One Hundred Days Sober, A Lost Earring, A Hockey Game, and the Universe

I know, longest name for a blog post ever. But bear with me. And draw your own conclusions.

The themes for this post are: unexpected gifts of sobriety and the blessings of the universe.

A few days before Thanksgiving, I marked 100 days without alcohol. I celebrated it by giving myself a little gift, and later in the day my husband made quite a big deal out of my accomplishment. But that’s a story for another post.

A little background: for my birthday this year, my kids all conspired together on my gift.  They gave me a beautiful pair of chocolate-brown pearl earrings and a bracelet to match. I had worn them to work that day (the day before Thanksgiving) and that evening my husband and I went to watch our local NHL team play.  On the way to the game, I noticed that one of my earrings was missing. I felt my heart drop.  It was a special birthday and and even more special gift and I was so sad to have lost an earring.

We got to the hockey game and made our way to our seats, which are waaaayyyyyyy up in the arena.  The nosebleeds.  I joke with my husband that every time we go to a hockey game, of which I am not fond,

a.) The team goes into overtime, and

b.) I get squeezed between him and some guy who’s like, 7 feet tall.

Imagine my relief when I realize that there’s no one sitting next to us! I actually have a little room to breathe!  We settle in and get as comfy as possible in narrow, hard, plastic folding seats.  Shortly after the game begins, I glance up and notice a MOUNTAIN of a man making his way up the stairs toward our section. I’m thinking there’s no way he’d fit in one of these seats.  I’m also thinking, pleasedon’tbecomingherepleasedon’tbecomingherepleasedon’t – He’s coming here. Right next to me.

He and his friend sit next to us and my entire right side, from shoulder to knee, is pressed – very – shall we say, intimately? – against the stranger sitting next to me.  I’m uncomfortable.  He’s got to be VERY uncomfortable.

And here’s where the blessing of sobriety comes into play. Drinking me would have been MISERABLE. Whispering angrily to my husband about how creeped out I was, having to be that close to a stranger, I hate these stupid games anyway, this kind of shit always happens to me, etc.  I would have consoled myself with beer. I would have ended up making him so unhappy we probably would have left early.

The difference now, is that, even though I was uncomfortable about being squeezed by a stranger in our seats, I felt even worse for HIM. This poor man had to be so uncomfortable in his own skin – every minute of every day. I just felt awful for him.  So I just shut my mouth and let it go, determined to make the best of the evening instead of obsessing about how unhappy I was.  He did eventually move to a seat in a row that had open seats on both sides, and I felt better for both of us; especially him.

So.  The earring.  The next morning, we were getting the house ready for 16 guests for Thanksgiving dinner.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, our house isn’t large and we have to reconfigure some rooms to accommodate everyone.  We gather up all of our shoes and put them in the garage to make room by the door for our guests’ shoes. So my husband is doing that, and I ask him to sweep out the front of the garage because I want to set up a card table in there where it’s cold to hold the food that won’t fit in the fridge.

He heads out to handle the chore and a few minutes later, walks back into the house with a big smile on his face.  He’s like, “Guess what I found???” I completely draw a blank and he holds up MY EARRING! He found it in the garage and had swept it up with the last of the fall leaves that had ended up on the floor in there. It must have fallen off as I got in the car to go to the hockey game the night before.

Now, he is the LEAST new-agey spiritual person that I know.  And he says, “Honey, there is no WAY that we should have found this earring. It should have been swept up and thrown away without being noticed.  This is the universe saying, ‘You deserve this. You’ve worked hard and this is your reward.’ ”

I have to admit I kind of agree. Giving up booze is one of the scariest, best things I’ve ever done. And if there are unexpected blessings to be had as a result – the gift of compassion or something found I thought I’d lost forever – I’ll welcome every one.

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100 Days!

Today marks 100 days since I embarked upon an alcohol-free life. If you are new to this journey, please – hang in there – it is soooooo worth it! At first I felt like I was giving up something and felt so sorry for myself. I saw giving up drinking primarily as a negative in my life – how would I ever fill the hole alcohol left? But – before very long, I began to realize that I was gaining SO much more than booze had ever offered me. Let me tell you the things that I’ve discovered are AWESOME about not drinking (in no particular order):

1. Peace of mind. My thoughts are gloriously uncluttered, free of the constant mental diatribe of recrimination, worry, guilt, and fear. My focus is so much better without all that shit going on in my head!

2. Enjoying events for their own sake. Going out to dinner, having family over for dinner, going to a sporting event (ok honestly I’m not crazy about these), planning any kind of an outing…. There’s a purity to the simple joy of looking forward to something for its own sake, not the opportunity it will provide to have some drinks.

3. Spending waaaaaaaayyyyy less money. A side benefit has been that my husband drinks less, too. This has enabled me to do some ‘just because I want it’ shopping, which is the funnest. thing. ever!

4. I like and respect myself. When I look in the mirror, I like who I see – I am totally proud of her!

5. Better sleep. The first month or two, I felt like I couldn’t get enough sleep – and – wow. Talk about crazy dreams! But now I fall asleep quickly, wake refreshed, and if I do happen to wake up briefly during the night, no hobgoblins (in the form of worrying thoughts) are sitting on the nightstand waiting for my eyes to flutter open so they can perch on my shoulder and talk to me.

6. No more vices! Other than drinking excessive amounts of coffee throughout the day. All of my other ducks are in a row. Eat right? Check. Exercise? Check. Drink enough water? Check. Don’t smoke, don’t drink. No details to fudge when I go for a check up.

7. Authenticity. I feel 100% engaged and present in my life now. It occurred to me that my enjoyment in life has returned to an almost childlike state…. The very simplest things bring me so much joy: playing with my granddaughters, looking forward to settling down with a coffee and a good book after a day’s work, crawling into bed beside my husband, snuggling and falling asleep holding hands…. There’s a calm, peaceful purity to these simple things that’s beyond words. I truly love my life.

Onward and upward to day 200 – and beyond!