My Antidote: Light

by Jaclyn Roessel

Positivity and “shine love” mantras have always been my way to cope, encourage and motivate myself to keep striving for excellence in my life. The thing about being a sparkly, light-filled lovetarian is, people sometimes mistakenly think you have never felt the darkness. The truth about the light I carry, is it not only lights my path but acts as my antidote.

There are many lives, friendships and relationships in my life that have been negatively impacted by alcohol abuse. In some tragic cases, my siblings and I have suffered the fatal loss of childhood friends. Growing up in a tight-knit community you are never numb to these instances. You feel each blow and that heaviness of grief is hard to carry because you know there are better choices.

When I moved off the reservation for college and the option to imbibe legally was presented, I entered this with caution and excitement. While I was responsible and careful, there began to be a cycle that would perpetuate, I’d always have a moral battle and consistently feel guilty, so I would stop, not engage and carry on with school. Until the next invitation to birthday party, work event or happy hour and I’d try again taking part, cautiously but the same result would rise up. I understood later, that because my reservation was “dry”, meaning the sale and consumption of alcohol was illegal, alcohol was always going to be bad.

While drinking was never important to my identity, it was easy for it to fall away. But after much consideration, I began to consider what life would be like if I committed to not drink socially. What would my world look like? What more could I do if I didn’t partake anymore? The answer to all of these questions was it’d be the same.

So a year ago today, I unceremoniously, started not consuming alcohol. Having never struggled with addiction or suffered from any legal issues because of recklessness, the choice was seamless. But it was full of meaning. My decision has become a commitment to a way of life and journey on a path I am privileged to walk.

In the process, I have dramatically minimized the impact of the worry about this powerful thief of a substance. Since starting Grownup Navajo, over three years ago, I have challenged myself to align more and more with my cultural teachings. To seek answers and teachers to the questions I have about how I, as a Diné (Navajo) person, should live.

This choice in lifestyle allows me to live in closer harmony with my traditional teachings as a modern Navajo woman. Through my commitment I have created a powerful shift in my life and I share this personal journey because I am proud of this milestone. I am empowered by this decision and feel able to seize the hold alcohol has had on my life. There are many people who have had a tremendous impact on me and yet I will never see them again because of this substance. While that realization angers me still today, I aim for my action to be a tribute to them but rooted in my love of self. By reclaiming the power of my choices, I am grounded. Through this commitment I weaken the impact alcohol will have on my life and that sense of ownership of choice has added to the force of light shining from me today.

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