Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 14 - The Battle of Midway

The battle of Midway is considered the most important naval battle of WWII. It was six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and it found the US Navy causing "irreparable damage" to the Japanese navy. One thing Wiki doesn't say about the battle of Midway is that there was another one this year - and it took place yesterday, midway through my cleanse.

I mentioned that we had a great Friday night and Saturday and night. Measuring the joy of a cleanse weekend is really important to me because with each cleanse I find non-drinking weekends easier and more fun. And all was going really well ... until yesterday when we decided to head back downtown to pick up that white sideboard we saw at that expensive furniture shop we never go to.

The place was going out of business and the sideboard I saw on Friday - then visited again with the hubby on Saturday - was on sale for half price. It also fit just about every need we have in the living room in terms of dimensions, design, storage space, etc. It was still a bit more than we were expecting to pay, but it was a high-end designer piece and maybe it's time we stepped out of our IKEA/West Elm/EQ3 comfort zone.

However, my hubby wasn't 100% convinced when he first saw it and needed a bit more time to think. Plus we both thought there was one day left of the sale and on the very last day, we'd probably be able to haggle a bit and get a couple hundred bucks off - especially since Sunday would be their last day in business.

So we went home and measured and moved and imagined all the problems that this piece solved: it would clean up my husband's office area and de-clutter the whole living room, which is a bonus seeing as I'm de-cluttering my life along with Oprah.

So Sunday morning I got up first, as usual, relatively early (especially for a non-hangover morning! Ah, the bliss of non-hangover Saturday and Sundays! Almost worth the dry nights! Almost ...) However, it was March 13th and Daylight Savings Time had begun. Our clocks had "sprung forward" and, as is always the case this time of year, we were "losing" an hour of our weekend. Never a good thing. I don't know why I secretly resent it: this stealing of an hour of a weekend every year. Even though it's refunded in the fall.

On top of that, the St. Patrick's Day Parade was on - starting at noon and marching for two solid hours ... directly ... and I mean DIRECTLY ... in front of the windows of the furniture store where that white sideboard was. In fact, every shamrock-cheeked cutie who might've glanced in the shop window on the west side of the street would have actually seen our coveted white chest.

On top of losing an hour and fighting the crowds for the parade, I had PMS which I have to be honest, has very rarely been easier when I'm on a cleanse. :(

Driving was now out of the question because of road closures and traffic, but I didn't like the idea of fighting the parade crowds on the subway, so I figured if we could get down there and back while the parade was actually on, it would be our best bet.

I started waking the hubby up a little earlier than usual because we'd planned to head down to the store when it opened, we thought around noon. My hubs is NOT morning person. Repeat NOT. If ever there was an understatement in the world it would be that: my husband is not a morning person. Waking him up early - especially when he was getting up an hour earlier anyway - takes the kind of courage and prowess that only 18 years of partnership can give you. To make matters worse, our Sundays are usually sacrosanct. Except for a load of laundry or two, we really try to keep things relaxed and low-key on Sundays.

I suppose I was already a bit ratcheted up because I now so wanted that sideboard ... the clocks had changed, stealing that hour ... the parade was screwing up the convenience of the plans ... and the PMS was roaring. My husband sensed it immediately when he woke up but he seemed to be dealing with it quite well. We decided to leave right after coffee and the Sunday Times. I don't think he even took a shower.

Off we went to the subway. And yes, it was crowded. Full of parents with kids with temporary shamrock tattoos on their cheeks, grown men and women in green felt hats, and various other Sunday shoppers. Unfortunately, we missed the train by about two seconds, getting to the platform just in time to see the lights of the back window pulling away into the black tunnel.

Because it was Sunday, the trains were running on a slower schedule - even though it seemed as busy as any weekday on the platform. Each minute that went by saw more people cramming next to us. My husband started grumbling about being on the subway 'seven days in a row.' I started feeling resentful that this great purchase we were so looking forward to was starting to become a drag.

We had to switch trains, which meant dealing with the schedule and the crowds again - and we barely said a word to each other for the whole ride. Keep in mind we are both preparing ourselves for only two eventualities: 1) we were going to have a great new sideboard; or 2) someone else got it and we had both agreed that we were okay with that. If that happened, we weren't "meant" to have it we decided.

We got off the train and made our way through the glorious old art-deco mall where this furniture shop is located. Just as we were heading down the last marble hallway, my husband said: "I hope it's gone. That way we can get home earlier." I felt myself roll my eyes. I do a lot of eye-rolling during PMS I think.

So we turn the corner to go into the shop and ... the doors are closed. The store is dark. There are big "Closed" and "Going out of Business" signs on the doors.

The store is closed. Permanently.

I felt a sick thud in my chest. Then a spreading anger. I'll make a long story short because we spent the whole day quite miserable, fighting and complaining and regretting and wondering why, oh, why, when we were both wandering around that store so much - going for lunch in that market resto downstairs - going back to see the thing again, picking up another little knick-knack (a fake Boston fern that looked so damn real my lack-of-a-green-thumb mind couldn't resist it!) - how was it that in all that time, with all the clerks we talked to, we didn't once ask if they'd be open tomorrow, Sunday. It was totally unlike both of us.

Worse, we were chastising ourselves all day for being so "cheap" to think that waiting another whole day and planning an outing on Sunday was actually worth the slim possibility that they'd give us another markdown. It went on and on ... and on.

