Say hello to Heaven Drinking Diaries: Say hello to heaven. “Hello heaven”, as I take a sip of this fine sparkling wine.. Veuve Clicquot, my favorite. Such a pretty orange label, I feel so elegant. One of the first beliefs I had about alcohol is that it is fancy. To have a glass (real glass) and alcohol (not a soda) swirling around in it is luxurious. I feel rich. I feel privileged. I feel fancy. When I was growing up my dad made it very clear that we wanted to either have money, or appear to. Before I entered high school, my dad filed for bankruptcy. He couldn’t keep those plates spinning anymore. I got a job. I went without. I went without stuff, who cares, we all struggle. I moved to Dallas when I was 18 since going to college (too expensive) was out of the question. I worked there for a year saving money to one day go to college and do normal college years stuff. Waiting tables was perfect for me since I could make cold, hard cash quick. But, here is where my belief system about alcohol got cemented in my psyche. It was for the lucky, the ones with time/money/opportunity. It was for the ones who deserved it, could afford it, didn’t have to worry about the morning ahead. I always had to worry about the morning ahead. I was too busy to drink. To poor to drink, too tired to drink… Someday I will get there. Someday I will drink this heaven. The bar/restaurant world worships alcohol. One, it ups the ticket, (i.e., the customer spends more (from 25% to 100% more)). Two, it appears to soften the customer (the tipper) so you could assume they may leave you more $. Three, the atmosphere at a drinking table seems to be having a better time, unless of course, they are drinking too much and then they are the obnoxious ones…. oh, there is a down side to waiting on the drinking table but I won’t go into that. With my own two eyes I saw that alcohol was the good life. My upbringing told me the good life was having money and freedom. Alcohol was for those with enough money and freedom to enjoy it. I would drink the good life my dad dreamt of. I would have my own little taste of heaven whenever I “arrived”, so to speak. And I arrived, boy did I. I sipped from heavens fountain for 20 years. My life then was full of success, great workouts, fantastic relationships and love. But, my “heaven IS IN a glass” belief system was a main ingredient in my recipe for the good life. The problem was that when I reached for this heaven I was inevitably ALSO reaching for hell. Hell? What hell, you ask. Look around. Hangovers, risk of DUI’s, empty wallets, low self esteem, over eating or crap eating, bad texts sent, wasted energy just drinking when so many other productive activities could be experienced (wasting vacations in a bar…. ugh), bad skin, not being able to respond if there is an emergency ( UBER to the hospital when the kid needs stitches), loss of job, loss of healthy relationships, loss of relationships in general, loss of interesting life, no energy to do anything else for fun, ball and chain (the feeling of needing alcohol to be where you are in the evening), later nights the expected or planned, romance with strangers or not the one you may chose sober, poor decisions, tomorrow is gonna suck reality, headaches, stomach aches, flu-like symptoms, regret, anxiety, shame, shame, more shame, laziness, lack of real joy or happiness, deep sadness, and more. This is my hell. Hell is this. And when I stopped trying to trap heaven in a wine glass I stopped having to deal with the consequences of the hell. I share this with you because it took a hard look at what I thought alcohol was doing for me. It took me having to face off with alcohol and its promise of luxury and privilege. And only when I was ready (or willing) to do the hard examination, not the day dreaming in car, but really asking myself “WHAT IS ALCOHOL REALLY DOING FOR YOU NICOLE?” did I start to crack away at the belief system I held for all my life. If this does not resonate with you, so be it. But if it does, try asking yourself the why. What is this really doing for me? So many people are, like I was, living such a positive life full of great people, great opportunities, great health. How is alcohol serving you? What is it really providing? I am a part of the sober movement and I am not afraid to tell my story. If 100 people are offended and want me to shut the hell up and one person says “me too” then I am thrilled. Say hello to heaven!!!!! one person out there that I may never meet. Say hello to the real heaven. Heaven is in you already. You never need to drink it. When I woke up this morning on my 696th day of no alcohol the first words that came out of my mouth is HELLO HEAVEN!