Ten months ago I made a life changing decision. Ten months ago a habit of more than three decades was stamped out in the blink of eye. Something in me just shifted in a momentous way. Something that required no cognitive load at all just burst from within and changed my life in an instant. I stopped drinking.
At the age of 45 something inside me just said “enough”. It was akin to receiving a Divine delivery, a symbolic message in a bottle. There was no premeditation, there was no plan. Not a single thought had been directed towards giving up the toxic elixir and yet there I was, standing at the precipice of a new life without my oldest “friend”.
My relationship with alcohol began around 13 years old. Looking back it was a means to block out trauma, a means to be swallowed up in a black abyss where I didn’t have to think, feel or do. My relationship with alcohol continued throughout a very long and turbulent period of my life. I sought solace in many a bottle of wine to seek refuge from abuse. I returned again and again to the strange safety that the black abyss could offer me. It was of course a coping mechanism and while I didn’t drink habitually, I did use it to escape mentally, physically and emotionally from the chaos. It was simply a far easier road to take at the time, a friendlier demon to face. It was a very welcome distraction.
After spending years in an abusive relationship I realised that I would very likely die if I couldn’t find the strength to take steps to escape from that life. I needed clarity to create change and so I replaced alcohol with courage. I meditated, journalled and took regular energy clearing sessions. With calmness came the clarity and courage I desperately needed. After taking control of my life it changed considerably for the better and I no longer sought shelter in the arms of a bottle of wine. But instead of wiping it out completely I continued drinking alcohol as a reward. It was a reward for a hard week, a reward for the hard times; and it was socially acceptable and a norm in every setting. It was everywhere and a part of everyone that I knew.
Then one day I noticed an old pattern had reared its head. I was again relying on the distraction that alcohol offered. As soon as I recognised that the symbolic bottle washed up against me, nudged my feet, and the message I unfurled from inside said “enough”. In that moment I saw how much of a distraction from life alcohol had offered. I realised just how many things I had covered with a blanket and put in the too hard, too painful to deal with basket. I was dancing with the devil of distraction, distraction being nothing more than avoidance in disguise. I saw the damage to my health. I saw the damage to my finances. I saw that I had given away my power to it. I saw through it all and in that moment I was so grateful to be alive, so grateful to have finally received complete clarity and just like that I was done. I felt I had just signed and sealed a sacred contract to honour me, myself. There would be no going back. It was my turn to take to the dance floor again, this time with the Divine instead of the devil of distraction.
JA Hadfield in The Psychology of Power tells us, “We lead timid lives shrinking from difficult tasks till perhaps we are forced into them or ourselves determine on them, and immediately we seem to unlock the unseen forces”. We can become so trapped by the distraction that alcohol offers and spend our entire lives in a dance through life shrinking from difficult tasks. Some may never gain clarity again and slowly dance on towards death. However, it has been said that we have two lives. The life we learn with and the life we live after that. I am blessed to have experienced both but it would be great to cut down on that learning time and go straight to the life after that, the best life, but of course we must learn from our mistakes first of all. So maybe sending a message in a bottle could offer yourself or someone else a first glimpse of a better life by offering pointed clarity.
If you could send a message to yourself or someone that you love, what would you say? What are you comfortably hanging out with in life at this time that actually does more harm than good? If you can, see yourself standing on a sandy beach with the clear waters lapping at your feet. A glass bottle washes towards you. Inside there is a message bearing your name. What would the message say? What message would you send to yourself to let you begin living a better life? Why not send one today? In the words of Joan Baez, “You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live, now.” There is no better time to start for you or anyone else.