“Drinking was the best gift I have ever given.” ~ Rob Lowe
For years I tried to have a great relationship with alcohol but failed.
When my kids were small, I drank much more than good for me, thinking I was relaxing, relaxing, sociable, and having fun. I’ve seen life shrink from a world full of freedom and vibrancy to a socially restricted void, and I wanted to feel normal. I wanted to participate together.
All my birthday cards came with a bottle of gin or a glass of fizz. All the memes on Friday afternoon on social media were “wine time”. I wanted to be part of that world.
When I opened the bottle in the evening, I thought I was changing gear, relaxing from stress, and doing self-care. Nothing was far from the truth. Alcohol awakened me in the middle of the night, giving me low levels of anxiety and an almost permanent brain mist.
I’m not proud to drink when my child was young. At that time, I feel deeply embarrassed. Nice husbands and kids, nice houses in great towns, nice friends, I made a very happy life for myself. What were you drinking to escape?
It looked like everything looked the same, but it wasn’t. I was overwhelmed.
I was a wife and family, a mother with two small children, an employee and a freelancer … I played all the roles I longed for, but still too much.
I didn’t know how to let go of some of my responsibilities, and I didn’t know how to deal with everything that was happening in my life. Alcohol felt like a treat I deserved. It took me a while to realize that alcohol is a common theme of my garbage decision-making, fatigue and moody.
I have long felt trapped and stuck. I didn’t want to drink, but I was worried about what other people would think, how they would feel at a party with a drink, and whether they could relax on the weekends.
I went back and forth many times and decided to quit before deciding whether to quit or not. It was a hellish merry-go-round. At the age of 41, I finally decided to quit alcohol for a year as a little life experiment. I wanted to see how it would feel without it for a long time.
I decided to take bold action in the fall of 2019. I told a group of friends online that I’m not going to drink alcohol during 2020. And when I said it out loud, I knew I had to do it.
This step towards accountability really helped me move my sober mission forward. I started the countdown until 2020 (still heavy drinking) and wondered what happened to this experiment!
Towards the end of 2019, my thinking has begun to change. Instead of being afraid of the beginning of 2020, I started looking forward to it. I made a plan that I knew would lead to the success of a sober year. I read books about quitting, listened to inspiring podcasts, and watched movies and documentaries that didn’t show alcohol consumption in a fascinating light. I chased people a few steps ahead of me on their sober journey. I asked a question and followed the advice.
I had my last drink on December 8, 2019. There was nothing monumental, no hangover with a few friends. It was a completely non-event!
I wanted to spend a year without alcohol to find out if life would be stressful, lonely and boring as I believe, or if I could relax and connect with others and enjoy without drinks. It is. The hangover and the fog in the brain were getting worse. From my late 30s to my early 40s, I couldn’t escape like I was in my 20s.
I wanted to be a parent with patience. I wanted to go downstairs and have a drink, so I didn’t have to rush my kids selfishly before going to bed.
I wanted them to enjoy their time away from work on weekends without a hangover.
I wanted to maximize my nutritional options. There are no longer any garbage food options that are determined by a low level hangover or, in that regard, a high level hangover.
I slept deeply, rested and wanted to wake up feeling ready the day before.
I wanted to know that I was giving myself the best chance of not getting high blood pressure. Heart disease; Liver disease; Breast cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, liver cancer, or colon cancer. Dementia; or weakened immunity.
I spent all of 2020 without drinks. There were days when I had a hard time navigating, events that were challenging to negotiate, and nasty conversations with my friends, but I did it all and did it all calmly.
When 2021 rolled, I knew I wasn’t going back to the way I drank before. I have changed my relationship with alcohol better. I was physically, emotionally, and mentally different, and I didn’t want to go back to paralyzing my emotions.
You can easily list all the benefits to your body and mind when cutting alcohol. For example, deeper sleep, clearer skin, better mood, more energy, and less anxiety, but for me there are some real changes. It was a few years later. I feel more spiritually open than ever, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for all of us on this sober and curious journey.