Sunday, 15 April 2018

A spiritual awakening

A couple of years ago I joined my husband for a business lunch with a potential client of his.  When we offered him a drink he declined all offers of alcohol, explaining that he was giving up drinking for a year.  I asked him why he had chosen to stop drinking, primarily because I found it quite bizarre to meet someone who was willingly abstaining from alcohol without being pregnant or a raging alcoholic.  He replied that he had heard that if you gave up drinking for a significant amount of time you were meant to experience a 'spiritual awakening' and he wanted to see if this phenomena was true.  I remember taking a slug of my wine and thinking he was a bit of a weird hippy.  However, I'm now over 100 days into my alcohol-free life and I'm beginning to see that there may be a hint of truth in this.

To date, my three favourite things about being sober are:

1. Time

Now that I am free from hangovers and the apathy that accompanies them, I have so much more time on my hands.  I get up early every day with ease and I have reinvested a lot of my spare time into looking after myself properly.  This includes doing yoga, swimming or hiking on a daily basis, and reconnecting with things I used to love doing that had fallen by the wayside, like reading and writing.
Evening hike up The Peak

2. Clarity

Over the past three months I have noticed a gradual defogging of my mind.  Slowly, without alcohol, I have been freed from my struggle with anxiety, anger, guilt, shame and sadness.  No longer is my brain racing and swirling with negativity and regrets.  The outcome has been two-fold.  Firstly, I have been able to focus on the areas of my life that matter and most recently, this has given me the chance to start revisiting goals and dreams that I now feel equipped to fulfil.  Secondly, I have started to be much kinder to and accepting of myself.

3. Calmness

There is significant research to highlight the correlation between drinking and anxiety.  I used to medicate with alcohol when I was feeling stressed and anxious, but now I can see that alcohol only exacerbated my anxiety.  Over the past 103 alcohol-free days my mind has slowly calmed, my thought processes have become far more rational and there is less negative, distracting chitter-chatter in my head.  This has made it far easier to deal with every day annoyances and to let go of irritations instead of dwelling on them.

The amalgamation of these three elements has lead to a small epiphany or 'spiritual awakening'.  I am starting to rediscover and reconnect with a part of me that I had lost and I am starting to like myself  rather than relying on validation from others.  I recognise traits and passions from the girl I was before I started numbing life and hiding behind my alcohol security blanket. Rediscovering the me that had been forgotten, ignored and hidden for so many years and finding that she's a kinder, gentler, calmer, more compassionate, more introverted, more forgiving, more creative, more introspective and less impulsive woman, has been both uplifting and enlightening.  This poem perfectly expresses how I am feeling right now as a result of my 'spiritual awakening'!

Love after Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the others' welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

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