Staying dry?

Its been three years since I last had a drink. There was no judgement in my decision to give up; I felt I simply had to, my body was shouting at me to do so. I needed to get a foothold on my other health issues and this habit was only holding me back.

Lately, I feel the nostalgia around it calling me back, partly as my daughter joins the throngs of young drinking people and feels saddened that her parents don’t (how ironic since, when she was younger, she hated that we did). Part of me wants to accommodate her and every other person that ever holds out a drink to me; I want to be able to go with the flow. I so dislike imperatives and, if this is dry, how much harm could a little wetness do, like a shower of rain in a visiting season?

Also because we are soon going to be staying somewhere that the whole culture of drinking will be in our face again due to the organic grapes that form part of the biodynamic way of life. Like the lovingly prepared plant-based dishes we will enjoy at every meal, I am aware that alcohol will be ever-present along with the chance to sample it, watch it being made, learn how to pair it with food, to make laughter and conversation over it with other guests from far and wide, that ice-breaker of old. As the sensual, earth-type that I am, I love all of that and long to take part fully. These are nice, enthusiastic, people who mean well (those holding out things we still, personally, need to think twice about often are; there is no “one size fits all”). Wouldn’t it be great to just graciously accept everything they have to offer? Yes, I know I am on the verge of being seduced and it would be so easy to tell myself that, in this context, it would be OK…

Yet in the dead of night an uneasiness surfaces over and over again. I feel the certainty in my gut that to do so is to choose a whole other trajectory to the one that feels like my joy; one with other outcomes, snowballing though they merely distort with great subtlety at first…little actions here, conversations there, mostly a change in my feeling about myself, plus an unconscious habit reignited, then a sea-change in our domestic life. Our way of being with each other, in more ways than I can put my finger on, bears little resemblance to our life of more than three years ago when opening wine was such a knee-jerk habit. These days, my sleep has a different quality, I awake with crystalline thoughts, the feeling in my body has altered so much it is beyond description, my personality feels consistent and I own all my behaviours, I live without regrets or misplaced actions. I simply haven’t missed drink; nor have I felt lacking when I’ve needed to be social or funny or confident (quite the opposite, actually). When I imagine a return to that old drinking habit, even if I tell myself it will be infrequent, I see it as a loosening of the mortar of all that I’ve built…like harsh weather erosion against a pristine pathway whose stones have been purposely placed there, leading directly to where I want to be going, somewhere new and exciting. That other way, with its baggier joints, the occasional pothole for stumbling over, so many distractions and detours and a ditch to sleep it off, leads somewhere I like less yet which is powerfully familiar…

To resist what everyone else will be immersed in doing for a week will be hard and will test me a great deal more than I’ve been tested by making my quiet choice not to drink at home.

Yet I didn’t come here for an easy way, I came here to be purposeful.

And my purpose, that other way, feels a little vaguer, more wooly, lost in the mists of forgetfulness. It feels like throwing myself back in with the commonplace and the consensus to be a little dumbed-down, to rub off my edges and “the point” I came with. That way, I don’t like myself as much and that feels almost worse of all, having worked at this so hard.

And for what? For that warm fuzzy feeling, that addiction we have to joining the lowest common denominator, to making ourselves “the same” as others in order to belong with them. Just like the way we are addicted to sharing tales of mishap and woe in order to have things we can all relate to with each other, never noticing how it drags us down, keeps our light dimmed, holds us back and gobbles up our uniqueness.

And oh how we have been in these places so many times before…a warm, sleepy path of familiarity. Lifetime after lifetime; this is why this profound sense of comfort and recognition tugging at me like a Christmas-feeling, a longing to return home, whatever the cost and the predictability. But that’s not where I want to be headed, this time around, this uncommon life (I decided that a long time ago). I aim for exception and newness, not repeats.

It’s so interesting to me, how compelling this herd mentality is; why can’t I just decide against having the drink without all this deep contemplation? Why do I feel I have to be sure before I even get into its vicinity? Because to go against it is to face up to a largely unacknowledged fear of abandonment, of being left out in the cold, that lies deep inside most of us. When people around you drink and you choose not to, it’s like watching them set sail on a particular sea and you left standing alone on the shore. It tugs at our most primal terror.

It would be easier if I didn’t relate so much to these people I’m about to spend time with but I do, in all the other ways; and I want to relax with them, to immerse in their micro-culture, their hospitality. To say “no” is to feel like you seem ungrateful, resistant or negating of what they “do”.

But where and how they live, the grape is part of another culture to mine; the sunshine, the food, the livelihood, the family life made up of many generations celebrating life together. In my life, drink has taken me to darker places. Was I ever an alcoholic? Yes, I suspect I was; it’s easier and more commonplace than we think. I come to it with my track record and the memories of that stored in my cells. This is why no two people have the same decision to make when it comes to drink (or anything else); our emotional memory, held in our cells, determines so much of what comes of the repeat behaviours, even when we have done so much work to wipe the slate clean. Can I be quite sure I’ve wiped that cellular memory clean through all my deep-healing and healthy ways? I’d have to be so sure and these powerful misgivings I have, disturbing my dawn hours, tell me otherwise.

So, I know, I need to choose this outcome through intention. There is no room for unconscious autopilot, which is what addiction amounts to; the chemical imperative that takes us over in ways that we hardly notice. Those lost hours of numbed-down senses undermine the desire and ability to be as crystal as I have become; I forget myself, forget what that other place even feels like, though I weep to leave it, even for a moment, so the remorse associated with drinking has only grown bigger. And the very action of deliberately poisoning the body for a feeling of relaxation goes against my higher intention and the whole focus of these last few years, which is to regenerate the body, to reinvigorate every cell.

