I have been solo parenting a very challenging little boy for over six years, since he was a baby. It has been a hell of a ride in so many ways, and early on I developed a nightly (or late afternoon) habit of a glass of wine or a beer to “take the edge off.” There was something about it that helped me to feel more like a “normal” adult, that I was still a part of society although I felt otherwise. I was in isolation in my hell and was under a self-inflicted dark cloud, searching to connect to something or someone.
As I was the only adult residing in my home with my temperamental child, sleepless nights and the stress and strain of managing everything on my own with adverse energy constantly coming towards me from my son’s dad, I had to reach towards something that could provide me with some relief, even if it was temporary.
So began my nightly relationship with alcohol. I am also an avid practitioner of yoga for over 20 years, a teacher for the past decade, and a bodyworker, so to some degree this always felt like a conflicting response to my life’s stress compared with how I chose to live, work, and show up in the world. Yet, it was where I went and where I remained for many years.
By the time five o’clock rolled around, I was done with a capital D. I wasn’t sleeping, was struggling with my son, working, and at the end of the day was still trying to be a relatable human being. Pouring that glass of wine or opening up a delicious microbrew brought me some semblance of relief, and I became addicted to it. The problem was, as with most substances you are addicted to, using anything as a crutch and becoming dependent on it never really serves. Coupled with my history of depression, my daily ritual started taking a toll on my ability to function. My moods became sporadic, I couldn’t sleep, and I woke up foggy most days and was barely able to function. This was not after excessive drinking mind you; it was the cumulative effect of my lovely late afternoon/early evening pour.
So I broke my nightly cup of goodness habit. This is what happened:
We all know that while alcohol may knock you out, most often we are awoken in the middle of the night sweating and tossing and turning, unable to fall back into a state of rest. Eliminating alcohol has reset my body’s ability to find rest and to stay in that state throughout the night.
There are some days when I am simply in awe as to how much brighter and clearer I am thinking and seeing. It is as if my vision has literally changed and my mind has landed in a new equilibrium.
I do this 98 percent of the time (I cut myself some slack on the weekends because sometimes sleeping until the sun is actually up is so satisfying!). Beginning my days with an hour of asana and meditation has been incredibly supportive for everything. I am a better mom, a more present friend, my work life has opened up, I am so much more productive with my time, and overall I feel as though I have a much firmer grip on my life.
This coming from someone who really thought the norm for living was to reside in a state of being simply “eh” most of the time, saving the joy for just those special moments. The other night I caught myself smiling for no apparent reason while doing the mama dance (i.e. cooking, cleaning, dishes, bath time, homework, etc). I was blown away and it took absolutely no effort. This was simply a moment in time. There is nothing glamorous about motherhood, yet I was so in the moment and happy. It was incredible.
Further layers of my life’s purpose are being revealed in each moment that I do not believe I could have accessed while living in my state of fog.
My home has become a space of love, softness, kindness, and compassion. While I was engaging in my nightly drinking, the challenges that were present became amplified and quite often worse, as I just was unable to deal well. I was trying to check out because being “in” felt just too hard. Now, I am fully present with my son even if he is having a moment. I am so calmly present with myself and that ripples into my ability to meet him where he is. It’s an amazing and feels miraculous to me.
I am not blaming myself for my choices over the years, as I truly do understand that I have done what I needed to do in order to “survive.” Rather, I am simply acknowledging the pain of the situation and the medicine that I have found for myself in coping.
By taking charge of my nightly addiction, reclaiming my body, and myself, I have opened my son and I up to so much more. We have found the light at the end of that long, dark tunnel and once you see the light, there truly is no turning back.