“Little by little we human beings are confronted with situations that give us more and more clues that we are not perfect.”
It’s 4 a.m. It feels like food poisoning and two cups of strong coffee combined: a jittery, nauseating combination of bad decisions. My heart is pounding, and I can’t believe I let myself do this again. For the thousandth time I vow to never drink again.
I get up and take two Advil and make myself eat something. I hope the dizziness will stop before I have to do anything physical, like take my son to school. Shame, regret, and most of all, fear. What if I can’t stop? What if I can… and it means I never get to drink again? When my son comes out, I pull myself together as best I can, smiling through pounding head pain. The painkillers kick in and I’m functional again, but my inner voice is louder than I’ve heard it in a long time. You have to quit. Now.
That day, I googled “How to quit drinking without AA” and found a book called This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol. And that was exactly what I wanted to do—control how much I drank—so I bought it and read the first two chapters with a drink in my hand. Within two days of beginning the book, I had quit drinking for good.
My inner voice had been telling me to quit drinking for years. Quit drinking, start writing, it would say, gently at first, and then with an escalating tremor of fear. It’s funny how things change, both slowly and suddenly; the signs you see in retrospect showing you that you’d been on the path all along. In every journal, in every list of New Year’s resolutions, in every life-plan I’d created for the past ten years, I had some version of “quit drinking, start writing.” I often wonder why it took me so long, even as I'm grateful that I listened and acted when I did.
And the truth is, I don’t miss drinking at all, nor do I miss the fearful inner chatter of the voice that led me here. Once I quit drinking, my inner voice and I began the harder work: that of creating a life from which I do not need or want to escape.
Inner guide, may I heed your wisdom. May I love myself enough to displease others. May I have the courage to do hard things. May I release perfection in favor of improvement. With awe and gratitude, may I make of my life a tapestry of love.