Spring is a good time of year to detox and start fresh. That's what spring is all about, after all -- renewal. So today and in the spirit of the season, I want to talk about showing your liver some love by detoxing. While you may want to detox from caffeine, sugar, fast food, taking certain prescriptions that you may not really need, a sedentary lifestyle, or stress (all of which negatively impact your liver, by the way), I want to specifically talk today about detoxing from alcohol and use my own story as an example. (If you are a committed non-drinker, substitute your vice here.)
It all came to a head three months before my college graduation. I had always been a big drinker from a big drinking family, and since college is a time when even non-alcoholics drink alcoholically, my liver was pretty pickled by senior year.
I had been seeing a therapist for about a year when she told me she thought my drinking was a problem, to which I defensively exclaimed, "Well then everyone in my life has a drinking problem," to which she calmly replied, "Well I am not treating everyone in your life, and if you do not seek help with a 12-step program, I will have to terminate our relationship." Wow! Was my therapist breaking up with me? Holy crap, is it that bad?
What I actually felt surprised me -- pure relief.
So all gussied up in my '80s finest -- stirrup pants, T-shirt with shoulder pads, gobs of stage light makeup, and an enormous mane of red, permed hair, in full effect with big plastic neon hoop earrings -- I found my way to the basement of a church in Syosset, Long Island. "Looking good and definitely not like an alcoholic," I reassured my rearview reflection before entering.
I sat near the door so I could smoke my Parliament 100s considerately. Soon, I was approached by a beautiful, similarly shellacked, big-haired women about 10 years my senior. Noticing I was a newbie, she asked what brought me to the meeting. I said my therapist threatened to break up with me if I didn't attend at least one meeting. To be polite, I asked her the same question. She looked me straight in the eyes and, with a calm that unnerved me, stated, "I killed a 6-year-old boy in a drunk driving accident."
"Wow, I am so sorry. That seriously sucks," was my shocked and insensitive reply.
"Yes it does, and I have had to figure out how to live ever day of my life knowing I killed someone's child and broke a mother's heart."
She changed the course of my life.
I stayed until the end of the meeting, fighting back a tsunami of tears that threatened to overwhelm me. When I finally got to my car, I was bawling so hard I couldn't drive, so I sat there listening to Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All" (which, of course, inspired more bawling) and felt so grateful it hurt. I made a pact with the universal powers that be at that moment that I would not drink again. While I was grateful that the tragic story was not mine, I was keenly aware of how easily it could be. I still think of that generous angel who shared the story that led to the wake up that inspired my transformation.
Once I stopped drinking, things changed. I dropped 25 pounds in 30 days, discovered my cheekbones, and moved to New York City after graduation. I took an honest look at all areas of my life. Writing down what I wanted more of and less of in each area. I stayed in therapy and got dialed into the self-empowerment movement. I realized that in order to create the life of my dreams, I had to be brutally honest about what was not working and what limiting beliefs were blocking my potential. The rest is history.
Here is a self-awareness opportunity for you if you are up for the challenge:
Since becoming a therapist, I inspire my clients (typically not to the severity that my therapist "inspired" me, unless it is necessary) to take a 21-day alcohol detox every year around this time.
To start, I want to ask you some questions to see if you are more dependent on alcohol than you might realize. When I say I am inviting you to do a 21-day detox, how does that make you feel? Could you do it? Do you want to do it, or is it really the fear of not being able to drink making you say, "I could, but I don't feel like it?" If my asking you to not drink for 21 days strikes fear in your heart, I want you to take a look at how much you use alcohol (or another vice) to numb feelings and create a mood-altering experience.
So, for the next twenty-one days, will you join me? Since I've not had a drink in about 25 years, I will give up coffee. So, like me, if you're already a non-drinker, pick something else (we all have something!). And don't pick another vice just because you don't want to give up the booze. Only choose something else if you are a committed non-drinker.
I'm interested in hearing what these questions and the thought of giving up drinking kicked up for you, so please drop a comment.
I hope you have an amazing week, giving your liver some lovin', and, as always, take care of the rest of you too.
Love Love Love
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