After 25 years of drinking every single day, I finally stopped in February of 2017. I’ve gone to happy hour(s), casinos, weddings, celebrated holidays, vacationed, and managed stress all without a single drink!
Drinking at the end of every day had become a normal part of my daily routine, and one that I really enjoyed…until I didn’t. I spent a lot of time blaming my “habit” on a lack of basic discipline – but it had become much more than that.[elementor-template id=”1576″]
I felt like a stranger watching how my alcohol abuse chipped away at my relationships, my outlook, my motivation, my joy and ultimately my control.
I wasted SO much time & energy drinking and then wasted more time regretting all the time I wasted. I still cringe even thinking about that stupid, destructive cycle.
Are you really still drinking every day?
How’s that working out for you? Are you fat, bloated and unmotivated to do anything? Do you cringe when you glance in the mirror and notice how bad your skin looks? Where’s that sparkle in your eyes?
Have you started drinking on a regular basis because you’re stressed, bored or just lonely? Does that part of your daily routine seem like more of a behavior?
The more “automatic” your drinking becomes, the harder it can be to change.
Have you realized you get totally wasted at every happy hour …. and the hangovers hurt more and last longer?
Do you worry if you’ve crossed that line from “social drinker” to “almost alcoholic?”
What’d you find when you googled the definition of “alcohol abuse?“
Isn’t it crazy that alcohol is the only drug/substance you’d better have an excuse for if you’re not using (drinking) like everyone else. “Are you on medication, what’s up, are you sick, why aren’t you drinking….?
Who do you know that drinks to excess?
This blog post is not to promote being AF (FYI – those 2 letters used to mean something else – now that I’ve stopped drinking it stands for “Alcohol-Free”) or any specific kind of recovery.
I wanted to share how I conquered my long struggle with alcohol – in case you’re headed down the same path.
My perspective is unique because I AM your typical Mom, girlfriend, wife, sister and co-worker.
I would bet in your group of 3-5 closest friends somebody is struggling with excessive drinking or their inability to stop.
Maybe that’s you~
I’ve always loved going to happy hour or sharing a bottle of wine with friends – or just by myself…but it got to the point where once I started drinking, I didn’t stop.
It didn’t matter what time I tasted that first sip (I was never a morning drinker) but if that happened to be lunch – the crazy train would not stop until I went to bed.
Drink, Regret, Disgust, Repeat
So many Monday’s of starting over again…..”I am not going to drink!”
The never-ending cycle of planning to stop, determination to make sure this time I really stopped, excitement about imagining myself back in control (“I got this”), and then self-loathing by the time Wednesday came around…..(“what’s wrong with me, maybe I can’t stop….maybe I don’t want to stop?!”)
I never hit a rock bottom but what became crystal clear is that life was passing me by. I knew all of my unhappiness (yes, ALL of it) and all of my unhealthiness, and all of my unmet goals, were a direct result of my alcohol abuse. I was doing all of this to myself & couldn’t find a way to change so I’d go numb.
It was a relief when I learned “going numb” is a coping mechanism. When we feel trapped and are afraid to make the decisions to get us out of the trap – even though the trap feels bad – it’s become our comfort zone. This is one way our brain copes with feeling overwhelmed.
The problem is – the brain turns off all emotions – good and bad – so you can at least still function – at a reduced capacity.
“Function at a Reduced Capacity” – sounds like being semi-comatose! This is EXACTLY what I was experiencing.
Well, that was before……..
Can she? Will She? She DID!!
I have a whole new appreciation for people who have stopped abusing alcohol, drugs or even smoking.
That’s a HUGE accomplishment – and it’s not easy – but OH, it is SO worth it!
Here are just a few ways my life has improved since I’ve stopped drinking:
- My focus and ambition are back! I no longer wake up late, groggy and bloated. I have exciting plans for my next chapter. I’ve always loved learning and now I am laser-focused on my new business adventures. I don’t have that internal struggle of worrying my drinking will keep me from achieving big things.
