Today I am 6 months alcohol-free. I started cutting back last January as part of a weight-loss goal, but I noticed as I cut back, that the nights that I didn’t have any wine, I slept better. I also felt less anxious the next day. I realized that I had been self-medicating with wine to help calm my anxieties, but in fact, it was making it worse.
At first, cutting back was really hard. Like embarrassingly hard. (2020 was rough y’all and I maybe relied on the wine a bit more than I should have….) I realized that a trigger for me for pouring a glass of wine was coming down the stairs after my kids were tucked into bed. So I stopped coming down the stairs after I tucked them in. I bought a kettle and some chamomile tea and I put it with a mug in my bathroom. Instead of coming down the stairs, pouring a large glass of wine and flopping on the couch to watch tv, I stayed upstairs in my bedroom. I drank sleepytime tea and I read. I cut back drinking gradually – drinking less each week than I had the week before, eventually going several weeks between glasses of wine. And then June 28, 2021 I decided to go a full year without alcohol, just to see how I’d feel. So far, it has been life changing for me. I‘ve never felt healthier or stronger. I don’t know that I’ll ever go back.
I used to say, I’ve had a hard day, I deserve a glass of wine.
Now I say, I’ve had a hard day, I deserve a good night’s sleep and to not feel anxious tomorrow.
Anyways, I share this as hopefully an encouragement for anyone trying to kick any bad habit, but also to explain why I’ve shied away from evening gatherings where there would be an expectation of alcohol. I am finally feeling like I’m getting to a place where I can go out with friends and have a club soda and not feel like a loser or worse, feeling like I’m making other people uncomfortable by not drinking. 6 months in, my mind doesn’t really default to or crave wine very often anymore; but it is funny how old neuro pathways can spring up on you – a couple of months ago, I went through airport security and before my mind thought about finding my gate, it thought about finding the bar.
More than anyone, I need to thank my husband for quiety supporting me on this journey this year. Keeping our home dry, and being my cheerleader in his no-pressure no-big-deal-if-you-fail way.
Below is a picture of the books I read in 2021, while I stayed upstairs and drank tea. I recommend them all, but my favourites were: Secondhand, The TeaGirl of Hummingbird Lane, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, and Longitude.