I just couldn’t write. The frustration inside me grew larger as the text cursor kept prompting me to fill the empty page with words. Not a single word came to mind.
The past weeks I was feeling rather stuck. Although I planned a ton of exciting new adventures, I couldn’t get myself to undertake any of them. I felt overwhelmed by the tiniest things and was completely drained after a day of work. It was as if my body was telling me “Sorry love, there is no space for new experiences in here”.
I was reading a magazine when my eye caught the word “give”. Give. An extremely simple word with a very extensive meaning. The word had such impact on me, I decided to dedicate my week to it. It would be a week centered around giving and in this post I’ll tell you what it taught me.
As soon as I decided to give for a week, I asked myself: What is it exactly that I can give?
There are times that everything seems to flow naturally. You’re feeling good, life’s cool, you’re not fussing about something in particular. Your days appear normal rather uneventful but fulfilling, as you seem to have found a routine that suits you. And then, all of a sudden, one thing changes and the entire structure loses its stability all together.
This happened to me last week. The project I’m currently working on is coming to an end and the subsequent proposal that was made, which I initially thought I loved, might not be the thing I want to do after all. In the span of two days, I felt like my recently build pink air castle suddenly turned into a raging storm. I’d been swept of my feet, my consciousness was clouded, I panicked and couldn’t stick to my routine anymore. My head yelled: “You might be without a job in two months! What are you going to do now?”
“I just don’t know!”
After the initial loss of mental clarity (read: cycling through town for no reason and eating lots of crap), I forced myself to have a better look at the situation. Is it really that bad? In what ways could I regard this as an opportunity? Could this be a new adventure? When walking the Camino, the yellow arrows point you in the right direction. On the GR, it’s the red and white, the stones and the shells that guide you. I reckon we can find these waymarks in life too, although they might require a little more effort to find.
Besides looking for directions, clues or other stuff that can ignite you fire to continue wandering with a fierce pace. Give yourself some time. It’s OK to just don’t know for a day or two, eat nachos and ice cream, forget about your work-out and let your house turn into a pig shed. Just make sure you get your ass of the couch the day after, clean up and start mapping out a new route… even if you’re not sure.
Sudden changes like this force you to think about which direction you want to head in. Pick a new path or, perhaps, continue walking with a new mindset. There are always certain things that can give you direction. Eventually, it might not be the greatest or the most beautiful route, and you might not even be heading into the right direction, but you’ll figure that out soon enough, when shit hits the fan and all falls apart again. The next time, however, you might not need an I just don’t know-day before you’re ready to jump into a new adventure.
I wake up. With one hand I carefully remove my sleep mask, and try to open my eyes that seem to be glued together as I forgot to remove my mascara the night before. When I finally manage to separate my lashes, the light hits with such intensity that I instantly drop the intention on getting up all together. Whilst hit by a wave of grief when thinking of all the productive and exciting things I could’ve done, I pull the doona over my head and know that the rest of my Saturday will be lost, as I lay in bed dying a little due to a boozy Friyay-eve.
Although this doesn’t happen every week, when it does I wish it hadn’t. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a drink now and then, it’s just that I’ve never been in a social setting, and had a single drink. Even that one time when my friend would stay sober to drive us home after a party, and I was trying to be supportive so I only had one drink… I had a taste of someone else’s cocktail when she went to the toilet (if you’re reading this, just know that I really tried). Point is, after one I know no limits. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
Where am I going with all this?
Glad you’re asking. As I‘ve been on a mission to explore things that make me view the everyday from a different perspective, and perhaps gain some insight into myself and others, it got me thinking about all the habits we’ve adopted, simply, because we think we need them or accept them without questioning. Drinking alcohol is one of those habits. Although I’m perfectly capable to enjoy a single glass of red when I’m reading a book on my couch, as soon as I’m somewhere with people the infinite consumption of alcohol seems totally all right. Until I wake up the next day, and I feel like I’ve been dragged through a sewer pipe.
Reflecting on this situation uncovered a feeling that I wanted this to be different, but before you can change things it’s key to obtain some insight in the situation, habit or thing you want to change… so I started asking myself some questions.:
how often, how much and when do you drink?
Pretty much every weekend includes one of the following:
- Friday drinks at work or with friends
- a (birthday) party
- Saturday arvo catch-ups
- drinks and dances
- reading on the couch with a glass of wine
- post-yoga wine date (it’s a thing)
I do have to point out here, my life knows alcohol free weeks. On weekdays I try not to drink, however, if I go out with a friend for dinner I’ll have a drink or two, same with super sunny late night park hangs… or if I have an unfinished bottle left from the weekend, I might have a cheeky one after work. The total units per week, thus, range from two to ten.
why do you drink alcohol in the first place?
I drink because I like the taste of a good glass of wine with delicious food, to relax after a long day of work, because alcohol is the obvious choice and I like to try all the different G&T’s this bar has, because I’m having a good time and think it’ll be even more fantastic after this cocktail, to appear a little less nervous and more awesome during a date, move like a rock star, celebrate it’s Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday… endless reasons that might not be legit but are, as soon as you’ve finished the first glass.
how does the thought of not drinking make you feel?
I’m in two minds about it. There’s one part of me that is super excited to explore all the happenings, thoughts and feelings that will occur in this period of intentional abstinence. Deep down inside there is another part of me somewhat frightened that the usual social outings featuring alcohol will now turn into something rather awkward or underwhelming. It might be totally different though, guess only time can tell.
can you go without alcohol for thirty days?
As a lot of people before me probably have insightfully mentioned: You can do anything for thirty days. So yes. Damn sure I can. And anyone else too!
Ever thought about losing the booze for a while? Take some time to answer these questions. Be honest though! No matter how shocking your answers might seem to you, you can only start changing things up when you’re aware of the impact it has on you and your life.
Now, when am I going to start this exciting adventure! As September is coming to an end and, internationally, October seems to be THE month to shed all your shitty habits – think OcSober in Australia, Stoptober in the Netherlands and the UK – I reckon it cannot be more obvious… Tomorrow, on the first of October, I won’t touch anything containing alcohol until November commences, and I sure will keep you in the loop about my liquor-less life.
Cheers to that!