- I’ve realized (and maintained) my ideal body weight. I look & feel better than I have in a long time. (this reason should really be #1 but I don’t want to appear shallow). In the past – all the benefits of my morning workout would be drowned out and “washed away by Chardonnay” once the late afternoon hit. Now – I can actually feel a positive shift in my mindset after hitting the gym and my worries don’t seem so overwhelming….
- I enjoy more loving, respectful and fun relationships. One of the biggest motivators for me to stop drinking was the risk of losing my son’s respect. He would escape to his room as the 5 o’clock (OK some days it was 3:30 or 4:00) witching/wine-ing hour approached. I realize now that he couldn’t stand watching me morph into the wine witch.
When he was little and we’d make our daily stop at the “grocery store,” he used to help me pick out which wine – on sale – had the best value ($10.00 off the regular price, etc.) He’d always find one of my favorites and say, “look, Mommy – Clos Du Bois is on sale!”
Yes – he pronounced it proudly and perfectly. Such a great life lesson~ Cute when he was little, not so much once he realized what I was buying all the time.
- I am in greater control of my emotions and decisions. I’ve stopped wasting the majority of my day regretting things I said the night before (if I even remembered), something I did (drive….?) or something I didn’t do but should have. I was never the fun drunk – mostly arrogant, uninhibited and just plain mean. Trust me, no amount of temporary buzz outweighs the feeling of being present, purposeful and responsible.
- I wake up Happy and Excited about my day! (did I already mention this one? – well it deserves to be mentioned twice)
- My quality of sleep is so much better. Alcohol really screws up your regular sleep cycle……think about happening every single night
- I enjoy having peace of mind – it’s really nice to not start my days desperately begging God for help – or strength – or forgiveness! Those prayers of desperation are replaced by practicing Gratitude. I also meditate (yes, it’s short and guided….my mind is still very busy) and focus on designing my life exactly the way I want.
- I feel like my Authentic Self – instead of like I’m hiding some big dark secret or that I’m a fraud. I don’t avoid going to events or places because I’m worried there might not be alcohol. I still have normal life stress but don’t have to worry it will take something tragic like a car accident or getting a DUI (jail…Me?) to get me to stop drinking.
New discoveries since I stopped drinking every day
LaCroix! Who knew sparkling water could taste so good! and….I think saying “La Croix” (the company has a little rhyme to help you remember how to pronounce it: “enjoy La Croix”) is a lot like saying “Clos Du Bois”……both sound FANCY ~ one tastes like heaven-flavored bubbly sweetness and the other just gives me a bubbly wine-gut.
I’m not a “party of one! My fears of not having fun, or being the only one not drinking, etc. are really not an issue.
Just because you call yourself sober – doesn’t mean you must have been a total drunk. It’s actually fun to go out and be the one not drinking![elementor-template id=”1576″]
Control – especially SELF-control is a big thing for me~
When people ask me how I’ve lost weight or tell me I look good … and I give all the credit to the fact I stopped drinking….80% of the time they admit they drink too much also. This always leads to endless questions starting with “HOW….” (especially if they used to be an old happy hour friend)
The old way of thinking:
I always think about those times I’d meet somebody who’d say “oh, no I don’t drink,” …. I’d think to myself (or probably say out loud with a confused look) really? you mean not-at-all?!…then I’d seriously wonder how that was even possible? It was confusing to me since ALL of my friends drank.
I mean, what else do you do at weddings, birthdays, Super Bowl parties, New Year’s Eve, Tuesdays!?
My mind honestly could not understand that concept. It was like “those people” were from a different planet. I will admit these were the same people who totally had their shit together and were hitting on all cylinders in their business, personal life, and health. There are tons of very successful people who are “teetotalers” (tee·to·tal·er: a person who never drinks alcohol). It’s no surprise they’ve reached their level of success.
Finding a Solution that would work for me
30 days…I never believed my life could look completely different in 30 days.
I was fed up and ready to make a change. I had never experienced physical cravings for alcohol but most days I never waited long enough to really tell. My cravings were more mental – I used alcohol to achieve a certain state of being. I also used alcohol to avoid dealing with my emotions and to manage anxiety.
