It has been over five years since I have taken a sip of alcohol. Saying that out loud sounds wild to me. When I quit drinking I really didn't plan to stop for this long. I told myself I wanted to take a break from alcohol. I needed clarity, I wanted to detox my body and mind, and I felt a strong pull to become more present and in-touch with myself on a spiritual level. I felt like alcohol was hindering my ability to be in alignment with my highest-self. So I made the decision to stop drinking for a while in hopes of a major reset. I knew this wasn't going to be without difficulty. There were countless times I had woken up after a night out muttering half-heartedly about never drinking again, but my social calendar always had other plans. As someone who used to experience debilitating anxiety, it wasn't easy to imagine a life of socializing and having fun without liquid courage involved at least some of the time! Additionally, what other 27 year olds didn't drink?! None that I knew! I would probably become boring and lonely without booze and would surely start missing out on all the fun times. Wrong. Well mostly. I do feel a little boring sometimes, but with time I eventually stopped caring about that. The seemingly endless benefits of not drinking quickly became more important to me than worrying about anyone thinking I'm boring or no fun. So here we are five years later, sober as fuck and still going strong. If you are curious about the real reasons why I quit drinking and about how my life has changed, keep reading.
You are probably wondering if I'm an alcoholic, in AA or perhaps did I get a DUI? What's the real reason I put the bottle down over five years ago? Why was I desperately seeking clarity when it seemed like everywhere I looked, people were looking to numb or chemically alter their existence? Why was I giving up something that I also seemed to enjoy? The reason why I was seeking clarity was much more dynamically inspired than just wanting to reconnect with myself. And no, I am not in AA, I have never gotten a DUI, and I don't think I was an alcoholic, although I did overdo it probably a little too often. The reason that I quit drinking was because I was preparing for something. Something big. And I knew that it was going to be earth shattering. I was sure that what I was about to do had the potential to ruin me. What I was about to do was going to be break my heart in more ways than it had ever broken before. I needed to prepare and to become stronger. I set out to become mentally tougher, to get clear, and to remove anything that was potentially blocking me from being the best possible version of myself during the worst time of my life. I was about to file for divorce.
Six months before I filed for divorce is when I quit drinking. I was taking a proactive approach to protect my mental health before going through something incredibly dark. As someone who has lived with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, I had finally gotten to a place in my life where I had become self-aware enough to call myself out and recognize habits that were no longer contributing to the best possible version of Mara. I arrived to that level of self-awareness through my yoga and meditation practice. Yoga and meditation are powerful tools that invite you to explore new levels of self-discovery from a place of compassion, empathy and non-attachment. Non-attachment to your feelings and your thoughts. In yoga and meditation we practice observing our thoughts and observing our feelings as if we are just a spectator. We have feelings but we are not our feelings. We have thoughts but we are not our thoughts. If this is true (it is) then we can learn to control our reaction to these feelings and thoughts. Our thoughts and feelings do not define who we are when we practice non-attachment to them. How freeing!
However, even as a well-practiced yogi who knows I do not have to identify with my feelings and thoughts, sometimes there are certain feelings and thoughts tied to life events that are especially powerful. Powerful enough to sneak up on us and challenge our inner world in ways we didn't know possible. The more we practice preparing for those big disruptions through yoga and meditation the more prepared we are for when they actually and inevitably arise. So as I was preparing to destroy the world as I knew it by filing for a divorce, I realized I had become aware enough to understand that I must remove anything that would weaken my ability to manage my mental and emotional health during the dark days ahead. I knew that if I was going to actually heal from my heartbreak, I would need to fully experience it. I didn't want to dull the pain. I wanted to feel and fully experience every fucking heart-wrenching moment of my pain. I had to if I was going to survive it. It felt wrong to lessen the pain. I needed it. My broken marriage was deserving of a proper mourning and I knew that being present while mourning was the only way to eventually recover from the death of my marriage. So I quit drinking. And I survived.