Yesterday, (4th of July), I caved. So shouldn’t I change the title of this post to “Day 1”? No. I’m not going to do that. And here’s why:
I went out with two of my girlfriends yesterday. We made plans to go to Venice and I offered to be the DD since Ubers were going to be overpriced and I wasn’t going to drink anyway, at least that’s what I thought when I made these plans.
I woke up yesterday and started getting ready for the festivities. As I was applying the perfect shade of red lipstick to match my red, white, and blue bikini top, I thought, “I’m going to have a beer today”. I made a conscious choice to lightly partake in the party atmosphere I was about to place myself in. I decided it would be a little bit of an experiment.
Last year, I day-dreamed a lot about what it would be like to come back from a year of sobriety. I envisioned myself being social and charming while holding a drink, ONE drink. The whole reason I went a year sober was to be a more responsible drinker in 2016, and as you all know, 2016 hasn’t really gone according to plan. I’ve been thinking a lot about why that is and I think it goes back to my beliefs in being present and accountable in the moment.
I’m finding it more and more difficult to plan ahead. It’s a challenge; to say you’ll do one thing only to find that you can’t or won’t follow through with it later on because well, plans changed. I’ve always been a planner, almost to a fault, and when plans fall through, I panic. I think one of the reasons last year was such a success was because I had a plan in place and to save myself from an anxiety attack, I refused to stray from the plan.
This year, I didn’t have a plan. I had no overarching theme for the year. I had no challenge. I was going wherever the wind blew. The tricky thing about that is, you don’t get to decide which direction the wind blows, and this year, the wind blew me backwards (I’m sure there’s a “that’s what she said” joke in there somewhere).
Yesterday I turned the blowers off (that’s what she said) and I decided to steer myself for a change. I had three beers over the course of eight hours and downed more water than I do in an hour long spin class. I was pacing myself, and it felt good. For the first time this year, I felt like I was finally applying all that I had learned last year. I didn’t feel the need to take shots or do a keg stand (and both those opportunites presented themselves at these parties I went to). I laughed and danced and sang along to “Hotline Bling” with my girlfriends. I ate my weight in fried chicken and crawfish. I met a boy. I had fun! And I didn’t need to get drunk to do it! Sure, I was drinking, but I wasn’t drunk-ing. I was present and aware of what I was putting in my body and I was able to limit myself, without feeling limited (except for that fried chicken, the struggle was real with that one).
As great as all of this sounds, there was one not-so-great thing about yesterday.
I smoked. And I’m really bummed about it.
I knew deciding to have a beer also meant fighting a very, very strong urge to smoke, but I told myself I could do it, and I was looking forward to writing this post to let you guys know that I managed to stay smoke-free even with a beer in my hand. I was so disappointed in myself that after I put the cigarette out, I went to my car for thirty minutes and cried on the phone to my sister. I felt like a failure. I failed you guys, who have been so supportive and encouraging through all my ups and downs, I failed my mom, I failed myself. I broke a promise to everyone and that feels absolutely awful.
But, leave it up to my sister to always find the silver lining. As I was verbally punching myself in the face over and over again, Megan grabbed my hands and told me to stop. She pointed out how terrible I felt about my bad choice. As my head was spinning from the nicotine high and the anxiety over how I was going to write about this, Megan brought me back to the present moment. “Next time you have the urge to smoke, remember how bad this feels”, she told me. In other words, next time that quiet, almost subconscious voice in your head says “man I wish I had a cigarette, maybe I could just have one”, consciously choose to remember these bad feelings so that next time, you make a better choice.
My sister has always been the smartypants of the family.
The whole point of making mistakes is to learn from them. We only fail if we stop learning because if we aren’t learning, we aren’t moving forward, we aren’t evolving, we aren’t bettering ourselves. It’s like that famous Einstein quote, that every girl tweets at least once in her life when she can’t get over her ex, says, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again again and expecting different results”.
I’m not going to continue to smoke because I had one yesterday. I know what happens if I do that because I’ve been through this before and if I put myself through it again, that’s INSANE.
I’m a work in progress, we all are, the keyword in that phrase being PROGESS.
And that’s why I’m not going to go back to a “Day 1” mentaility. I’m on Day 15/Day 11 of progress. Through my one-year sobriety challenge and my now mostly-sober, definitely smoke-free lifestyle choice, all I’ve ever wanted was to be better, to be the best possible version of myself, and that means I’ve signed-up for a lifetime of present, conscious, wonderful progress.