Under the Influence

I started thinking about this the other day.  I was out running around and went into a Nordstrom Rack-one of the great American discount stores.  While I wasn’t looking for a watch, one caught my eye.  To be honest, I could use a new one as I’ve been wearing the same designer watch for about 8 years-which I bought with my CostCo rewards points! I do love a deal! Anyway, I really liked this one.  And it was a great price. But, I did what I do in situations like these-“these” meaning trying to avoid impulse shopping.  I walked away.  This is what I do. Then, if I continue to think about it for a day or so,  I go back. Oftentimes, I forget about whatever it was that I had to have and that’s the end of it.  Well, not this time.  So, I went back-looked at it again, tried it on again and still loved it. So I bought it.  We’re talking under $70.00 here-by no means a Rolex!  I got home and showed it to my SO. He was “nice” but I could tell that he didn’t really like it.  Now I have to be clear here, I realized a long time ago that we rarely have the same taste in jewelry.  To be honest, I’ve made it clear to him that if the time comes and he wants to buy me an expensive something, he is by no means to do it without getting me involved in picking it out! This may sound bitchy, but A-I don’t imagine that time will come anytime soon and B-I don’t want to feel obligated to wear something I don’t really like.  Just trying to cover my bases here!  Anyway, after his reaction, I started to doubt myself and wonder if I really did like it. After angsting over it a few days I realized that YES I do like it!  So, I’ve kept it-worn it a few times and love it.

But, this got me thinking.  About “Being Under the Influence”.  In my case, I was allowing my SO’s opinion to influence my own.  Now, I’ll admit, at times, this is a good thing-but not in this case-and not all the time.  So, I started wondering just how much outside influence I allow in my every day life-I mean do I like Chanel because it’s cool and expensive and seems to be the yardstick for good taste and wealth? Or do I really love the design of the clothes?  If a Mercedes didn’t have it’s trademark logo on the hood, would we still think it was a great car-something for many to aspire to?

We are influenced every day by millions of things-by the weather, by the news, by other people’s opinions or reviews, by what someone looks like, by religious teachings, by certain colors, by energy,  and on and on and on.  It really takes some thought and consciousness to dig down past the outside influences and get to the core of what one really believes. To get to what feels right for each individual person.  I suppose there are so many people that just let any and all outside influences dictate their lives.  And of course, there are some people who have no choice.  Say people living under a dictatorship-or even in Puerto Rico right now.

So of course all this is coming down to “Being under the Influence” of alcohol or drugs. Why in the world, with all of the outside unwanted influences would we choose this one?  I know, I know- it numbs us out from all of those other things we can’t control-all of that BS.  But in reality, it just adds to the muddle and mix of all of those other influences.  It keeps us from being able to come out from under the influence.  To surface from that deep place that is truely US-truely ME. To really own who we are and to be okay with that. To understand that we all have flaws and we all have attributes. We all have something to offer and that it’s ok to go against the current at times if that’s what really feels right for Me. At times, it takes courage to do this.  To stand up and believe something that one’s peers don’t-to walk away from something that many are participating and believe in.  I wonder how many Neo Nazis would feel differently if they’d had different influences in their lives-How many teenagers (me included) would not have started years of chemical abuse without succumbing to the peer pressure of their friends.  I wonder if how maybe, we were all encouraged by society and those with the most influence over us starting at a young age to be aware of and really ask ourselves, what is right for us.  How it would be to live in a society of such consciousness that all of the outside noise of everyone elses opinions were acknowledged to be just that? Noise? EVERYONE ElSES OPINIONS.  

My aim is to try to be a little more conscious every day.  To really question myself in a situation-to ask myself “Is this really how I feel or am I being influenced by x,y and z?”

Naturally there are times, when I will be influenced.  And that’s okay-if I’m conscious of it.   And, there will be times when I’m not aware of it. But at least one of the things I won’t be inluenced by anymore is alcohol. That in itself casts a shadow over everything else. Over all of the other influences. Because it’s always there-lurking. Whether it’s acknowledged  or not, it comes into play.  Drinking has become a “normalized” influence. For example, the other night I was watching a new TV show-The Good Doctor about an autistic doctor.  It’s pretty good-anyway, in this episode a man was awaiting a liver transplant.  It was going to happen, but then when they did his blood work, it showed that he had a low amount of alcohol in it.  When confronted the man admitted he’d had one glass of champagne at his daughter’s graduation party-so “he could be normal”. Why do we think that it’s normal to drink????

There are so many subtle influences in our lives.  Why choose one consciously that at some point will have no positive consequences. Driving Under the Influence.  Operating Under the Influence. Being under the influence does not have a positive ring to it. Below is a definition of being under the influence:

Psychoactive Drugs!  Now there’s a thought! I mean when I think of “psychoactive drugs” the first thing that comes to mind is a picture of someone who’s really mentally disturbed!  I wonder if I’d read this definition while I was still drinking what effect it would’ve had on me.. I doubt it would’ve made me quit, but I’m sure it would have been added to the list of things that contributed to my mental distress over my drinking.  And, in thinking about it, there were times-many-that without putting a name on it, I was really metally disturbed!  The more and longer I drank, the more mentally disturbed I became. God! I’m so glad that’s over!

And with that, I’ll say goodbye for now!

