A few years ago – when I was still living in Waco, Texas – I stumbled upon a YouTube video of Gabrielle Bernstein a.k.a. The Spirit Junkie. The more videos she posted, the more I learned about her. Seeing that she went from party girl to spiritual guru gave me hope. I hoped for the courage to talk about my secrets with confidence in a way that Gabby spoke about her addictions and other issues she was working through. I knew that one day I would be sober like Gabby, and could have a blog like Gabby. Maybe I could even inspire people with my story and help others…..just like Gabby.
Last week, I went to a speaking event in the Upper West Side led by…Gabrielle Bernstein. The scene was as fabulous as I could have imagined. I mingled with beautiful Manhattan socialites while the waiters silently offered us bite sized hors d’oeuvres. I turned down complimentary wine and champagne to order a sparkling water. While waiting for the event to begin, I sat still and felt the present moment. I sipped Pellegrino with a twist of lime from a wine glass, looked through my goodie bag of skin care from Philosophy, then glanced at the stage. Reality hit me -“You’re sober. You’re in New York City. You’re sitting in the front row, waiting for a Gabby Bernstein talk. You’re here to represent NY Yoga + Life Magazine”. Feeling empowered by the present moment gave me the courage to walk onto the empty stage and I visualize myself giving talks to a sold-out room full of New Yorkers with an appetite for personal growth.
Gabby went on to give an inspiring talk about hope and Manic Manifesting that had the crowd both laughing and crying with her candor. At the end of the event, I asked her a question:
“When you first became sober, what did you do in moments of weakness?”
Her advice to me, which also applies to any addiction, is “play it out”. She told me that when she wanted a drink, she pictured herself having that drink and what it would lead to – even the hangover, shame, and guilt associated with it. She’s been sober for 10 years and still struggles at times. When seeing friends drink champagne on New Year’s Eve, she remembered how fun it was and wished she could join – but she goes back to replaying the scene in her head and is quickly reminded how it would turn out for her.
This is willpower. This is strength. This is knowing that I’m better than a shot of whiskey. This is loving my body and rewarding it with a morning meditation. This is no longer waking up to pop the aspirin that lived on my nightstand, knowing I would need it to relieve a hangover. This is self-love and I know I deserve it.
I shared this advice with a friend of mine who is in recovery from an eating disorder. She told me that the “play it out” approach has helped her during moments of temptation. Now when she feels the urge to binge or purge, she visualizes the entire process. In her mind, she pictures the binging, followed by the purging. She even pictures the self-loathing that she knows will come later. This practice keeps her body and mind healthy while in the present moment.
Sobering up is teaching me more than I could have imagined. Talking about my personal struggle helps me empathize with the struggle someone else may be facing. My nightstand no longer has aspirin. It is now filled with journals, tea from the night before, and Gabby Bernstein’s book, Spirit Junkie.