“Did I miss your blog post today?” my boss asked me last Thursday. “Oh no, I post on Thursdays,” I replied. “But today is Thursday,” she said with a smile. “Oh my god, you’re right! I forgot what day it was; I completely forgot to post!”
As I continued working, I found myself silently berating myself for having forgotten to write my weekly blog post. How could I have forgotten what day it was? How could I have forgotten to do something I do nearly every week? The few times I haven’t posted have been due to holidays or my birthday, or a sudden loss in my community. Moments where it has made more sense to live rather than to process. So what happened?
As I heard the voice within me question where my head was at, I responded to it with my other voice, the voice that has been growing stronger and stronger with each day since I quit drinking. I had forgotten to write my weekly post because I had actually been following two of my recent commitments to myself: to be present, and to be gentle with myself.
Last Thursday morning I woke early, made myself coffee, and went outside with the current book I was reading. I sat in the morning sun reading and sipping coffee, then I headed inside and did yoga in my living room, the sun streaming through the open window, a warm breeze lazily drifting in. After yoga and a brief moment of meditation on my mat, I took my dog, Tallulah, for a walk. It was a beautiful day. As I walked, I breathed in deeply, savoring the smell of the flowers that hung, dripping petals, from a neighbor’s tree. I paused whenever Tallulah paused to sniff her surroundings, following her lead instead of rushing her like I sometimes do.
When we returned home from our walk I took a shower, listening to a long-forgotten radio station on Pandora. I sang along, smiling and allowing myself to fully savor the sensations of water and music. I love listening to music as I take a shower, though I rarely do it. After my shower, instead of getting dressed I put on my bathing suit and headed back outside to sit in the sun and continue reading my book. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading, setting my book down at intervals to close my eyes and turn my face up to the sun, until I had to get ready for work at 4pm.
I had forgotten to write my weekly post because I had become lost in living, breathing, moving, reading, soaking up the sun. Everything else had fallen away as I had taken care of myself and also taken care of something other than me. I had treated myself and my Tallulah with care and patience, moving at our own pace, not rushing or worrying or straining. Even my yoga practice had been slow and gentle, rather than intense and imbued with a sense of pressure, of pushing myself. I had become lost in my breath and the slow movements of my practice. I had become lost in the treat of having warm water to clean myself with, of gentle music keeping me company, of the sun warming my skin and birds darting to and fro on my patio. What could be a better reason?
When I realized this at work, the other voice within me subsided. It was okay that I had forgotten to write because I had spent a much-needed day relaxing and treating myself with care. Though I endeavor to slow down, my schedule doesn’t always permit me to do so. Mondays and Wednesdays are spent at my internship, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are spent at my restaurant job. Sunday is my only day where I have no commitments, though Sundays are usually spent catching up with friends or spending time with my boyfriend; we have such opposite schedules that we don’t see each other that often, though we live together. I do sometimes have time alone, with just myself and my thoughts, but that’s just it: I’m often accompanied by my thoughts. Thoughts of what needs to get done, what comes next, worrying about the future or recalling the past. It is a rare luxury to be alone and savor the time, to truly enjoy it and spend it in a worthwhile fashion. For sometimes I spend my precious free time watching TV or scrolling mindlessly through social media. I won’t beat myself up for that, but I will admit that I felt so much better spending the day not staring at a screen.
This week as I sit down to write, having remembered this time, I am approaching my weekly practice without the usual pressure that I so often unintentionally bring to the table. I got up early this morning and had coffee with my boyfriend before he had to go to work. I did my yoga and had a healthy breakfast. And now here I am, one of my favorite places to be, writing something new and with a new sense of freedom. This freedom comes from slowly learning how to truly care for myself. It also comes from knowing, for the two go hand in hand, that this Saturday, February 20th, will mark a year since I gave up what no longer served me: drinking.
This past year has gone by remarkably fast. I honestly can’t believe that it’s already been nearly a year since I changed my life by removing alcohol from it. It’s been a year of milestones, of self-discovery, of truly living wild and free for the first time. I am untethered from a source of false comfort, I am free from the confines of alcohol. It’s also been a year of struggles, struggling to find out who I am, struggling to find comfort and ease without my old methods of self-medicating. But for every hardship that has crossed my path, I feel that I can now say that I have come out the other side. I am not magically perfect since quitting drinking, but I am better.
I am here, right now, because of a willingness to change, but also because along the way I have discovered what works for me. I thought about how I have come to this point, and I decided to write a list. I have been able to be alcohol-free for almost a year because of these factors (and countless others), which are by no means rules. I just wanted to share my personal list with you:
Ask yourself questions
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Surround yourself with support
Be okay with being alone
Spend time with family
I am better because of my boyfriend, family, and friends, whom have supported me throughout this journey. I am better because I have found other outlets when I feel sad or stressed: feeling, communicating, writing, meditating, laughing, yoga, walking, reading, trying new things. I am better because I now see the world much differently than I used to. I have changed my mind about what the world has to offer, what I myself have to offer, and I have become better because of it. I am not necessarily a different person. But I am grateful that I have given myself this chance, and been supported by the people I love, to become a better one. I can’t wait to see what happens next. But I also know that I have all the time in the world. There’s no rush. All in good time.
I wish you a wild, free life.