After a great deal of soul searching, I decided to post this four part Wellness Wednesday 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 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 something new in December. Monday Musings and Fashion Fridays will continue as usual.
There was a time when I was a “casual” drinker. I occasionally enjoyed drinks with friends after work, or at a party. I could take alcohol or leave it and I could count the number of times I had been drunk over 20 years on one hand.
Things changed when I hit my early forties. I was a new mom, and I was “on” 24/7 as I cared for my family, our home, ran a growing business and volunteered in our community.
A nice glass of wine in the evening was the epitome of luxury for me. It was the one “self care” thing I did during that time. I invested in beautiful stemware, and learned about wine, fruit and cheese pairings. In the late afternoon, as I waited for my husband to come home for dinner, I’d enjoy a nice glass of red. It all seemed quite gentile.
I loved the feeling of relaxation that rippled through my body as I sipped on the first glass of the evening. Friday and Saturday nights when my husband was out with his friends turned into “special” nights for me: I’d get an extra nice bottle of wine to salve my loneliness and the disappointment that we weren’t spending time together.
Wine soothed me, it smoothed out life’s rough edges, and helped me relax. It was easier to overlook my husband’s absences and our growing disconnection after a half a glass or so. It was easier to cope with the stresses from my work and the fact that I had no one to talk those things through with. It gave me a slight respite from all my responsiblities. My anxiety seemed to lessen, and I could relax enough to asleep, after one nice glass.
Only, I began to want more…Almost as soon as I poured my first glass, and watched the legs form along its sides, as the scent wafted to my nostrils and the first sip danced on my tongue, I knew I wanted a second glass. Over time, one bottle a week morphed to two, then, somewhere along the line, I started buying wine in those boxes. There came a point when I couldn’t imagine an evening without wine.
Every once in a while, I’d worry about my drinking. I took online quizzes to see if I was becoming an alcoholic. They always seemed just ambiguous enough for me to think I was ok. At the gynecologist’s office, they would always ask how many glasses of wine their patients were drinking, and remind us in writing that one glass was optimal, more could cause hormonal imbalances and lead to several forms of cancer. I preferred to take note of how good wine is for one’s heart. My doctor and I would always end up swapping notes on our favorite wines. Most women I knew drank, including my doctor. I’d come away from my physicals feeling a bit guilty; yet slightly vindicated.
The reality was…..I began to feel afraid that I couldn’t cope with my life without alcohol.
Next Wednesday: The Dawn of Truth.