A Sober Awakening – How Ditching Alcohol Unearthed my Greater Self

“And there’s a glass on the table, they say it’s gonna ease all my pain. But I drink it down, and the next day I feel the same.”

-Janis Joplin

140 days ago, I squinted and shielded my eyes from the shooting lasers of the morning sun. My bedroom smelled like a familiar Merlot from the night before. My mouth parched with the thirst of an unforgivable desert sand. Rising from bed felt like my worst kind of nightmare, and the bathroom mirror reflected the familiar dread I had come to both loathe and accept. 

“Hey, you. Whoever you are. Get your shit together. You’ve got stuff to do.”

There were nights when I could speak of dreams wrapped up in the cosmos. Questions of “why” were answered with “why not? I’m ready.” I could dazzle anyone with that bubbly, champagne personality. I saw the sparkle of envy in their eyes, mixed with disdain for their own inadequate lives of surety. Why weren’t they as brave? Why did they care so much? 

There were nights before my morning reckoning, although the memories are fleeting, when I cradled that wine glass in my hands like the Holy Grail. The answer. The reason I didn’t worry about the two piles of unfolded laundry. The distraction from obsessing over that important group project with colleagues. The comforting acceptance for who I was swirling in glass stemware, whispering, “You’re okay now. I’m here.” But where was I?

There were nights I waltzed with numbness and felt sexy. Like this skin of mine was something to behold. This face was tender and inviting. These lips, full. These hips, curved like a beckoning hand as I swayed to the last dance (always the last dance) at the masquerade.

When I started to feel, I poured myself a friend and let the numbness wash over me like a wave of relief.

Santosha. 

My okay.

My stop the bleeding.

My standard-issue tourniquet.

But at some point, Numbness quit calling. He acted distant for months, and I feared I had thrown off warning signs of getting too attached. “I think I need some space,” he finally fessed. “You’re trying to turn me into someone I’m not. I’m just not ready for all that.” 

Asshole. 

The mornings were the worst without him. Just when I needed him most. Guilt and Shame replaced him and swarmed through my head like a thousand stinging bees. 

Why did you do this again?

You promised, no more.

Did you ever consider your responsibilities?

To her?

To him?

And where is that elusive debit card? Lost again?

Your car keys in the ignition? What were you thinking?

Looks like another long day of getting by.

Why can’t you drink like normal people? 

It’s time we implemented some limits on your full-throttle bottle craze

  1. Only on weekends
  2. A two-drink limit
  3. Ban the hard liquor
  4. Only on special occasions

By the afternoon, Guilt and Shame would take a hiatus.

  1. Only on weekends *Fridays nights count, right?
  2. A two-drink limit *Better make them doubles, then.
  3. Ban the hard liquor *Gotta stock up on the soft stuff. 
  4. Only on special occasions *Do Canadian and Mexican holidays count, too?

Evening comes and I screw moderation. I eat it for dinner along with my bowl of rusty nails. If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space. That’s what I always say. Come on. Give me your best shot. One with premium gold tequila will do just fine. 

140 days ago, I saw a charlatan shedding her skin in my bathroom mirror and realized it was me. My hard truths were prickly thorns, choking out my smooth talks of adventure and carefree delirium. My painted, peachy smile crafted from forgetfulness splintered to reveal the truths I wanted no one to see.

Where’s that edgy girl . . . the one building castles in the sky?

When did my zest for harnessing the wind get bottled up in the dregs of misery?

When did freedom from control become the control?

I am Socrates’ hemlock.

I am Sylvia Plath’s last swim.

I am Rasputin’s countless deaths.

I am the poison drowning myself, dying a thousand deaths. 

But that was then.

This is today.

Today plus 139 days of discovering how to live.

3,360 hours of seeing with eyes not dimmed by a shroud of guilt for who I wasn’t.

201,600 minutes of not surrendering to the web of fears tangled up in tomorrow.

12 million seconds of teaching myself to breathe in the sweet air of now.

mycuprunnethover

With clarity.

With respect. 

With truth.

