After a great deal of soul searching, I decided to post this four part series on why, how and what happened when I quit drinking alcohol four years ago. Neither Roger, nor my daughter Brooke are completely comfortable with my decision to share this, but I feel drawn to. It is my hope that if you feel a bit uncomfortable with how much alcohol you drink, you will know you are not alone-I’ve been there. And if you are concerned about what stopping might be like, I can at least share what stopping was like for me and how I did it. If you wonder how your life might change after you stop, I am sharing the ups and downs I encountered after I quit.
I made the decision to stop drinking, but that may not be the right decision for you, or you may want to but it may not be the right time. Whether you drink or not, this is a no judgement zone. And, no hard feelings if you want to skip this series we will start a new topic in mid December. Monday Musings and Fashion Fridays will continue as usual.
The Dawn of Truth.
Brooke was getting older and staying up later. I worried she would begin to see how much I was drinking. I wondered what might happen if there were an emergency and I would be too out of it to deal with it. I wondered if I smelled of alcohol like some people do. I wondered if the other moms at Brooke’s school knew, perhaps they were whispering behind my back. It was well known that several of the moms drank heavily, and everyone talked about it. Was I one of them?
I made sure I was on top of my game, that I was the one who could be counted on to get things done, and that everything in my life was kept on schedule. Our home was spotless, I cooked organic meals from scratch daily, I was the volunteer all the moms wanted to look after their kids and my business was growing. I just had a nip more wine in the evening than maybe I should…besides, most of my friends drank similar amounts of wine—that’s why it’s called “mommy juice”, right?
In the mean time, I was becoming more and more deeply interested in spirituality. I began practicing yoga and meditating daily and began reading anything and everything spiritual I could get my hands on. I signed up for yoga teacher training, an intensive nine month program that included daily practice, and restrictive dietary requirements which included no drugs or alcohol. All my peers gave up alcohol, except me. More and more, I was feeling that my drinking was incongruent with the person I wanted to be, and that perhaps the numbness I believed I needed so badly was holding me back from the vary things I really wanted.
Quitting would mean that I would have to make hard decisions and take responsibility for my life. I didn’t feel ready to make those decisions. Besides, I needed wine. It calmed me. It helped me fall asleep—even if I did wake up in the middle of the night, often for several hours…It kept me from having to look at things too closely. Quitting would might mean having to confront the fact that some things just weren’t working—like my marriage, for example.
Though the yoga teacher training, I found a doctor who practiced integrative medicine. We began working on my sleep and anxiety issues. Strait away, she began treating my under active thyroid. The anxiety and sleep issues were both symptoms of thyroid issues. As I began feeling better, I began to realize that a part of my drinking was a form of self medicating. I wanted to see what would happen if I stopped drinking.
I committed to stopping for 30 days. I kept a journal specifically for reflections I had about drinking, coping and anything else that came up during that period. I was surprised how good I felt. It went so well, I chose to extend my sobriety, but I was still fixated: I thought about the fact I was not drinking every day. In any event, I had been sober for 60 days.
It was the first of July, and we were coming up on a family vacation. Our vacations were always stressful for me. My husband and Brooke never wanted to do the same things, which meant I had to continuously mediate. I figured having a drink at dinner would take the edge off, but by the end of the week, I was back to my old drinking 3 drinks a night pattern. Knowing I had quit for a total of 60 days, and that I actually felt good without alcohol, I decided I wanted to “again” reduce my drinking. From a health perspective, I no longer needed to “self medicate” now I could see the degree to which I was using wine to numb myself emotionally. Maybe it was time to confront some of those issues. Maybe it was time to look at our marriage and see if it could be saved.
Next week: How I learned to “Control” My Drinking