 

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Getting On with It

I quit drinking for a number of reasons.  For one thing I’d been drinking basically my whole adult life.  Health was another reason.  Occasionally, I’d experience pain on my right side.  I’d done research-secretly of course!- on liver deterioration and disease. Was horrified to learn that there can be absolutely NO signs of liver problems and then BAM you’re at the point of no return.  Of course even that knowledge didn’t deter me until…  Until the mother of a young woman that worked for me had that happen to her.  One day she turned jaundiced and she died a month later.  Now THAT was powerful for me.  I actually stopped that day, but then Christmas came a month later and we had a little neighborhood open house and a good bottle of Champagne that we’d been saving, so how could I pass that up?   I drank for a couple of weeks off and on-not really liking it and having some horrible hangovers, but being the personality I am, I doggedly kept on.  Then on January 2, 2015 I quit and haven’t had a drink since.

Of course I was sick and tired of all of the mental anguish that I was suffering.  All of the torment that comes with being addicted to something-not just the physical but the mental and the spiritual.  Not to mention all of the sleep I was being deprived of because of it.  You know, waking up between 1 and 3 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep with your mind running rampant? In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there is an organ clock that represents the time of the day when each organ is functioning optimally and has the most energy. You may find that you wake up between 1-3am if you have repressed anger or long standing resentment. Well yeah! And to my mind it was also that my body was working hard to process all of the toxins in it.  Here’s a link if you want to know more about this. Organ Times

Another reason is my SO.  YEARS ago- maybe 10-one night as I was pouring another glass of wine, he whispered to me that he was worried about me.  That I was so precious to him and he didn’t want to lose me.  Sweet, right?  Did I stop that night?  Hell no! Of course not-I just kept on pouring.   But, I love him and I don’t want him to have to suffer because I have some kind of alcohol induced illness or even early death.

There’s one more reason I quit.  If you’ve read my short bio on the side, you will have seen that when I started this blog, I said I was “an almost 60 year old woman”.  Well, I’ve changed it as I’m now 61.   I knew that I didn’t want to be that older drunk woman.  Now to be honest, I don’t know that I’m having a problem with my age-except that I have an awareness that I  less years in front of me at this point than behind me.  I’m healthy and overall, I’m happy.  My SO still finds my attractive-which I truely thank my lucky stars for!   I now feel complimented if someone thinks I’m in my 50!  Hard to believe that I would take that as a compliment, but times change.  Look,  I know I’m not 35.  I often have to remind myself that I’m not the same age as many people I interact with or come across-or musicians I love. Or atheletes I admire.  That when they look at me, they’re putting me in the catagory of mother or even grandmother!   When I read about an “older woman, aged 63”,  it gives me pause for a minute.  I mean at one time I did think that was old!  Fortunately, I’m not yearning for those past years in that sense.  And inside, I don’t particularly feel any age.  I’ve always preferred to work with younger people-to keep up culturally with things.  I’m also not the type that really focuses on the “would’ve, should’ve and could’ves” in life. That’s not to say I don’t have regrets. Of course I do! The thing is, I not only want to be the best I can be at all times, I want to go into this part of my life with grace-with dignity-with style and class.  When I was catering, I did a lot of events and fundraisers for groups like the Opera, the Symphony, Political groups- things like that. Lots of high end fundraisers. Many of the same people would be involved in these events-as donors and as guests.  There was one woman who was at all of these things.  She could have been in her 60’s or 70’s.  She always arrived drunk and left drunker.  At one event she caused quite a scene with one of my waitstaff. She was UGLY! And, I don’t mean just physically. I had to actually get in her face and talk to her as if she was a 3 year old having a tantrum. Loud, staggering around. At another event I actually saw her sitting at the bar in someone’s home drinking out of a wine bottle! I didn’t want to be that woman in any shape or form.

One of the main reasons I quit drinking was that I don’t want to be that aging/old drunk woman.  I don’t want my SO to have to guide me through a crowded room or restaurant trying to keep me upright.  I don’t want to be that older drunk woman that thinks she’s being so “cute and flirty” with much younger waitstaff.  I don’t want to have spills all over my clothes.  (well, that still happens) I don’t want to spill red wine on someone’s white silk chairs.  I don’t want to wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and see a hungover 60 something year old woman.  I got sick of kidding myself that having a wineglass in front of me made people-people that I don’t know and never will know-made people think I was “sophisticated”.  I didn’t want to end up as someone that had a “fall”-a drunken one that could have been avoided.

I  have a good friend- an ex in-law-she’s in her 80’s.  I love and adore her. She drinks.  Granted not as much as she used to, but she still drinks.  Recently, there was an event in her family and the woman hosting it mentioned that no one drank anymore.  Well, except…  I don’t want to be her!

If I’m going be in my 60’s or 70’s or 80’s or 90’s, I am going to be the best I can be-not an old drunken hag!  Not some woman that looks well past her “sell by date”! Not someone spending my “fewer days ahead” feeling guilt ridden and anguished over alcohol intake. Alcohol intake for God’s sake!  No, there’s no going back to my 30’s or 40’s or even 50’s-but there IS going forward.  Putting the worst of the past behind me-without guilt or shame.  Having a consciousness about my life and about myself.  It’s all part of my story. It’s all a part of what has shaped me to become who I am today and who I’ll be going forward.

I’ve decided to post a photo of myself.  This was taken in London this past April-2 months before my 61st birthday.  I’m not looking for any particular feedback.   I’m doing this more for myself.  Kind of a “baring” of myself.   It’s also about reaching another stage in my recovery.  Not only owning who I am but also no longer feeling the need to be ashamed or hide.

Namaste

Me in London May 2017