* disclaimer, don’t be a dumbass and start drinking if you know alcohol triggers: wounds, negative thought & behavioral patterns, if you’re excessive or if you straight up identify as an alcoholic. I can’t reiterate that enough.
**also, this has been edited and revised for better assimilation
Now let’s begin…
The dirty Trussell recipe: 2 oz vodka, 1 capful vermouth, 1 Tbsp olive juice – shaken – + 2 olives to a martini glass, pour, revel.
I can be a rigid asshole. I have a history of perfectionism and having to get it right in a world full of fuck ups & CFO’s. Alcohol was always a mystery for me and in the thick of the eating disorder that consumed my better judgment (and better half of my younger years), it was always to blame. Laughing matter or not, that’s exactly what addicts do; viciously blame life on a conditional basis. I’m not sure if it’s my foundation in yoga or my past obsession with Ekhart Tolle but I couldn’t let up on this innate sense that the more we cling to labels the more limited we are. That gem just stuck. Thus, the major reason why I can’t indulge in 12 step programs. The dogma KILLS me.
Then Marriage & Family Therapy became part of my clinical training and it dawned on me that everything is a relationship. My work with food – including my past career as a private chef – plus how we relate to it metaphorically has been indicative of that. “Of course,” I’d say, it’s not just food but everything we consume: news, media and information and the dances we dance with: people, places & things. This is how I personally unravel the psyche. Additionally, spend an afternoon binging on Dr. Gabor Maté & Jordan Peterson interviews and you’ll soon understand that our self defeating behaviors and tendencies are really just stemming from the wounded child within all of us. Or in John Bowlby’s work, our attachment needs. The most basic thing about being an over-thinker is that there are so few things that actually quiet the mind, meditation being one, martini’s another…
One day after indulging in a series of worrisome thoughts about whether I’m on the right track, if I’ve royally messed up my life, if I’ve derailed, if I’m lovable, if I’ll ever own a house, if I’ll ever be as “good as,” if I’ll ever be enough (keeping in mind that Therapists have bad days too!)… etc, I found myself wading in a thick mud puddle of “if evers.” Ew. It was a bout of depression that certainly happens every so often but thankfully (and thanks to life experience, training and the myriad of times I’ve actually made the mark) I put my finger on what it was that was causing my self doubt. One of the key components of that loathsome mirage was focusing on things out of my control. What good are negative thoughts other than the well of emptiness they create (the void) only to be filled by something better. And ah-ha. That was it.
So I challenged myself in doing something that surprised the living chihuahuas out of me and I made a cocktail for 5 evenings straight. With the caveat that I wasn’t,
1. intending to get drunk,
2. would eat a sensible dinner and
3. only have 1-2 and no more.
That meant 1-2 cocktails or 1-2 glasses of wine, my take on “therapeutic boundaries.” A funny experiment for someone obsessed with their health and wellbeing, I know. Amidst that experiment I might add, I affirmed my inborn right to feel happy and repeated the list of things I knew I wanted to feel: inspired, excited, driven, light, clear and of course happy – IRREGARDLESS of circumstance: boyfriend in Japan, not knowing the fate of my future, impermanence of life, what I eat/drink. Then presto. Not only did I feel happier I felt like a bit of a rebel WITH a cause and better for it.
I will add that I did a handful of research on the health benefits/detriments of alcohol consumption. Not like I was learning anything surprisingly new except for what made sense to my experience: sometimes letting go, distressing, doing things that surprise us, breaking the norm, going against the grain – can be the BEST medicine, no matter how it’s applied. I made this experience so much less about drinking alcohol and more about living my life and facing self talk with fearlessness.
Please don’t get me wrong – abstinence and sobriety are beautiful and essential. I’ll discuss that more below. The reason this was therapeutic (for me) was because drinking isn’t my norm – perfectionism is. Rigidity is. Getting it right is. Aka, waking up at 5 am, working out, drinking matcha tea, eating 3 balanced meals a day, getting 8 hours of sleep, having clear skin, the best career, the happiest kids…you get my drift. In fact, the most therapeutic aspect of this was that when I used to drink anything at all, I’d berate myself with negative, self punishing, self degrading thoughts – so this experiment, mind you, was large in part about turning that mental framework around. I taught myself it wasn’t about the thing itself but the mental control thereafter. There’s no better way to integrate that then to be your own guinea pig. It can be applied to eating or anything else that stirs the pot. Remember that last pan of brownies you polished off? What was your self talk like the following day? Let that sink in a moment.
