"Having obscene amounts of money, power and status is just one kind of success. (And often a rather boring one at that.) Far more intriguing are the triumphs that come from outwitting ones own shadowy behavior and unconscious habits...." --Rob Brezsny from Free Will Astrology
Saturday afternoon found me sitting by the fire, reading a book and drinking a glass of red wine. This sounds lovely I am sure except....I can't drink anymore.
I never really could. I have always been a lightweight, tipsy after two drinks, drunk after three or four and completely useless the next day, but lately (since I had kids, stopped being so unconscious, started meditating) I just have no tolerance for alcohol.
Half a drink and I feel tipsy and completely hungover the next day. I guess this would be okay except gone are the days when I could spend a whole day recovering.
I have breakfasts to make and laundry to do and books to read and boo-boos to bandage and fights to referee and playdates to arrange.....you get the idea. No rest for the wicked and all that.
So I have quit drinking, for the most part. You don't have to hit me over the head. Someone up there (glance Heaven-ward) doesn't want me to drink. Okay, I get it already.
The thing is, sometimes I just WANT to. I just want to be able to have a glass or two of wine, kick back and relax my mind. For as long as I can remember my mind has been like a hamster wheel, always spinning. Spinning tales of fear and judgement, of worry and anxiety, of shyness and social anxiety, of not measuring up, not being good enough, not being liked, not saying the right thing, not looking the right way.
I know these are, for the most part, tales of untruth. I am pretty lucky actually and can fit in most places I go. I can talk to most people. But inside my head it is a mess of what is wrong, what could go wrong, what other people might think is wrong.
A glass or two of wine totally takes care of that. Whoosh! All gone. In its place is a fuzzy little ocean of love. That's right. LOVE. Pure unadulterated love in a bottle.
It's soft and warm (or sometimes slightly chilled), tastes good and goes down smooth, leaving a path of calm in its wake. It feels so good to forget for a little while all the stuff that is in my brain.
But it is not without cost and lately the cost is getting higher and higher.
On Saturday I hadn't finished my first half a glass (I drank two half glasses instead of one full glass to make it last) before I started to feel hungover. Lethargic, headachey, a little bit nauseated. Blech!
I was so disappointed. My fantasy had failed me again. All I wanted was one afternoon by the fire with a glass of red and a fuzzy head. Was that too much to ask?
The thing is, I want to drink AND I don't want to drink. Sometimes I do. But mostly I don't. Most of the time that is okay. Most of the time not drinking works for me. But sometimes the fantasy (the fuzzy little ocean of love) gets in my head and I just want to put on some fancy clothes, some high-ish heeled shoes and go out with the girls for a few glasses of wine.
I feel like somehow I am being denied something that is my birthright. It is so engrained in our culture. A cocktail, Happy Hour, a glass of wine with dinner, a coffee drink to finish the night....
What I realized during this last "binge" (if you can call it that) is that what I am really searching for is the same thing I am searching for when I sit down to meditate. A feeling of complete and total love and acceptance.
When I have had a glass of wine I feel like everything is as it should be. I am perfect and so is everyone else. It is complete love and acceptance for things as they are. It is LOVE.
But it's a false love.
Real love comes from inside. From that deep place inside that is hidden underneath all of the pain and guilt and shame and fear. In the center of our beings. The center that somehow gets revealed to us through drinking and drugs and, oh yeah, through meditation, without all the yucky side effects.
So I am back on the wagon. It feels strange to say. I have never been endangered by my love of alcohol. Have never gotten a DUI or lost a job or even a friend because of my drinking. It has never led to any really unsafe situations or caused me serious problems, but I don't know if I can say that for others. When I am hungover I am much more likely to yell at my kids. To scream at my husband. To hate my life.
I am much more likely to rail against things as they are and to want them to be as they appear under the influence of alcohol - perfect.
That, of course, is impossible and furthermore, an illusion, even under the influence of a glass of red. Maybe especially under the influence of a glass of red.
The world as seen through a glass of wine is soft and fuzzy, like the world through a pair of old glasses that no longer corrects your vision. You don't see clearly. Everything is blurry and you can convince yourself it is perfect, which may be why the world under the influence of a hangover is so hard to take. It is sharp and clear and painful.
That same world, however, can be made soft and warm not by what you drink, but by how you see. Seeing the world through the eyes of love, instead of the eyes of judgement and hate, can give you that same soft fuzzy feeling, that same feeling of love. Without the bottle.
It's not as easy, but it comes without a price. One that seems to be getting higher and higher every day.