Finding a Purpose

By: Laura McWilliams, Industry Health

Finding a purpose is an incredibly important part of getting and staying sober, and of living a joyful, thriving sober life. You won’t stay sober for the long run just because you think you should, or because your parents want you to, or because drinking was too expensive or because you got a dui. Seriously, you have got to think deep down here and figure out what it is that is calling to you from the other side of the booze veil. What is it that you were put on this planet to do but haven’t been able to accomplish or take steps toward because you wake up hungover every morning? What activity do you really want to participate in but you never manage to show up for because it cuts into your wine time in the evening? My guess is, you know right away what that thing is. For me, it was dance and yoga. I have spent my entire adult life dreaming about a connection to my body that I could never get. I wanted to move, I wanted to be strong, I wanted to use my body to play out the songs in my head. But instead, I sat on the couch and drank wine and watched tv. Any class I was going to take had to be in the evening after I got off of work, and before I went home. I could never, ever consistently do any sort of dance or yoga on my days off- how I would feel when I woke up was way too unpredictable.

The only movement I managed those days was the gym- tv and elliptical machines- just to try to take the edge off of a hangover. Punishment exercise is what I called that. I was being punished for drinking too much, and I was being punished for slowly getting fat. Going to the gym was a calorie thing, for the most part- there are approximately 635 calories in a bottle of red wine. Assuming you just have the one, of course. Then there was the junk food breakfast I ate because I felt like crap. The steady stream of sugar and caffeine and carbs all day to keep my mood balanced, and whatever quick thing I could eat for dinner before tucking into that bottle of wine. It’s a lot of empty calories, it’s a lot of sugar. It makes you eat a bunch of junk food because you can’t stomach anything else.

I am a naturally small framed person from a small framed family, and I was generally considered- even at that time- to be healthy and fit ( I went to the gym all the time! ) but I was growing a beer belly, and lethargy was becoming my normal state. It’s exhausting to live that way! There aren’t enough naps in the world to re energize a body that is living on carbs, sugar, coffee and alcohol alone. I was tired, unhealthy, and getting fat. I knew that I was missing the whole point of life. It’s something that is so easy to get stuck in though, right? Breaking free from that lifestyle, that cycle of go to work, come home, drink seemed daunting. A huge part of that for me was understanding what it was that my not drinking was going to accomplish. My not drinking was going to allow me to go to yoga and dance classes.  I knew what my main roadblocks were-

  1. Lack of energy

  2. Lack of consistency

  3. Lack of strength

  4. A serious inability to be upside down

  5. The shame that I felt when interacting with people at dance or yoga studios. Shame that I put upon myself when I thought about how they would think of me if they knew how much I drank. Shame that I wouldn’t be able to connect with them because I would be hurrying off after class to go home. While those people definitely served me up some inspiration, I did my best to hide from them.

Great. Problems identified. Now, what is the solution? Stop drinking, of course! I cannot tell you how many times I have made lists of problems or mind mapped a problem or tried to figure out how to be happy only to find that the answer was always: stop drinking. My brain knew exactly what the solution was. I didn’t even have to think about it. Putting that solution into action was the cumulation of so many years of witnessing these problems keeping me from doing what I wanted to do.

On 3-01-2016 I quit drinking. On 5-12-2016 I signed up for a membership at the yoga studio I had been dreaming about going to. It was an incredible accomplishment. It was like, after 12 years of working toward a solution, I was here. I could finally commit to doing the thing that I had wanted to do all along. I gave myself that gift. I still give myself that gift, and so many others, every day.

I go upside down a lot now. Next on my list: Belly Dance!

What is your purpose? It's worth giving some thought to. Where would you drive to right now if you hadn't been drinking? Who would you engage with if you didn't hide behind shame? Your amazing spirit is calling to you from inside. Take a few moments to sit quietly and listen to what it has to say. 

Laura Mcwilliams