A Certain Place
I’ve always been a headstrong woman. Yup, even as a kid. Can you just see it? My hand on my hip, my Ogilvey home-permed red hair bouncing and my stork-like skinny legs dancing wildly to the music of David Bowie. Quite the sight to behold, you can imagine.
I’ve always been a passionate and emotional gal. In college, I studied dance performance, and then after suffering an ankle injury while rock climbing 3 Coronas deep, as a registered nurse and APRN. It certainly takes a lot of moxie to make it in either of those professions, and I suitably held my own. I got married to a man who sent shivers through my body on first contact. We soon relocated to Fairfield county from Detroit, and have since been blessed with two baby boys. Nothing there has lessened my intensity or drive, to be sure.
I was always used to being somewhat talented, and completing tasks reasonably well, and I wasn’t prepared for the hearty dose of surrender that came my way with parenthood. Coming from a place of high expectations and achievement, and learning how to relinquish control over the state of my house, my schedule, my body, my sleep – hell, even what I eat (when’s the last time you inhaled your kids remaining chicken nuggets??) – was just so challenging. But I was able to numb that frustration and overwhelm with wine… And it was all good.
To be completely honest, it would’ve been easier to name all the occasions I would find myself drinking alcohol, versus when I would be comfortable not imbibing. It was my preference to liven up an occasion or event with a tasty beverage. Growing up in the Midwest there was plenty of beer at family functions, and running in a punk rock crowd was certainly not done sober.
Life was always so busy – grad school, my work (as a nurse practitioner, dance teacher, yoga teacher), marriage, moves, and being a mama. I was navigating it all, but it was a rare day I didn’t drink in the evenings. From my certain place I was still “fully functioning”, but becoming very familiar with stores along all of my routes. I found myself staying up alone after my husband had gone to bed and drinking, celebrating my ME time.
I could see that my compulsion was proving time and time again to be harmful and out of alignment with the health sustaining practices I purported as an APRN and yogini, and most importantly, a mother. But I continued to seek relief from the intensity of overscheduling, the constant demands of motherhood, sustaining a marriage while parenting two young kids, and fitting-in in Fairfield. The only way that seemed to be possible amidst it all was TO DRINK.
We live in a country where you can purchase a wine glass labeled “Mommy’s Sippy Cup” and Kathie Lee Gifford openly imbibes before noon on national television. Cosmos are the quintessential girlfriend door prize, and all over Fairfield recycling bins contain wine bottles from the week prior. It is not surprising that the amount of alcohol consumption by women has increased with 47% of white women reported being regular drinkers, up from 37% in 1992 (Glasser, 2013). Our expanding reality is heavy with the overlapping roles of career women and business owners, caregivers and mothers, volunteers, daughters, wives (and sometimes recreationists). It is epidemic, the women who maintain this certain place of “Functioning Alcoholic.”
When I started to refer to myself as an alcoholic to a dear drinking friend of mine, she would correct me to and say that she preferred the term lush… It was enough to perpetuate the belief that I was still Not an alcoholic. It was in one of my first AA meetings with my first sponsor that I publicly declared myself an alcoholic, and it was incredibly freeing to finally admit to others, in broad daylight, and sober, that this was definitely not the norm. Presently, I don’t regularly refer to myself as such, but I know in my heart of hearts that there is no way in hell that alcohol and I can ever share this body.
With the recent observation of Memorial Day, and being just short of my 2nd anniversary of sobriety, I am thrilled that these quintessential party weekends are getting easier to navigate with seltzer alone. It was July 13th, 2014 that I entered into sober, authentic living. And by authentic, I mean no holds barred, cranky, pissy, weepy, outburst-y, humbled and amazing. For all it has been and is yet to be, it is my new way of living: in my truest self without the aiding and abetting of alcohol. Hallelujah!
I am so grateful for my family; my husband and our sons – they gave me the much needed wake up call to change, and it was a long time coming. Unfortunately, I didn’t value the present moment, nor my health enough to take steps before, but I thank my lucky star-stuffed soul that I finally got a clue. The mind can be such a bastardly opponent, right?? We can become so damn skillful at creating mental novellas that cast us into a slurry of self-degradation and loathing. We rationalize our behavior because of what is presented on television “reality” shows or at parties with friends. I’ve spent many years circuit training that skill set. All being said, it was the fear for my children that finally resonated enough and forced me to realize that I could never drink alcohol again.
I worked with AA and a sponsor for some time, but I find brilliance in the simplicity, yet sheer genius of the comprehensive wisdom that Yoga and Ayurveda offers those who struggle with addictive behaviors. It drives us time and time again to reach for something outside of ourselves for satisfaction as we seek the infinite in the temporary. I am ever grateful for my dear teacher Durga Leela, the creator of Yoga Of Recovery, and her way of presenting the patterns of addiction, with the 12 steps, yoga and Ayurveda. Her eloquent integration of the Vedic arts and sciences has been life changing for me.
Now I have redefined my Certain Place. I’m not a super active member of AA, although I will get my ass to a meeting if I am struggling. I am not currently working with a sponsor, but I have a handful of sober superstar soulmates that I enjoy supporting and being supported by. And I practice. My practices keep me rooted. My breath, my movement, my meditation, the mindful pauses that stop me short of the cliffs. My beautiful family. My beloved Mother Earth. A grateful addict am I, and standing tall in this certain place.