When I first stopped drinking, I was unaware that it could be possible to enjoy things without alcohol or drugs. The alcohol was the centerpiece of any event I attended, and procuring it or making sure it was available was the first order of business. How wonderful to know that my full sensory enjoyment of simple things has magnified so much more than anything I thought was fun in my blurry, boozy haze of pseudo fun.
Having a problem with alcohol doesn’t always mean that your life crumbles into nothingness. It can look incredibly high functioning too. It can paint its nails and piece together super fun outfits, get a promotion or be a busy mom driving her kids to a plethora of after school activities. Alcohol can be all those things and still be an issue.
As I look forward to the sweet and spooky days to come, it is the perfect time to stand calm and courageous. I boldly remove my mask and let my light shine like the warm glow of an October sunset. Any fears and beliefs that no longer serve me gently fall away like leaves fluttering to the ground. I am grateful to know that I am in the perfect place. I know that what falls away gives space for new growth that will come at the perfect time.
As I look back to those days when alcohol worked its magic, I can see how it was my go-to stress reliever. I didn’t look within for the source of my stress. That would have violated my personal creed: Only the unexamined life is worth living. All I knew was alcohol rounded the edges of my stress and allowed me to stuff it away. What I failed to understand was this avoidance pattern only intensified my stress and anxiety. What I resisted persisted. So the cycle would begin again after the next day of work. On and on. Finally, I couldn’t drink enough to silence the strident voices of my stress.
I was a high bottom drunk. In my alcoholic, comparison-based mind in the early days, I perceived that as underachieving as an alcoholic. I had no DUIs, no rehab stories, no arrests… I was a high bottom drunk. But therein lies the key word – Drunk. Someone early on told me he was a high bottom too, but “just as sick as that guy living under the bridge.”
When most people talk about seeking spirituality, they are talking about becoming more spiritual or seeking practices that increase their spirituality. My quest is much more basic than that. I am wondering: What does spirituality mean? What is the definition of spirituality?
Even though I started drinking alcoholically from my very first drink about age 14-ish, I really didn’t see it as a problem at the time – nor for a long time thereafter. It seemed like fun for most of the decades that I was progressing and experimenting with drugs too. But looking back, from the get-go it was always about more, next, when, where, how… I had found a simple way to instantly feeling funnier, prettier, cooler, more alive, more at ease … Many years later, I gravitated toward the other soccer moms that thought it was a fine idea to put wine in the water cups and go out for margaritas before or after the kids’ game (not during, at least.)
Throughout the history of music, even recently with the deaths of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, there’s developed a pattern within our entertainment culture. A pattern made up of artists, their demons, and the perpetual narrative of substance abuse. It’s been apparent for years that we glamorized musicians’ partying nature with the notable slogan “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” This mantra itself has become a direct example of how prevalent the drug culture is in relation to musicians and their art. Many artists’ stories have ended tragically, with their demons on display for the whole world to see; their histories, struggles, and depictions of abuse publicized because it’s shocking, and an easy narrative to tell. But similar tales don’t always have to end in tragedy.