“Drink, Don’t Think”

 

A little less than a month ago, as we were driving home from Palm Springs, Chris and I were chatting about our (then) upcoming trip to Ohio. I told him that I had a bit of anxiety about going to his cousin’s wedding and my friend’s bachelorette party (the following weekend). As much as I love to see family and friends, I inevitably end up eating poorly, drinking too much, and abandoning exercise and my mediation practice. This results in a highly stressed out version of myself that I don’t particularly like. Chris, being the good husband that he is, probed me with difficult questions- “How can I make this trip different? Why do I feel the need to over indulge in alcohol? What would happen if I didn’t drink at all?” I ended up in tears. I didn’t cry because he was being mean. I cried because I realized that fear was driving me to over drink. I worried that I wouldn’t be fun if I didn’t drink. I realized that I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the party starter. I also realized that these were old thoughts that no longer served me.

From the very first time that I drank alcohol my body rejected it. I have repeatedly overindulged throughout the last decade and I have always paid the consequences. Entire days were wasted lying in bed, vomiting, eating junk, and nursing myself back to health. I have sworn over and over I’d never do it again, and yet I find myself falling into the same trap. Don’t get me wrong, my party days have waned over the years, and my overindulgences have dwindled. Still, once or twice a year, I tell myself to loosen up, and I have one or two too many. These days I have accepted my limits. Like it or not, I’m a light weight. I’ve also come to the realization that with two little boys and a life that I love, I’m not interested in sacrificing an entire day.

Armed with new intentions for my trips, I decided to plan out my week. I put exercise and mediations into my calendar. I decided what nights I would drink and how much. Sure, it may seem like overkill but it resulted in an amazing trip. I didn’t follow the plan to a tee but I did find time to exercise and meditate. I didn’t drink the night of the rehearsal dinner and despite being at the bar until 1:30 am, I only had two drinks the day/night of the wedding. I felt like myself. I had meaningful conversations. I had fun. I can recall the details.

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The bachelorette party was slightly more challenging. I ended up drinking four nights in a row (the first with my family in Ohio, the other three in Nashville). Although this was never the plan, I made conscious decisions when to drink and when not to. At one point, I found myself with 14 other girls in a noisy bar. I felt out of sorts, uncomfortable for whatever reason, and I had the fleeting thought that I should get hammered. Luckily, I realized that wasn’t the best solution. Instead I picked off all of my nail polish. I nursed a drink. Shortly after, we headed to another bar where I felt much more at ease. I danced. I hung out. I enjoyed my friends. I forgave myself for not being the life of the party.

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The next morning, feeling pretty normal, we went on the Sprocket Rocket, essentially a party on a bike. Our driver and party starter, Adam, informed us all to “drink, don’t think”. As I walked around Nashville that day, I realized that’s what I had been trying to do for so many years. Over indulging allowed me to numb my mind, to ease my discomfort and insecurities. Did I have more fun? Sometimes. Although I have blurry memories of these times so it’s debatable. More importantly though, today, I am someone who is challenging myself to be more comfortable in my own skin, to live in the moment, to be aware of whatever I’m feeling- even if it is uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean that I’ve given up drinking. It simply means that like everything else in my life these days, I’m practicing doing so mindfully.

Love and hate

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I meant to give up social media only for Lent. I saw that one of my childhood friends was doing it and I thought it sounded like a good idea. I announced my decision on Facebook, deleted my Facebook, Instagram, and Snap Chat apps from my phone, and went about my day. The first few days felt weird. I was so used to mindlessly picking up my phone to scan Facebook and Instagram. Suddenly, I didn’t have the comfort of my phone to keep me occupied. Throughout the day I had the urge to mentally check out of whatever I was doing and pick up my phone. Instead, I was forced to find something else to do. I became better at checking and responding to emails. I read the news. Mostly, I got back to whatever I had been trying to avoid. Often this meant playing with my boys. Lets be honest…playing with dinosaurs and following my three-year old’s instructions on his made up games doesn’t really interest me. I love spending time with my kiddos but not necessarily doing the same things they want to do. Being off social media didn’t change any of this; however, it did change what I did in these moments. I wish I could report that I fully engaged and played the silly dinosaur game for hours on end. That didn’t happen. Usually, I tried to get them to play something that interested us both. Sometimes I distracted them by tickling or chasing them. This usually lasted minutes and then I found something productive to do. I cleaned, cooked, packed, organized, etc. Basically, I got shit done. This of course felt good. It definitely feels better than the mixed bag of emotions I get from continuously being connected to my phone. Social media is a funny thing. Part of me loves it. It’s an outlet for me to share my blog, share pictures of my kiddos, keep in touch with old friends, and find interesting articles. On the flip side though, it can easily turn into an obsession. I find myself wanting to check it while I’m driving, eating, waiting in line. I see pictures of what looks like fun stuff my friends are doing and a part of me feels jealous, boring, and disconnected. I find myself worrying about the things that I’m not doing and wondering if I’m missing out.

I find that social media can bring about a sense of connection or disconnection. Yes, it’s amazing to go online and see pictures of your new baby or watch your kiddos grow. If I take the extra minute or two to actually write you a message and we have an exchange than I do feel a sense of connection. Surely, without the ease of social media, we wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with people all over the globe. On the flip side though, if I’m only browsing your pictures, and not reaching out than no real connection is being created. Also, we get a false sense of what is going on in someone’s life. We all have struggles. We all have messy lives that are rarely captured by a photograph. The real, deeper connection that I think many of us (including myself) are craving can’t be created through social media. This connection comes from truly knowing someone and understanding both their successes and their struggles. It’s what makes us human. It’s the part of us that’s screaming to be truly heard and understood.

As a stay at home mom, I definitely understand the need for community. Days spent with toddlers can be isolating and lonely. An entire day can go by when I don’t have an actual conversation with an adult. While I missed the comfort of my Facebook friends during my two month hiatus, I also found that I picked up my phone more to call or text someone I was thinking about. Also, I didn’t have the looming feeling that I needed to share everything. I realize that I would have more blog followers if I was more active on social media but the thought of posting everything I do is like a rain cloud following me around all day. Everyday I work on being more present in my life. How can I fully participate and enjoy my life if I’m consumed with photographing and writing about my every move? I found it liberating to totally release myself from this perceived to-do.

So where does this leave me? Honestly, I’m not sure. I put the Facebook app back on my phone but I’m not sure it can stay. It’s been roughly two weeks and it’s constantly calling out to me.

If you reach out to me via Facebook, thank you and I ask that you please give me a little grace. I don’t know how long it will take to get back to you. I haven’t yet found the balance of being able to enjoy the benefits of social media without allowing it to consume me. I’m open to recommendations though, so if you have any, please reach out to me via Facebook, or better yet, call me. 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you like what you read, please share.

Much love,
Melanie