My approach to quitting drinking: Put in place a few conditions and let self heal

Here’s my overall approach to this quitting drinking thing. I am doing a small number of practices that calm me down and settle me, and not doing some that jar, jangle, or fry me, and then waiting. Living my life, giving myself time and space to heal. I feel that there is a force toward health and wholeness in me (in everyone), and my job is to get out of its way. I’ve become an expert at interfering with it madly, and it’s time to stop.

This approach depends on an assumption I’m making being true – in that sense it’s an act of faith. I’m making the assumption that my drinking (and my other forms of self-neglect/abuse such as that (my) binge-eating disorder twenty years ago) did not irreparably harm me. That somewhere in me there is bedrock, a substance that is strong and heavy and beautiful and present, and it can’t be dented, corroded, melted, sliced up, sanded down, deleted, exploded, imploded, disassembled, ground up, stripped, shredded, compacted, combusted, crushed, diced, pureed, or dissolved. It is large, looming, present, stone. Together with the distinctly unstonelike qualities of warm and loving.

But even though the steady, solid, warm parts of me haven’t been harmed by my drinking, my access to them has. I jumble/jangle my access, ability to touch and be near to them.

From what I can tell, there are conditions I can set in place that help me re-establish this connection. Right – to myself. (It’s still so bizarre to me that it’s possible for us to not be connected to our own selves. God, human beings are nuts. I don’t think cats have this problem.)

So, the practices. I do morning pages every day (from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way). I do an oil massage every day or every other day. (Oil massages are an ayurvedic practice thought to be calming for people of certain personality/physical types (the doshas), and their effect on me is simply mind-blowing.) I meditate. And I don’t drink alcohol. These practices feel important because they are either a condition I need, lead to a condition I need, or take the place of a condition I don’t need.

I sometimes give myself a hard time for taking the time

While these are things I run to gratefully, they do also pose some minor conflicts to my self that thinks it has to be efficient and in charge. I have to sometimes press myself to accept activities that may seem pointless, a waste of time, or expensive. I have some very persistent voices in my head that don’t miss any opportunity to give me a hard time.

First, the most common accusation: they’re a waste of time. This blog is one. It takes time to organize my thoughts into something I care to put online. The morning pages also take a significant amount of time – the sheets of paper I use are big and I write small. Oil massages take time and require a shower afterwards. All told, these things get perhaps an hour and a half per day.

Some of these fall into the pointless category as well. Oil massages? Who on earth could think that those would have any value? It’s just skin. (Plus they seem treacherously indulgent.) Morning pages. What good is a bunch of scribbling that gets immediately ripped up and thrown in the recycling? (Ripped up really really small.) And there’s another activity that gets slammed for this, too. I love and relish beautiful, handmade cups to drink my tea and coffee from. Have for years. During this walk away from alcohol my attachment to them has gotten even stronger, and I indulge it. I travel with one or two, so that I have the organic/human shape and textured surfaces to fondle with every hot drink. Weird, I know. But a nice compulsion if I ever saw one! (Those cups are the expensive part. I keep buying them.)

The other pointless one truly is pointless. I watch a lot of TV on Netflix. A couple of shows in particular. I’m still in front of the tube a tiny fraction of the national average. (See the justifications? They just come streaming out.) But for me it’s a lot and I question it. But I’m not stopping any time soon, because this is a way to check out. An alcohol-free way to check out. God knows we need these, eh? It’s a core task of quitting a substance, finding harmless ways to check out. So I do, and pay my $7.95 per month for the privilege.

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