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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How I Quit Drinking Thirty Years Ago

She Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments. 
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, 
without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a 
book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back. 
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. 
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go. 
She didn’t journal about it. 
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. 
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. 
She just let go.
She didn’t analyse whether she should let go. 
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. 
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. 
She didn’t call the prayer line. 
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
No one was around when it happened. 
There was no applause or congratulations. 
No one thanked her or praised her. 
No one noticed a thing. 
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle. 
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. 
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be. 
A small smile came over her face. 
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go… There’s only one guru ~ you.
The author of this poem is unclear.  A few sites list Ernest Holmes as the author,
another Jennifer Eckert Bernau and still another Rev. Safire Rose.

It was on a plane headed back to Key West FL, one of the drinkingest spots in the usa, that I made the decision to quit Feb 26, 1984. Just like described above. Softly, sincerely, permanently without anyone knowing or caring except my closest friend, the man with whom I would share a home during that first tenuous year. He had quit less than a year earlier so it was the perfect place for us to do the work around our shared sobriety.

My best life choice. Still working, still the right way to live.

Finding the piece above opened feelings of understanding around that day which had heretofore eluded me. I hadn't words to describe how I felt about being alone despite aboard a full jet flying cross country; being certain despite not knowing how I would do it, only sure that AA wasn't the way for me. I've never been a group-grope person; I didn't want to tell my story to a roomful of people-still don't like talking in front of groups. So my friend and I supported one another and taught ourselves that sober is always better-no matter what. 

Without alcohol I must process feelings that I shut down, pushed out, refused to feel without the cushion of drunkenness insulating all the nerves that would be rubbed raw. 

Sleep has been the healingest of all the coping skills. Whenever I need to withdraw, regroup, refuel, rest, dream, plan, coddle myself, forgive myself, forgive others, digest food or events or conversations... All require the solitude and peacefulness of my bed. It took many years for me to internalize that the bed is for sleeping and sex and that's all. Not for reading, watching tv or movies, making lists or any other of the myriad things I was finding to do before trying to fall asleep. All that now takes place while I am upright in my chair in the living room. When sleepiness overtakes me I brush my teeth and crawl into bed asleep within moments most nights.

Life changed that day in ways that I had no way of foretelling. New relationships, jobs, cities, best friends and soulmates, partners, children I raised... it all shifted. And in that shift came many opportunities and challenges that I would not have tried had I still been in the grip of active alcoholism.

Thirty years of peace, calm, wise choices, great relationships, personal growth;  I have the life I envisioned as a young girl and for a while thought I'd never see. Now it is mine-work continues but the peace of sober living has permeated all I do and say and believe and love.


  1. ah, Lynda, what a gifted writer you are. I will probably repeat this time and time again - your words give me such courage and thank you for sharing pieces of your story.

    You are brave beyond measure.

  2. I am so glad you are sober and living the good life. You so deserve it! I love you.

  3. This must have been a difficult post to write and even more difficult to live. You loving and generous nature shines through each word you write. I'm happy that you were able to let go and let the "genuine you" emerge. It sounds as though it took a lot of hard work for you to carve out the life that you deserve. Thank you for sharing your story. Somewhere there is someone who needs to read this. I hope they find your post and gain strength from it.

  4. Love the poem, no matter who wrote it!

    The lives of both my husband and I changed for the better when we Let Go!

  5. What a fantastic post. I hope to Let Go as well. It's hard work, but I believe in the end it will be worth it. Now, if only I can get some of that sleep everyone is talking about!