I woke up this morning, a Wednesday, and looked at the date of January 16 and it rung a bit. I couldn’t figure out for quite a bit why the date stood out, but eventually realized that it is my first Day 1 Anniversary. It was quite a watershed moment for me. The first earnest action steps to stop drinking opened the pathways to a larger life, one that is still unfolding before me. It was a tipping point for self-care, listening to what my spirt needs to feel safe and whole; listening to my body, my conscious, my heart, to others more deeply. It has not been a straight line of growth and “betterment”, it has not been a clear goal that I’ve been striving for, but I feel different; I am sitting differently in myself than I was in January 2015.
While I have always been introspective, a good chunk of it was self-criticism, shaping, judging, fortifying. Where now I have more moments of gentleness and digging underneath my feelings to see what the roots stem from. With the help of AA, Buddhist study and meditation, I am learning to open my heart towards compassion instead of judgement and protect space in presence. Buddhism has specifically given me tools to ward off depression, anxiety and nihilism. I’m into it!
I’m coming to the end of my holiday break, an amazing 2-weeks away from work. Over half of my vacation time was spent with my mother-in-law here in Guangzhou and a bit traveling. The second half was soaking up my time lounging at home, reflecting on the year and making plans for this year as it arrives.
It’s an odd year, literally an odd year. I feel like I am drawn to even years, they are easily divided by two, easy to count up, they seem cleaner and wrapped up. The odd years are messier, more raw, and not as easily contained. Yet, when I look at the odd years, or more so my odd ages, these seem to stand out in my memories as transformative.
For 2018 I had a concise resolution, channeling the motto: Keep it Simple. And while not always a focus, I did try to re-think situations and not complicate and force action. I worked to let things go and it will always be a work in progress.
This year I got back into the details for goals for 2019. I know that by spelling out what I want to accomplish makes it easier for me to strive towards it. I’m going to fulfill multiple resolutions today: use my oven to master some baked dishes, cooking more vegetarian food and entertain at home regularly. I decided to dedicate each month to “mastering” a sweet and savory dish in the oven. January is quiche and the continuation of brownie. I reached out to some friends to see if people were in town and if they wanted to be guinea pigs in my cooking resolutions. Everyone who was in town said yes! As always, I felt like a teenager wondering if anyone would come to my party, getting ready for rejection. And now I have 8 people and 2 kids coming over which means I need to back two quiches. So most of the day will be baking: brownies, two quiches with homemade blind-baked crusts and then some soup and veggies on the side. I’m not going to stress about people mixing and conversation flowing. It’s going to be great. Husband will take care of the booze and I will hydrate with soda water all evening. I’m really looking forward to this!
Husband and I hosted book club brunch today at our apartment. My dry spell of hosting has been officially broken! I baked brownies and southern biscuits and Husband baked quiche and made a salad. I had the Christmas up on Wednesday and we hung stuff on our walls to look more settled and it was brunch time. It was a good bunch to have over, friends that I’m comfortable and we had a book to talk about which made the conversation always have a place to go if needed.
I served mimosas, enjoying popping the cork and I also enjoyed pouring the leftover half bottle down the sink as soon as Husband said he wouldn’t drink it.
Life has been busy lately, so busy that I haven’t really thought too much about drinking or non-drinking. It has been a non-issue this past week. The one time that drinking was a thing was during the hike I went on this past week-end. As we hiked there was so much talk by few individuals about the anticipation of drinking when we were done with the hike. There is so much reward and ritual tied up into drinking. Do we really feel it or have been socialized to believe it. Hearing it on the hike did trigger me in the truth of it: the truth which has been manufactured for us to consume and normalize the need to consume in all contexts.
Most Thanksgivings of my adulthood I was hungover. The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving was a Wednesday with a day off the next day! Live it up, connect with old friends home for the holidays. It’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest, drinking nights in America.
As I ride into work on the Friday after Thanksgiving I am both so grateful that I am sober today and sympathetic to all those struggling with a hangover and wishing they felt better so they could be more present with the day. I send out healing thoughts and strength to those who decide to say enough! You can do it!
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp