Nicole Klassen is a knowledgeable communications professional at the forefront of the digital media evolution. She owns a marketing consultancy, NaluThando, where they support their clients with the implementation and communications on their impact projects. They blend a special mix of project management, storytelling, behavioural science and sassy social media to deliver change. She has won a couple of awards and done a TedX talk. Nicole loves the outdoors, she’s a Rotarian, occasional sculptor and a student of Development Economics. Yes, she’s studying again at 40!
So many friends have asked me why I did this challenge, or more accurately “why on earth would you do that to yourself!?” So I thought I’d break it down a bit in case it’s useful for someone else.
I’ve known for some time now that I use alcohol, wine specifically, to avoid feelings that I don’t want to look at, let alone deal with. Up until recently, I didn’t know what these feelings were but I knew for sure I didn’t like them or want them. I mean, isn’t the point of alcohol to avoid bad feelings or celebrate good ones? Olivia Pope drinks wine everyday and she’s badass! I don’t drink every day so surely I’m OK? Except I’m not really. Not really OK. So I got curious about what’s under my chinked armor and what I’m trying to drown away.
Terrified of Failure
I was absolutely terrified at first and I just knew I was going to fail. I really did not trust myself to complete the challenge. You can see one of the areas I had to work on right there in that sentence “I really did not trust myself”. I had no idea what I was going to do on a Friday night which was my all out binge night.
But, fortunately, I read that you could rebuild your neural pathways to create positive behavior in place of shitty ones and that really spurred me on because I felt like I could be a scientist rebuilding my own design. It was clever and I like feeling clever.
Enter the next area that I tackled- “feeling clever” – because somewhere in my design, I believe fervently (and despite all evidence) that I’m actually stupid. I use the word stupid specifically when I’m beating myself up. And I’ve spent the better part of 40 years trying not to be found out. How sexy… add some emotional eating and food nurturing and things start feeling overwhelming. Oh by the way, this is only week 2 ☺ Need a drink yet?
Feeling Alone and Lost
Fortunately, I’m aware enough to realize I can’t do this alone and I need some experienced guidance to take me through this process of unraveling, because all the bottled (haha, pun) feelings were coming at me in a very disorganized manner that was messing up my schedule. One day, I had to pull over on the N12 to cry about something I didn’t even understand. I was sobbing so uncontrollably and inexplicably I thought I might break. I was at a loss.
But things were about to turn in a whole new direction and I was about to get just the help I needed. I happened to have a session with my business coach that afternoon and she’s not the kind of person you cancel on because you’re crying! I had to go. So I arrived all snot en trane and this devastating heartbreak feeling that I didn’t understand. After some sweet tea and rusks which reminded me of my grandmother, she spoke to me about transgenerational trauma and family constellation therapy. T.H.I.S!
Did you know cells remember trauma? And our technology is so advanced these days you can see trauma in a genome and then see when that trauma is healed. This trauma is unresolved spiritual and emotional stuff that gets passed down through our DNA and repeated until it’s healed. Oh, oh and we inherit the old people’s stuff and add our own stuff too cause we’re just extra. And a massive 90% of our decisions are subconscious and only 10% are conscious based on our internally engineered blueprint.
Learning about Trauma
Transgenerational trauma symptoms look like addiction, abuse, depression, anxiety and suicidal intent when left unhealed. At their less dramatic level, they look like repetitive behaviour that we can’t break out of and don’t understand. In my case I felt like some of my life was a movie on loop. Do you remember when ETV played Anaconda every Friday and we knew ALL the words? I felt like that was my Fridays with wine. I knew exactly how it would go and couldn’t stop myself. Knew what Saturday was going to be like. Knew I’d be totally depressed and anxious on Sunday. Knew I would repeat it again the following week.
Anyway, I’ll share more about the work I’m learning through healing my own generational trauma in the book I’m writing. See I’m even writing a book, because that’s the kind of seriously cool stuff I get up to now that I have this exhilarating amount of energy and time since I’ve parked the wine. It’s quite alarming how toxic alcohol is to your energy levels and delightfully surprising what you can create in the space that it takes up.
More info and sign up HERE
I’m also so into my feelings these days that I’m doing somatic body work to feel the feelings that happen in my body that can tell me the difference between my intuition and indigestion. There’s a vast distinction, you know! My disconnect with my body and thus the core of my intuition centre has led me in to some blind corners that I can see now and I understand why I want to drink those parts away. Grim.
Starting to Feel Again
I feel like this challenge has been an instrumental reboot for me to access my life. I’ve learnt how important it is to feel and that ALL my feelings are good for me. Sounds so obvious but I am, like most of us, trained to avoid feelings at all costs and to “get on with things”. But as I’m learning, I’m seeing that the problem with all this avoidance is that I essentially cut off my life rudder. You see, I’m learning that I can’t steer my life to happiness if I don’t know how unhappiness feels. I’m learning that I can’t drink people interesting. So these days I leave if I find you boring. Don’t be offended, it’s new for me too.
I also don’t do things I don’t want to do anymore and I don’t force myself to “suck it up” when I know I’m in a shitty situation or when people are being assholes. I’m still scared but I will say something even it comes out squirrely with a couple of tears.
To feel all my feelings is the hardest adventure I’ve ever undertaken and I’ve just started. I don’t know where this is leading me and I’m so curious about what will show up in all this joyful, compassionate, purposeful space. If you’re reading this and wondering if you could give up alcohol, do it. If it terrifies you to think about giving up, definitely do it! It will be messy at first so have a supportive squad close by.
The rewards, however, will blow your mind, this I promise. In a world that promotes alcohol as a solution, a prize, a placebo and a friend, it’s outrageously brave to stop. And the most luxurious gift to yourself. You feel a little invincible. You will surprise yourself. You will trust yourself again. You will create things you never expected and complete things that are long overdue. Mostly you will feel all the juicy, loving elation of living.
And now, I have to give a special shout-out to my brave support squad, who dare to hold my hand and have my back on this ride. You signed up for a 66- day sober challenge and you’re getting a whole lot more than you signed up for. Thank you for sticking around and turning yourselves inside out to be a supportive safe space for me. I love you with all my feelings…
Alcohol is not your friend, not your lover, not your deceased parent, pet or family member.
Alcohol addiction exists on a continuum and is not an every day destination. Shoutout to my fellow binge drinkers! Hiiiii ☺
Alcohol is designed to make you want more. You don’t have a willpower problem. Alcohol is designed to be addictive. It’s on purpose!
Pay attention to the drivers that motivate your drinking. Are they shadow feelings? E.g. I feel lonely, what a kak day, I’m so stressed, how is this my life?
Shadow feelings only last a few seconds if you feel them in the moment. So feel them right there in the moment, they won’t kill you in the present tense but hold on to them and they might.
In a sick society, we all need help. We simply don’t have the tools to cope with this level of crazy. Alcohol is a surefire way to frequent the hell that is depression and anxiety. Remember it’s not you, our global society is really sick. Be groovy, and get some tools and people that work with you.
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