Two years ago today, I gave up alcohol. I don’t talk about it much.
My drinking was a huge source of shame for me. I knew I had an issue with alcohol long before I allowed myself to admit it.
I remember trying so hard not to appear like I’d had too many glasses of wine. I always wondered what my friends and family thought. Did they think I had a problem? They never said.
At social events, I used to think that everyone was drinking just as much as me, but now that I don’t drink, I can see that wasn’t the case.
I was always so afraid of the damage my drinking was causing my kids.
I lived in fear a lot when I was drinking.
I was setting such a bad example.
I was spending so much money.
I was putting such a strain on my body.
At times I was irresponsible.
I ignored the pain I was in, and it came out in so many unintended ways.
I thought alcohol was helping me cope, but it was keeping me down.
It numbed. It buried. But it didn’t solve anything.
I thought about quitting all the time but truly believed it would never be possible to totally give up alcohol. I’d give myself breaks when I didn’t drink for a designated period of time, in an effort to prove to myself that I didn't have a problem. Sometimes I made it the length of time; sometimes I didn’t. I’d ease back in slowly, but I always ended up right back where I started. Then I came across a book while searching for something new to read on Amazon. I didn’t buy this book thinking it would lead me to quit drinking. I probably bought it at a desperate moment (I had a lot of those). But I read it. And when I finished it, I was done drinking, forever. The book was “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace, and I believe it saved my life. Well, the book, God, and my angels.
Had I still been drinking when I lost my pets in 2020 and also happened to be living through a lockdown in a pandemic, I’m not sure what my fate would have been. Had I still been drinking when I never left my house, and cocktail time could have started earlier and earlier, I don’t know what would have become of me. Had I still been drinking while living a totally overwhelming existence during the worst time of my life, I’m not sure I’d be here to tell my story. I’m not being dramatic. I think God stepped in at that precise moment and said, “We need to fix this now,” and we did.
I don’t think drinking is bad. I think drinking was bad for me. I don’t think poorly of anyone who drinks. I thought poorly of myself when I drank. I don’t think that everyone should refrain from drinking. I know I should refrain from drinking.
Do I miss it? Rarely, but there are times.
Will I ever pick it up again? No. Never. I say that with such conviction because I know I am not a person who can casually drink. So the only way to avoid falling back to old ways is never to do it again.
Do I have advice for anyone who feels like their drinking might be a problem? Talk to me. Talk to someone they trust who has experience with giving up drinking. Ask for help. If talking to someone is too much, start with the book.
Do I still have fun now that I’m not drinking? This was one of my biggest concerns when I gave it up. How would I still have fun at functions? Alcohol loosened me up. It brought me out of my shell. It helped me handle the overwhelm I often felt in social situations. How would I handle them now? Truthfully, I have more fun now. I have found that I can come out of my shell without drinking. And now, I’m not carrying shame. I’m not worrying about how many I’ve had. I’m not saying or doing things I’ll later regret.
Is it ever awkward being a non-drinker? Heck yes! Drinking is such a huge part of our culture. Rough day? I need a drink. Celebration? Cheers! Girl’s night? Red or white? I often encounter people who don’t know that I have quit drinking. Sometimes I say something; sometimes I don’t. When is the right moment to tell someone you don’t drink? When they say, “We should get a drink sometime?” When they comment on their end-of-day glass of wine? Obviously when they offer you a drink. Sometimes it’s just this unspoken thing, and you know they are wondering what the deal is, but you don’t feel it’s the time or the place to talk about it. I always get through it, so, in the end, it’s all good.
I know I have made it sound easy. I read a book and never touched a drink again. Yes, that is technically the way it happened, but there were so many years of torment and shame. The reality is that there was nothing easy about it. I couldn't live like that anymore. The only way I could see to stop living through that suffering was to give up drinking. Once I decided, it was a no going back kind of thing. “Could I possibly have a drink today?” doesn’t exist for me. The lifelong answer to that question is “no,” so there is no need ever to ask the question.
Quitting drinking has changed my life in drastic ways. It allowed me to start dealing with my pain finally. It gave me the courage to do what it takes to live a life that makes me happy. It removed the shame draped over me. It, instead, offered me pride, dignity, hope, and optimism.
I’m sending out a thank you to those who have and continue to support me and encourage me. I’m grateful for you and your love.
Thank you, God, and my beautiful angels, for helping me to make this change that was so desperately needed.
Until next time…