103 days sans booze and wow, it’s been a ride.
I meant to share updates along the way but couldn’t find the time. Life exploded actually — in every possible way. And the lack of alcohol had a lot to do with it.
But I’ll share more about that later.
For those who don’t know, I joined a 90-day booze-free challenge that began January 1, 2019. I am not an alcoholic — it’s called being a gray area drinker — i.e. “realizing the way you’re drinking isn’t helping you have the life you want”… These are my WHY and the first 30-day epiphany writing explorations if you’re interested.
Alcohol, wine specifically, was a requirement in my life, and I didn’t realize how much before the challenge. I needed it to chill out, to let go of upsetting situations, to be social and engage in small talk at events, to handle sitting for long periods of time or listening to lengthy stories, to take my edge off, make me nicer or bring out my fun side.
In the 30 days leading up to my 90-day endpoint (March 30), I began asking a lot of questions. In particular, how could I replace the way alcohol let me check out of life? I asked that question on social media accounts for gray area drinkers, with my friends, and let it whirl around my head for days.
And then it came to me — Why did I create a life that made me want to check out? How did that happen? And why is our culture so cool with it? I mean, it’s a normal thing, “Kids are driving me nuts — GULP” or “Rough day at work — GULP” and that’s pretty sad if you think about it.
This crutch, i.e. alcohol, enables us to zone out and complain about our seemingly tough lives. But are they really tough? And if so, why do we allow ourselves to endure such “tough lives?” I’d wager that most “gray area” drinkers can afford to change their life, to create something different, so why don’t we? And why didn’t I?
Probably because — everyone is doing it. Pathetic excuse, especially for someone who prides herself on being different from the crowd, but I’m being honest. When was the last time you attended an event or ate at a restaurant without someone expecting you to drink? Everyone does it.
So I began wondering what it’s like to live sober… To be present in all the colors of life — tough and beautiful, in charge instead of floating along, acting instead of reacting, clearly viewing the world and people around me. Maybe making new friends, starting a new career, creating new life…??
My next question was, “Should I start drinking again when the challenge is over?”
Reflecting over the past few months, I hadn’t craved drinking. There was once during the first two weeks when I wanted to invite my colleagues for a celebration drink after a work victory, but it wasn’t the alcohol I wanted, it was the excuse to socialize and bond.
In fact, I hadn’t craved it the entire time. I started drinking bubbly water by the second month and while it didn’t fill the void, it filled my hand. It’s the oddest thing to crave something that feels empty — that you really don’t crave.
I’m sure that’s confusing, it still is for me…
Then I pondered my goals. One of the greatest benefits of not drinking was the ability to commit to morning workouts. There wasn’t anymore planning around the mornings that I’d be hungover — there was no excuse. It also made it easier to eat healthier. And sleep was better.
So, why drink again?
I clearly saw that alcohol would make it difficult to continue on my new “health kick” because of the fuzzy mornings, weird sleeping patterns, late-night socializing, etc. And what did I want more — to potentially become the healthiest I’ve ever been, mentally, physically, spiritually, professionally? Or to return to a culture that is wrapped around alcohol?
Alcohol was the gateway drug to the life I didn’t want. It was the excuse, the easy answer, but I was craving something different. Even more, I was really curious about what life would be like if I continued on a sober path.
In that, I decided to not start drinking when the challenge was complete. What does that mean for me? I don’t know yet. And that’s okay. I also decided that as long as I didn’t know, I wouldn’t drink.
The last thing I want right now is to let myself to slip back into a life, into a person — unaware of it’s/my decisions.
And honestly, I couldn’t think of one benefit alcohol would give me if I returned to it. Do I need wine to be close to my friends? Do I need wine to feel secure in social settings? Do I need wine to deal with life?
I like feeling good in the morning, exercising my body, eating better, healing my brain (instead of killing cells), and strengthening my insecurities.
I haven’t overcome my social anxiety yet. I’m still awkward in social settings. It still feels weird sipping bubbly water while surrounded by ladies sipping on wine. Yet I know this middle stage won’t last and that eventually, I’ll be comfortable, I’ll be myself in all the situations that alcohol used to handle.
Because I’m down to know who that girl is, I want to meet her and give her a chance to come out, to find her voice, to strengthen. Plus, it feels really good, really empowering to smile and say, “No, thanks, I don’t drink.”
Don’t worry, I’m not going to become a loony anti-drinking fundamentalist. Everyone has to make their own decision and this one is too huge to make for anyone else. It’s not easy to take on life sober, to step out behind the curtain and be vulnerable in the world.
But I’m excited to see what happens.