them. Be aware of habits and patterns. And don’t be a slave to the cycle.
Whether it’s alcohol or food, pot or pills, notice when substance is a shortcut to the experience or feeling you want.
Just the other night, I texted my sister and said “I just need to tell somebody that I am really feeling an impulse to drink and I know it is not what I want. I know it is from an emotional place”. She was great. She asked me where I thought it was coming from. In the moment, I just knew I wanted to feel different. I knew substance was a short cut. And I knew I needed to hold the line, roll out my mat, pump up the music and stretch out the kinks, and treat my body well.
My preacher prays that God, “remove the taste of alcohol from people who are struggling”. And I really like that prayer. I prayed it over myself and then prayed gratitude as the blood and breath moving around in my body and the stretches had their effect and started to loosen the tension to where I only wanted water and to go to bed.
So – there you go. And though it was, in fact, hilarious to hear the table hoot and laugh about this margarita as large as my head – and how they were going to post a picture of it in the comments of my last post where I mention about not drinking too fast or too much – it was also convicting: that I should share more context about my boundaries with alcohol and my commitment to being proud of my decisions; able to share what I do with my daughters and confident in the example I am setting for them.
If you struggle with alcohol or drugs or self control, and need help, here is a link to the National Helpline for Substance Abuse and Mental Health. Know you have my encouragement. It’s okay to make those little shifts. Get help if you need it. Draw boundaries and honor them. Don’t take short cuts. Get the experience you want in other ways. Live above reproach. Live to your calling. Shed the views of the world. Live your life proud of how you care for your body.
^^^ ME AND MY MONSTER MARGARITA