March 1 2018 will mark 1 year of sobriety for me, a former blanco tequila aficionado. Who dis?
It was February when and for a number of reasons I won’t get into here, but maybe I should get into here, Joel and I decided we would try giving up alcohol for lent, which began on March 1 (not that we’re terribly religious, I’d consider us more spiritual, but I digress)
I hadn’t gone that long without alcohol since before I had ever tried alcohol. How many people do you know that drink have actually given up drinking for 40 days straight? I was lucky if there were 4 days straight without booze. But let me be clear, I didn’t drink in quantity, I just drank in frequency. A drink before dinner. A drink after a tough day. A drink on the weekends, obviously. A drink at a friends house. A drink while watching the game. A drink at my in laws. In fact A drink accompanied pretty much anything that happened after work and on the weekends.
But let me be clear, I didn’t get drunk, I didn’t get sloppy, I didn’t get massively hungover. Two drinks was pretty much my max. But A drink was A habit that I was beginning to not like but felt I couldn’t get away from. Everyone around me drinks. It’s just what people do. And its hard not to when everyone else is doing it. Heck my husband was working for a brewery.
So we set out on this quest to not drink for the 40 days. I went on trips and attended dinners where bottles of wine were ordered, but I maintained position. Joel kept visiting accounts and bringing samples but not a beer passed his lips in those first 40 days. And when lent was up Joel took off on a surf trip, both of us expecting to end the 40 day streak on our own. But while on his trip, Joel didn’t have a single sip of beer, or any alcohol, and back home, neither did I.
40 days turned into 4 months, and then next thing you know I’m writing this post about what it’s like when you eliminate alcohol from your life for a year. During the past 360 some-odd days we went on trips, danced at weddings, celebrated birthdays and holidays, had dinners with friends, experienced tremendous grief and attended funerals, rang in the new year, spent time at the beach, took the boat up and down the river on hot summer days, ate with clients, renovated our home, and had many a ‘tough day,’ all without the crutch of alcohol. And you know what? It really hasn’t been that bad.
If there is a negative, it’s the realization that relationships can in some ways be kept afloat with drinks. Without alcohol, socially, it feels like there’s less to laugh at, less to say, less to do and therefore maybe less of a desire to get together. Alcohol is a huge part of many peoples lives, and obviously it was a huge part of our lives too. Not drinking meant less getting together with friends, and Joel and I certainly reached out less as well. And there was none of that spontaneous, let’s-grab-a-beer-and-see-where-the-night-goes: post surf, post paddle, post race, to celebrate (and we could always find any reason to celebrate), or to reconnect with an old friend. But is it so hard to be authentic that we need a buzz to connect? And if so, why?
So what did we do all those nights without the ultimate social connector? We hung out with each other and laughed more. We butted heads less. We went to bed early and we slept so much better. We did some reading at night, and we cooked a lot. And when we went out to eat we got whatever we wanted and the bill was still cheaper than ever before. We developed sweet tooths (or is it sweet teeth?) and found ourselves making regular trips to the Down River ice cream shop. Yes, I’m a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, but I’m also a human being : )
From a health perspective, for me, this was the first year that a recurring skin condition didn’t make an appearance. I’ve dealt with it for about 10 years, so when the summer came and the white spots didn’t scatter across my back and chest I thought, hmmmm….And Joel? He lost a whopping 40+ pounds. Not only that, he was able to dedicate more time to his yoga practice, and he saw massive improvements in his blood work and his overall health. Massive. (Not to mention he saved enough money to fulfill a long time dream: a surf trip to Indonesia later this year). I’m so impressed and amazed by these changes, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together.
I read somewhere, maybe on an Insta meme, or maybe some one said it to me, and I might not be quoting it just right, ’Drinking is borrowing joy from tomorrow for today.” For me, this was absolutely true. When I drank, it took life and energy from my tomorrow. And when tomorrow came I’d go into that new day just a little bit more tired, a little less coordinated, a teeny tiny bit agitated and sometimes regretful, embarrassed, hard-on-myself and depressed. (Let’s just say I didn’t ALWAYS have just 1 tequila). But boy was drinking fun.
Joel and I have been talking about how we’ll celebrate the 1 year mark. Are we going to drink again? Should we go for a drink to celebrate? I mean we could, but isn’t that a dumb way to celebrate sobriety? We still haven’t decided if/when/what we’ll drink again, and it ends up I’ll be on a business trip on the 1st, the 1 year mark, so I’m thinking we’ll celebrate with a pint or two of Ben & Jerry’s when I get back. Milk and Cookies is the BEST flavor by the way.