I listened to a great podcast episode of The Good Life Project with writer and poet Mark Nepo a few weeks back. I'd originally listened to the podcast because I recognized his name from an episode of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. During the podcast conversation, Mark said something that struck me, "Addiction is when you fall in love with the strike and not the light."
At the time, I listened to this episode, I was dabbling with the idea of giving up alcohol. Though I don't really identify as a traditional "addict," I'd spent my 20s in a rather unhealthy relationship with alcohol and was certainly reliant on it to relax, have fun, and make awkward social situations less-so. It seemed that alcohol had become an integral part of all my social activities. I started to wonder how everyone was surviving and how much longer I could keep up.
Mark's words resonated with me deeply. Maybe I wasn't "addicted" per se, but I'd definitely been chasing the strike- the relaxed, giggly, goofy feeling I got from drinking. The problem is, the spark is short-term. Even worse, for me at least, was the burn that followed the spark. During the later part of 2016, I was consistently waking up feeling listless. If I'd had more than a couple drinks, the feeling was much worse. Mentally, I'd feel anxious and defeated; physically, I'd feel like death. My body was sending me signals: If you get too close to the fire, you will get burned.
Sadly, I think too many of us have fallen in love with the strike, but just don't know it. When I decided to take a break from drinking in January, I realized just how many people around me were dependent on the strike to help them recover from a long day, to aid them in conversation on a first date, to celebrate the end of the work week, or to simply pass the time with friends (of course, myself included).
Today marks the 75th day of my sobriety experiment (I've committed to 90 days without booze, you can read more about it in my other blog posts on the topic). As I reflect on the past 75 days and look forward to the next 20 (maybe more, who knows!!), I am grateful that I was brave enough to wonder: what would life be like without booze? Most days, it's easy to see the light, I feel healthier, my immune system is stronger, I'm not listlessly spending my weekends on the couch. Surprisingly, my weekends have been rather full. I've found time to get to the gym and to volunteer more (both activities I was striving towards). The Universe has delivered new opportunities to hang out with friends without drinking as well as offering up new opportunities and activities I may not have sought out before. The shocking part is, I haven't even found being sober to be all that challenging. I've approached this endeavor as an opportunity as opposed to a period where I'm depriving myself of something. I've managed to make it through dinners and events without a cocktail (though I may have used not drinking as an excuse to order dessert a couple of times...). When people ask me how I feel now that I haven't been drinking, I can share confidently that I feel great. I feel lighter, happier and healthier. I feel stronger, more capable, and more clear-headed. Overall, sacrificing the "strike" has been worth it; and not just because I don't have to suffer through the after-burn. These last 75 days have taught me that you can find beautiful, glowing light without that strike; it's available at all times, you just have to be willing to let it in. Is it more difficult than finding the light through the strike, of course. But I'm beginning to believe that the journey to find the light on our own is monumentally worth it.
Feel like trying out the sober scene, but want a little help? Follow this link to learn more about my 30-Day Alcohol Detox; a month-long program I created for people who want to change their relationship with alcohol, but need help shifting their mentality about drinking first. In addition to helping you identify and shift your current drinking mentalities, the program will help you change the way you think about alcohol and drinking altogether.