AA meetings were not an option because I knew I would just look for someone worse off than me so I could rationalize my situation as not being that bad. I couldn’t afford to go to rehab and I didn’t want the stigma associated with that (sorry, but my imaginary audience is brutal).
I KNEW I needed to stop abusing alcohol. I hated the fact that some “substance” had more control over me than I did.
After a lot of searching, I found a solution that worked for me!
I found a book (I know, I know – yes a book) that really spoke to me and I loved that there was a companion course online.
After a near 25 year struggle……I can’t say it any other way…..this book literally changed my life. Within the first week, I felt a shift in my cravings and understanding of my relationship with alcohol.
Working my way through the book and doing the “homework” was not “all-consuming” or a gut-wrenching exercise in self-reflection. It’s designed so that each exercise builds on the next.
I was 100% committed and completed each exercise as outlined – book-ending my days with journaling in the AM and review at night before bed. I started to get excited about what information & assignment was coming up next!
You only had to complete one chapter per day. After a few days…I had serious confidence (and excitement) that this might actually work!
Since then, I’m SO grateful to have found another book: This Naked Mind offers a new, positive solution and has ignited a movement across the country, helping thousands of people forever change their relationship with alcohol.
Packed with surprising insight into the reasons we drink, this book will open your eyes to the startling role of alcohol in our culture, and how the stigma of alcoholism and recovery keeps people from getting the help they need.
This Naked Mind will give you freedom from alcohol. It removes the psychological dependence so that you will not crave alcohol, allowing you to easily drink less (or stop drinking).
Looking 5 years into the future
One assignment from the 30 Day Sobriety Solution – that is still VERY inspiring, was a guided-visualization exercise.
You look into the future 5 years – “did you make the changes, are you still a slave to alcohol, what do you look like – are your face and body bloated from the years of continued abuse. How are your relationships? Have you made a difference? Did you set a good example? Did you reach those goals you set? If not….what does that feel like?” –
WOW…… it was P-O-W-E-R-F-U-L ! I don’t ever want to have feelings of regret or of a life wasted.
How will you be remembered?
Another exercise was to imagine your life is now a movie playing on a screen and all your friends and family are there watching – are you proud of how you lived your life?
Did you use your gifts and talents?
Did you make good memories?
Were you a good Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister?
What are people saying about you? What are you being remembered for?
The only commitment you have to make is to stop drinking for 30 days. This sounds simple, right?
…not for someone who drinks every day ~doesn’t everybody pour a big glass of wine while making dinner?~ then have a few more glasses with dinner, and then one more while watching TV?
I kept putting off getting started on the book because of an event coming up or a vacation, or a holiday, etc. It was really hard to find a block of 30 days where I wouldn’t have a drinking conflict ……(even writing that last sentence is embarrassing…..)
Once you understand the serious damage drinking does to your mind and body, it’s much easier to decide to take a break – or stop altogether.
Once you make the decision that drinking is NOT an option – your mind gets on the same page. Not “only after 6:00, just on weekends, only on Holidays or Special Occasions, NEVER.” (at least for 30 days)
Maybe drinking is not an issue for you – maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who can have just one glass of wine or one cocktail…or “take it or leave it” altogether. But whatever your “monkey” is – make sure you recognize it.
Get real with yourself about what you can and cannot control.
Be smart about recognizing when you’re falling into a dangerous pattern because it’s what you do at that point that matters the most.
Why not strive to have the Best, most Dynamic life possible?!
Hopefully, by sharing my story, I’ve given you some hope and inspiration. We are all on our own individual paths but they are all connected. There is tremendous value in sharing our struggles and stories.
If this is the nudge you need or have been waiting for then take it.
Your Dream Life is waiting for you – just on the other side of your alcohol abuse.
Reach out – Together we can remove the shame and shorten the path to our best selves for each other.
I’d appreciate you sharing your comments and experiences. Please let me know if I can help you with your struggle?