Overflowing with feelings not void of pain, but absent of regret

The good and the bad teach me how to live.

How to deal without the numbness.

How to navigate this newfound freedom and tackle obstacles that once baffled me.

Today.

Right now.

mycuprunnethover with love

With gratitude for today, and 139 days prior

Today my bathroom mirror reflects a familiar face I thought I’d lost.

Good morning, you.

Beautiful you.

I thought you’d never come home.

Welcome back.

Care for a spot of tea?

Have a comment? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section or contact me at chelsea.kauchick@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe! You can also like my Cuprunnethover page on Facebook for blog updates on anxiety and stress management. Thanks for reading!

Fear as Your Compass: A Scary Story

What do you fear? Can you make a list? Or do you get prickles on the back of your neck just thinking about jotting down those heavy anchors of anxiety?

I made a list of my fears this week. Know what I learned? Fear is the equal and opposite reaction of the heart.

See, the deepest part of my heart has this true north. It knows where to go. It needs no rationalizing. No reasoning. No explanation. It is and has always been. It will be there in the morning when the sun rises and when the shades are turned down for evening slumber.

But then comes along Fear, like the drunk at the party who ruins the casual conversations, hurls in the punch bowl, and passes out on my newly-laundered bedsheets, only to wake in the morning and wonder how the hell he got there. You’d think he wouldn’t be invited to the next affair, but yet there he is, his invitation clutched in his hand with a bottle of Jack in the other. Time to crash and burn, again. You asked for it.

Heart: Let’s experience the world. There’s so much unchartered territory. It’s time.

Fear: Really? What about those obligations? How can you take the world off your shoulders long enough to enjoy it, anyway?

Heart: Please don’t keep me locked in here much longer. I’m bursting at the seams.

Fear: Are you sure? I don’t think you’re ready. Why don’t you settle in to a more comfortable setting? Here, I’ll give you a few distractions to keep you busy. Makes the days go by faster, you know.

Heart: You’re giving me someone else’s problems? Honestly, It’s like I’m talking to a brick wall. Look, why don’t you just get out of my way. I know where I’m headed.

Fear: Ah, but dear Heart, did you forget what you’d leave behind? What will the others think? What makes you entitled to do what you want? Selfish! That’s what you are. And just when I was starting to like you…

Mind: Well, Heart, you know he’s right. it isn’t in your nature to hurt anyone. Just yesterday, you invited a down-and-out friend to join you for tea in your chambers despite your overbooked schedule. And oh dear, it looks like she left things in a mess! Better get this place cleaned up before your next guest! Where was it you said you wanted to go, again?

Heart: Ugh, not you, too! I could keep this place clean if you would stop convincing me to invite guests who overstay their welcome. I know you’re both worried about me, but I assure you, my map is pretty reliable.

Fear: Must I remind you, Heart, of the last time you went out on a whim? Oh, how easily you forget! You lost poor Mind along the way and then all hell broke loose. You failed then. You will fail again.

Mind: I know you mean well, Heart, but last time you raced ahead and I couldn’t catch up. There I was, lost in the wilderness with my list of to-dos just getting bigger and bigger while you were out gallivanting to God knows where….

Heart: I knew where. I know where now. Let me go.

Fear: If you insist. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Mind: Wouldn’t tomorrow be a better day to start, instead?

Heart: <face plant>

A wise friend of mine told me that if I’m living with one leg in the past and the other in the future, I’m pissing on the present. With my list of fears in front of me, I realized how piss-soaked my “right nows” had gotten. So, I did something to stay vigilant of the present. I grabbed a lighter and lit a flame, and watched my list of fears slowly but surely burn into powdery embers.

Note to Mind: It’s time to take a backseat. Heart knows where she’s going. Stick with her. Keep her in check, but never in line.

Note to Fear: You’re an asshole. Back off unless there’s a real wolf afoot, rather than the one you’re parading to be.

Note to Heart: Go. I’ve got your back.

Have a comment? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section or contact me at chelsea.kauchick@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe! You can also like my Cuprunnethover page on Facebook for blog updates stress management. Thanks for reading!