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Hip Sobriety School, Day 3

"Today, just do nothing. Let yourself off the hook - consciously."

Fairly far along through last night's live group session to cover questions about our real-world experiences, someone actually raised a hand and said: "I'm having a really rough time with cravings." (What? It's already eight days into this program and that's still happening?)

Holly laughed at her suggestion that she must be the only one and reassured her that she is not alone, just the first one to voice it. I know for me that struggle has been such a hard bitch to take. Part of the problem is how ridiculously easy it was the first time around, immersed in AA and surrounded by a small army of sober peeps. I felt like the guy in the Verizon commercial who always walked around with a group of 30 or 40 people. He moved, they moved. I also dove back into meditation, spiritual circles, eating healthy food -- the entire thing flowed like a river and felt absolutely effortless. I was all in and the current just carried me off to a higher, better place.

This time around it's work, or as Holly would say, "hard work," and unfortunately, it's a job with no end in sight. No one can really say when huge shifts will take place, only that they will. I totally believe that. So I'm just plugging away here on the ground, doing my best to stay on the path and out of the weeds, paying attention to everything that bubbles up, gathering actual tools and finding out which ones work for me, learning extreme self care, ending the shame game with self or others, loving myself no matter what, and learning to be the wise observer of my self-sabotaging thoughts instead of their puppet.  

As much as I loved the air-balloon lift into easy sobriety because I'm way into easy, I'm beginning to see how many gaps it left behind. I really didn't learn a thing about effective planning, setting and reaching goals, making and using a tool belt, the importance of creating new rituals, the way the brain and nervous system work, how habits are formed and how to disrupt them, and the scientific reasons why moderation will never work once the addiction patterns are set. I had no idea how to surf a craving or an urge because I never had them. If I had, the answer would have been "Call your sponsor or someone in the program." Apparently it's their job to talk you off the ledge or take you out for an ice-cream. And that's all good, it really is. But there has to be more, at least for me, if an alcohol-free life is something I can not only sustain but love to pieces until my last breath.

The other great question of the evening I loved was about drinking and making art, or more accurately, sobriety and no longer making art. If you have been using alcohol as the doorway to creativity, what now? Julia Cameron prefaced her famous book The Artist's Way by relating her own experience with that dilemma. She said that drinking and creating were inseparable for her, but she was still bleeding on the inside through every project. Worse yet, the sweet spot was beginning to shrink, that window of time between the alcohol kicking in and the sloppiness of over-drinking. She feared that ending the drink would kill the creativity, but she also knew that continuing to drink would kill her. And so she embraced sobriety and began taming the beasts of her creative blocks, moving into a space where creative energy flowed through her as a pure channel. I love her story and how many blocked, miserable artists she has been able to set free with her hard-won wisdom.

TGIF everyone! Have a wonderful relaxing weekend and in the words of Ted and Bill: Be excellent to yourselves!

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