13 Years was a Lifetime Ago

My son is just a few years younger than I was when I had my first drink. This occurred to me late last week as I watched him sitting among his stuffed animals giggling at a video he was watching on his iPad. He is so young still, while just beginning to press into young manhood, way too young to be worrying about his first drink right?

I was 12 if I am remembering correctly – though I won’t bet his life on the accuracy of my memory.  My memory has some major disconnects – severed by alcohol or self-preservation. Either? Both?  Who knows? They are simply either not there or jumbled.

At 12, I had the drink that solved the puzzle for me – it was what I had been looking for, the thing to make me feel whole; or so I thought.  I had no concept of how sharply that would turn on me, how severely it would hurt and how wrong I was about the impact it was having on me. 

I was a “good kid” – decent grades, good friends, family who was flawed (whose isn’t??!!) and grandiose visions of a future quite different than the one I was living.  I was angry at a lot of things (real and imagined)  and that anger got no better as time and experience went on into my teen years.

Alcohol became a very important companion in my life – subjugating the anger, dulling it and enabling me to perform acts of greatness (in my mind) on a nightly basis.

I was 28, in the military and deployed to the Middle East working in a US embassy when it all came tumbling down – my “bottom” found.  Whose grand plan it was to drop an alcoholic into the only area of the Middle East that would allow me essentially open access to booze – I was soon to learn.

I had vowed to my soon to be ex-fiance that I would not drink while over there.  He told me that I was not myself when I drank – that he didn’t trust me.  A close friend had once told me that when I drank it was like someone flipped a switch  – I’d be looking at him and I’d be me – the cool chick he adored.  Then I’d look away and look back and crazy me had taken over – the one who would run up hundreds on his bar tab, dance on the table, start fights and run away, forget she was married or engaged or whatever her state was and in general spread chaos in her wake.  I remember shrugging that off when he told me…but also hearing the warning.  When my soon to be ex-fiance asked me to not drink I wholeheartedly agreed – and meant it so completely I was even a little surprised myself.  But a little voice inside whispered, “we’ll see….”.

The night I failed him hurt – and I could no more explain why I had gotten drunk that night than I could explain why the sun rose.  I had no choice.  I just did. When asked why I was drunk, I was honest for the first time in my life and answered “I don’t know”; if you don’t have a “problem” with alcohol that may make no sense.  Who doesn’t have a choice? How can you not know why you violated your word? How is that possible?  Was I weak willed, incapable of committing – what the hell “no choice”?  That’s ridiculous right?

I was stupendously strong willed in many other areas of my life.  I had put myself through college, worked 40 hour weeks, full loads at school up to 27 credits in a semester maintaining a solid GPA.  I had risen out of my small town and humble beginnings to become an officer in the US Army.  I had married and divorced and survived, I had two combat deployments under my belt and was fiercely independent…but I couldn’t NOT drink. 

On the night of April 18th I was handed the reason and the solution – roughly 2 weeks after my failure with my promise.  The reason was I was alcoholic – the solution was to surrender to the Truth.  I knew of alcoholism.  My grandfather was over 50 years sober at his death, my grandmother is approaching 35.  Yet it had never crossed my mind that alcohol was my problem. Instead I blamed people, circumstance, places and anything else; because if it was alcohol…I was lost.  As much as I hated to admit it I didn’t know how to function without alcohol.

But I was about to learn.

13 years after that fortuitous night, I sit reflecting on a completely different life – it was a lifetime ago.  Today I am dependent on nothing except the spiritual direction of my guides and the experiences spiritual connection sends me.

Here are 13 things I am indescribably grateful for since taking that last drink:

  1. I have been without alcohol for 13 years and today have a healthier, more complete experience than I could have hoped for – the very feeling I sought to gain from alcohol.
  2. My son has never seen, nor will ever see me under the influence of alcohol.
  3. I don’t seek connection on inauthentic terms – I am me and I am stoked you are you. If we don’t jive, we can go our separate ways without animosity. Go do you – you rock.
  4. I can see my part in life – when I make a mistake I own it and do my best to make amends, but I also know I am not the sole responsibility holder. We all have free will and choose how we justify it or flow with it.
  5. I can be of support to others without expecting anything in return – and I can detach from their skepticism of that offer.
  6. I always remember my experiences – and can be present for the full spectrum of emotions that come with them.
  7. I can have honest relationships.
  8. I have no idea what fireball whiskey tastes like.
  9. Social Media became a thing AFTER my last drink.
  10. Being able to see that recovery from alcoholism means being able to participate in life fully rather than either crushing it or watching from the sidelines.
  11. Perfection is a myth but progress is a worthy aspiration.
  12. It’s not my job to manage your life – but I can certainly offer assistance when you seek it.
  13. I’m okay.

