Book Notes: Drinking to Distraction

I took the advise of many sober blogs and bought Kick the Drink Easily by Jason Vale.  I wrote my reflections in a blog post.  And since this blog is a tool in so many ways… it is first my own diary or journal. I want to make sure I get down, in writing, as many great ideas as I can from others as I move along on this journey.

Jenna Hollenstein, the author of Drinking to Distraction, has given me a lot to relate to …and think about … as I move along in the Next Half of My Life.

From the moment I read the sample on my kindle, then downloaded to keep reading, I was flying through the book, almost nodding my head up and down.  When she started sharing her journey with learning to meditate, I really got intrigued. Here are a list of my notes (highlights on my kindle)…

…”How I used drinking to hold on to pleasurable experiences way past their expiration date, how I never want the party to end and thought it couldn’t end as long as I kept drinking. Other times, I used alcohol to change the way things were… Last, my drinking allowed me to zone out….Alcohol was not inherently poisonous, but the way I used it was problematic”. (Jenna)

Yep… we could be sisters from a different mother! And then she shared a tool from her box:

“Practicing meditation had allowed me to cultivate enough space to let in a glimmer of a new thought: maybe things were just as they should be.  Maybe I was just as I should be.” (Jenna)

When I found this book, I was in the middle of reading You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh. (There seems to be a lot more reading time with a clear and unintoxicated mind…giggle)  I have been grappling with this idea of starting a meditation practice.  You Are Here got me on the road…but Jenna’s book really gave me a bridge to seeing how it could help me with all the thoughts roaring around me head.

“I realized that all of my judgement of things good and bad, right and wrong, perfect or imperfect, all the stories about why I wasn’t enough-those were just thoughts…my thoughts were not me. They were like passing clouds while I was like the blue sky, constant and unwavering.” (Jenna)

Jenna titled her Afterword: I Will Always Love Booze

….”Though I missed drinking a glass of wine at an event or having a cocktail with a friend, I really missed drinking alone.  I missed the ritual and the predictable relief of it, like putting in foam earphones that expanded to obliterate any unwanted noise…. the indulgence of finishing off a bottle of wine without the judgement of onlookers.” (Jenna)

“A friend started drinking again after quitting for more than a year.  Listening to her describe how she was able to drink moderately after a long pause made me envious.  And fearful.  Despite all the internal work I had done with meditation, I feared that nothing had changed in my relationship with alcohol except for my choice not to drink”. (Jenna)

Jenna shares a business trip to France and it’s challenges and the wish to have just one glass of wine.

“Instead during my trip…I chose to abstain from alcohol, to tolerate my discomfort, to remind myself to inhale and exhale and experience the full weight…and I watched the desire to drink rise, abide, and eventually dissolve”. (Jenna)

“By no means did I mediate away my desire to drink.  Quite the contrary.  But the space introduced by practicing meditation has also allowed me to see what I don’t miss: the obsessing, the guilt and shame, the wasted time and opportunities, the physical effects on my mind and body. (Jenna)

Yes. Yes. Yes.  I woke up this morning so excited to look out my window and see the clean fresh snow knowing I had no guilt or shame of the night before when I got into a second bottle of wine.  I had a whole day in front of me.  Not wasting a single minute to rehydrate and clutter my mind and regret how lousy I felt.  THIS IS AMAZING. I want to remember this everyday that I wake up.

As Jenna concludes, she realizes that she has a different relationship with alcohol than others.  I have made that same discovery and her final words gave me some connection to those of us who choose to be Alcohol Free:

“I continue to learn to sit with the knowledge that I’m different and the awareness that not drinking is one of the tradeoffs that comes as a result of being honest with myself” (Jenna, last line of Drinking to Distraction)

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-Vernon Howard

2 thoughts on “Book Notes: Drinking to Distraction

  1. Wow so much truth in this book you’re reading. So glad you found it. I have to pick it up my self. The “past the expiration date” of enjoyment…so true…so well put. I had some good experiences with both drinking and drugging. And those were the only memories I could think of when heavy in craving, despite the mounting evidence AGAINST them.

    Liked by 1 person

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