A while ago I wrote about my choice to ditch the wine (which I loved) and embrace a life without alcohol. Since then I’ve heard from many people who told me they were inspired by my journey. So, I thought some of you may be wondering how things have been going for me now that I’ve been living a life without alcohol for quite some time. Like, is it worth it? Has anything really changed for me? Am I still in favor of this plan? Yes,Dear One, it is absolutely worth the discomfort it takes to quit drinking. Read on if you want to hear more.
If you’re not familiar with my story I was a wine lover for many years. I fully embraced that culture, enjoyed everything about it…until I found wine was simply taking more than it would give, it just wasn’t working for me anymore. There was no big or drastic event that meant I needed to change -rather I got tired of constantly having a foggy brain and being exhausted. At the risk of sounding cliché I felt like I wasn’t living my best life because of the wine. I was done with not having clarity on the direction my life was headed because I would rather ‘relax’ with a glass of wine. I was noticing as each year passed, I drank just a little bit more while watching my general well-being deteriorate. I started looking at the research on alcohol in our culture (scary as all get out), what it does to our brain (it’s frightening) and the thing that really rocked me – what it does to our ability to feel joy and contentment (obliteration anyone?). I decided I wanted to quit for forever. So, while still sipping away on my vino, I developed a plan to successfully stop. I happily no longer drink booze and feel much better for it. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
But just in case that all sounds like a fairy-tale to you and you want to know how it REALLY is…here’s a little deeper look into the past few years…
Christmas is still sucks quite a bit. I guess because it only comes once a year so I don’t often get to practice doing the holiday without wine, I don’t get used to it and it takes me by surprise. Also, the holidays are a busy & exhausting time so my unconscious mind sabotages me into thinking it would all be better with wine. I imagine it…red or white & what kind. I picture myself doing it. Generally, not a fun thing and it STILL happens. So, if you run into me at the holidays and I’m crabby – that’s why. The good thing is I am aware this is going to happen, so I’m prepared mentally even though I don’t like it.
Being exhausted is the biggest downer and struggle, by far. The time I most want to have a glass of wine is when I am tired. However, being sober helps me understand WHY exhaustion triggers a craving to drink. I feel lousy when I ‘m out of gas so I simply want to STEP OUTSIDE MYSELF, escape that snarky roar inside my head. It’s been a huge (often painful) undertaking to stay with that voice and make sense of her. I have come to recognize that one of my main coping skills is to run or simply tune out when the going gets tough and I didn’t recognize that in myself before because it was masked by ‘relaxing with wine’.
One of the biggest challenges with ditching a crutch like booze (or drugs or shopping or porn or gambling or work or excessive exercise …. I could go on) is you are faced with dealing with your feelings. There is likely nothing scarier that this. When I am super tired my feelings are lousy and intense, and I DO NOT want to recognize them. I didn’t then and I still don’t. But here’s the thing – it takes practice, you can truly get better at doing hard things and when you do you earn the respect of yourself which is a REALLY BIG DEAL. There is nothing like it! Noticing a really hard thing, whether it’s emotion or a situation or a solution, and moving toward that thing rather than away is adulting at its finest and I’m no psychologist but I believe if we don’t learn to lean into the hard stuff, rather than running away, our well-being will eventually pay the price. Mine certainly was.
The biggest gift sobriety has given me is clarity, which is also one of the main things I was looking for when I decided to quit. I rarely have foggy brain, I have gained a wider perspective and I can mostly stay present in what is happening in my life rather than withdraw (I am practicing this!)
Is my life now filled with rainbows & unicorns now? It is not. However, living AF (alcohol free) remains one of the greatest things I’ve ever done because
- I earned the respect of myself;
- I can think clearly most of the time;
- I feel my emotions – so hard yet so necessary;
- I KNOW I can do hard things, just like you.
If you have a tiny inkling you may be drinking too much, that it’s just not working for you anymore, start to pay attention. Notice it because that’s where it all starts, in the noticing. Your desire for change may grow from there. And no matter what has gone down, please Sweetie, do not beat yourself up over your past actions. You are doing the best you can, and you can do hard things because you’re awesome.
Thank you so much for being here with me.