I know drink’s symptoms of old; the toxic rush whose swoon feels like a facsimile of relaxation and bliss, then the heat and intense inflammation in the body as it works to burn it off, the lowered mood, the self-loathing and regret. I see in it so clearly the chemicals of certain age-old cultural beliefs, disempowering beliefs, released back into the blood.  If, due to good fortune of genetics, perhaps a wonderful lack of cultural or personal baggage, you can drink without this effect then drink away but, if not, you must choose carefully indeed.

My high-sensitivity only makes me feel every reaction in the body more minutely, even when I am under its influence, like a lucid nightmare; so maybe I react more extremely than others to drink (and why would I expect this to be any different from any other aspect of my highly sensitive experience of everything). The misplaced actions, the regrets, the embarrassments, the stupidity only add to this until I’m mortified and ashamed at myself, inside and out.

I came to notice, last time I drank, how the higher my vibration became, the harder it was to cope with the depths of that alcoholic deep-dive that once felt temporary, like a holiday from my high-energy, which can wear me out at times. At some point, that holiday became a hell; as the breach between those vibrations became wider, like a grand canyon cleaved through the landscape, and the climb back to myself, the next day, ever harder and more demoralising to endure. I felt lower and more forsaken each time I went there, on less and less volume of drink; it was like the kind of bereavement that leaves you on your knees and almost unable to stand up again. Made worse because I had done this to myself; the betrayal of betrayals, a broken promise to my higher self.

Again, if I dislike what I remember of these effects so much, if I am just so conscious of them, why is this still a topic of contention; why do I even consider a replay…this still continues to fascinate me.

So here I am, caught between this benign-seeming, socially acceptable behaviour plus my longing to be “normal”, if only for a week…and the  inner warnings sounding their extreme alarm for me not to go there; not even on the pretension that it would be temporary. And while I dislike imperatives, preferring the freedom of new choice in every moment, there are some things I know I would never consider doing…murder, for instance, and maybe this? Maybe I need to reach such a conclusion, to be clear in the face of an unconcious urge that still holds sway at some level of my being.

This is how hard it can be when we switch from following the mind to following the heart, though we have told ourselves so many times that this should be the easiest thing of all. Oh no, not easier, just a little more obvious when we are on track as that feeling of rightness, relief and even joy washes over us.

In the short-term, following the heart might make us feel more isolated and separate than we did when we lived in the separatist world of the mind. This is its paradox.

We are also, now, getting into much more personal, or individually unique, territory; this can also be disorienting as we are so used to thinking as a pack. What is “right” for one person may not be “right” for another and this is subject to constant evolution as we explore our individual adventures of self-expression. Again, I make no judgement about drinking; I just wanted to explore out loud how I have been processing my own dilemma and just how retrograde the habit has felt compared to where I have been. If you can still drink and all it does is give you warm-fuzzy, joyful feelings plus radiant health and added relaxation into the bargain then as you were –  drink away. The non-compatibility  I have personally noticed with the crystalline frequencies doesn’t make alcohol “wrong” but, perhaps, suggests its appeal will fall away for many as they explore other ways of getting their kicks in the years to come.

We are not infallible on this road to our higher consciousness, even though we may notice we have the wind behind us once we get on our way. Part of that awakening consciousness is to be aware of the potential for what feels like further hardship (we are still human…) and the paradoxical nature of the territory…and to notice where we are still vulnerable; where old addictions and fears draw us back to what no longer resonates for reasons such as familiarity or wanting to belong. From time to time, we may need to think into these areas as well as using the heart (the head is not our enemy; it can be our servant when we need to be quite clear…). Which is what I am doing here, in readiness for whatever I decide, which remains open, yet I am on a better footing, now, to  approach this decision openly, without any pre-conceptions or an agenda, except to serve the highest outcome.

About Helen White

Helen White is a full-time professional artist (painting moments of everyday radiance in oil on canvas), a photographer, fabric designer and published writer with several blogs, on various topics, to her name. Light on Art is her art-related blog sharing recent artworks and inspiration.Living Your Whole Life is a health and lifestyle blog sharing all the many highlights of learning how to transform your health and wellbeing (spiralling out of ten years recovering from fibromyalgia). Spinning the Light is a very broad-based platform of self-discovery where she explores the everyday alchemy that is available to all beings just as soon as they open up to life's fullest potential.Helen White Photography is a portal for sharing her Fine Art photographs which are available as Limited Edition prints.
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4 Responses to Staying dry?

  1. cathytea says:

    I have a similar situation with sugar . I used to bake with butter , sugar, and flour. As my vibration rose, those ingredients stopped being food and became toxins , hindering my immune system . Eliminating those poisons has had a social effect , as I can’t join in with coworkers or relatives who use sugar.

    But I can’t question the wisdom of my energy body, and my friends have come to understand and don’t give me grief when I turn down their offers of sugar laden foods.

    All the best as you navigate this passageway.

    • Helen White says:

      Thank you and yes, I also have that going on…I tried to go back to favourite dairy foods, including butter, a year ago but it didnt go well and its been a long time since I could tolerate gluten or sugar…I’m like a sugar radar when its hidden in things and, of course, its one of the reasons I dont get on well with alcohol. As you say, these behaviours can feel self-excluding…eating cake or biscuits together is the classic all-inclusive social behaviour when you go to famly or other gatherings, workshops (even yoga!), work, holiday destinations (you start to notice this universal behaviour everywhere when you can’t take part) except for me its not and Ive had to adapt to that. It was refreshing though, last week in London, to find several places serving vegan gluten-and-sugar free cake…hopefully things are getting easier for us as more people require these tweaks.

  2. cathytea says:

    Also , a good friend of mine who’s been in A A for decades often mentions the distinction between being dry and being sober… for her, sober means health .

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