At the end of 2019, I stopped using alcohol and pot. In a way, I am not sure what happened that led me to that decision. And, it doesn’t even feel like a decision, really. I just woke up one day and didn’t want to be under the influence of a substance anymore. It felt like a certainty, an awakening more than a decision.
I have been on the roller coaster of numbing myself through various ways for my entire adult life. The most common way that I would do that was with alcohol, and my use of that began in my late teens. I don’t think that I was fully aware that I was using it to not feel; in my earliest days, it was usually when I was in a social situation, with friends or family. But if I am being really honest, which I am, I always used it not as a way to fit in; but as a way to cope with the fear that I DIDN’T fit in.
Fear has always been at the root of me using something to excess; and so, I would shop; eat mindlessly; drink alcohol; or use pot to disengage from my fear. The fears were sometimes somewhat elusive, like being afraid to be alone when Brenda was away; or being afraid to hug by myself on the street. Or meeting new people. I am amazed at how much I have had fear as an underlying theme, and wanted to use so many means to disengage from it, or from myself so I didn’t have to face it or just feel it and let it go.
Now, I have been sober before. I was in AA for two years a few years ago, completely sober from substances. The choice at that time was because I considered myself to be an alcoholic, and letting go of substances was my way to acknowledge that presumed identity, and to disengage from it as much as possible. And, since that time, I have used alcohol, and pot, in various ways and extremes, trying to figure out my own boundaries with it. But, the primary question for me became, what is it for? What purpose does it serve for me and in my way of living?
Two months ago, I answered that question. I decided that fear was no longer going to guide my life. That there seemed to be nothing that I needed substances for; and no need to be numb to the world and to Life. What has become more important to me, slowly over time, is being as present as possible. Here and Now. And, to be Here and Now as consciously and as awake as possible. As I result, everything, everyday, feels alive and fresh and new. It is remarkable. The veil has been lifted and I can see so much more clearly, and experience Life so much more intimately.
Being more Present has also helped me to understand that I don’t need to live in the extremes. For decades, I believed that to really feel, to really be in my emotions, I had to live in the extremes of being impacted by the world and those around me. It created a lot of uncertainty in me, and then, I would want to not feel emotions that seemed very intense and difficult. Now, being Present, I am able to more fully accept everything as it Is, which means, I don’t need to deal with extremes. I can get good with everything, just as it is now, and disengage from expectation, disappointment, resentment, and drama. I can just Be.
I know that I can choose to use something again, whenever I want. I have the freedom to decide. Yet, I know, that if I am choosing to be awake, alive, and in the Now, I will want to be in It as fully as possible.