Tuesday, August 31, 2010

28 Days Later

I feel beyond blissful today. Another perfect sunny morning. I woke up feeling incredulous, almost shocked. It's over! Again. Five months of normalcy are ahead of me. I'm so excited ... about everything.

But yesterday I had certain points where I felt down. Be prepared to have mixed emotions coming off a cleanse. Yes, you'll feel happy, relieved, full of anticipation. But you also might feel slightly depressed.

I don't know what it is about ending a cleanse than can sometimes make me feel a bit blue. Is it the fact that I'm forced to cleanse at all? I know alcoholics can feel very resentful about not being able to drink if they must abstain indefinitely. Maybe it's just that. A low-grade bitterness that I can't be drinking all the time and have to cleanse in the first place.

Is it guilt? Guilt that I CAN start drinking again and other alcoholics can't? Guilt that I discovered how to do this and other people haven't? Guilt that I enjoy drinking so much that I go through this twice a year? Guilt because the "experts" say this shouldn't be possible? That there's only one way to cure alcoholism - and that's quitting forever? Or worse, that alcoholism can never be cured and that 20 years after your last drink, you're still considered an alcoholic?

Is it fear? Fear that this plan will stop working? Fear that I'll lose control again? I suppose all alcoholics will always feel at least a subtle fear when it comes to alcohol. God knows we have it drilled into us from all sides. But let's not call it fear anymore. Let's call it what it should be: respect. We should have respect for alcohol. It is a good slave, but a hard master.

Maybe the mixed emotions I sometimes feel in the days leading up to the end of a cleanse are just a reminder of how quickly time passes in general. Because you will find a sort of seamless amorphous quality to time when you start cleansing. When it's over, you wonder did it go by fast? Did it take forever? Does it seem more like a weekend? More like a year? Does it feel like another lifetime?

Because sometimes it feels like that, too. As if you were a whole other person before. A darker person, a more worried person. I always feel transformed - for the better - after a cleanse. I always have such a feeling of accomplishment. But as with all things that require effort, energy and determination, there are growing pains, too.

Because cleansing truly is a growing process. A time of self-discovery. A time of self-empowerment. Self-love. And maybe, sometimes, self-loathing - because you were cursed with the gene or the temperament or the pleasure receptors that made you so vulnerable to drinking in the first place.

Let the feelings come and go. Let them flow through you. Write about it, blog about it, talk to friends or your spouse or your mother about it. Let it go. Let it be. The journey is not over yet. It is just beginning. There is no "end" to this - or any plan to improve your life. Cleansing is a continuous, flowing, learning experience - as life always will be. Be at one with it. Live in peace with it. The good and the bad. It is all vital to your learning process. As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke said "The only journey is the one within." So be proud of yourself for beginning the most important journey of all.

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