At all. Not even a little. I’m not fighting cravings for it, ever. I simply don’t want it.
That comes to mind any time I think about when I took Basic.
After Basic, I had what felt like a supernatural shift in my relationship with alcohol. I used to binge drink 3-4 nights a week, and was hungover as many mornings (it was routine), but after Basic, suddenly, I couldn’t even finish one drink. I had trouble stomaching it. I started leaving three quarters of any drink I ordered sitting there on the table, forgetting it was there (compare this to before, when ordering a drink was my first focus upon going anywhere, and I was not only aware of when my drink was empty, but when it was running low, so I could promptly order another).
My friends were confused, and sometimes unsettled. They felt awkward about ordering a second drink when I had only drank a third of my first.
What’s crazy too is I didn’t even focus on this during Basic. I didn’t go into Basic thinking: “I need to drink less, I hope this workshop helps me with that.” I knew I drank to excess more often than I should, but, I didn’t see it as being something in my life that had to change. It’s Manhattan, after all, and I was young and single and had disposable income and I was living a social life. My only conscious focus during Basic, the only thing I felt I really needed to change, was that I had to start (and finish) my divorce.
So when, after Basic, I realized I felt fundamentally different about alcohol — on a deep, chemical, DNA-like level — I was surprised and confused by it. I tried to drink like I did before, because I was used to doing that when I went out, and because that was the norm for my group of friends at that time–but my body and mind just weren’t on board.
Over the next few months, I stopped fighting it. I came to terms with the fact that I just didn’t want to drink anymore. By the time Jimmy and I were seeing each other, I was past the point of being ready to stop altogether.
But, part of me wasn’t ready to let go of that familiar part of myself.
So I drank maybe 2-3 more times after that realization to a point to where I actually got buzzed. One night was at Amy’s cabaret, during LP. Jimmy and I went together. At that time, I was getting uncomfortable with the fact that my relationship with him was progressing, and I was starting to feel a lot of affection for him. I chain-drank white wine that night and decided to be super bitchy to him. I was short with him, dismissive, even cruel.
He didn’t react. He interrupted my pattern instead, and at some point, asked me what was I doing? What was my come-from? I instantly felt ashamed. Trying to ruin things was the answer, because I hate myself.
The next time I got drunk was, again, during LP. My ex-boyfriend was trying to get back together with me. I blew off Jimmy to go meet him at a bar. I got drunk, and he got drunk, and at some point he said he wanted to get back together. I didn’t answer. I went home abruptly, feeling sad. I didn’t want that kind of relationship. But, I felt sad because I didn’t know if I had it in me to have any other kind.
The last time I ever got drunk was at my friend Veronica’s bachelorette party. It was at Long Beach, so we were day-drinking on the beach. Jimmy’s extended family on his father’s side was having a large picnic in the area, and he wanted me to go. His father passed away 25 years ago, so that side of the family doesn’t see each other as often. I was pretty freaked out about it. It felt too serious, and I also just didn’t want to deal with the pressure of it. If that was what relationships required, well, I just wasn’t sure I was willing to be in one. I showed up buzzed, which ended up meaning I was moody and very disconnected. I sat at a picnic table by myself while Jimmy played softball (I turned down his offer to play). His mom and sister tried to talk to me, realizing things were not going well. I half-heartedly humored them, but I couldn’t stop focusing on how I’d rather be anywhere else. I then asked Jimmy to take me back to the train station because I was ready to go back to Manhattan. He was very upset, and hurt. That was over a year ago now.
After that, I started only having wine at weddings, or other special occasions. I usually couldn’t finish any drink I ordered, though.
The last time I had a drink was at the Red Elephant women-in-business event that Vanessa, Naomi and Brandy went to me with. They had a reception at the end with wine and appetizers, and I actually tried to force myself to look forward to it. Jimmy wouldn’t be there, I could just give myself the gift of indulging in a glass of white wine before heading home.
But, when I had the glass in my hand, it didn’t feel like a gift. It felt forced, and inauthentic. I took two sips, and my stomach wasn’t having it. But, it wasn’t just my stomach–it felt like it was my entire body saying NO.
I handed the nearly full wine glass back to the confused bartender, asking him if it was okay to leave it there on the counter.
I don’t miss alcohol, and I don’t think I ever will.
Whenever I have that thought, I get really overwhelmed with emotion.
Because, here’s the thing: in the wake of my marriage failing apart (and even before it did), going out and drinking was the ONLY source of joy in my life. It was the ONLY relief I had from the oppressive, heavy thoughts swimming in my head daily. It was the ONLY time I felt freedom and something that I felt resembled happiness.
What gets me emotional is that, now, I’ve created so much joy in my life that alcohol has become completely irrelevant and unnecessary. I’ve experienced so much pure, unadulterated happiness, connection and intimacy that the buzz from alcohol has now been revealed as a poor, cheap imitation.
And, of course, it doesn’t serve me, and never has. So what gets me emotional too is that, more and more, I’m simply unable to make choices that don’t serve me — which can only be explained by an increased sense of self-value and self-worth.
I thought of this today because I’m staffing Basic and thinking about the incredible results these folks are going to have that they can’t even conceive of now.
It’s not magic, but it’s magical.