Rewind about a year and a half ago and in the worst emotional shape of my life (recent divorce, newly single mom status, financial distress) and I found salvation in Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation series along with Esther Hick’s Law of Attraction work. I can’t stress this enough – despite my training, however much I knew about health and wellness:
it wasn’t until I started affirming my life and focusing on the feelings I wanted to feel that anything actually changed.
My typical functional coffee: espresso, collagen peptides, mct oil, honey & functional mushroom blend. *which is also sometimes an oat milk latte with raw honey – also extremely functional and delicious.
Fast forward to this moment – and back to yoga because in truth I’d have no legs to stand on if it wasn’t for the profundity coming from my yoga teacher years and years ago. The big downloads being: 1. you are stronger than you think you are, 2. redouble your efforts, 3. the yoga begins when you want to get out of the pose & 4. do the opposite – stemming from the sutra: Pratipaksha Bhavanam which means to,
Contemplate and take another view—look at the situation from another perspective. In another sutra [2.34], Patañjali says that if you have negative thinking that comes from anger, greed, or delusion, whether you’re actively in it or just thinking about it, the fruit will be unending suffering and ignorance. So, “Pratipaksha bhavanam”: take another view, reframe your perspective on the situation. Source
So each morning I woke up and the first things I said to myself was – I’m happy, I’m free, I’m excited, I’m inspired – and so it was. Alcohol or not we need to relax. All of us. Wherever we’re pent up, freaked out, pissed off or tight assed – we need to chill…and do whatever it takes. Alcohol – again, I promise – is only one means of getting there and might I add a temporary one (followed by lots of milk thistle, dandelion greens, lemon water and a bit of avocado to restore glutathione, #nerd). Which brings me to ↓
The honest to goodness truth of the matter is – as I peer into the the false illusion of the panacea that are my kitchen cabinets: everything from functional mushroom blends to spirulina to zinc citrate to mct oil to peptides to raw honey….what we consume matters but how we feel matters more. What, we might start asking, are we so desperately trying to heal that isn’t already whole and perfect? Our feelings root back to our thoughts and our thoughts are highly influenced by the outside world. One of the best and only ways to thwart those messages is to get quiet with yourself. Truth be told, days on end of even moderate alcohol consumption doesn’t do much other than depress the central nervous system and overload the liver which takes a bit of repair work, I might add. A martini is SO GOOD every once in a while to shake up some rigid patterning but there’s nothing at the bottom of that glass other than a juicy olive. Eat it. Move on.
All of the answers we’re searching for simply don’t exist in things. So if it’s answers we’re looking for and feelings we’re wanting more or less of – we have to prioritize our connection with our true selves. Authenticity is achievable through trusting that everything is always working out and that You are the source – the source of all good things coming and going through your life experience. You are also the creator of your life experience. Nothing happens to us. Just think back to a time in your life when you successfully ended a cycle. The pan of brownies you once ate and purged became the pan of brownies you ate and didn’t purge. Isn’t that a success? The bulimic sits with the feelings of her/his actions and as shitty as those feelings, there was a ripple of change in that behavior and she/he was effectively different. In therapy we call this 2nd Order Change – a flip in homeostatic patterning. New normals, mind you.
Sadly but beautifully everything is temporary – especially negative emotions – but most importantly our physical existence here on earth. It’s high time we bolster that existence with mindful awareness. We can (and will) all pick our poison and ride the wave of thoughts it provokes which create a cycle of behavior ♺ – OR, we can choose the panacea of our thought patterns and begin with our relationship to ourselves and the honest dance we dance. What’s an honest dance? One where you move your body irregardless of dancing standards because the body was designed to move not abide by laws.
In closing my sincere therapeutic advice is to:
- find something that helps you relax – poison or panacea – they both have hidden messages and neither are wrong
- affirm your self worth by listing what it is you want to feel. Hint, the only way you know this is having an awareness of what you don’t want to feel. Keep the list affirmative and positive.
- do something that surprises you – buy a surf board, a new bike, create a new routine, a plane ticket
- rinse and repeat until your thought patterns shift then for the sake of excitement, keep surprising yourself.
- remember you are in control – life happens for us, we’re here on purpose.
So go shake it up – then come back to yourself realizing you never left the path toward a more authentic you,