Walk slowly – Danna Faulds
It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in me settles, softens, makes
space for imperfection. The harsh voice
of judgment drops to a whisper and I
remember again that life isn’t a relay
race; that we will all cross the finish
line; that waking up to life is what we
were born for. As many times as I
forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I’m going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk
slowly into the mystery.
I haven’t had a drink of alcohol for three years. While I never considered myself addicted, I now know that I have the genetic predisposition for addiction. It is now understood that addiction can be considered a disease, or as a genetic issue, and there is a place for pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, and behavior modifications that might be needed to overcome addiction.
Here’s my story with alcohol…
When I first started teaching yoga, my classes were on Friday nights 5:30-6:30 pm. I still remember teaching and not fully being present during class as the anticipation of going home to have a drink was inevitably there each class I taught. It was a strong voice within me. I didn’t know how to make it quiet – except by letting it dictate my behavior. At that time, I didn’t recognize this need for what it really was – dependance, addiction, disease. At that time, it was something I very much did want. It had become my way to self-soothe after a long week working at a full-time job that I detested.
Over the years between then and now, I went through periods – the longest was 4 months when I was training for my fastest marathon – of not drinking. Each time, I told myself that I could stop drinking at any time. I couldn’t. I reverted to how it had been, justifying it as “normal” because that is what I had learned. I didn’t understand why.
Initially, I was drinking on the weekends, Friday and sometimes Saturday. After I quit my full-time job, the pattern became Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Fast forward to Winter 2020 and I found myself drinking every night of the week. Although one drink or two was my limit, the glasses and the pours got larger and larger.
Each morning, I woke up fuzzy-headed and slow to get moving, I told myself that I would stop. I didn’t like the person I had become. And yet, I continued.
I recall posting a very raw video onto social media about my struggle and a friend reached out. She suggested that I check out the work of Annie Grace and “This Naked Mind.” I did. That started a cascade of events from so-called “quit lit” to social support groups and a lot of introspection.
Something had shifted in me. I won’t go into all of the details of the patterns and emotions behind my drinking here.
Scratching deeper, I dove into how I was feeling when I craved a drink and acknowledged what the act of picking up a drink was for me. Drinking had become my way to self-soothe.
Once I got to the emotions behind it all, the patterns and learned behaviors, I was able to unwind.
Here’s what helped:
- First I noticed when I had the urge (a pause)
- Next, I sat with the feelings behind the behavior – naming them (acknowledge)
- Then I looked at my past and recalled memories, thoughts, patterns associated with that feeling and need for fulfillment (listen)
- Finally I took action (act)
When I felt the urge, I would replace pouring a drink with something that was meaningful to me. Things that helped were: reading and writing poetry (there is a lot of research now being done on using words to heal), taking a long walk or doing a strength workout (which increases dopamine just like drinking does), doing yoga, or calling a friend. I made sure that every day – at least for the first mont – I was busy doing something that made me feel soothed and connected, but in a different way – connected to creating, connected to my body or connected to other people. It seemed to work.
And yet, this is not about giving up alcohol. This is my personal journey through one struggle. Trust that there have been many more.
Listed below are some support groups (beyond AA) and resources that might be useful for you if alcohol IS something you’d like to cut or lessen in your life.
Reminder that this is not medical advice. I am not a medical doctor, nor therapist. I am a Health and Wellness Coach who has struggled and overcome. I’d welcome the chance to hear your story.