I immediately felt I was taking the right path. It all felt very familiar and comfortable. But it was not easy. Ivan did not understand at first, he could not see that it was all or nothing. If I was indisposed to alcohol and had decided to stop drinking, I could not just pick up a drink again whenever the occasion arose and expect to get away with it. And it was not a matter of willpower. I slipped several times, going back out to test the waters, but finding myself dragged mercilessly down again into deceit and dishonesty. However, my desire to change my ways and break this vicious circle was stronger. Plus now I had support, and people were depending on me, I had promised my children that I would stop, and I knew life with Ivan would become intolerable if I did not eradicate this poison from it. So again for a while I was sober and tried to make headway with my spiritual growth. I knew I had lost touch with that spiritual side of me that had awoken and begun to blossom during the early years of my marriage in the States and particularly during my pregnancy with Claire and the ensuing years. But after coming to Russia and getting involved with Ivan again, a door had closed. I had closed the door to the higher realms in order to make the journey down into the dark depths of my soul, to meet the other side of myself, the rebellious and uncontrollable parts of me that needed to have their say. Now the door back up to the light was opening again and I had to get my foot in before it slammed shut forever. This I knew, even though only at some elusive intuitive level.
So I continued working on myself and I was anxious to rush ahead and discover what it was in my past life, in my formative years, that had led me to drink, what shortcomings of character, what insults and past experiences had led to this fatally obsessive behavior. I discovered a great deal. But the most valuable thing I discovered was that I was my own worst enemy. That no one had done anything to me to make me act this way. All my phobias, insecurities, low self-esteem, and self-pity were of my own making. I had chosen to feel and act that way, no one had made me. This gave me a feeling of empowerment, this meant I had the power to choose a different way, a different way of thinking, a different set of behavior patterns. I couldn’t change overnight and knowing all this was quite different from actually doing something about it. But the ground had been tilled and the seed sown. I had a set of tools to work with and I was reweaving the threads of my inner being, regaining contact with my inner core, that radiant part inside me that was connected to the whole of the universe. If I kept my sights on my inner purpose, I could not go far wrong.
I kept this up for six months. I was jubilant. Ivan never brought alcohol into the house again and didn’t drink out of the house either. This was a true miracle for me. I had never tried to make Ivan stop drinking, I had only been very concerned about the way he drank, and when we became mired down in the whole alcoholic nightmare together I even began to fear for my own safety and sanity. He could get so out of hand when he was drunk and I never thought he would see that he had to stop. But after I had made the decision, after I had understood the futility of going on the same way, after I had said I was going for help, Ivan stopped too. He did not see the wisdom of the path I had chosen, he was strong and did not need support, he had his willpower and knew the consequences, he did not have the craving any more. I never thought that the word “alcoholic” would ever apply to me, but now I had accepted it, I even welcomed the name. It suited me, I felt comfortable with it, I had somehow found a niche for myself in this world, a place I felt at home and well.
However, the real turning point came when I decided not to hide my desire to drink from Ivan anymore. One of the greatest temptations came when he went fishing for a couple of days, when he would be gone overnight and I thought I could get away with it. My first thoughts as soon as he left would be to go out to the store, I could tipple away during the day and no one would be any the wiser. I was no longer under anyone’s watchful eye, although that was an illusion too. Who was watching me? No one was watching while I was not drinking, no one knew my inner state, my obsession, so what warning signals could there be? My family lived on in sweet oblivion unaware of my inner struggle. So again, I was my own worst enemy, I was the only one to provoke situations where I thought I might drink. No one else could do that, it all depended on my inner state, the strength of my inner core, my ability to remain grounded and in my center, no matter what.
