Why did I stop drinking? I bought the wine o’clock as me-time ideal. I was the woman who could do everything, did do everything, and deserved a drink or 2 at the end of the day. I didn’t use alcohol to self-medicate because I had repressed issues. I drank because it was my reward and life was “good”. I drank to relax and drinking in a habitual, but somewhat controlled way, was expected in my world. I usually got away with it, meaning that on a typical day I might be a bit hungover, but I still started early, did my job, made my lists, and checked tasks away. I have a happy family, good relationship with my husband, and I loved my life. Yet, once I opened the bottle of wine, there was never just one glass. Alcohol gave me permission to be my worst enemy.
The 3 am feverish , dry mouthed fog? … Hanxiety? … I get it.
Here’s my thing: if I drop an egg, it will break. If I drink a sip, I will drink the whole darn bottle. My off switch won’t regulate my alcohol intake. It took me from 2015 to 2019 of trying to change my truth before I accepted that I can’t drink. It’s in my DNA. I had no choice but to stop drinking if I wanted life to stay good.
So I don’t drink anymore. That is a strong statement. A positive statement. Something straightforward and simple… But … not easy. Getting from the point where you suspect that you need to stop drinking, to the point where you decide to do something about stopping drinking, to the point where you are one year sober and can say confidently … I don’t drink … is not easy.
When I first contemplated stopping drinking, I was fearful of life beyond the bottle. Quite frankly, my social circles, some of my family events…. they all included booze. So that very first month without alcohol was tougher than it looks like from here, one year later.
I remember not trusting myself….. the person that I was trying to give a better life to – ME – was my biggest enemy. On previous attempts to stop drinking, I was the first one to self-sabotage my efforts……
I deserved “one drink” because I went all week without wine.
I deserved “one drink” because I worked out every morning.
I deserved “one drink” because it was the weekend, and time to wind down.
Those statements were based on lies, because deep down, I knew that “one drink” was my secret code to open the magic door….. one glass of wine easily morphed to one bottle…. when one bottle wasn’t enough, it was just “one more” night….. if you would have been there, pre-happy hour with me, I would have found the logic and insanity to convince you, too, to have “just one”.
And after the lies I told myself to drink came more lies the morning after –
“I didn’t mean it.”
“I was drunk, so I don’t remember what I said.”
“I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.”
These are some of the comments that would spew out of my mouth, the morning after drinking too much. To be honest, I don’t know WHAT I didn’t mean to say, because I often didn’t remember what I said – I just knew, based on the body language of those around me, that I said (or did) something that was probably cruel, spiteful, and mean-spirited.
Those statements were based on lies. There must have been a part of what I said the night before that was based on my truth…. is was just something I shouldn’t have shared, but alcohol gave me permission….. permission to be the worst version of me. And as long as I continued to drink, yes, I WOULD do it again. Alcohol was my worst enemy –
Being honest with myself was important. The thing about fitting the profile of the classic “high functioning alcoholic”, is that the “high functioning” part is real. I WAS! Are you? Do you want to manage your drinking, because you probably can for a while, on and off, now and then? Your high-functioning drive will convince you, that you can set the rules and then enforce them. Sigh, that’s the hard part, the enforcement of sober rules when consuming alcohol.
It is scary to think of a world with booze, but be bold and believe: It DOES exist!
Plan your weekend without the wine. Be ready for the wine witch/ Beerelzabub/ the Vodka Vampire to tap you on the shoulder again, whispering that you deserve “one”. Have your Club soda, or kombucha, or decaf coffee at the ready. Buy some chocolate or ice cream; make a cheese plate or a charcuterie. Plan something tonight that doesn’t involve wine- take your pup on an evening walk, with or without family. If walking solo, find some Quit Lit podcasts to listen to. Plan tomorrow morning…. what do you want to wake up and do?
Family project? Clean out the garage? Rake leaves? Put up Christmas decorations? Rearrange the family room? Trip to Goodwill? Whatever it is, make your list.
Because alcohol? Well if you’re like me, high functioning or not, it is your poison, and you deserve better.
When I first contemplated stopping drinking, I was fearful of life beyond the bottle. Quite frankly, my social circles, some of my family events…. they all included booze. So that very first month without alcohol was tougher than it looks like from here, one year later. Being Alcohol-Free is not punishment. If you are new to trying an Alcohol-Free life, just do it for today. Write out your reasons- so that when that Drink Now voice pops up in 5 or 6 days, you can remember why.
I used to think that my drinking habits were a sign of weakness, of a flawed character. I felt that I should be smarter than my brain. I used to think that when I chose a sober weekend, I was punishing myself – like a kid in time out because I didn’t follow the rules.
The peace of mind after one year sober is something amazing! I feel so grateful that I found the strength, to somehow stay alcohol FREE.
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