I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past year. Lots of change with family, work and personal relationships. Those are all things that happen outside the body though right? The things that everyone sees and most of the people around you notice if they are paying attention. The biggest thing that happened to me this year happened inside my body, my mind and my soul. When friends noticed it they would ask a few darting questions and look at me like I lost my hair to chemotherapy.
This year I said good bye to a very close old friend. There was no argument, no big occurrence, and no sentinel event. No group therapy or finger pointing. No agreement was made to visit each other from time to time or anything like that, it was just a simple break, and after a year, this is the only sort of recognition I’ve really given to the whole thing. Kind of heartless on my behalf I guess.
I have always consumed more than my fair share of alcohol and I do admit that I have been a bit too far down the rabbit hole on more than…… well let’s just say on occasion. I always justified my drinking with being Irish or the fact that I spent a number of years as a brewer for a commercial microbrewery. I loved the craft of making beer. I loved everything about it. I can recognizing varieties of malts, hops and sometimes even yeast strains by just a smell and a sip. I explain the whole thing as having a love affair with beer and a sexy threesome with alcohol.
All was going well. But as I deepened into my Yoga practice, being out of my body and “buzzed” felt less and less right for me. I was preaching the necessity of “presence” and being, “right here, right now” in my 6:30 pm class, only to go home to send my mind off to “never never land” by downing a few pints of my favorite high octane IPA. So for me it was time to make a change and figure it all out to see if things started to feel right.
Things did start to feel right. I began to feel more authentic, not only in my teaching but in my practice on and off the mat. More of “me” has come out in the last year than ever before. The parts of me that where having such a good time recognizing hop varieties, weren’t recognizing much of anything else, and there is so much more. Unfortunately for me, my body chemistry is not built to be able to do both, so I did need to make a choice. The people who know me best, have recognized that I’m not as animated, rambunctious or “crazy” as I once was. That’s ok. That wasn’t always me. It was a mask I wore to make you like me because I was afraid you wouldn’t, and the booze helped me keep that mask on tight.
So I guess maybe I developed an allergy to the stuff. Most people don’t, but I did. Looking back now for the first time and reflecting on what I found was really unexpected. First was some depression over the loss of an identity that I had, related to drinking. Next was the realization that things just where not as bright, fun or colorful. Booze made my highs higher but rarely my lows lower. A deeper look helped me realize that I was drinking to squelch or numb everything from very dark memories of things I can’t always keep out of my mind, to the stress of running a business. The problem with that, is that you can’t numb the bad things without numbing all the beautiful things too, and I really want to feel it all. The pains of making a wrong decision to the joy of holding my wife and daughter in my arms. That is what living authentically really means to me. Feeling it all, and expressing that in my teaching and in my life. From here on out I’ll look forward to finding my “buzz” in this beautiful life itself. For me, that is “Being Right here, Right now”.