I like a good drink.
It’s in my bio—my love of hoppy beer.
I also love a glass of wine after a long day and a shot of tequila on a Saturday afternoon.
But I’m pregnant. I can’t drink. Truthfully, my husband’s pints of hoppy ales make my stomach turn—and the smell of wine, just forget it.
So, last week when I had a horribly shitty day and my obvious end-of-a-bad-day/beginning-of-a-great-evening solution would have been an extremely generous glass of wine, I was left with, what the hell do I do with myself?
What do I do with my frazzled nerves and my overwhelmed heart and my tear-hair-out monkey mind?
I walked in at 6:15 for the next class that evening and the studio manager sitting at the front desk was absolutely shocked to see me. Because I don’t take night classes.
No, at night I hole up with my family and cook and read books to my child and talk with my husband over stirring pots of yumminess on the stovetop—I do many things, but going to yoga class isn’t one of them.
But I’ve found this whole new me within my pregnant self—within this self who doesn’t drink alcohol—and I like her.
To be fair, I’ve been an emotional mess throughout this pregnancy.
My hormones have not been kind to my sensitive feelings and life didn’t get the memo that it was supposed to go easy on the pregnant lady. Actually, these last few months have been some of the most stressful of my life, and alcohol was not going to be there to help see me through it. Thank God.
Seriously, I just told my husband the other night—when I’m nearly positive that he wished I could drink—that I felt so blessed to have been forced through this intensely troublesome period of time without the convenience of drinking my beloved beer of choice (Hop Devil IPA, from where I used to live, if you really want to know).
It’s reminded me that even though I easily get anxious and even though life isn’t always fair in the amount of stressors it hands out at a time, I’m capable of breathing into and through life—just me, no alcohol necessary.
And I can honestly say that I’m sure I’ll have a beer or two periodically after my baby is born, but that I genuinely do plan on turning down alcohol more often than not.
Because that yoga class I took the other day, at 6:30 at night? It felt awesome—I felt awesome.
And I like me, even on my freaked-out-at-life days and especially when I could use a drink—because that’s the me who has some things to learn, things like patience and acceptance, surrender and how to practice real yoga.
And my real yoga begins when I walk out of that studio door and I get into my car and I’m forced to inhale and exhale and just experience my life.
And sometimes having a few glasses of wine while cooking dinner helps, but, more often, I only wake up thirsty at night and still have the same damn problems in the morning.
So I’m taking a pregnant pause to slow down and breathe into my life instead of glossing over it and, sure, some moments are better than others, but I want to be present for all of it.
Because if I hadn’t had that difficult day yesterday that caused loud tears to spill down my cheeks, then I wouldn’t have had my little girl come up to me and, being extra silly, make me laugh to cheer me up.
In life, we have bad times, but there’s nearly always good right there with it, if we can open our teary eyes enough to witness it.
And maybe for you it’s not alcohol but exercise (I’ve certainly run miles of life’s challenges away in my past too) or sex or something else that temporarily numbs our human experiences.
But what if, for one evening, we all paused before going into auto-pilot and chose a different way to deal with life?
What if for one day we chose to feel it all and breathe into the pain and into the joy and we stayed present, no matter how hard it was?
Well, maybe, we would find ourselves doing that the next night too, because life was actually easier when we dealt head-on with our burdens and emotions and thoughts.
And maybe every day could just be living our lives—loving our lives and ourselves—one breath, one moment at a time.
Photo: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr.
This article first appeared on elephant journal.