I’ve been slowly leaking my goal to those around me. It’s hard to keep a drastic lifestyle change hush for long. I’ve had a bit of time to find my bearings and build some semblance of a foundation before allowing others’ opinions to penetrate my motivation. Since opening the flood gates, most responses have been positive, supportive, and surprisingly up-lifting. People feel proud of and happy for me. Some have been inspired.
One response though nearly blew me off course. “You’re going to regret it.”
I thought I heard him wrong.
“Once next November comes around and you start drinking again you’re going to wonder why you ever stopped. All that wasted time.” *sips beer and laughs*
I brushed it off then but it keeps crawling back. It’s a vulnerable time. Tis the season for cheer and beer. What if I do regret it? Why deny myself the pleasure of the season? Why give up a good time when I clearly deserve it?
I’ll tell you why
- I have had to apologize for exactly 0 things that I don’t remember doing
- I have had 0 panic attacks
- I stopped my anxiety meds and have experienced no unmanageable anxiety
- No serious embarrassment
- No genuine worry about running into people from the night before
- No worry about cops behind me on the drive home or how I will pick up my car from the bar the next day
- Zero fights with my husband over drinking-related arguments
- Zero drunk-emotional out-of-line phone conversations with family
- Not one single hangover
- No mind games
- No extreme discomfort from simultaneously knowing I should cut myself off and not wanting to
- No hangover blues
- No hungover wasted days in front of the TV
On top of those things that I am grateful for missing, there’s also the many things I have gained:
- A new full time job with benefits in a place with opportunity and wonderful humans
- The ability to volunteer at 9AM on a Saturday
- More time to paint, to draw, and to just be creative
- Reunion with music: both discovering and creating
- More love: I feel a lot more, more of the time and I share it more with others
- Loneliness that has given me perspective and continually forces me to reach out and walk outside of my comfort zone
- Confidence in my decision making. I am learning to trust myself more all the time– to make decisions and adjust when things don’t work out. I am learning to listen to myself over others about my own life and decisions and it feels great.
- A shakedown out of complacency. I was content sitting on a barstool and drinking with my friends often. I could be content doing anything if I were drinking. Without that creature comfort, I need more options. I need to keep moving, exploring, learning, and growing.
- Self-reliance. Booze made things easier in the moment. I felt funnier, charming, outgoing, free. I have to rely on myself alone to be those things now. I can be funny, charming, outgoing and free– I just have to work at it. When I work at it, I feel proud. The more I practice, the easier it is and the better I feel. I’m not faking it, I am just re-learning how to be those things on my own.
- More laughter and enjoyment: I appreciate the little things even more than I did before. I am more present and have to find ways to amuse myself and it turns out its pretty easy.
I don’t regret the last two months and I wont regret the next 10/ however long I keep this going. This year isn’t about just learning to live without alcohol. I want to learn how to thrive without alcohol. I want to learn better and more useful coping mechanisms. I want creative ways to let loose and have fun. I want to spend my time on real relationships and real adventures.
I need to remember
- When you feel like you’d like a drink it’s because you expect one. Drinking is a habit you are working on replacing and it’s normal to want/ miss one. Accept that and move on quickly. Don’t let it fester.
- When you feel like you are missing out, remember you have the ability to reach out anytime. It might feel hard and unfair but putting in the work will be worth it every time.
- When you feel bored in social situations, its probably because the situation is boring. Do something fun. Bring games with you, start weird conversations, leave and go for a walk. Don’t pity yourself and end up miserable.
- Always have an escape plan. Trust your instincts and know when to leave. Sometimes you’re in a place where its too hard to be around people who are drinking. Don’t tell yourself you “should be able to handle it”. It’s not worth it. Get out of there.
- Don’t lose sight of all you’ve gained and all you have to be grateful for. Keep it close by to look at. Hold it tight.
- Have fun and calm down. It’s just alcohol. It’s just a drug. There is way more to life than a liquid. It will all be fine.