I Quit Drinking For 15 Months. Here’s Some Bittersweet Truths I Learned.
I knew it the minute I opened my eyes.
Once again I crossed the line. Yep, I let alcohol get the better of me. August 24, 2019 was my come to Jesus day. That sad day started and ended with the same question in my head and my heart.
Why do I take it so far all the time? And wtf is wrong with me?
I’d venture a guess, you’ve asked yourself this too at least once.
If you haven’t, I commend you. You probably have the ability to hold it together when any kind of alcohol is involved. I however, never got that memo.
Looking back, I can say “it is what it is”. And as much as I loathe that saying- I feel it implies a lack of responsibility- it’s what I say to feel a little less guilty about the many (many) mistakes I made while under the influence.
Since I quit drinking, I’ve learned a couple of pretty tough lessons, riddled with some happy accidents.
Harsh reality #1-
I can have a couple of drinks and be fine.
Actually, about 50% of the time that’s true. But then…there’s the other 50%. Something in my head just wants to continue with more and more and more. There’s a weird shift in my brain that says “Hey if I’m going to have 1, I should have 10, it would be so much more fun! Let’s all have more”! And down the rabbit hole all sense and sensibility goes…
Since I got off the booze train I realized that, even if that number dropped to 1%, it’s still a very slippery slope. You can never tell when one of those times will just creep up on you. It’s safer to just steer clear. And that’s ok.
Happy accident #1-
You can have a perfectly marvelous life without alcohol! Sporting events, live music, holidays, and yes, even birthdays, can be so much fun without drinking! Seriously!
When it was time for my birthday- a day I believe should be a national holiday where everyone is off- and New Years Eve, I rolled right through the days with zero problems. Instead of starting the drink filled days with mimosas and pancakes, I got in a killer work out, had a massage and manicure, and fed myself the most delicious meals.
By the way, keep in mind that calories don’t count on your birthday- it’s a fact.
What’s even better, the next day, I remembered everything I said and did and there was NO HANGOVER!!!
Harsh reality #2-
Your drinkin’ buddies aren’t really your friends- they’re your drinkin’ buddies. When you decide to get off the juice and make some changes in your life, don’t expect the whole world to follow suit. And you can’t blame anyone for not wanting to change either. Those who continue to rage may not want to see that part of themselves. You know, that piece that prompted you to go over the sober lifestyle cliff. Some people might not be ready to face the fact that they too have a problem with booze. You quitting scares them just enough to cut you off. Why face it, if you don’t have to? The most important thing to remember is not to judge anyone else for the choices they make (or don’t make).
P.S. Not EVERYONE will be that way, but I guarantee you, your circle will shrink when you quit spending your free time hanging out in bars. Plain and simple. Accept it, and move forward.
Happy accident #2-
You find new, productive, healthier ways to pass your time. Bonus points for meeting new people who share your passion for things you didn’t even realize you were passionate about! You might take up a new hobby, learn to play an instrument, get more into exercise, who knows. There’s literally an infinity list of things you can do other than get hammered. I’ve gotten to know some pretty wonderful people who already didn’t drink and we had a lot in common!
Harsh reality #3-
I relied too heavily on alcohol to get me through stress. I remember so many times during my perpetual “dark night of the soul” (divorce and reinvention period) when I’d say “I just need a drink”. And I really meant it! Back then, it was what helped me relax and unwind. Only, most of the time, I felt so damn relaxed and unwound that I wanted to have more. If one makes me feel this good, let’s have a few more — that will be sooo much better! Cue the inevitable hangover and fuzzy head.
Happy accident #3-
There’s a list that can span the earth of things you can do to help manage stress- meditation, walking, running, exercise, getting a massage, shooting a gun, if that’s your thing (just please be sober).
I’ve found that since I’ve embraced the sober life, my meditations have become deeper and I actually have less stress than I did when I drank on the regular. Even more so, when I do have stressful moments, they’re just moments. Those moments pass so quickly and there’s usually no lingering drama.
Listen, I’m not here to bash drinking. In fact, there was a few months period of time after my 15 months off, that I started drinking again. It wasn’t often, and I was really able to manage it BETTER. But inevitably, there came those few nights where I lost myself and gave in to the alcohol monster.
2 day hangover- check!
Depression for a week — check!
Making sure I wasn’t in trouble with my loved ones because I said something really hurtful? CHECKKKK!
Honestly, who wants to live like that? In the end, the epilogue just wasn’t worth the few hours of mental “freedom”. So I’ve reaffirmed my resolve to give up alcohol for good.
And in the spirit of honesty, the first time I quit, I did it for someone else. It’s a noble thing- to give up something so socially accepted and a large part of my life. I felt like I owed it to him to give the sober life a serious go.
But this last time, I did it for me. And because of that, I’ve been way more successful! The struggle is (not) real…
I said this before and I’ll say it again: I’m not saying I’ll never drink again. I have a long life ahead of me, and I don’t believe in setting myself up for failure. But for the foreseeable future, I’ll be riding the sober train.
Want to join me?
*This blog was meant to be a light hearted take on my struggles with alcohol. That said, I do not take the subject light-ly. Please please please, if you’re having a serious problem with addiction, get help. If you’re drinking to the point of hurting yourself or others, reach out to a counselor or a trusted friend. You can even connect with me. I understand how you’re feeling.