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 reduce your drinking but it may not be the right time. Whether you drink or not, this is a no judgement zone.
In late August 2013, decided I wanted to reduce my drinking more permanently, and as luck would have it, there’s a book for that. Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Control Alcohol. I loved the idea that I could, for once and for all, “control” my drinking—at least according to a man named Allen Carr, whom I had never heard of. I figured I’d go for it—what did I have to loose? I decided I’d give myself over to the book and see if it would actually work.
I made my way through the book (each chapter, in order, one at a time,) following Allen’s rules to the letter. The first rule was that you had to read each chapter sober. I read the slowly taking my time with each chapter, thinking each through before moving on. As I read, drinking had less and less appeal. But I still hadn’t reduced my drinking. Was the book working? I wasn’t sure. When I was sober it made perfect sense, but after my first glass of wine for the evening, well, I just wanted one more…
The book was drawing to a close, and I felt a bit panicked. Right along, I drank in the evening, (in accordance with Allen’s ‘rules’) just as I always had. Was I ready to quit, I wondered. Did I really want to quit? I was getting more comfortable with myself, but I wondered about my social life. I had a broad circle of friends and our social life centered around wine and drinking in one way or another. Would I have any friends if I quit drinking? What would happen with all the uncomfortable questions that still loomed large in my life, like my marriage? Was I ready to take steps to improve my life, or would I just keep holding on to a life that clearly wasn’t working for me?
On my last night as a drinker, our wine merchant helped me pick out just the right red, and some cheese and crackers to go with it. At home, I set a beautiful spread for myself, and settled down with the last pages of Allen Carr’s book. I read the second to the last page, closed the book, and set about enjoying my last glass, strike that…bottle…of wine.
I woke up on the floor of my bathroom. I’m not sure how I got there. I made my way to bed in what was probably among the worst states I had ever been in. I was in agony for hours, it seemed, before finally falling asleep. The next morning, in the haze of an epic hangover, I knew it was over. I would NEVER have an experience like that again. I read the last page of Allen’s book, and threw out the remaining remnants of wine in our home.
Without alcohol, I found clarity and peace with myself. I began to get to see that I deserved to be loved and deserved a good life. It was time to take responsibility for my life.
Sober, I spent more time soul searching, really thinking about the life I wanted, the kinds of things I dreamed we’d do when my husband and I retired and Brooke went off to school. I thought about the kind of relationship I wanted to have with my life partner. I thought about our marriage; so much was unresolved and “off limits” for discussion. I knew without discussion, healing could never happen between the two of us. What became painfully clear was that I would have to accept our marriage the way it was or leave.
Next week, The final Installment: It All Happened Fast