An opportunity came a couple of months later when Ivan was planning to leave for a day or two. My head filled with unnecessary thoughts again and I decided to tell Ivan about them. I told him about how I always had the desire to drink when he was gone and how I was worried about being able to resist this desire. He did not understand at first and reacted with irritation. “So I have to stay home and look after you? Make sure you don’t do anything untoward?” No, that was not what I meant at all. I did not need him there holding my hand, making sure it did not reach for a drink. I just needed him to know about my struggle. And it was amazing, just that fact, the fact that he knew, changed everything. Once it was out in the open rather than hidden inside, I was free! A.A. Milne may have meant something different when he wrote: "When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it," but this seemed to apply very well to me in my circumstances. I knew with certainty that now I had voiced my fears out loud and brought them out into the open and let Ivan look at them, I would not go out and buy any liquor once he was gone. I had found a safe harbor, the truth once out for all to see had a very different quality than when it was kept in the dark and unknown recesses of my soul. Could it really be that simple? But it was. The craving was gone. The loophole had closed. There was no one left to kid, least of all myself. By saying the words aloud, I had neutralized my obsession.
Now that the obsession had left me, my vital energy was free to be used in more creative pursuits. What was more, it was not only my energy, but Ivan’s as well. He also seemed empowered by the fact he was no longer drinking. Despite all the obstacles and seeming impossibility of it, we finally privatized our apartment. It was now ours to live in without being tied to Progress’s apron strings.
I continued to make all kinds of discoveries about myself, gradually making my way back to my inner core, to my sacred feminine soul. I rediscovered my bond with nature. I had always felt at my best on their summer camping trips, swimming every day, going about barefoot, dressed in as little as possible if the weather permitted, natural, in abandonment. Now this bond was becoming more intense and I felt this immense need to spend more time in nature, live in nature permanently, I dreamed of a house in the country where I could live forever. I wanted to find my small niche in a wooden house in the country with water close by where I could swim whenever I wanted. Where I could step outside into the grass with bare feet, where I could see the sunset, the moon, the stars, feel the wind, hear the leaves, breathe in the sweet fresh air. And these were the times I was most in harmony with Ivan. When we were out in the country together, either fishing or mushroom-picking.
We were actually in harmony most of the time these days. I had changed and so had he. Or perhaps he had always been that way, but I needed to change before I could see it. Whatever the case, for me Ivan had mellowed and many of the things I found hard to deal with in him in the past were now no longer an issue. I had always tried to accept him as he was, but now that alcohol no longer interfered and muddied the waters, I had a clearer vision of myself and of Ivan in my life.
I had wondered on numerous occasions about whether I would have made this journey to the underworld, whether alcohol would have played such havoc with my life if I had stayed in the West. And there were times I wanted to “blame” Ivan. If I had not met him and not started drinking with him….but “if” is a very precarious word, it stuck out like a sore thumb in my vocabulary, I did not believe in it. There was no such thing as “if,” there was only what was and is. To everything there is a rhyme and reason, in everything there is perfect and divine harmony and order, nothing ever happens by accident, there can only be legitimate coincidences. This was my credo. So there was no point in wondering how things might have been and what might have happened if….. Everything had happened the way it was supposed to. Now I saw that so clearly. My relationship with Ivan had opened my eyes to my true self, helped my to see to the core of my own pain and dis-ease and find a way to heal myself. Healing of course was relative. I could not be fully healed in this lifetime. Complete healing meant my soul had reached ultimate perfection and no longer needed to manifest in a body. I was still far from that. But the purpose of each life I incarnated in was to climb higher up the spiral of spiritual enlightenment, reach a higher plane of self-understanding and self-acceptance. And this time, Ivan had been the one to help me on my way.
Now looking back on it all, I realized that it could not have been any other way. I had always been intrigued by the phrase, “One person’s pain is another person’s purpose,” and for a long time I took it the wrong way. I thought it meant that one person in a marriage or love union took on the other person’s pain and healed it. That’s what I thought I was doing with Ivan. I could see the pain in his soul and I felt it was my purpose to heal it for him, that was the reason our lives had joined. Later though my mother shed new light on the phenomenon and I came to understand it differently. Although I was still not sure I had it right. But now it looked more like this. By recognizing Ivan’s soul pain, I could heal my own. We are all mirrors for each other. And Ivan merely reflected my own pain for me so that I could see it and heal it myself. There is nothing we can do to heal another person, that is their own job, but in as far as we are all a single whole, how we heal ourselves as an individual has an effect on healing the whole.