For the past several years I really scaled back my drinking. I was never a drink every day gal but if it was Friday and I bought a 6 pack I never left a bottle hanging. When I was out with friends it never occurred to me to stop drinking the wine until we were out of it. I for sure have had my incidents of being a complete hot mess express and everything in between.
You pile on that fact and trauma and although I don’t think drunk is a good look for anyone- it sure wasn’t good for me. For several years I tried to find some sort of balance. ‘I will only buy one booze purchase a month and when it’s gone it’s gone’. ‘I won’t have any booze in the house and will only have some if we go out to eat, a wedding, or ____ insert whatever that was apparently not my house’. The rules I tried to put in place to feel better about my choices didn’t really help.
Last summer I hadn’t drank for about five months and someone said something attacking my character at a fourth of July party and I immediately went inside and grabbed a beer. I had only a couple no where near drunkenness’ but the next day all I felt was a wave of massive shame come over me. For the next several weekends rather than feel all these feelings and realize I still had quite a bit of work to do in utilizing positive coping skills – I just choose to start allowing the booze purchases to come back in. I made peace at the time with well everyone drinks right? Wrong.
I want to stop here and say that booze is the only drug you have to justify NOT taking. Choosing to not drink means you either have a problem with booze, you are pregnant, or your just a lame boring loser, right? I also want to stop right here and say there is no cocaine-a-holics or meth-a-holics or every other drug that is known to be deadly over time and toxic for your body. It is known that these drugs are bad for you and that there isn’t a human out there that is impervious to their addictive abilities and unsavory side effects of using- alcohol is no different– so this notion that some people can drink reasonably or moderately for years and never have any sort of negative fallout from it is not only untrue but a harmful message.
I would go on for the remainder of that year trying to consume ‘moderately’ and be ‘normal’. Every day I woke up after drinking whether it was 2 beers or 8, one glass of wine or 5… I didn’t feel as well on the days I hadn’t drank. I didn’t sleep as well. I didn’t get up and do my work out and all the other stuff I enjoyed doing with a fresh morning. I realized I wasn’t fully taping into my potential all because I thought I had to have booze in my life to celebrate, to be the fun one, to take the edge off, because everyone else was doing it, and or because I didn’t know if I could learn to be okay enough without having it as an option in my life.
When you say that you are done with something forever…it can be a tad overwhelming because forever is actually as it turns out.. quite a long time. This year I can count on one hand the numbers of times I drank but back in June I reached a point after having even just one beer the night before that I wanted to be done with all the shame I felt. I realized I’d never look back on my life and wish I drank more.
I will never regret the kids seeing me process pain, overwhelm, boredom, happiness, and every emotion in between not with booze but with running, journaling, walking with friends, therapy, or dancing it out.
What I have learned in three months of no drinking- is that I’m still fun. I’m more focused because I don’t have all these rules in my head ‘you can have a drink but not til after 4 and before 8 and on a Friday or Saturday‘ floating around in my head. I sleep better. I’m more raw and honest vs hiding and numbing out. I am more confident. I am the strongest and leanest in my life because there are no binging nights of booze inhibiting me to indulge in all the food that taste amazing but leaves me feeling absolutely terrible. My skin is clearer. I am a more calm and patient parent. I am able to reach for more because I have the energy and stamina. I am better able to show up for my friends because I am actually present vs in my own head miles away. I am a better wife and have a better relationship with my husband. Booze made me a little argumentative so that sure cuts down fights with my best friend. I feel less alone and am more connected to my purpose.
Maybe you have questioned cutting back.. on whatever your drug of choice is. I am here to tell you the brightness of your future is far better than anything you leave behind. Taking out the vices doesn’t take out your problems. Sometimes in fact you end up with quite a lot more at the beginning because you have been indeed avoiding them all along using your vice as the tool to do just that , piles of bills, instability in your marriage, anxiety over your children’s anxiety, needing to set boundaries with your in-laws, unprocessed trauma, a house stuffed full of stuff, and whatever else that shows up right away- the truth is it has been there all along and is most likely a bigger problem than it would have been if you would have just tackled those things head on. However, you can’t go back- we must only go forward. Begin today choosing to feel your feelings how ever they come and how ever they vary in range. You can’t heal from what you refuse to allow yourself to feel. We got this together. I see you, you can do this.