I want to share something with you that I don’t talk about often. There is so much social stigma around this topic but I’m here to tell you that this stigma is not only bad news, it’s old news. It’s about time we dredge this topic up and make it mainstream so that we can find a way to share our own story or support a friend in it, through it or around it when the discussion comes up. I want to talk about our human desire to numb out when things get hard.
Can I go there with you?
I thought so.
I gave up alcohol a little over a year ago. I woke up on the morning after the Super Bowl with the realization that I needed to make a change and it needed to be drastic and most likely for life. No, this change had nothing to do with which team I was rooting for – (Seahawks for life!) This change had to do with a massive shift that took place while I was sleeping. It happened over night and without my knowledge that it was occurring. Sure, I had a few moments in the years leading up to this morning where I prayed for clarity on the situation but nothing came to me until this specific morning.
Nothing particularly exciting happened the day before. It was a typical game time food and drinks and awesome commercials kind of day, but I woke up the next morning thinking that I wanted more for my life. I wanted to wake up every morning feeling clear and light and ready to handle whatever the tiny toddler in my house was bringing to the party that day. I wanted to do yoga at the end of the day, or meditate, rather than dumping my hard feelings into a wine glass. I wanted to spend money on experiences rather than another run to the liquor store. I wanted a lot of things and I didn’t know how I was going to get to that point but I was well aware that I had to start somewhere.
So I did. I started with a few days of paralyzing fear as to how to unwind at the end of the day. I started with a shaky conversation with my partner as I disclosed my choice and asked for unwavering support. I started with saying “no thank you” at social gatherings and praying that nobody brought it up. I started with feeling like there was a spotlight on ‘the weird one without a drink in her hands’ at get-togethers. I started on my meditation mat 7 days later at a local retreat for people on their own journey of recovery and/or sobriety. I started by telling these people, “My name is Brittany and I am on day 7 without alcohol and they have felt like the longest days of my life.” I started and day-by-day built an entire 365+ days of choices that lead to my life expanding in profound ways.
Many things happened over the course of a year that shaped my new way of functioning in a society that has an intimate and long-term relationship with booze. I started and every day I wake up and I start again. A year later I realize that what I wanted more than anything was to know that I had it in me to do this life thing without some sort of numbing agent at the end of every day.
Life is tough, for sure, but it’s tougher when we cater to the needs of our smaller selves telling us we need something to help us check-out. Life gets smaller when we believe that we need something to numb our worry and our fear and our discomfort or boredom. Life gets bigger when we realize that we need absolutely nothing from the outside world to keep calm or to carry on. I wanted to know that I could handle life on my own. I wanted to improve the range and quality of my coping skills for when things did get hard. I needed to have healthy choices, thoughts and actions to choose from and get away from using coping tools that chipped away at my wellbeing slowly overtime.
Up until that day in February of last year, I didn’t know that I had what I needed to handle the hard times. I had no clue that I could live without a numbing agent and I would be just fine. There has been nothing more powerful in my life than coming to the conclusion that I’ve got everything I need to feel and do and be everything that this life asks of me.
You need to know that you are inherently equipped with everything you need to take on this life.
I know that I am not alone in this and I know that this extends to so many other ways of checking out in our society. We as humans have so many numbing tools at our disposal and while some are more socially acceptable than others, they all serve the same purpose; to take us out of our own fear for a few fleeting moments then deliver us the next day back to reality with the same challenges we wanted to forget about yesterday. I can’t name them for you and I don’t need to because I know that you know what I’m talking about. Only you can know if this speaks to you in anyway.
And it’s tricky, right? Because alcohol is used to both numb out and to celebrate life events which can make it confusing to try to think clearly about this topic. Food can be used as an isolating obsession or it can be formed into a cake with candles on it to celebrate another year of someone’s life. Gym time can be good for the body and mind AND it can be a way of avoiding doing what we know needs to be done outside of the gym. Shopping can add beautiful things to our home, food to our pantry and clothing to the backs of our children AND it is called “retail therapy” by our best friends and colleagues.
I talk more about how to proceed with building a bigger life, one small step at a time HERE.
So, with absolutely ZERO judgment allowed – spend some time thinking about what you are using to numb. Consider the possibility of infusing new ways of coping that will grow your life in mind-blowing ways. Let’s go BIG and BOLD together, shall we?
The things in this life that make you feel small were never intended for you, my love. Let them go.
All my Love,