I quit drinking a little over two weeks ago.
Since then, I’ve received lots of messages of strength, encouragement, and solidarity.
(Thank you so much for all your support!!!)
I’ve also received a couple messages with questions and concerns.
I think I may have a drinking problem. My issues with alcohol are the same as yours. How did you quit? HOW DID YOU DO IT???
For some people, quitting drinking for two whole weeks would be a big deal.
For others? Eh, not so much.
I mean, my mom never drinks. It wouldn’t be a huge deal for her.
My husband doesn’t drink much. If he never had another drop of alcohol, he wouldn’t bat an eyelash.
But for me, while making the decision to stop drinking is a really big deal, quitting drinking for two weeks isn’t really much of an accomplishment.
I very often go days and more often, weeks, without drinking.
In the winter I may only drink a couple times a month. In the summer, it’s a little more often.
My issue with alcohol isn’t the frequency of my drinking.
It’s the intensity of it that’s the problem.
So two weeks without drinking any wine or Blue Moons or margaritas is not out of the ordinary for me.
But a mom’s night out without alcohol?
That’s unheard of.
A barbeque? A holiday? An ugly Christmas sweater party? Any kind of party whatsoever?
That’s the part that scares me.
I am petrified that the fun part of my life is over.
The way my brain thinks, there is no point in ever going to a party again.
If I can’t get seriously drunk, why would I bother going?
That is my issue.
I’m a really social person. I’m not shy, and I don’t mind speaking in front of large groups of people.
So I don’t look to booze for the lubrication factor.
I like to dance.
But I only do it when I’ve had one too many drinks.
Same thing for karaoke.
I love karaoke!
But I’ve never done that sober.
My 30th (ouch) high school reunion is this weekend.
I also have a massive swim meet this weekend, and I won’t get home in time on Saturday night to make it to the reunion.
I realized there was a conflict about six weeks ago, before I stopped drinking.
I’m embarrassed to admit how much time I spent trying to figure out how I could get from the meet to the reunion on Saturday, and then back to the meet on Sunday morning, and make it through the day with a serious hangover.
I don’t know if my head is already clearer after two weeks or what, but I now realize the insanity of my thinking.
So I’m not even going.
Part of me is bummed because I’d love to see my old high school friends.
But another part of me is thinking, Why would I even bother going — even if there was no swim meet — now that I can’t get wasted at it?
And that thinking is what bothers me. That thinking is what I want to address. That thinking is what I need to address.
Because it’s that thinking that has the potential to derail me the most.
So how have I quit drinking so far?
Well, honestly, I’m too busy and too exhausted to miss it right now. I don’t think I would have drank anything in the last two weeks even if I hadn’t quit.
And I know from my previous stint in AA about 30 years ago that I can only focus on today. One day at a time.
If I think about all the times in the future that I’ll never be able to drink anything, I’ll fail. For sure.
So I just focus on today.
I have also spoken to a couple women — one old friend who’s been sober for a long time and one new friend who has recently stopped drinking — who are both, as they say, in the program.
I haven’t gone to any AA meetings yet, but I plan on it.
I think it’s important for me to make sure I have some women in my life who completely get it. And I think I need to make sure I have friends who don’t drink at all in my social circle.
So those are things I want to do in the future.
But to answer the question How did I do it?
Well, first, I stopped ignoring the voice inside me. The one that kept reminding me that I had some serious issues to address. For months I’ve been having a silent conversation with myself:
Should I quit drinking? Yes, you should totally quit drinking!!! But do I really need to quit drinking? Um, if you didn’t, would you even be having this conversation with yourself???
After enough silent conversations, I decided enough was enough. I didn’t want to waste any more days of my life recovering from the effects of one (or four) too many drinks.
Once I admitted to myself that something had to be done, I admitted it to everyone else.
I’m not ashamed.
Because I remind myself that we are all fucked up.
It may not be booze for all of us (or even most of us), but so many of us have addiction issues. So many of us have mental health issues.
All of us have some kind of issue!
For the first week or so, whenever someone would make a joke about needing a margarita or about how many drinks their kids drove them to drink or how HUGE the margaritas were at the local restaurant and why I totally needed to go there, I just smiled and nodded. I laughed. I played along.
But this made me feel like I was keeping a secret or something.
And I know that feeling like you have to keep secrets leads to unhealthy things. For me anyway.
So now, if anyone says anything that seems close to an invitation to drink, I tell them I quit.
That results in some seriously mixed reactions, which I am prepared for.
I know I will have friends who are supportive.
As soon as one of my friends found out, she texted me.
I’m proud of you and I love you. I hope we can spend time together doing healthy things. I need a workout motivator.
That is a great friend.
I also know this decision will show me who my real friends are. I am prepared to never see some of my friends again. But I know that for most of those people, the ones who gradually disappear, the reason they will fall by the wayside is because having a friend who stops drinking may force them to take a look at themselves. And if they stop being my friend, well, they just aren’t ready to do that.
Plus, I guess they really weren’t that great of friends to begin with.
Next, I’m not delusional. As with all things, I realize I am in the honeymoon phase. I’m motivated. I’m still gung ho. I fully realize there will come a time where I am not so self motivated. That’s why I need to get to some meetings. I need a support group, especially during the really tough times.
And finally, I focus on the positives.
When my swimmers are struggling in a practice, when I give them a hard set and they want to cry, when they are sure there is no way they can actually do it, I ask them to stop thinking about the discomfort they are feeling in the moment. And I ask them to think about how they want to feel about themselves when practice is over.
I’m trying to do the same thing for myself.
I’m trying really hard not to think about all the stuff I won’t be doing anymore, and instead focusing on how awesome I’m going to feel on every weekend morning. How there won’t be another Saturday of complete uselessness because I drank my ass off.
This Sunday I won’t struggle through a swim meet with a hangover. I won’t have said or done anything regrettable the night before (not because of booze, anyway). I won’t have forgotten entire portions of the night. I won’t have to eat a whole bunch of greasy, salty food to soak up all the shit I drank the night before and gain five pounds over a weekend.
I’m keeping my eye on the end game.
And that’s how I’m doing it.
So far so good.
Eighteen days (one being a major holiday), and I’m still on the wagon!