Neither of us like going through crises of any sort without coming out with a "lesson" we can use for the rest of our lives. We're both into self-improvement and our lives are usually fun and easy-going. When we hit a snag, we really want to learn something from it. And yes, we took away many, many lessons, not the least of which was having a little more respect for time (interesting on a weekend where clocks and the very nature of time change randomly), a little less tension on the purse strings, and for myself, the ability to say that I want something, so I'm going to get it. Now.

But that's the great thing about cleansing. It's not the end of the road. Cleansing helps put your drinking in a place in your life where it's not the most important thing anymore. Your entire day isn't spent trying to figure out which liquor store you're going to go to so they don't recognize you, where you were going to hide the bottles, when you were going to plow back those extra glasses, etc. After cleansing, you have a basically "normal" life where the potential for self-improvement and joy is endless ... because self-improvement and joy are actually possible. When you're addicted to alcohol, they simply are not.

It's unreasonable to expect that you won't hit any snags on a cleanse. Chances are, in a 28-day period, you'll hit at least a few. And you're probably going to want a drink because of it. But don't have that drink.

Follow these seven steps for getting through cravings instead:

1) Breathe deeply.

Yes, yes. I know it sounds facile, but it's true. Your lungs will be your best buddies when it comes to working your way through cravings and crises - especially on a cleanse. I discovered the soothing comfort of deep breathing my way through cravings on my very first long cleanse. It's not quite a drink, I know that, but it will help relax you tremendously and it will feed some deep down desire in you that feels almost primitive. It will link you back up with a sense of well-being. It will help put things in perspective. It really will soothe you. Take at least one long, deep breath ... or several ... until you feel your blood pressure start to drop and your head stop pounding.

2) Find the lesson.

Think, really think, what you personally have to learn from the situation. Because no problem materializes in your life without also giving you a great opportunity to improve from it. Maybe it will be one big lesson, or a series of small ones, but be really honest with yourself. You know yourself better than anyone and you (probably) know exactly the lesson you have to learn from the situation. Honesty and courage are important. Don't resist the lessons set before you. Embrace them. This plan wasn't just about fixing my drinking - because my life is not just about drinking. At least ... not totally. ;) This plan is about normalizing your life in terms of drinking so that you can continue growing every day, every year, so that you can continue improving your life and finding more joy in it. And that is all about embracing the lessons you have to in order to improve everything around and inside of you.

3) Breathe deeply.

I can't state it enough. If you meditate, try that to work through cravings or snags in your will power. If you don't meditate, start. There is plenty of information about how to work meditation into your daily routine. I meditate for 15 minutes a day, following the Abraham-Hicks meditation guide. I find it relaxes me and makes me feel more joyful and centered, whether I'm cleansing or not.

4) Listen to some music.

Music soothes the savage beast. Isn't that what we say now? Only according to this proverb originated in the play "The Mourning Bride" by British author William Congreve, and the original wording was "Music has the charm to enchant even the roughest of people." Despite the fact this idea has evolved over the years, it still applies: listening to music will calm you. Better yet, dance. I've said it before, but I find it really effective to put on some headphones and dance for at least a song or two by myself when I'm dealing with a craving or an issue of any kind. So put on some tune (new or old) that fills you with joy. Something simple and upbeat that means something to you ... be silly, go crazy, DANCE! In ten or fifteen minutes you'll feel 100% better.

5) Breathe deeply.

6) Write about it.

Whether you're blogging your way through a cleanse or keeping a private journal, writing about your feelings is always a tremendously therapeutic process. Get it out. On paper, on screen. You'll feel much better when it's over and chances are you've put yourself in the headspace to really identify the lessons you have to take from the challenge, no matter how big or small it is.

7) Breathe deeply.

You get the point.

Strangely, in all our discussions of the ordeal last night, my hubby and I did come up with an unusual insight in favor of a life of drinking. If we had actually gone to the charming pub on the other side of the mall for burgers and a real drink, instead of just hopping downstairs to that food court-type establishment for rosti potatoes, sausages and H20, not only would we have had at least an extra half an hour to talk about the purchase of said sideboard, but we'd also be relaxed from the drink. We both feel that we would've made actually wiser decisions "under the influence" of a glass of wine or a beer. We would've been more relaxed in general. We would've had more time to chat about the sideboard and how it would work, and we probably would've just decided to get it - rather than cinching the purse strings so tightly and deciding to wait it out a day to haggle down the price.

We're both 100% convinced that if we'd just gone to a real restaurant and had a drink - me a nice big glass of wine and my hubby a brew - the whole day would've been more successful. And we wouldn't have wasted all that time Sunday getting up and fighting the beer-drinking St. Paddy's Day crowds on the subway, only to find the damn place closed. Worse than anything, we didn't end up with the sideboard at all.

Another check in the "Really why I love to drink and why I don't want to quit drinking forever" which is why I cleanse" category is this: we had a yummy spaghetti and meatballs dinner last night. If we'd had a nice bottle of cab breathing (there's that breathing again) for a couple of hours, we would've sat across the table from each other, lifted our glasses of red wine, stared at each other over the flickering candle, toasted to a day of challenges, but many lessons learned. We would've sipped the lovely ambrosia - and yes, as you know, about seven seconds after the full-bodied red hit our tongues, you'd feel yourself relax, you'd feel a smile lift your lips, and the wine lift your spirits. Which would make you take a nice deep breath. Or two.

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