Since quitting drinking officially on December 27, 2017 I have so far visited and explored three new countries with three more lined up for this year and have lost 41 pounds. The greatest part is, this evolution of self has really just begun. I’m an INFANT in my own self discovery.
It’s hard for even myself to believe that there was a period in my life where I sought drinking as a solution to my internal pain. There were times I was not even conscious of the fact that I was doing it, I just knew that it made everything okay for the night. The problems worsened when the alcohol was needed beyond the messy nights that I can’t even remember. Suddenly it was no longer just leisurely evenings out with girlfriends that ended up as ‘black out’ events, ha-ha, it’s so funny to black out. It’s actually not fucking funny. What had begun as drunken nights in bars evolved into a situation where I was getting drunk off of straight whiskey in a supply closet at my job as an office manager to be rid of the shakes. Or straight vodka in the kitchen as a receptionist before that. Or the two IPA beers I’d brought in my purse to drink under my desk as an office manager elsewhere.
Alcoholism runs in my family pretty strongly and I’d gotten the warnings early on from my father, but never paid attention of course. We never want to listen to our parents. Not even being homeless and living out of my car in Los Angeles for six months was I willing to admit to myself that I had a severe problem, alcohol was that important to me.
I’d lost sight years before of what my real passions were, my true desires and interests. It was like I took a superficial bribe of alcohol to remain in a permanent state of detachment from myself and everything around me. Someone would ask me, ‘What are your interests? What do you do for fun?’ The truth was I had no idea what the answer to that question was. I only knew that dimly lit bars, wine and liquor were what I knew to be ‘fun’. The six packs I downed to myself were fun.
When I did finally decide to quit alcohol for good after a few years of failed attempts, it was because I was looking at photos of my 5’2″ body weighing upward of 200 lbs. I’d put myself in danger for the last and final time on Christmas night of 2017 when the NYPD found me wandering around completely blacked out, and took me home. (This incident ended up being written about in the New York Post which can be found here ).
I looked at my life and everything in it – was this really the life I’d always pictured for myself? Was I really only worth as much as that? Quitting seemed absolutely impossible to me as it does for the majority of alcoholics. I’d built so much of my life around the use of alcohol. It served as the way I socialized to get over my own shyness, the way I was rid of my intense anxiety about the world around me and everything that could wrong in it, a way I was rid of the horrors of being raped years before, a way I could bludgeon the memory of my first abusive relationship.
It served as a way to already be dead with a heart still beating.
I knew it was important early on for sustaining my sobriety that I actively pursue new things and build a new life without it. If I’d remained stagnant like I had before and expected things to change around me magically, just because I quit, I knew I’d go right back to it.
I took up yoga and meditation to start healing my mind and body, but I actually credit one thing to be the single most solid turning point in my journey back into myself.
I booked a trip to Paris for the first time.
It was something I’d always wanted to do, I’d always wanted to travel and explore and I’d never done it because my mind and my money were always consumed with alcohol. So there I was, completely bare without booze to distract me. I no longer had the option of superficial substance taking me away from a true desire that I allowed myself to have. Even the process of planning the trip; booking the Airbnb in Saint Michel, looking up which restaurants had the best view of the Eiffel Tower, the old touristy sites to see, everything about it sent me into a shock wave of passion. I was overcome with the feeling, it was real passion, not the illusion that came from the next approaching bottle of liquor.
Max and I went to Paris together in June of 2018 which is what I dub as the first time I fell in love with Europe. Being half Filipino, I’d been back and forth to and from the Philippines since I was a kid. But this – this was different. This was a trip that I put together myself without my parents involved, to a place we both had never been before.
We spent four nights in the beautiful city and it lived up to everything that I’ve ever heard about it and more.
We had coffee and croissants in the outdoor cafes with the sunshine on our backs, we strolled the Jardin Du Luxembourg gazing at the architecture and towering green hedges, I wore a fabulous white lace dress when we had dinner at a restaurant called Les Ombres (pronounced LEZ-OHM to our dismay, you can guess how we pronounced it) with a direct view of the Eiffel Tower like I’d wished. The sun sets late in the summer, we stuck around til 10:30 PM to watch the tower light up and sparkle. The skies were pink and purple and the setting sun shone gold over the old buildings across the city.
Our Airbnb hosts were the friendliest people whom invited us for coffee on our way out, though of course there was a slight language barrier, it didn’t seem to matter. They wanted to keep in touch and remain friends – this baffled me, SOCIABLE PEOPLE THAT WANT TO BE FRIENDS?
As the Notre Dame bells rang on our final day in Paris, rain began to fall and we hurriedly searched for macarons to bring with us on the plane – I felt a tenderness inside me. I was sad but also full from the joy of our short trip. Then, I began to feel another sensation rise in me – a yearning. I absolutely had to see more of the world now that I’d really begun.
Thus, was the introduction to my wanderlust that I’d finally allowed myself to have without the distractions of addiction. Addiction in any form it may come in whether it be drinking, drugs, food intake, or shopping. All of these things in excess serve as a bribe to live under your potential and your truth. When I gave my drinking problem up, the world seemed to open itself to me, like a part of my mind and heart now worked properly enough to bring it into my reality. I now had the capacity mentally, physically, and financially to travel the world.
Anxiety, sadness, wounds from the past of course still existed within me. But in the course of time and the trips that followed, they seemed to heal on their own and with every place I visited new – I began to build a new person. I am currently building this person who is being uncovered slowly, step by step, by the following of the calling of my heart.
“Following your true desires brings you to what’s needed for your soul’s evolution.”