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Return to Center

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Magazine Archives
| Spring
2024 |
Volume 3,
Issue 1

Return to Center

A story of love and triumph. Meg Daly explores what it means to face grief, fall down, and find your way back to yourself.

“You need to cut your hair…and you drink too much.”

 

My face reddened and my heart began to race. 

 

It was early January 2024 and my Dad was grappling with exhaustion and confusion. Sitting on the edge of his hospital bed hearing his words, I felt shame emerge. 

 

The past 15 months had been a zig-zag of drinking, not drinking, and drinking again. Hadn’t I moved beyond using alcohol to escape pain? I’d created a program based on my journey to help others with this exact same problem four years earlier, and now here I was back in the same situation. I was consumed with grief and guilt. My dad was not doing well and I was struggling. I’d missed so many opportunities to be present with him. How often had I been too tired to talk over the past year? 

 

This spiral that I never saw coming began in a different hospital room just over a year earlier. A phone call, “Meggie, I’m so sorry. Chuck is in the hospital. It’s not good.”

 

 

Three days later, I said goodbye to my ex-love and forever best friend. It was too much. That day I gave up everything I had worked for. I said, “Fuck it,” drank three martinis on an empty stomach, and proceeded to get sick all over my driveway. What was the point of healthy living? The only thing I wanted was to be with him. And he was gone.

 

So I bought a bottle, and then another one, pretty much every night, for the next 15 months. I pushed away my suffering and my grief, “You’re not welcome here.” 

 

I buried myself in “busyness” and a demoralizing cycle of waking up, running to McDonalds, and working with my team followed by an evening of Netflix and a bottle of red. As I crawled deeper into my cave of grief I was losing myself. 

 

“What about your drinking?” my doctor asked. I started to cry. 

 

I knew the toxic relationship had to end but I wasn’t sure where I would find the strength to do it.

 

My Dad passed on January 11, 2024, the day after he gifted me with his stark words. We arrived at the hospital at 3PM and didn’t leave his side for twelve hours. The suffering he had experienced was eating away at me. I prayed for him to be at peace. I prayed he would forgive the part of me that wanted the moment to come so that I could escape the unbearable suffering, the waiting,  the goodbyes, the heartbreak …. and have a drink. 

 

He passed during a new moon. A day for manifestation. A time for new beginnings. 

 

A few weeks later, opening my eyes on a snowy morning, I grasped for the glass of water at my bedside table. Pervasive feelings of guilt enveloped me for not “feeling the feelings” of my dad’s passing, instead using wine like a morphine drip to mask the pain. Wincing at the alcohol-induced inflammation in my joints, 

I walked to the kitchen for the dreaded ritual of checking what was left in, not the first, but the second bottle.

 

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The quarter-cup of wine I found gave me comfort. “See? I didn’t drink two bottles.” It was a small but satisfying success like leaving the last french fry on a plate. Yet the red-eyed and forlorn inner child whom I had abandoned for just over a year begged, “No more.” 

 

Staring at the wee bit of wine, I heard my dad’s voice, ”You drink too much.”

Matter of factly I responded, finally, “Yes. I do.”

 

As you read this today, I am free of alcohol. Starting over. It’s both freeing and scary to write this and it feels exceedingly vulnerable, especially with the work I do as a coach. I know that we are all human, including me. I also know I don’t ever want to go back there. When my grief flares up and I’m tempted to “just have one” I remind myself of the fallout that happened during this difficult past year from the simple act of picking up the bottle. For me, this looked like the following: 

 

Muted imagination and intuition 

Drinking again washed away my intuition and what remained was a barren landscape of mild depression. I found myself grasping for answers, helplessly looking to friends, family, and psychics for direction. My high vibe was replaced with a murmur of apathy. The big ideas that came to me during “happy hour” became hazy memories as the hangovers set in. Hadn’t I done this before?? 

 

Weight gain and bad health

My daily three hours of escape hijacked the other 21 hours and led to bad health and habits. I became a poster child for the cascading negative effects that alcohol creates: Terrible sleep led to poor food choices which depleted my energy. Low energy led to laying on the couch and lack of exercise which resulted in 40 extra pounds.

