Excuse me sir, do you have a moment to discuss the Good News?

I feel like a frustrated missionary sometimes.

I look in the mirror, and I see clear skin and deep blue eyes and cheekbones, and I smile in pleasure. I may be the only woman in the Western world who takes unalloyed pleasure in her natural appearance, but it is true nonetheless.

I wake up in the morning happy, and I go to bed drowsy and content.

I forgive myself when I shout at my children, because I trust myself that I’m doing a decent job overall, and I give myself due praise when I do better. I love them with sweet fierceness, and I wallow in the pleasure of that.

Even when I feel angry, or stressed, or sad, there is a joy in the authenticity of the emotion, and in letting myself feel it.

Once, a long time ago, I knew a man who underwent a religious transformation. From a vaguely Christian Christmas-and-Easter background, he became an evangelist. I was then, as I am now, the most atheist of people, but I couldn’t help but be fascinated by his faith. It shone from him. It suffused everything he did. Watching him, I could understand how people become proselytisers; he truly believed that the deep joy and peace that he was experiencing could only come from a total surrender to his God, and that the rest of us were missing out on a miracle of happiness by not following his lead.

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I feel like that. I watch friends of mine struggle with sticking to their allotted alcohol-free days, and hating themselves when they fail. I wince when mothers of young children recommend a glass of wine to one another as a coping strategy, not because I think that they are problem drinkers, but because parenting is so much easier and so much more fun when you don’t think in terms of numbing-agent-as-reward, and I hate to think that perhaps some of them are missing out on the soaring pleasure of sober parenting.

And then there is the group of people who quite obviously do have a problem, and who betray it time and time again without realising that they do so.

It’s not that I think I could help them, per se. I’m just a woman who doesn’t drink. It’s that, no matter how many thousands of words I spill, I can’t do more than talk about how things are for me, and that doesn’t feel like enough. It’s worse than that, because the more I talk the more boring I get. Nobody wants to read post after post about how amazing life without alcohol can be, any more then they want to spend an hour on their doorstep listening to earnest young men spread their own personal gospel.

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I have become dull, and repetitive, and ineffectual, even as I feel more and more compelled to try and explain how much better life is, lived sober. I craft posts in my head over and over, trying to say the thing that will make people listen, and transform a life. It’s frustrating.

When I remember my old friend, I don’t remember anything he ever said being remotely likely to persuade me into religion. But I do, almost twenty years later, remember the light in his eyes, and the serenity in his movements.

Maybe I need to stop talking and just keep living. Or does one keep knocking at doors, hoping that someone will have a moment to discuss the good news?

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14 thoughts on “Excuse me sir, do you have a moment to discuss the Good News?

  1. I disagree. I think you are reaching a good number of potential converts.
    And they need to hear your message. Again and again.
    Because together we show that life can be great without alcohol.
    And as our numbers grow, we become even more convincing.

    You are doing a good thing! Don’t be frustrated.

    Anne

  2. your post brought to my mind Browning’s ratteldy-ratteldy poem of the bringing of the good news…so I Googled it and found this delightful recording, that I’ve never heard before, of Browning himself reciting part of it in 1889 – well worth listening to, for how it ends… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYot5-WuAjE. it brings so vividly to life a man long gone…

    which I think I’m including here as an illustration that however well one thinks one knows something, there’s always a new way of hearing it. and you tell your stories to the same people in different ways, and to new people in the same way. and we all learn from one another. keep telling your stories, Allie. keep living them, too. and/both not either/or, yes?! Prim xx

  3. Allie…
    that’s how we do it, right?
    I know you don’t do 12 step..but the heart of it is attraction rather than promotion, and you are one damn attractive woman!
    You have no idea how you help peolpe, and guess what? you don’t need to . You get to live your life and tell your truth and if someone hears the message that’s great. meanwhile…you are staying sober.
    There’s nothing boring about that.

    “Even when I feel angry, or stressed, or sad, there is a joy in the authenticity of the emotion, and in letting myself feel it.”…..that really hit me because i have been a little down the last 2 days, but yes, there is joy in knowing that’s a human emotion and that I am feeling it, not anesthetizing it away. And it passes; it’s passed. I feel fabulous tonite ,

    You keep on preaching allie…you do it so well!

  4. Hearing about hope and happiness and joy is never boring or pointless. I want to hear the ‘good news’ from people further on this path. And you’re not knocking on our doors, unwanted; we’re all sitting on our front doorsteps hoping that you’ll come by and inspire us. Bea x

  5. What Bea and the Pastor say. 🙂 And of course: natural beauty is coming back in style. Grey hair is the new blond and impactful movies are made about getting older in style: http://advancedstylefilm.com/ The fact that they are even being made is already a sign. I am guessing that the world slowly comes to realise that after eons of male domination it misses ‘something’ that fills the concept of The Mother. I think following this trend sobriety is going to be a trend as well.

    Not sure about the knocking, I guess it depends on your motives. But I personally like reading a good story amongst some of the posts that are about loosing from the bottle. I believe that getting out of the frequency of addiction (as Tommy Rosen calls it) also has to do with what blog intake one chooses. At least, for me it does.

  6. I think it’s great you’re writing about how happy you are without booze. And although you aren’t in AA there is this idea that we write/talk about this stuff not only to help us but others, the newcomers. And liked mishedup said, you have no idea how many people you’ll have helped. Keep on keeping on I say 🙂

  7. I think if you enjoy writing on your blog, you should continue to do so — regardless of the benefits you think your readers are or aren’t receiving. For what it’s worth, I love seeing a new post from you in my email. I think you’re a great writer and I would really enjoy reading the posts that are swirling around in your head.

  8. Hearing about your life without alcohol is fascinating to me, not boring. As someone who still can’t decide whether or not to give the wine up, I need to hear that parenting is easier, not harder, without alcohol. I need to hear that feeling your feelings is better, not worse, without alcohol. I need to hear that you can go to bed content and wake up happy.

    I hope you don’t get bored writing this blog, because it is helping me more than you know. I want to keep hearing about how you face the inevitable challenges life will bring, without your old coping strategy of alcohol. I’m an atheist like you so I don’t have religion to fall back on for inspiration and hope. I rely on real-life success stories like yours instead. xxxx

  9. Many have come to the same conclusion. Many bloggers have drifted at this point, wondering what’s the point – it’s all good now, right? No drama here any more, or if so, it’s about what brand of dishwashing soap to use, not who did i sleep with last night.

    As mentioned by your lovely readers, the idea is that we don’t have to pontificate or try to convert anyone. We just live life as we do, taking on challenges as is, coming to things from a new viewpoint. Is it sexy? Maybe not in a visceral way. Is it attractive? Sure can be for someone who is once again burning their lives down to the ground.

    I just wrote a post about the ol’ “sorry, nothing much to see here…but guess what, I am HAPPY”. Well, I would have jumped on that one when i was in disarray and desperation. How could someone who doesn’t drink be happy? But I would have wanted it. We don’t preach nor do we try to sell anyone on sobriety – we just lead by example. That’s all we can do, and that’s what I try to do. I live my life, and if someone sees that as attractive, cool beans.

    Keep at it, my friend. You have readers who lurk, who may not comment, but take it in.

    Blessings
    Paul

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