For quite some time, I have had a dependency on alcohol. Typing those words just now was not easy, but it was necessary. I didn’t realize I had a problem for a long time. When I started focusing on truly being kind and compassionate to myself, I was able to admit that I was drinking too much and that admission helped me make a change.
On December 31, 2021, I drank an IPA. Well, I had quite a few drinks before that, but that IPA was my last drink. I have since gone alcohol free. Will I stay alcohol free? I don’t know. I plan to. I plan to because since I removed alcohol from my life, I have looked in the mirror and liked what I see. I have said nice things to myself and about myself and started to truly believe them.
For a long time, alcohol has clouded my judgment. It has made me see something in the mirror that wasn’t there. It created self-loathing whenever I was hungover, fueled a sense of guilt and shame and spurred regret when I recalled having said something that I would never have said in a sober state. In the past, I drank a glass (or four) of wine to unwind after a hard day, to celebrate, to watch a basketball game, to have a picnic in the park, to mourn, to laugh, to go grocery shopping or to fit in with the alcohol obsessed American culture. The thing is, it never really gave me the sense of satisfaction or happiness that I was hoping for. It only temporarily made me laugh or smile and then immediately turned around and smacked me in the face with a hangover, a headache and a dry mouth.
Over the past few years, I have made some changes to take care of myself. I started meditating, journaling, eating more vegetables, moving my body more and I got a dog. I became a life coach, invested in my future and wrote a book. I found new friendships and drifted away from old ones that weren’t bringing me joy. I decluttered my brain, my desk and my bathroom cabinet. But allowing alcohol to be a mainstay in my life was prohibiting these actions from fully making a difference. I made a choice to take a step further, to be kinder to myself and to eliminate the one thing that was holding me back from reaching my greatest potential: alcohol.
I’m not far into my alcohol-free journey but I know that this is the path for me. I know because I have more energy, more compassion, more time and more money. A lot more money – and I am spending it on things that I deserve: a weekend adventure with a good friend, a trip to MOMA, new clothes, new artwork and a shower curtain. These things are bringing me fulfillment and joy. Drinking was doing that for about 45 minutes, and then it wasn’t.
I hope to write about my first full year of going alcohol free in my December post for Kind Over Matter. I hope to because I know how the first month has felt and I want to feel this for a full year. I want to feel complete, fulfilled and empowered like I do now
I also know that “slipping up” is possible. I know that the pressures of this world can take a toll and influence my decisions. I know that a craving may over power my will or that a social gathering may lead to a choice of drinking. Our alcohol obsessed society and the constant marketing of alcohol telling us that wine is the elixir of life can be overwhelming. When you take alcohol away and then see others drinking, you can experience a serious case of “FOMO.” If any of those things take over and I choose to drink again, I know that I will take a breath, reach out to my support system and keep going. That is the kind thing to do for myself, as is this decision to live an alcohol-free life.
For now, I’ll raise my non-alcoholic beer glass and toast to the future. The future of being clear, energetic, healthy and strong. Cheers!