This last round of dry January made me realize that I wanted to make this not drinking thing stick longer. On Feb 9th, 2020, I made a choice to take a break from drinking. I did have some drinks after Dry January ended, but quickly after, I was done. I wanted this break to be more about the ‘why’ and learning about the the thoughts and feelings that fuel those urges that make you pick up a glass or two (which newsflash, have zero to do with drinking and more to do with your thoughts and emotions) so I committed myself to a longer break.
Then came COVID-19. WTF.
Before this break, normally I would stock up my favorite wines to keep me sane while we ride out this lockdown. Indoors for most of the day with the husband and kids and minimal recreational activities??! Tell me when I can start drinking, please! Not this time. Seems like everyone is posting with adult beverages while I’m here drinking virgin strawberry mojitos, and I won’t lie, I want to join in on that; but, I am determined to make this break from booze work. But I’m committed to see this through and get deep into that ‘why’. For me, it’s about really understanding those moments of overindulging when they do happen. I mean, what timing to take a break, but if I want to think about it differently, I have to change my train of thought. So instead I’m saying, ‘what a perfect time to take a break.’
I think a lot of us don’t stop to think what our relationship with alcohol actually means. I am by no means here to preach or tell you not to drink, that’s not me. I’m here to share my experience and why I have chosen to extend my break. I just don’t currently see it as something that’s been serving me any purpose. I like to think of it as a boyfriend you used to love and had so much fun with, but then he became kind of dick and you realize, what the hell are you doing with this guy? You break up. Get back together. Break up again. Get back together, until finally it sticks. I’m done feeling crappy the next day and having that feeling of self-loathing and shame I’d experience if I overdid it. For me, that’s the worst feeling and one I could definitely do without. I think being a parent also magnifies that self-shame more and it makes me feel really shitty. Add diagnosed anxiety to that mix and it’s just horrible.
I have a highly functioning life. I’m not a heavy drinker, though I do indulge; but lately, I have started paying more attention to why I drink, what my actions mean and what my relationship with alcohol says about me. And because I am someone who lives with anxiety, the quest has consumed me. I’m always in my head about it and this is something I needed to pay attention to. You know, those nasty little ‘what ifs’ in your head that say, ‘Omg, does this mean there’s something wrong with me?’ ‘Do I have a problem?’ ‘Am I a horrible person?’ Maybe I’m exaggerating or catastrophizing, but it obviously shows that I’m not comfortable with it. Any of you out there feel this way?
This past dry January was the first time I’ve also decided to journal my experience and all the thoughts that I have when it comes to alcohol. I don’t drink everyday and when I do, I’ll have 1-3 drinks, be fine and walk away. It’s those other time – the times of overdoing it that just beat me up. The physical and mental effects of the anxiety are full-blown and make my skin crawl. The guilt, self-hate and regret affect my state of mind for the entire day. There’s the ‘never wanting to crawl out of bed’ feeling because I am so disappointed in myself that tends to happen. I think many of us forget that alcohol is a legal drug and it’s a depressant. One minute you’re feeling all happy, the next, you’re in a vortex of depression and sadness. It puts me in a horrible funk when I overindulge. I don’t deserve that, my kids don’t deserve that and neither does my health.
We don’t need alcohol to unwind, to help us destress, to escape, or to have a good time. We’ve just been conditioned to think we do and that’s where the real work begins. We should understand what thoughts are leading us to feel a certain way, that drives us to pick up a glass or two and how we can change that habit. Maybe we make it a celebratory reward as opposed to just something we do when we want to escape or just de-stress? I’m sure it won’t be easy. I’m sure there will be times where I’ll have the urge to have a glass – at a party, on vacation, dinner with friends – but I know that ‘my Why’ is bigger than the desire and I know that I will make it happen.
I’ve also been listening to this amazing podcast from life coach, Rachel Hart, called ‘Taking a Break From Drinking’. It’s SO relatable, honest and I find myself constantly agreeing with her talking points about when it comes to drinking and taking a break. By the way, her knowledge is applicable to all areas of life when it comes to self-improvement, not just when it comes to taking a break from drinking. She helps you apply those tools and techniques for your journey. It’s not just about scratching days off a calendar or saying ‘no’ or relying only on will power. It’s about understanding why you are saying yes, and why it’s keeping you in the habit. She does it in such a REAL and funny way. I like that.
That was a read! I know I unloaded a lot of info on today’s post and I definitely want to hear what you think. When I talk to other women about this, it’s amazing how many can relate and that’s a big ‘phew’ for me. How about you? Can you relate? Have you ever stopped to think, ‘why do I even drink?’ or ‘why do I overdo it sometimes?’ The answer can’t be ‘because I like how it tastes,’ or ‘I like how it makes me feel,’ ‘or I don’t know, I’ve been drinking forever.’ Really ask yourself, because I know that’s what I’m learning to do! Explore the why and letting myself feel the urge and not giving in to have a drink. I also know that it may not always be smooth sailing and that’s ok. I just have to get back on the horse if/when those times do pop up.
With that said, off I go into the land of lockdown with mocktails and bubbly water! I am eager, nervous, and scared to see what this break brings and how being on lockdown, with a lot of time to think and a lot of urges, will allow me to really learn more about myself. I’m excited to see what I discover and to show up differently when it comes to my relationship with alcohol.