“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.