Doing the Inner Work
On this early Wednesday morning, I was writing in my journal. That is something I try to do every day. Correction: It is something I should do every day. It is called “doing the inner work”. It means taking a moment to yourself to turn inside and write down what is keeping you busy and to describe in detail how you want your life to be. We are all the architects of our own lives, but most people don’t realize that. Most of us believe that life is something that is happening TO us instead of FOR us. But that is a topic for another blogpost.
Whenever I write in the morning, I am doing so on the basis of six questions that I am asking myself. First question: What is the overall feeling I want to feel today? And mind you; we are talking only about positive feelings. There is no point in writing yourself into a downward spiral, is there? The whole idea of journaling is to start the day in a refreshed and reinforced state of mind. And believe me… it helps.
So, this morning, I was reflecting on yesterday. Because yesterday, something really cool happened. I got up very early and started writing at 05:44 am. There is some kind of magic to it if you get up that early. There is the promise of the very long day that lies ahead of you and I like that feeling very much. Well, whenever I am feeling happy and fine (really fine, not the bitchy “fine” (Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional).
Once I start writing, I have no idea what will be written on the paper after I finished. I just start and pour all my thoughts into my journal. It can be anything and all of it is triggered by the six simple questions that I am trying to answer. Sometimes I talk about things that happened the day before, how that made me feel, what I learned from it, etc.
The day before yesterday, I had an open conversation with my accountability partner Susanne. We met each other as fellow clients of a company that helps us with our online businesses. Susanne has a program called VivaVitaal and she helps women with their eating disorders. Within that network, there are a whole bunch of entrepreneurs like us, who all have a special mission, based on their own experiences. In fact, we are all experience experts. Susanne and I were discussing how strange it is that we keep doing certain things, knowing that they are not good for us.
We want to lose weight, but we still take that snack. We want to stay sober, but we still take that glass of wine. We want to get fit, but we still stay in bed too long and miss our morning walk. Human behavior.
Susanne and I spontaneously made a pact yesterday; we decided not to drink any alcohol this week. Even though I have a BBQ coming up in Belgium tomorrow; I promised not to take a drink. Holding somebody accountable is really helpful. Knowing that somebody else is holding YOU accountable even more. It means you are in this together and if you cannot be honest to yourself, at least you have to be honest to the other person. And it gets even better when you have to be honest to someone or something bigger. This is the cool thing that happened…
While I was writing about this pact with Susanne, my thoughts wandered off and I wrote: “Gosh, I just wish that the Universe would speak directly to me, like it did to Gabrielle Bernstein”. While Gabby was in active addiction, a voice spoke to her and said: Get your act together, girl, and you will live a life beyond your wildest dreams”. And she got sober right then and there. And she indeed started to live a life beyond her wildest dreams. Wow. I was really impressed when I first read this. It is pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Moving on to the next questions of my journaling
What do you want to see in your reality short term? What do you want to see in your reality long term? What are you going to do about mindfulness today?…
“STOP! Wait a minute! Mindfulness today? Well, I am journaling right now, I meditated before I got out of bed, and oh… I forgot to draw my Oracle card from my deck this morning. I decided to do it immediately before moving on to the next questions (What are you grateful for? I am affirmations) of my journaling.
And that is when this really cool thing occurred …
I drew card number 4: Higher Power. The guidebook reads: At this moment you should be aware of your contact with Spirit (Your Higher Power) and cherish this through prayer and meditation. Ask: What is the higher good for everybody. How can I serve? Leave the beaten path and trust that THERE IS A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE THAT IS BIGGER THAN YOU COULD EVER HAVE IMAGINED!
To me, that sounds as if the Universe has spoken to me through the cards. So, in less than one hour, I received what I had asked for! Thank you, Universe, for this wonderful message.
You can believe in this “woo woo” stuff or not, but for me it has been so freaking helpful! Journaling has become a life saver. And not only that. I am looking forward to it. It brings me fun, joy, and insights.
And this morning I was thinking about my whole transformational story that started now almost 3,5 years ago… I was reasonably happy, before that. Or at least I was oblivious of the fact that I was actually unhappy. Then a whole range of events happened, and I got really depressed (not a chance of being oblivious at that point!). I lost my joie de vivre, I lost my passion, and I lost myself.
What I did not lose, was my taste for wine
I have always liked wine. It had actually become a daily habit. As soon as I got home, I poured myself a glass of wine and I never thought twice about it. Wine was part of my life, part of my routine.
I never blacked out, I never had accidents, I never fell from the stairs and I never really misbehaved because I was drunk. In all these years, it happened maybe once or twice that I drank too much and got sick, and when that happened it was when I was caught off guard. Too hot, or people keep filling my glass without me paying attention. I remember it happened one time on New Year’s Eve and I was in bed before midnight.
But when I was depressed, I started drinking way too much! It went on for months until I took a drastic decision. This was not the person I wanted to be! I went looking for help. Not so much for my drinking, but for my depression. In many different places. I finally even went into rehab in South Africa. And that is where I learned that rehab is very good for some people, but not for everybody. It was not good for me. I hated every minute of it. The humiliation, the imprisonment, the lack of privacy, the rules, the bootcamp lifestyle, the drama, the dealing with all kinds of situations that were light years away from my world… I couldn’t wait to get out. When I finally got out of rehab after two months, I was more convinced than ever that I was NOT an addict.
The first weekend after I got back from Cape Town, I ordered a cool glass of sauvignon blanc on a terrace by the ocean. I remember who much I enjoyed it. It was the taste of freedom. I even took a picture of it.
I decided again to take my life into my own hands. Nobody was ever going to tell me again what I could and what I couldn’t do. And surely nobody was ever going to tell me again to my face that I had been a bad mom to my son. Because it just isn’t true. Out of guilt and shame and defeat, I allowed other people to make me believe that I was an addict. A bad person, an outcast.
Make no mistake: alcohol is a dangerous thing. I learned to recognize the pitfall. Be aware of what you are doing. I broke free from the yoke of addiction care which is always pointing fingers. If success is not reached, you are on your own. You are welcome at AA but only if you play by the rules.
My binge drinking days are over. My depression is in the past. Rehab was scary enough for me to make sure that I never go back there again. I decide myself when and if I will take a glass of wine or not. I am aware of what I am doing. Maybe someday I will decide never to drink again, but it will be my decision. Not my husband’s, not my psychologist’s, not AA’s, not my friends’. Mine. Or the Universe’s.
For women out there, who recognize my story, do not panic. If you feel like you need help from someone who has been there, give me a call, send me an email, buy my online program Reclaim the Star Position in Your Own Fabulous Life. Take back control. You are a lovely lady and you should be treated as such.