Fear of Forever
I was born and raised in New York City and I still live here. People often ask me a question: "Do you think you will live here forever?" I usually say something like, "I can't imagine living anywhere else. I love it here, our life here. But you never know." This last bit: You never know. It's true. Life changes; we change with it. Sometimes I daydream about living on a ranch in Montana, having a totally different life. Do I think this will ever truly happen? Nope. Unlikely. But again: you never know.
Forever can be a scary word. It can make us feel trapped, penned in, powerless. For some, this is why marriage is daunting. The idea of committing to one person for a lifetime is unsettling, restrictive, unnatural. I did not feel this on my own wedding day. The idea of marital commitment was, for me, exciting, comforting. It continues to be. Then again, I'm a creature who longs for safety, security, being settled.
I've been writing more and more about my decision to live life without alcohol. I love writing about this, excavating the landscape of my days, connecting with others who are curious about making a similar choice. All of this stuff is immensely meaningful to me. But what I'm noticing is a lot of fear about what life will be without alcohol, fear of committing to this way of living forever.
I get it. I've felt this fear before. I still feel it sometimes when I look ahead 10 years, or 20. What will my life look like and be like then? Will I be just as committed to the dry life then? I can't say for sure, but I also can't imagine going back to drinking and to the heartache it caused me. I love this place, this way. I can't imagine doing life any other way. Kind of like the New York thing.
For those who are unsettled by the concept of Forever, I'd say forget about it. Focus on today. This week. This month. This year. Pay attention to how you feel without alcohol, how your view of the world shifts, how much more you can see. Find the motivation to keep at it in everyday moments of emotion and grace. Let it be an experiment. Let it take time. This is all so exquisitely personal.
Forever doesn't scare me much. Forever makes me feel comfortable, cozy. But let me remind you that there were YEARS when Forever was petrifying for me, years where I felt a simultaneous desire to commit to stop drinking and a deep-seated fear of following through. I call these years my dancing years because I was back and forth so much. It was, in retrospect, pretty yucky. But it was also necessary. I was doing my own personal research, research which led me, finally, to a positive decision, to Forever.
And yet. Still. We never know, do we? Who we will be, how we will feel, what life will be like. Life contains mysteries and time is a big one. But even so, we have the power to decide for now, or Forever.
I choose Forever. I'm ready to.