deepak chopra

Our Relationship with Alcohol and Playing Small

Happy Friday, lovelies. There are a few things I’ve been thinking about lately and I wanted to share. The first is about our “drinking” stories. Our relationship with alcohol.

Since I started to talk about my story, a lot of people have come to me.

Most recently, a woman messaged me on Facebook and said, “I don’t know if I have ‘a story’ but reading your words makes me want to look at my own issues.”

My first reaction was, of course you have a story.

I was referring to her life story; she was referring to her drinking one. Either way, it gave me pause. She’s not sure if she’s got a drinking story ‘big’ enough to qualify her bringing it up. A lot of messages I get are like this. Women who don’t see themselves in the image of what we’ve labeled ‘addicts’ and so they question the fact that they’re questioning themselves in the first place. Because once you say, “this might be a problem,” well then what the fuck does that mean? We’ve made it quite weird as a society to talk about our relationships to drugs and alcohol, and it keeps a lot of people quiet and alone (raises hand!). I often wonder what my path would’ve looked like if I knew more women growing up, or in social circles, at work, wherever, that didn’t drink and talked about it as openly as we would, say, our food choices, or our preferences in bed. Not something we need to make unsolicited statements about constantly, but when asked, or if it comes up, or if we feel like talking about it, it’s on the table and fair game and not something we have to save for a special, anonymous group.

A big part of the reason I started talking openly about it is because I want women (or men, I like men too!) to reach out to me, to feel like they can explore the topic without labeling themselves anything. To say, “Hey, this is sort of freaking me out, what do you think?” or “I don’t know what it means exactly, but this is how I’m feeling.”

And another reason – an even bigger one – is that I had this idea that people who didn’t drink must really, truly, not be very happy. Like not really happy. Like it must be always a little less shiny and fun. Sort of boring, or at least less exciting.

I saw being sober as either a choice made based on religion (in which case, no thanks, because you were probably highly judgmental and closed-minded) or a consequence of being an addict who spun out of control, and so you were forced into it.

Either way, I didn’t want it, and I didn’t know anyone who did.

So I've decided to be someone who’s out there in the world – a woman, a mama, a lots-of-things – living a big, whole life – who’s willing to talk about the fact that she doesn’t drink anymore - and more importantly - share why, and what it's like this way. It's not a secret. I don't think it should be.

(Sidenote: I read an interview once with an author talking about the process of writing her first book. The interviewer asked how she came up with the topic for the book? She said she'd searched and searched for the book or the person that was going to save her from herself, the perfect words that would help her through her own struggles, and while she'd found a lot of words and a lot of folks who touched on bits of it, she couldn't find the whole story, stated exactly how she wanted, anywhere. So she wrote the book she needed to read. It's like that.)

Which brings me to my next point: something my friend asked me a few weeks ago:

Do you think anyone has a healthy relationship with alcohol?

Yes. Sure.

I don't think everyone needs to stop drinking and I don't think alcohol is categorically "bad." At all.

I don’t care if you drink. I don’t care if you drink around me, and in fact, please do if you want to, because it makes me feel weird when you stop being you around me.

I am not anti-drinking.

I’m anti-hiding-from-ourselves-and-each-other.

I’m anti-shame.

I’m anti-let’s-pretend-that’s-not-happening.

I’m anti- anything that is fucking up your life and keeping you from being free.

I’m anti-playing small.

*************

So, that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. 

Keep talking. Keep reaching. Keep on playing big.

Love, Laura

Oh, also, I’m on day 12 of Oprah and Deepak’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge and it’s getting so much better. YAY

What Meditation Really Looks Like (I Hate Oprah and Deepak)

I need to get something off my chest. I have to call myself out. I have to tell everyone that I've been kind of lying to, or even sort of lying by to withholding. I have to rat myself out because today it just has to be said.

Here it is:

I HATE MEDITATING.

Like,  I loathe it. I hate even the thought of it. When I'm doing it, I hate it 99% of the time. The other 1% of the time my ass falls asleep and I think the blood to my brain gets cut off, so I forget how much I hate it for that second.

I don't like it at all.

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but today kicked off one of Oprah and Deepak Chopra's 21 Day Meditation Challenges.

Oprah and Deepak 21 day meditation experience
Oprah and Deepak 21 day meditation experience

I saw it everywhere - in my inbox, on Facebook, in text messages, Instagram, everywhere. People I  respect and admire and who are my teachers like Gabrielle Bernstein and Pema Chodron and Mastin Kipp were blasting out reminders yesterday and today to Join! Be a part! Love! Hug! (Groan.)

I even sent texts to people yesterday with the same info, like I was giving the FYI to join, that I'd be doing it (obviously, DUH!).

