I woke up with that familiar pounding in my head and thought to myself: "I am never drinking again"
But this time I meant it.
A month prior, my husband and I completed a 45-day elimination diet and one of the MANY things we cut out was alcohol. Never, in my adult life, had I gone 45 days without a drink. This was uncharted territory. It was also kind of exciting.
But here's the thing about 'elimination diets', because the self-imposed sobriety was only going to be 45 days, I never really saw it a means to an end. It was simply part of the "program”. I knew that on day 46 I would have a drink to celebrate the fact I went 45 days without drinking (yes, the irony is not lost on me).
So we began boozing again. Not as much as we did before, but occasionally. We could totally moderate right??
But then we went on vacation where we enjoyed the frequent vacation cocktails, and then it was our birthday celebrations, and THEN we had friends fly into town to visit where we bar hopped. The list goes on and on.
The list goes on and on because we live in a society revolves 'adulthood' and ‘relaxing” around alcohol.
It was the morning AFTER a very typical "Sunday Funday" (AKA society's acceptable way to day drink) when I made that life-changing statement.
I had been subconsciously aware that I needed to stop drinking for about a decade. My body just doesn't function well with it. I am prone to migraines and IBS. I had to get really REAL about why I was still choosing to drink even when I knew better. The answer: I was SCARED. I was scared because I didn't know how to never rely on the 'easiness' of alcohol again. To stand out. To be the one that goes home early vs the one that stays out late. FEAR was my motivation to keep drinking, LOVE was my motivation to stop.
I called my husband at work, who was suffering with his own gnarly hangover, and broke the news:
"I can't drink anymore. I really mean it. It's just not worth it. It takes me so long to recover and I'm over it. I know it will be hard but I’m ready." I said through tears.
"I will quit too." He calmly replied.
I didn't actually think he would "quit too". Not REALLY. I thought he would support me and that as a couple we wouldn't drink together, but I assumed in his "private time" he would still imbibe.
Nope, he meant it. It's been 2 years and neither of us have had a drink.
The decision to stop drinking was easy. Shockingly easy. I suppose that happens when you are truly "ready". Explaining that decision to our social circle was trickier.
At first we didn’t tell anybody. We had recently moved far away from our hometown so we were in a bit of a bubble. My husband was put in an 'awkward situation' first due to the fact that corporate America tends to have a LOT of happy hours. He said it was a little strange drinking a coke instead of a beer but nobody really questioned him. These weren’t his friends, just his coworkers, they didn’t have any skin in the game.
Alas, as time went on, and more friends heard the news, there were some jokingly (and not so jokingly) comments. “Awww you guys used to be so much more FUN!" or “Come on, just have one” And it stung. And felt a little like high school.
It's amazing how drinking isn't a big deal to people until you decide to stop drinking.
I get it. It's was kind of weird. Especially coming from us. And drinking is fun. (Until it isn't) But we wanted MORE than 'fun'. But how do you say that without sounding like an asshole?
The hardest part was trying to explain WHY.
There was no big reason. Neither of us are alcoholics. We didn't "have a problem", we just wanted a change. We went out of our way to explain that THEY are welcome to drink around us, and NO it's not "triggering" and NO we don't judge you or your decision to drink.
Looking back, the biggest reason we could so easily quit is because we experienced a tiny taste of what sober life would be like during that aforementioned elimination challenge. When we HAD to revolve our lives around things OTHER than drinks at the bar and shared bottles of wine on the couch watching Game of Thrones. The elimination diet wasn't about not drinking per se, but it opened our eyes to a whole new world (cue Aladdin soundtrack).
We soon realized there were TONS of other things we enjoyed about life besides drinking:
- How glorious it feels to wake up feeling good on the weekends, full of non-caffeinated energy.
- No more bloated stomachs and puffy faces from late night munchies and ALL those empty, liquid calories.
- My chronic migraines and IBS calmed down considerably.
- That it’s quite nice to have extra money. Spoiler alert: booze is pricey and the lifestyle that surrounds it is even more so. We are using that found money to travel and to get a lot more massages.
- Last but not least, we enjoy living life totally and completely sober. No intoxicants. Nothing affecting our moods or memory. When we laugh we laugh because something is funny, not because we’re tipsy. We dance when we here a great song, not because we have liquor legs. When we fight it's because there is something we need to work through, not because we are drunk. THIS is the best part of our lives now. They are 100% true and real. Not blurred by the buzz of a slow drip of alcohol consumption.
Total abstinence might not be the answer for everyone, but it is surprisingly the answer for us. Here’s to doing what scares you. Cheers!