The Road Less Travelled
Last Sunday was my one year anniversary of being sober. Not long after I chose veganism I also chose to quit alcohol completely. I'd always been a regular drinker, and at times would drink way too much. After being ill and having some other very stressful events in my life, I found I was drinking daily, and not always stopping at the two glasses of wine I would tell myself I'd have. It's a slippery slope, and I was sliding down it quickly. I felt mildly unwell most days; headache, dehydrated etc., and then by five or six o'clock in the evening I'd have a glass of wine and start the whole process all over again.
It took me a few stops and starts, but I finally got the momentum going and here I am one year later. The differences were subtle, but I noticed them almost immediately – that little bit of fat around my waist melted away (well mostly anyway!), within a week I was sleeping like I hadn't for many years – all night long, good, solid sleep. My mood improved and it's a special kind of wonderful to wake up every morning without a hangover. It's also wonderful to be able to drive at night if need be and to just generally be more aware; of myself and of those around me.
How is this related to veganism? Well most things in my life are in a roundabout way. It comes down to what I'm putting in is what I'm getting out. When you feel good about what's going into your body – or what isn't going into your body, then that ripples outward in a million different ways. It brings a kind of inner peace and with that comes an amazing amount of clarity. At the risk of sounding “hokey” it's all interrelated. You really are what you eat; or what you drink.
There is such an amazing mind/body connection which is something I'd like to explore further, and am taking steps to do so. It's been a long (very long!) road of inner discovery for me; I've gone about it the hard way – I really didn't need to put half a lifetime into it – or maybe I did – because it got me to this place, and I can't say I've ever really known myself as well as I do now. Everything in it's own time as they say.
I spent two years off work on long term disability – I filled my days with a lot of hiking, a lot of reading, yoga, some meditation, some writing, and a whole lot of spending time with myself like never before. Marriage, raising children, working, the end of a marriage, illness, raising teenagers – it doesn't leave a lot of time for getting to know who you are. Now, as my fiftieth birthday looms in the distance I feel like I'm just coming into my own. I've embraced veganism, and everything it represents – not the food so much (although I love it) but what it represents; I'm nurturing myself while doing the least amount of harm I can, I'm thinking about what I'm eating or wearing or doing, I'm more in touch with what's going on in the world in terms of how it affects this planet of ours and all the creatures (including ourselves) who live on it. I'm being more purposeful, more in tune with myself and others, and really just more “there”.
Do I miss drinking? Sure. Every once in awhile I think “boy, a nice glass of dry red would hit the spot right now”. But I don't miss it enough to have it. I miss melted cheese too, but not enough to eat it. Five minutes of gratification isn't worth stepping backwards on the path I've chosen because this path is full of so many rewards, and so much beauty, and just so much “more”.
This past year everything has come full circle for me in a very meaningful way. You couldn't pay me to go back twenty years (maybe for the young skin and grey-less hair though!). It's been a long, long, often painful journey, but the place that journey has taken me to so far has been well worth the effort. The other day my seventeen year old said to me how proud of me she was because I'd quit drinking, and that my friends is incentive enough for me.