But then today looked something like this:

  • 5:15 am - Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.
  • Repeat above unconsciously every 8 minutes until 6:45. Fuck off all intentions to wake up early and meditate and write.
  • 6:45 - Roll out of bed, annoyed, and already a little behind.
  • 6:46 - Drop to my knees to say, Hi, God. Can I get some help today? Please? Cool. Thanks.
  • 6:47 - 7:54 - Do the morning routine with my daughter, which is incredibly organized for me,  but far from "organized." Success is: we both leave the house clothed, she eats something that's not the leftover cupcake in the fridge, teeth get brushed, she has a lunch she won't throw away, and I remember the keys and will not be locked out later. We both suffer a little every day.
  • 8:03 - We pull up to her drop off lane at school and she cries because her ski pants were still wet from the night before, because she peed in them mid-ski. Cars are honking and I'm trying to tell her it's ok, that she'll be able to play in the snow tomorrow, and please get out of the goddam car.
  • 8:04 - I drive away successful. She is not tardy today! She's been tardy 16 times since November, I found out Friday. 15 of those are on my watch.
  • 8:05 - 9:12 - Commute to work. Try to find zen on the train, but fall asleep instead.
  • Start Monday. Negotiate with the parts of my brain that are at work, and the parts that are elsewhere, which is about 94%. Ask some of that 94% to please join me here, now. But the tug of war has already started and I'm agitated and battling myself at about a level four. Level five has tears. I breathe deeply. I exhale. I close my eyes. I plot my to-do's, I write them down, this helps.
  • 10:47 - The school nurse emails and Alma isn't feeling well. I toss out my plans to go to a noon meeting or the gym to fix myself.
  • 12:18 - I go to pick her up.
  • 1:20 - We are home. She watches a show, I retreat to the bedroom to work.
  • All afternoon - I pivot between work and me baby, resenting both.
  • 3:50 - She comes to hug me and presses her hands against my face and I'm suffocated by the smell of POOP. I jerk back and scream, What the hell?! And she says, well, we ran out of toilet paper. (She's right. We did.) I say, NO EXCUSE, and I start to run the shower, but she won't get in, she's screaming at the top of her lungs, so I strip down and drag her in with me. Because this is what we do. We do what works.
  • 5:14 - I get a meditation reminder from fucking Deepak and Oprah and decide maybe this is a good time, before I try to do anything else, before I make dinner, because maybe I should hit the pause now. Like my snooze button.
  • I tell Alma I'm going to meditate for 20 minutes, and what is she going to do? She says, watch a show. Perfect. I put on a show.

Now, the fun really starts.

I put a pillow down and shut the door to my room. I go to find today's meditation in the app and see an Instagram notification and dive into an Instagram rabbit hole for about seven minutes before I regain consciousness and remember the task at hand. Then a call comes in for work that I answer. Then I get a text from a friend who just came out of surgery. Then I remember Alma has homework. Then I remember: MEDITATION. 

I open the app, find Day 1, sit down and close my eyes, assuming the position.

Oprah's voice comes on, welcoming me to the journey. Cool.

The recording suddenly stops. I open my eyes and grab my phone. Another work call. Inhale, answer, talk, work it out, go back.

I start over. I listen as Oprah does the intro, then Deepak takes me through today's mantra.

Alma turns the iPad up to full blast in her room, then screams for me.

I ignore her.

She comes in, grabs my hand, drags me into her room and asks me to buy a game.

I say unkind words and walk out.

I hit play, again. Restart.

A minute or so in the thing happens that usually happens when I sit down to meditate and my mind fucking EXPLODES.

My brain releases every to-do and distraction. Every thought I've had for my entire life and a few more.

My body starts twitching.

My brain says, GOD, you suck at this. Seriously? You're a YOGA TEACHER. WHAT THE FUUUUUCK. Stop this right now. Sit up! STOP. Stooooooooooooop.

And I remember everything I've ever learned from every teacher I've known and I say to my brain, I see what you're doing and I call BULLSHIT. Now please, please darling, get out of the way.

More twitching.

I get lost in a spiral of thought, pew! Like a pinball! Pew!

One thousand monkey squirrels on adderral dance around.

One hits my eyelids and forces them to snap open, STOP IT, YOU'RE MESSING IT ALL UP!

My legs twitch and bounce.

My butt loses circulation.

I shift and stretch my neck.

It has been about three minutes.

You get the point.

What Meditation Really Looks Like

Meditation for me does not look like this:

Or this:

Gabrielle Bernstein. Love her. Hate her so much right here.
Gabrielle Bernstein. Love her. Hate her so much right here.

But more like this:

Photo credit:  Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

Photo credit: Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

And this:

Photo credit:  Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

Photo credit: Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

And then this:

Photo credit:  Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

Photo credit: Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

And then:

Photo credit:  Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

Photo credit: Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

And then probably this:

Photo credit:  Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

Photo credit: Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

And then, finally, total despair:

Photo credit:  Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

Photo credit: Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

But, I will do it again tomorrow.

I wanted to post this to say:

  1. If I've ever told you I love meditating, I was lying, and I'm sorry if I made you feel dumb because you don't love it.
  2. If you feel like you're doing it wrong, you're not.
  3. If you feel like you don't have the time, or the right spot, or the right life, or too much chaos? Me too.
  4. I'm going to do it again tomorrow, and I need you to do it with me.

Why? Why would I do it again tomorrow? And why do I want you to join?

Because I've learned in the past year that when I'm pushing against something really hard, when I meet up with resistance this strong, I need to face it. Because it's the one thing - literally the one thing - that every spiritual teacher from the beginning of time swears by and agrees on and I'm going to assume maybe they're on to something.

Because that same part of my mind that tells me I can't meditate told me I couldn't live without drinking, and it was so totally wrong.

But I wouldn't have known that if I believed my brain.

Because maybe, if I can cultivate the ability to sit with myself for one minute, I can do it for another, and another, and all that might lead to a lifetime of hanging out with myself as a compassionate friend, versus being with myself as an enemy.

Maybe.

I don't know.

I still hate it.

But I'll try again tomorrow.

Will you please, too? Pretty please?