 

Lack Of Purpose

Someone in my Facebook coaching community posted “Is this group still active? I miss Meg’s workshops.” My lack of motivation was manifesting itself in a limping professional life. I had stopped writing, no new podcasts were created, and the online program was quiet. A part of me I didn’t recognize was relieved to stay in a bubble of inaction.

 

Non-Existent Self Care 

My internal child was a hot mess and her mother had checked out. My usual routine of soaks in the tub, at-home facials, and teatime disappeared. The delicious meals I enjoyed making were gone as was my cozy sleep hygiene. As wine crept back into my life, the laundry piled up, things went unfixed, flossing was hit or miss, and dinner was delivery or take-out. Instead of reading each night, I scrolled social media buying things I then forgot about until they arrived. 

 

While things fell apart pretty quickly in my grief, I now see that this detour provided me with concrete evidence of the two lives I could live and laid the choice out bare before me: Did I want to hide or did I want to live? 

 

Getting back on track 

I lovingly share the steps that are getting me back on track, holding me accountable to what I want in my life, and replacing the need for alcohol in difficult times. It’s an all-encompassing journey with a healthy dose of being kind to myself each day. I share these with the hope that they will inspire you on your own path:

 

Embrace The Pain

For years I would run from any whisper of pain into the arms of alcohol. But all of my grief was still there under the surface. Ever-evolving and unpredictable, grief waits patiently for us to open the door and let it in. When it knocks—perhaps for the hundredth time—what if you welcomed it in, listened, and tried to understand it? Moving through grief can happen through music, somatic dance, walking in a forest, or simply having a conversation with a loved one. The process is non-linear: We hurt, then we heal. We hurt, then we heal. I personally love crying in the car to music that reminds me of my loved one. I’m learning to love my grief, knowing that its intensity is simply a mirror of the amount of love I hold in my heart.

 

Craft and Embody Your Muse

One day I sat down and made a list of people I admired and the qualities they embody. From that list, I created my muse. I call her Elegant Evelyn, and I built my podcast and coaching program around finding her each day. Evelyn is a gracious woman who dresses fabulously, decorates her home beautifully, loves herself and others and is present in her life. She has a sense of self-possession that keeps her grounded. I make it a daily game to find my way back to this version of myself. The days I can bring her forth are the most meaningful to me regardless of the emotional weather. 

 

Look For Kindred Spirits

Joining alcohol-free programs and communities is a lifeline for me. I cherish the friendships I’ve discovered in this space on Instagram. Lean towards what inspires you and piques your interest. I also find it uplifting to read about public figures who live alcohol-free lives and how it changed the work they do in the world. 

 

Fresh Sheets and Flowers

I use the extra time and money from not buying and drinking a bottle of wine each night to treat myself to simple pleasures. The very simple joy of ironing my pillowcases with lavender-infused steam makes me feel taken care of. Brunch, farmers markets, sound healing, hikes, day trips, movie nights, reading, midnight baking, and retreats are just a few of the treats I love. Create your own list of things you love and focus on cultivating those activities. 

P.S. Tidy and pretty spaces feel good. Taking time to declutter, clean, sage, and open windows can be deeply therapeutic.

 

Plan How You Want To Feel Tomorrow

A powerful and proven strategy in recovery is to ‘play the movie forward.’ If you want that glass of wine, try this: Step away. Take a few breaths. Close your eyes. Fast forward your life over the next 24 hours. If you choose to drink, what would you eat for dinner? How would you sleep? How would you feel waking up? What would you eat the next day? Would you feel calm or grumpy? Take another deep breath. Next, fast forward again imagining you decide not to drink. Visualize what the next 24 hours would look like. How would you feel? What would you do? This gives you powerful information to make an informed decision.

 

Get Up, Dress Up

Each day is a gift. It took a few weeks of deep sleep and self-care to start to heal my traumatized body and start to feel more like myself. One day as I walked listening to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” I began jamming out on the sidewalk. People stared as they slowed their cars, but I didn’t care. The joy I felt was not going to stay corked in a bottle. Life was brighter, more magical, and more alive. Once I was able to begin showing up for myself, life and all its gifts began showing up for me. 

 

It comes down to a choice. How do you want to feel:

Tired or energized

Bloated or refreshed

Grumpy or calm

Obnoxious or dignified

Undisciplined or self-possessed

Worn down or free

Uninspired or delighted

Overwhelmed or lovely

I’m grateful every day that I get to have the latter again.

 

***

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