Ever the researcher, I decided to start researching going without alcohol. I was in search of more stories like mine. Stories of people who never ‘hit rock bottom’ or lost their family or career or greeted the day with a glass of OJ and vodka. I was looking for stories of people who woke up one day and decided that alcohol never really gave them the pleasure they were seeking. That the enjoyment kept getting farther and farther away with each passing year.
Here’s how it happened for me. Throughout my late teens and most of my early twenties, I was what people would call a heavy drinker. I hated myself and wanted to push the feeling to the bottom of a bottle. As the years went on, I started to like (sometimes even respect) myself, I met my future husband, I graduated from college. My drinking decreased exponentially, but the little exhausting voice never went away.
Do you know the one? The voice that talks about drinking all the time. Planning, plotting, worrying, loathing, questioning, reconciling, judging. How much will I have tonight? Should I drive or get a taxi? What should I eat beforehand? What type of alcohol should I drink? How many drinks did I have? Will there be alcohol there? Should I bring more? I have an early meeting, should I skip it tonight? What type of wine goes well with this dish? Should I stop drinking now or commit to a late night? Should I be spending this money? I had too much to drink last night, I feel awful. I could really use a drink.
And on and on it went.
Here I am, my 31st year coming to a close, and I’ve chosen to take a good long look at my life. The reality is that I’m trying to start a successful branding business, I’m working to accumulate meaningful friendships, I am taking care of my dog and my partner and my family, I am trying to find things that make me happy, I’m trying to keep up with my writing, I’m trying to make sense of myself, and I’m drinking.
I’ve been doing all of these things… none of them very well.
I needed more time in my life, more space, more hours. Why did I always feel like I was one step behind? Where were all these hours going? They were being stirred up in a glass with a giant ice cube. You know how they say that an addict will do whatever it takes to get a fix? I was doing that, except not with money, with my time. I could always make time to meet up for drinks, but I couldn’t find the time to quietly read on the couch on Sunday, actually learn guitar, invite friends out for a hike, spend more time talking to my mom on the phone.
Without even realizing it, I was trading time for alcohol.
Sometimes alcohol would be so greedy that it would take up my whole next day as well.
I had to stop, it was the drinking that had to go. I wanted all the things on that list more than I wanted the drinking. This was my moment.
I want to be clear about something. I’m not going to AA or rehab. AA repels me nearly as much as organized religion. I don’t want to view myself through a lens of powerlessness. Making the decision to stop drinking is not an act of deprivation for me, it’s an act of ultimate self love. I am reclaiming my time, my money, my energy, and my confidence. I am giving myself the gift of a life without alcohol.
I understand this is not true for everyone. AA has changed the lives of millions of people. It’s just not my path. I’m on this one and I realized there is not much reading material for people making the decision to obstain because they simply want to love themselves, reclaim their hours, and stop wasting time thinking about alcohol.