February 7, 2020

Fear isn’t a life sentence…

Journal Entry #79

It’s been more than 320 days since I last had a glass of wine.  In the beginning, I didn’t really miss it.  The Miltefosine made me feel like I had a perpetual, all-day, all-night hangover not only while I was taking it, but also for about 3+ months after.  When I was feeling so sick, there was no desire to have a drink at all.  And as time has gone on, I have developed a hesitation to have a glass.

Dr. Katrina gave me a homework in December –  to have a drink over the holidays.  Even though we know that my kidneys aren’t working at top notch, she encouraged me to have one drink just to see where it lands me.  I was feeling so good over the holidays, even while playing nursemaid for Tim, that I didn’t want to risk doing something that might make me feel not so good.  So, I continued to avoid it.

But, I had to answer to her last week because I didn’t do my homework for her.

Dr. Katrina is so realistic, and direct.  Which I really appreciate. I explained to her how I was afraid to have a drink because I didn’t want to go back to that hangover feeling.  She reassured me that one glass wouldn’t likely create that sensation.  I then explained that I have been frustrated with myself because I have been using Cannabis almost every night.  I am guaranteed a good night sleep when I take the CBD oil.  If I go a night or two without it, I am restless, have scurrying thoughts, pain and interrupted rest.  I have been wondering if I am dependent upon it?  Am I still using it because I need it, or am I using it because I am “addicted” to it?  Dr. Katrina was surprised by my sentiment so she then pointedly asked, “So, what is this really all about?”


Addiction runs in my family.  I have always been hyper-vigilant about this topic in my own life.  I do have addictive traits…some may call my love of reading an obsession, but I know it is more than that.  Sure, reading is harmless BUT not when it gets in the way of conversation with Tim, or playing, reading or watching a movie with the kids. The average person doesn’t read 45+ novels a year.  I digress.  Anyway, as I was sharing this fear with Dr. Katrina, she very plainly explained that my body needs lots of uninterrupted rest to heal, and that I am very much still healing the inside parts of me that were damaged from the chemo.  Also, the possibility of addiction to CBD is extremely low and it is possible that this fear is holding back my overall progress.  Is this fear also related to having a glass of wine?

How will I ever move forward if I am afraid of a plant medicine that has been integral to my survival of this whole mess?

As we talked, I realized that the common theme between alcohol and cannabis in my mind have been wound tightly together.  Maybe all these years I have been thinking that I have been aware of addiction, but what if I have just been afraid of succumbing to addiction myself?  What if, what I fear is what I attract?  If my thoughts create my reality, and I am afraid of these things, am I not asking for them to be present in my life?  The truth is, just because addiction has appeared in my family history, does not mean that it will repeat with me.  It doesn’t mean that I too, will follow in their footsteps.  I am not addicted to alcohol.  I am not addicted to Cannabis.  But I am afraid of the possibility.


I have never talked so much about fear as I have lately.  I never would have called myself fearful…but now I am stepping out of denial and into action.  I am realizing that these fears are being created in my head from stories that I have been telling myself.  And none of it is real, unless I attach a meaning to it.  I am starting to think that these fears are just thoughts that I have concocted from overthinking and over analyzing the events of the last year.

In my hypnosis training, I learned that the first time we visit a memory is the only “true” recollection that we have.  After that, we visit the memory of the memory.  And every time we think of the memory, new filters and perceptions are added to it.  Over time, our memories become distorted.  And years down the road, we could be visiting memories of memories of memories…thousands of memories deep. This means that memories become distorted, and this leaves room for fears and anxieties to develop.  I am certain that this is what is happening with me.

Even more reason to stop dwelling on the story of what happened and get on with life.

I remember when I was a teenager, a friend and I “borrowed” my brothers snowmobile after school, without asking his permission.  Dumb luck, we wrapped it around a fence post and had to walk several farm fields home.  I remember laying on the floor in front of the fireplace, crying because I was so upset with myself.  There wasn’t any yelling and I knew I would have to pay for the damage.  It was a tough life lesson, knowing I was in the wrong, but my brother graciously accepted my apology.  I remember my dad coming in the house as I was lying there on the floor feeling sorry for myself, clearly concussed with the room spinning and he tossed my helmet and snow gear at me.  He told me I had to get back on a sled right then and there, if I didn’t, he said, the fear would take hold and I would never get on a sled again.  I was so mad at him but I was even more terrified to ride again.

But I did it.

And he had me go around and around the field, past that fence, over and over again.  Desensitizing me to the scene of the accident, proving that it can be safely executed and that an accident is simply that.  An accident.  The risk is low, to have the same thing happen again.  But fear can totally prevent us from doing the things that scare us all over again.  Logically and realistically, I know this.  But fear isn’t rational.  It doesn’t make sense.  Which is why I think it takes so much effort to over-ride it.  Riding a snowmobile isn’t any different than learning to ride a bike.

Or traveling again.

Or having a glass of wine.

Feel the fear, but do it anyway.

I feel like a healthy amount of fear is necessary to experience life.  It is what helps me discern safety, to weigh my options and decisions, and helps me establish appropriate boundaries.  I think fear is important in surviving this human life.  But it can also be what imprisons me.  Too much fear, skews my impression of the world, alters my decisions and alters my perception.  I think it is time for me to get this fear in check.  Right now, I feel like I am making decisions through a cage of fear and not the freedom of life.  But, this prison isn’t made of iron, it is made of my thoughts.

I am ready to bust out!

Sara and Alicia came over tonight to support me in having my first glass of wine.  I was nervous.  I pulled a bottle of Valpolicella and a bottle of Malbec off the wine rack, and placed them both on the counter.  I oscillated between putting it back on the rack and waiting another day and giggling in anticipation. It was a tough decision, because in the past I have loved them both.  In the end, I decided to go with my favorite Malbec.

It was delicious.

A perfect bite, warming within and full of flavor.

We toasted the moment, enjoyed each other’s company and I savoured every sip.

I thought it would go right to my head, that I would be “tipsy” after just a few sips.  But I wasn’t.  It didn’t hit me like that.  Instead, I flushed out.  Rosy cheeks, with the redness spreading down my throat and chest.  It only lasted about an hour.  I wondered if it was from the wine, or if it was just a release of the fear and the stress because I worked myself up over this?  Who knows?  I guess there is only one thing left to do.

Have a glass again, on a different day.  And see where it lands me.

Afterall, fear isn’t a life sentence.

Xo Juli

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