Update: I originally wrote and published this piece in April 2016 on a different blog I left in the blog graveyard. At that point in time I remained sober for 16 months in total. I then decided that I was avoiding rather than working with alcohol and my relationship with it, and in truth I was missing the craic, the social aspect of it, so I reintroduced it back into my life. My relationship with it definitely changed over the years since. Relearning to dance sober, who am I in a social setting without drink, learning and accepting that it is not my job to be the trick pony, learning that fun didn’t mean not remembering the night. Learning space and time away from things is valuable in order to properly reflect.
Nowadays I take time off it every so often, as I believe breaks and breathers are always good. I recommend anyone who is trying to find answers in their life to take a break and a breather from booze and you will experience a different perspective on things as the waters are less muddy and the moods tend to settle more in clearer spaces within your mind, body and soul. Hey no harm in trying these things? Here’s the piece I wrote 6 months in.
At over six months gratefully alcohol free I think its time to share a piece of my story.
I rediscovered some major elements about myself when boxing came into my life. I remembered how infectious inspiring people can be to me. I remembered how necessary it is for me to challenge myself physically, pushing my body further than my mind tells it to go, conquering that voice that says no more. I remembered how focusing on a particular outcome, working hard and spending time and energy on it, eventually reaps a beautiful, fruitful reward.
Thus it came to my attention how this is also apparent in all aspects of my life. I need to be constantly working towards personal growth and striving for betterment. Cultivating my potential so that in turn I can pass on the benefits like those inspirational people did to me. This opened up the world to me again and I looked at everything with fresh eyes. I had a new lease of life. Anything was possible. I decided to ask myself what was the one challenge I could take on right now that I would find extremely tough but incredibly rewarding? The answer, giving up booze.
When I moved to Canada I thought the Canadians were lacking in the drunken debauchery department. Until I realized no, coming from my Irish drinking culture, I just drank far too much in comparison and considered those that drank less, of lesser fun. This caused me to become more aware of my relationship to alcohol and I began to see my drinking as sometimes damaging rather than all fun and games.
The good old Irish FEAR (crippling anxiety thinking about what antics may or may not have taken place the night before) hit me hard too many times and I began to question was it really worth it? Maybe the Canadians were onto something here. Maybe, just maybe drinking less is a good idea. For those 8 out of 10 super fun times, was it really worth it to deal with the repercussions of the 2 Russian roulette not so good, sometimes fatal occasions?
I was often Jekyll and Hyde like when I drank, using alcohol as my inhibition free pass to act upon whatever notion entered my head in my drunken state. This would cause many out of character incidents to transpire leaving those that know the sober me a little bemused, crazily amused or on the horribly unfortunate occasions, very offended or confused. And those that just met me thinking I was one intriguing or crazy human. Visits to Black Out City could frequently occur which would enhance the fear enormously. I am entering my late 20’s, is this really tolerable anymore?
I decided to contemplate the challenge my soul was putting forth and consider resigning from my 10 year booze career.
I had spent the previous 2 years toying with the idea of giving up booze. Taking 1 to 3 month booze career brakes allowed me to discover how challenging sobriety was for me. During these periods I caught glimpses of an old dear friend I once knew so well. Me.
I recognized this quiet, shy, somewhat socially awkward young teenager that seemed to have now transformed into this angry, lonely, sad, unaware, afraid, insecure, hesitant women carrying a ton of over-sized emotional baggage. I was her and she was me but somewhere in between we lost touch and she was broken. My heart hurt for her. My nurturing nature was in shock at how I could have allowed this to happen. The reality was I did. I was too busy having fun, chasing tail, preoccupied with socializing under the influence to pay any attention to the aftermath I now saw before me.
I could chose to ignore this side of me some more, keep the party going, its been adequately working until now or try something new. Enough was enough. Time to stop with the anesthetic. Time to live sober. Time to heal this wounded lady and unpack all this baggage she’s been dragging around.
As I began to unpack my years of emotional baggage, I discovered that for a long time I was searching for clarity in my life, in my decision making. I had the usual decision making battles between my heart and my head but through my sobriety I became aware of a third contributor, the Feral Pirate.
The Feral Pirate was my drunken alter ego that lingered around like a bad smell long after the hangover was gone. Essentially over the years of drinking, we spent so much time together that he unbeknownst to me became apart of my persona. The only things that mattered to the Feral Pirate were anything that provided instant gratification.
This carefree, impulsive, obsessive, obnoxious, fun loving pirate had been giving his input into my major and minor life decisions for a decade now. He was in fact an impostor in my cognitive functioning, a stowaway planted by the alcohol gods like a cuckoo plants the eggs of her offspring in the nest of unsuspecting birds. The Feral Pirate was the hatched cuckoo bird in my brain and like those unsuspicious bird parents I had claimed the Feral Pirate as my own. Fully supporting him sailing my physical ship to whoever and whatever he deemed as treasure rarely with future foresight involved. Following Instant gratification for me, all in the quest to fill this void I was clearing feeling. Finding distractions to ignore years of built up emotions and frustrations in my life that I chose to suppress through liaising with this pirate.
Dealing with this build up of hoarded emotions meant I had to feel it and feeling it meant I had to do something about it. Avoidance through alcohol and relationships had become my survival techniques. As I caught glimpses of the broken me it was clear that this technique was not working below the surface and alas the pirate had to go. Thus began my road to clarity.
By taking drinking out of my life, I was starving the pirate of his life giving force. Over the next few months he died. R.I.P. Feral Pirate. I often find myself getting nostalgic over this personality trait. There was many, many fantastic times. Overall though, for me to properly heal, our partnership had to end.
I began to look at my life with this new found decisiveness. Instant gratification and avoidance no longer leading the game. Healthy choices became easy to make. Life became much simpler, emotional, but simpler. I now saw the mountain of self work that lay before me and was filled with this new-fangled clarity and burning desire to accomplish it. The broken lady was mending, I was becoming whole again. I met me and I am going to nurture her with the love and attention she rightly deserves and needs, bringing her back home to myself.
DISCLAIMER: I do not take away any onus for any actions or behaviors that occurred over the years by pawning them off on the Feral Pirate. It is simply my way of explaining.