My Breakup With Alcohol
On New Year's day - I quietly made the decision to quit drinking completely. In years past, I've taken long breaks usually a few months at a time, but something about that strike of midnight flipped a switch in my brain shutting off my desire for alcohol & all the things that come with it. This post will be a long one because there are so many parts to this & what brought me to this decision - So just a warning before you tackle reading this post!
Why the sudden breakup?
Reason #1: The health aspects. The amount of calories, sugar, bloating, skin issues, nerve damage & health issues alcohol causes - truly isn't worth the take away. It's fun for a few hours to feel loose, but since I started drinking really heavily I noticed my face puffing out, terrible breakouts and massive amounts of belly fat.
Reason #2: Hangovers. Need I say more? Hangovers truly just aren't worth it. I'd trade a night out drinking for an early morning sunrise and walk any day. However with hangovers, I found myself constantly wasting days trying to recoup and recover. Precious time I'll never get back that I could of spent doing more productive things for myself & my health.
Reason #3: Saving money. It's no secret - alcohol adds up - big time. What could be a $30 meal turns into a $60 one with just a few $5 drinks each between myself & my husband. Money wasted to feel like shit and contribute to my already poor health. Instead of wasting money on alcohol, I've decided to invest my money into health products, work out clothes, yoga classes, facials, books, all natural beauty products, organizing products - things that truly invest in the bettering of me & my life. A $5 beer or bottle of wine adds up when you really sit down & review the financial statements.
Reason #4: I was using alcohol to blanket a lot of things. The last 5 years I have been EXTREMELY depressed. I've had my good days - but I fight hard for those good days more often than I'd like to share. There are many things contributing to my depression besides alcohol, but I know it's certainly not helping. Alcohol allowed me to let loose, be that fun girl I once was, be social and have conversation in a room where I'd normally feel uncomfortable when sober. But looking back on some of my tipsy or more drunk times where I thought I was being chatty - I was actually just being annoying. I've learned & identified the areas of my life that are causing the depression & still learning more - but I'm working on mending those areas without the help of alcohol.
Reason #5: Alcohol is so horribly romanticized it's sad. No joke - I'd always watch Sex & The City & all kinds of movies & shows growing up & think wow you are truly glamorous when you have a cocktail in hand. But that's not at all true. Our society has pushed us to think alcohol is a luxury, a form of relaxation & a sense of status. One I've fallen victim to myself. I love posting my pretty drinks on my Insta stories as if to tell the world look at my glamorous life. If you're reading this - I implore you to take a week to watch how much it's idolized in all of your favorite shows, ads, on social media, etc. It's been extremely eye opening to me. So on days I want to feel boujee - I drink my kombucha out of a wine glass. It's healthy, but I get that glamorous feeling without the fear of a hangover or harm to my health. From this point forward in my posts if you see what appears to be a drink - it's not. It's a mocktail.
So to sum it up - there wasn't really one moment or anything in particular that happened that caused this abrupt decision other than I just said to myself - no more. The multiple reasons just started to identify themselves as I continued to not drink.
How am I avoiding the urge?
I'll admit - since I started workout classes & focusing on my health in mid December - alcohol hasn't really been on my mind. However, I've replaced my evening glass of wine (sometimes bottle) with a hot cup of tea. If I want to feel fancy - I'll drink kombucha, a La Croix or sparkling juice out of my fancy cocktail glasses as a mocktail. Why does it have to be alcohol in order to use pretty glasses that make you feel fancy? There's no rule saying I can't drink my water with lemon or iced coffee out of a fat boujee wine glass. Don't let society set rules for you.
Will I ever drink again?
To be extremely honest - I don't know. I could cave tomorrow & have a glass. Of course that's not at all my plan, but I don't want to say never, but there's also no time limit on my sobriety either.
Managing the societal pressures
I admit - this is the one that's the hardest. I was recently on a trip and offered so many drinks & felt I had to constantly say "No, thank you." or "I don't drink." and that immediately followed with a puzzled look. It's uncomfortable. I admit especially because people ask why and how do you explain your decision briefly on something that's such a societal norm? And when I do explain - it's followed up with comments like "Oh, I guess it's the new trend for young people to not drink." or "Huh." in skeptical tone & I have to refrain from firing shots. However, it's not just a trend to not drink poison that destroys several aspects of ones health and alcohol has 0% health benefits. This part is and I feel will continue to be the hardest for me. To avoid the conversation topic, I'll order a Sprite & lime, a cranberry juice and lime or a pineapple juice when I'm out in social settings so it looks like a drink to avoid the attention of me not drinking. It also feels really weird right now to not have a drink in my hand in social settings. I'm hoping over time this will become easier for me to personally deal with and in time people not drinking will be the new normal.
PSA: If you're in a social setting and someone says their not drinking - leave them alone. You don't have to put your drink down, but you don't have make that person feel uncomfortable, belittle their choice or make fun of them. You don't know their decision on why they chose a sober lifestyle and they don't have to explain it to you. No one expects everyone to make the same lifestyle choices - but there is an expectation to respect it.
Did I think I was becoming an alcoholic?
To be honest - no, but also yes. I've gone on sober streaks before, but I'm also the person that once I get started - it's hard for me to stop. I think if I would have kept going - it definitely could of became very concerning.
How am I staying sober?
I've followed some accounts on all social media that promote being sober, mocktail recipes and honestly I try to follow accounts that inspire me in a healthy way. I've also picked up better activities that don't require drinking such as yoga, hiking, reading, painting, blogging - it's amazing the things you have time and energy for when you eliminate the focus of alcohol out of them. Some of the reading material resources I've found really help me to understand the benefits I am giving myself & encourage me to stay on this path. Here are some of the books that were recommended to me:
- Quit Like A Woman by Holly Whitaker (Currently reading & really like it!)
- The Sober Lush By Amanda Ward & Jardine Libaire
- Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington
- This Naked Mind by Annie Grace
Will/do I miss drinking?
To very transparent - Yes, there are times I do miss drinking. Since I've given up drinking there's a lot of social activities that I can engage in, but aren't as fun as they once used to be or some activities that I really can't do at all. For example - I LOVED going to wineries, but most just serve wine nothing non-alcoholic & it's kinda sad because I loved the places we would travel to to discover a new winery. Eating out has kinda lost it's appeal and at this point I can't even remember the last sit down meal my husband & I had at a restaurant since the new year. Of course - I will eat out again, but it's still different. I truthfully can't wait for the day that these things just seem like an extremely distant memory.
What I'm looking forward to without alcohol
Well for one - on the weekends I'm waking up earlier & not hungover from the night before. I traded late wine nights for morning sunrises with coffee. I'm looking forward to reducing the inflammation & excess weight in my body. I'm looking forward to clearer skin & a better functioning liver. Mostly though - I'm looking forward to a deeper connection with myself. Learning if I need alcohol to be in a social setting - then maybe it's not an event I should be at or that I need healthier ways to come out of my shell. I'm looking forward to be finding fun activities that don't center around alcohol. I'm looking forward to embracing this new and exciting chapter in my life.
In conclusion - I call this my breakup because like a human relationship breakup, you can still go back to that person. You can still try to work things out so it's better and a healthier relationship. However, I personally don't see myself getting back together with alcohol. After educating myself on the literal poisonous things it does to the body & now that I'm navigating through the social awkwardness of it - I know I'm better off calling it quits for good and moving on. But as I said - never say never. For now though - alcohol and I have broken up & I'm excited to move on and see where this healthier chapter in my life takes me. Cheers to more sober years!
Mrs. Northern Belle
P.S - Stay tuned for a 6 month check in!
My sober date: January 1st, 2022