Day 104: Distance to contentment

I meant to post on day 100 and then things got busy. This is a milestone for me. I am feeling buoyed by the three digits!

A voice asked yesterday, are you contented? A funny question, because I’m so aware of my dissatisfaction. Always, it seems, something is lacking. I am concerned. I’m frustrated or worried. I feel I’m behind. Things take too much time and I’m impatient.

As I looked inside, though, there was also no real reason not to say “yes” to the contentment question. But it lingers around the edges.

Contentment could very well remain on the fringes for eons unless it’s invited in. Unless it’s allowed to migrate over to the center. I’m really wanting to decommission the heavy-handed judgmental part of me, so that leaves out any sort of forcing of contentment to my center. I’m wary of trading a heavy-handed judgment that’s critical of me for a heavy-handed judgment that claims to be (or even is) acting in my favor. Heavy-handed just isn’t a motion I want around anymore.

So I’ll nudge my attention to the contentment in me and hold it there for a while. And then go do something else.

Discontent so easily persists as white noise in the background. I’m trying to remember to call it out, to see clearly what those anxious nodes are on any given day. (Now that I pretty well understand what food sensitivities generate anxiety and irritability for me out of thin air, I can be fairly sure that my discontent these days has real-world reasons.)

It’s almost always inconsequential or addressable. Or both. My basil seedlings are yellowish and the cosmos seem too leggy. Well, okay. Either I figure out a way to lower the grow light or I lump it. They’re either fine or the world keeps spinning on its axis. Or I’m worried because not enough new work is coming in. Rather than letting this remain white noise, putting a damper on my energy and mood, I can instead plan or act. It makes for a much nicer day to spend half an hour making a very mediocre LinkedIn profile closer to something I want people to see than simply living in the hum of that white, worrisome noise.

And the contentment. I’m trying to remember to stare gently at it, too. I love those seedlings, watching their little personalities emerge from the generic first sprouts. They’re starting to look like the spearmint, basil, lavender, and rosemary that they are. And my partner (who would laugh at appearing to come in second, after the plantitas). Living with him is generally a joy. I get to share life with this smart, curious, creative, beautiful man. And the world outside, the cloudy, rainy days we’ve been having lately please me as I tend to my hive of bees that came sailing through the winter and as I set up two hives for the new bees arriving in a week. Contentment.

Where is alcohol in all of this? Alcohol was a very strong force putting distance between me and my contentment. The wedge was sustained in the minutes and hours of actual drinking, through the overall pall of feeling shitty so much of the time, and by creating or encouraging a tense rhythm of blockage and misguided self-“protection.”

It also put distance between me and my discontent. Closing up that distance now is harder, more uncomfortable, but it feels very right. It feels like the only way.

If you are attempting to quit alcohol and are skipping along on one day without drinking, four days, ten days, four days, keep at it. You’re doing the right thing. You will find your way, and the days and the relationships with yourself (and everyone else) in a life without alcohol are rich and real. Awkwardness is sort of the name of the game. And it’s so worth it.

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