Fully clothed, I once jumped into a friend’s swimming pool, betting that I could land squarely in the center of a floating vinyl raft, thereby eliminating my chance of actually becoming immersed in the water. Not surprisingly, I was drunk at the time (the local gala days was going on and I was in the midst of the friend’s annual pre-parade party) but even so, I remember spending a minute or two considering the consequences of my potential jump and arriving at the conclusion that if I aimed right, I would indeed be in no danger of getting wet. Naturally, my conclusions were incorrect, and I spent the rest of the evening soaked. But my display was much enjoyed by the other party-goers, so I considered it both an enjoyable as well as successful venture. After all, I did want to see what would happen, and also, if there was one thing I was always willing to do, it was take one for the team if it meant providing a good laugh or some sort of amusing anecdote for others. Until I wasn’t.
The years since the pool incident have taught me that jumping in with my fingers crossed is rarely what serves me best, so I sometimes choose to ease myself into change in a more mindful manner. Before my declaration that I wasn’t drinking for a year (which has now stretched into nearly 2 years and may end up becoming never, which I consider but won’t say out loud because never is not a good word to use with people like me since we do best when we’re reassured of an out, even when we don’t plan on taking it) I did a dry run first. This amounted to 4 months of completely abstaining from alcohol, followed by 3 months of gladly tucking back into the sauce. I did this with the goal of clarity. I wanted to be shown what I did differently in relationship to alcohol’s involvement in my life. During the first 4 months these differences turned out to be more substantial than I had previously fathomed and perhaps more than I was ready to deal with, given that I eagerly jumped into the next 3 months toying with the idea that perhaps I’d just stay there, retaining my “social” drinker status. After all, I was no different than most of the other people I knew and that’s what it was, right? It’s not like I drank daily, had more than 1, 2, or at most 3 (full-on hammered-ness) the majority of the time, or even drank past 6pm ordinarily (I let nothing interfere with my early morning workout or my getting the best sleep possible for a 50-something yr old which, let’s face it- is paltry, at best) so why did I need to impose this upon myself? Why, indeed!? Couldn’t I just go back to where I was before I began the whole shenanigans of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable and sitting still in the awareness and acknowledgement of that discomfort? It turns out I couldn’t. Because as has been shown to me on my journey time and time again:
it’s one thing not to know something- you don’t know it. But you cannot UN-know what you now know once you know it.
The level of yourself that desires for you to know what you’re supposed to know will keep hammering away on you until you finally submit. And you will. Because you feel it. You feel it in your bones that it is leading you toward something better for yourself and you want that. Even if it’s scary. Especially if it’s scary! You have faith that it’s happening for you and you sit in the discomfort of being uncomfortable with doing something differently than what you’ve become familiar with doing. You sit there believing by faith that you won’t be staying there- you’re merely staying put and allowing the discomfort to wash over you and pass, rather than running from it, only to postpone its eventual return. And you’ll still be open to jumping into the pool. But perhaps you’ll decide to put your swimsuit on first.