Written by: Denell Nawrocki, MA
I was never the crazy drunk who blacked out and forgot what the night entailed. Sure in my college years I had some nights (and days) where things got a little out of hand, but I never felt like it was a problem.
As I entered into my late twenties, those wild nights of raging and binging ceased to exist, but alcohol remained present in my life.
Wine with dinner. Cocktails with friends. Sake at a new restaurant. Buy a bottle of Organic wine to celebrate. Going out to a venue? Gotta try their signature drink. Going to a concert or some event? Sure, let's bring the flask filled with whiskey...because whiskey goes with everything.
There was never a celebration or a gathering without alcohol.
Getting together with family? Let's drink!
Alcohol coursed through my life like a liquid thread; connecting one event to another, one evening to another. It seemed to be the continuous 'thing' that my life centered around.
And I began to feel terrible.
I began to notice how whenever I drank, a portion of myself would emerge that I did not like. I would pick fights with my partner. I would get emotional for no reason. I developed a SERIOUS judgmental mindset. I felt bloated. My liver and kidneys would ache.
I began to notice that I turned to alcohol to 'feel better', 'feel relaxed', to 'feel love'.
Sexual intimacy laced with alcohol seemingly appeared to be more care-free and wild, yet undoubtedly would crumble into body-disconnection and emotional upheaval.
With every glass of wine and every cocktail, I noticed how my barometer of AUTHENTIC love became more and more skewed.
I had thoughts like, "Am I only in the partnership because we drink together? Is there real love?" or "Why can't I just take care of myself instead of needing a drink?". or "Is it really normal to go to happy hour by yourself just to seek out conversation with others?"
The moment which brought my decade-long rendezvous with alcohol to a screeching halt occurred one evening at Ramen Gaijin- a popular Asian bistro in Sebastopol, CA.
My partner and I were enjoying a lovely meal together, celebrating both of our successes with entrepreneurial endeavors, and of course, there was alcohol. Two carafs of sake were imbibed in less than an hour, and I felt the familiar warmth of the alcohol coursing through my blood. And then it happened.....
I felt my mind be taken over. I felt my thoughts change. I felt my heart close down. I felt my Love shut off. I felt the alcohol take ahold of the pleasure I was feeling, and suffocated it until there was no more.
Suddenly, mean and cruel words spilled out of my mouth like venom towards my partner, who only minutes before was being washed in my Loving presence. Judgement, harsh criticisms, assumptions, and malice spewed from my mouth as I watched like a third-party experience. My internal self was left in horror as the toxic energy emanated from me towards him, and then redirected back to me.
We got home and I collapsed in puddle of emotion and apologies.
"It wasn't me! It was the alcohol!" I exclaimed- attempting to put a bandage over the emotional damage I had done.
It was in that moment, on the ground crying my eyes out, feeling completely out of control and out of Love, did I make my decision.
Alcohol is to no longer be a part of my life. It was in this moment of surrender did the small spark of true, deep authentic Self Love ignite, and a new way of Being was birthed within me.
I have not touched any form of alcohol in over 30 days, and I can honestly say that my life has transformed.
Where there was once judgement and continuous criticism of others (in my mind), there is now compassion, openness and warmth. Fear and doubt have been replaced with courage and faith, and for the first time in my life I can HONESTLY say that I LOVE MYSELF.
I have spent a lot of time tracking where alcohol would have been inserted into my daily existence, and noticed what I have replaced it with.
Self care. Spending time in nature or with friends (in a sober environment). Practicing yoga or exercising. Writing. SInging. Dancing. Cooking. Reading.
Dreaming. Envisioning. Being Inspired.
I see now how alcohol was a lovely excuse for me to NOT be in my heart, and to NOT be in true Love. Love meaning connection. Love meaning authentic vulnerability. Love meaning present awareness.
Alcohol gave me the illusion of feeling connected and in Love, but it was just that:
Although it was terrible and difficult at the time, I am eternally grateful for that rock-bottom emotional experience at Ramen Gaijin. Had it not occurred, I may still have been living under the veil of illusion of Love.
And now, with sobriety, I am confidently walking on the path of Love, free of fear and free of self doubt.
I am coming closer to existing in a truly authentic state, and that would have been impossible for me if I continued to drink.
Not everyone has a problem with alcohol and not everyone will experience inebriation in the same fashion as I. Even so, if you do drink, I invite you to notice what occurs in the region of your Heart and your feelings of Love when the alcohol courses through your system. There may be a hidden message there waiting to be heard.
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