It’s important to me to pause on occasions like the date of my sobriety and be grateful to spirit, to the people who helped me discover my truth and to learn how to live it.  I dedicate my life to being grateful for the gift of full spectrum living.

If you struggle with alcohol and its impact in your life – there is a solution.  Check out your local Alcoholics Anonymous listings, talk to your doctor, or consult a therapist:  get your questions answered and let your free will guide you to the next choice of needing help, continuing on or some third option.

For those who like to see the negative in every word along the way, allow me to be clear: I am not a prohibitionist.  Alcohol in and of itself is not a problem – there are issues associated with alcohol I morally disagree with that are separate from my inability to drink it – but on the whole I don’t think it’s the devil nor see any reason to lobby for  its demise.  You want to drink – go for it, not my place to judge.

I share this writing from my personal experience only and offer suggestions for those who want them.

 

 

If you’d like to learn more about me (Jennifer Murphy) and my business (No Limits Life) you can visit www.nolimitslife.guru.  We offer online courses, live events and private coaching focused on partnering with you to create the lifestyle you crave but haven’t developed yet. 

 

 

A Solid (And Easy) Foundation for 2016

by Don Marlette

 The New Year has begun, and it’s time to set your goals for the year. Make your dreams happen, improve your relationships, change your job, lose some weight… the list is endless. Then you have to figure out how to actually do all of it without going crazy!

Regardless of your goals, it’s important to begin with a solid foundation. Most of the time, though, we build our hopes and dreams on the shifting sand of our current habits. When our dreams and goals are challenged, our old habits kick in to gear, and everything starts to shift. Before we know it, the sand has shifted and our house is lost to the elements. Sabotage!

When we choose to build our dreams and goals on the solid rock foundation of simple and easy daily practices and habits, everything changes. Challenges may happen, but we can weather them more successfully, and we greatly increase our chances of meeting our goals, no matter what they are.

Below are three foundational practices: the Morning Minute, the Random 100, and the Evening Shoes. These provide a solid foundation that will give you greater control over your day, increase your sense of accomplishment, and infuse your life with gratitude.

1. Morning Minute. This is probably the toughest – and most rewarding – practice that you can do. It is a huge step in taking control of your life. And it’s as simple as waking up in the morning.

You’re sleeping soundly, indulging in that latest dream….and the alarm beings to sound. Time to wake up! Or is it?

Usually, one would hit the snooze button for a few extra minutes of shut-eye. But why? After all, those few extra minutes are going to be interrupted again by the blare of the alarm, which means you really didn’t get any good “extra” sleep anyway.

Choose instead to get up at the first sounding of your alarm. Yes, it means putting your feet out of the bed onto the cold floor. Yes, it means pushing yourself a bit more. Yes…you would rather stay in bed.

But. But. In the first minute of the day you’ve met a challenge and crushed it! You’re already a rock star! This starts the ball rolling in a positive direction. After all, if you can truly engage in “mind over mattress” and master yourself for this first minute, there is so much more you can do to make your best life start happening for the rest of the day!

2. The Random 100. You have work to do, people to meet, and time to use wisely. Yet, we seldom realize how much of our days are spent in criticism of ourselves (or others), wanting “more” to happen, and constant comparison of ourselves to any number of people, standards or ideas.

The Random 100 challenges us to make random acts of gratitude at least 100 times each day. Rather than focus on what’s missing, the Random 100 moves our attention to what is already present, with an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude. It’s as simple as saying “thank you” when something positive happens, and saying “thank you” when something challenging comes our way.

Over time, gratitude starts to become a focus for our day, and we begin to see the real gift of the Present Moment, with all its power and possibility.

3. Evening Shoes. The Evening Shoes is a perfect time to reinforce all the positive steps you’ve made today. And it’s as easy as looking at your shoes.

Take a look at your shoes. Where have they been today? Where did you go? What did you do? What people did you meet…or avoid? Just think about it for a moment.

Now think about your victories. What triumphs did you have today? What positive steps did you make for any or all of your goals?

Finally, think about tomorrow. What will you do differently tomorrow? What new steps will you take in your shoes? What will make your shoes have an even more awesome report tomorrow night?

Now you can go to sleep knowing that you’ve made progress, and tomorrow is another set of forward steps in the right direction.

These three habits are simple, easy, and you can do them for a lifetime. They provide you with a solid foundation that will give you more confidence to achieve your goals, whether they are for the day, month, year, or even a lifetime.

Try them for one month, and experience the change for yourself!

Visit http://www.nolimitslife.guru to connect further with Don and the rest of the team at No Limits Life.