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 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. This is the last post of the series, next week, we will be on to new things.
Life Changed Fast:
My doctor had helped me deal with my thyroid issues, some vitamin deficiencies and I felt like a new person physically. The better I felt, the more clear it was that I was drinking too much, and that it was affecting my health. I also knew my marriage was in serious trouble.
We’d been in therapy, we’d talked and talked, but nothing changed. Our issues remained unresolved which meant that I had to accept the status quo or leave. I chose to leave. We met with an attorney and began proceedings, and put our home of 25 years up for sale. Four months later, our home had sold, and Brooke and I moved into a place of our own. Our divorce was finalized and it seemed as if over night, I was living a completely different life.
I enjoyed the quiet of my new home and took time to heal, meditate and practice yoga. Brooke was out and about with her friends, and needed far less from me. On the business front, things were quiet. Several of the projects I worked on were finalized and I was at loose ends. For the first time in 20 years, I had the luxury of time to think and just “be”.
Most all of my old friends drank at least moderately, and many drank heavily. Cocktail parties were a fixture in our circles. After quitting drinking, I was reluctant to tell anyone. I was afraid my friendships would change. I had seen my father’s friend circle change after he quit drinking, I had even seen him heckled by some of his friends who weren’t in support of his decision not to drink anymore. Some people litterally shut him out because they no longer shared drinking as a pastime.
As a result, I found all sorts of tricky methods to evade invitations to drink at cocktail and dinner parties. As a sober person I found I didn’t enjoy drinking parties anymore, nor my friends when they were drunk. When drinking wasn’t a part of the equasion, I began to discover I had little in common with many of them.
When my house sold, and I moved, some of my friends kept in touch via Facebook for a while. But over time, we went our separate ways. This part of sobriety can be hard, espcially if you remain with the same friend group, but for me it seemed easier because the divorce and move put a line under that part of my life.
Living sober has been easy, my boyfriend doesn’t drink and 99% of the time I don’t even think of alcohol or drinking. But, truth be told, once in a while I do. When we go on vacation, I sometimes wish I could enjoy a glass of wine. I used to equate wine with luxury, relaxation, and vacations. I wish, sometimes, I could enjoy a glass of bubbly to celebrate, Champaign reminds me of happy times, celebrations and holidays. (Sometimes we get non alcoholic sparking cider; I like cranberry and apple, when I want to celebrate.)
Because of the way I quit drinking on my own and never “hit rock bottom”, I don’t really know if I was an alcoholic or if I just drank too much and was lucky to quit when I did. It is said that Alcoholics will resume drinking heavily if they drink again. I am uncomfortable not knowing. I sometimes wonder what would happen if I have alcohol. Would I fall right into it again? Would I still like it?
A few weeks ago, I had a half of a glass of Champaign at a friend’s housewarming party. Instead of feeling warm and happy like I used to, I felt uncomfortable and disconnected. It just didn’t feel good. I guess that chapter is over.
A few notes:
No one explained to me that alcohol, specifically more than four ounces of red wine per day can negatively affect estrogen levels. Elevated estrogen levels can, in turn, cause breast cancer. Even though my gynecologist knew I was a high cancer risk, she never mentioned my drinking might be a problem. It was in switching to a new primary care physician that I learned I had estrogen dominance. My estrogen dominance was very uncomfortable emotionally and I know part of my drinking was to cover up those uncomfortable feelings. Little did I know that the very thing I used to lessen my symptoms was the very thing that was causing it.
I also used alcohol to numb myself so I didn’t have to take responsibility for my life and make difficult decisions. I used alcohol to self medicate hormonal imbalances. Finally, I used alcohol help me relax. Once I addressed those issues, I was able to walk away from drinking.
What worked for me: I was clear about wanting to live a healthier alcohol free life. Slowly, over time I baby stepped way my to a healthier lifestyle. Finally, I felt ready to address my drinking and decided completely quitting is the best solution for me. Each of us is unique. If you are concerned about your drinking, you may want to check in with your doctor to make sure you don’t have an underlying health issue that may contribute to your desire for more alcohol, pick up Allen Carr’s book, go to therapy, or join an AA group. What ever you decide, may you be blessed and may you live the kind of life you long to live.
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