Over the past few weeks, a few people have asked me about quitting drinking.
They are thinking about giving it up also, and they are looking for some tips/advice/etc.
I am just about ten days away from eighteen months without alcohol.
A year and a half!!!
Before I share how I came to this decision and how I got to 18 months, I first want to let you know that I was not a daily drinker.
I wasn’t even necessarily a weekly drinker.
But when I drank, I DRANK.
Very rarely did I have one glass of wine or one beer.
In fact, the only times I would do that was when I decided to have a drink at home alone and I fell asleep before I could finish what was in my glass.
A week or so after I quit, I remember telling a friend that my body was not tolerating alcohol very well. That after even just three glasses of wine I would feel hungover the next day.
And she said to me, “Well why don’t you just have one drink, then?”
And I was like, “Ummmmm…… WHAT’S THE POINT OF THAT???”
So that was how I viewed alcohol which is a pretty big red flag.
About ten years ago, I went to a party the day after having a miscarriage. This was in between Number 4 and Number 5.
I got completely hammered at that party.
Probably one of the top 5 drunkest nights of my life.
I ended up driving my car home, stumbling into the grass, and puking my guts on on my hands and knees in my front yard.
Thank God I didn’t kill myself, or, even worse, someone else.
But I had driven home drunk, and this was not the first time I had done that.
Red flag number 2.
I spent the next day completely incapacitated and unable to function at all.
My husband was pretty upset with me.
This wasn’t the first time I had overdone it since we had met each other.
But it was the first time I had done it to that degree after having kids.
I promised him that would never happen again.
Not that I would never drink again, but that I would never drink to the point of puking again.
When you find yourself having to promise your husband that you will never drink to the point of barfing your brains out on your hands and knees in your front yard, I suppose that is another red flag.
I spent the next ten years of drinking trying to manage my alcohol consumption at parties, and getting as drunk as I possibly could without puking and having to spend the entire next day in bed and unable to function.
And that’s not really a healthy relationship with alcohol, even if you only drink twelve times a year.
I drank more in the summer than I did in the winter.
Quite a bit more. It was just kind of a part of my summer. The pool in our back yard and the grill and friends coming over… Blue Moons and white wine were always on hand.
But then in the summer of 2017, two things happened.
First, I was finally honest with myself about how alcohol was affecting my body. I don’t think I ever really tolerated it all that well, but it was really starting to affect me the next day. Even with just a couple drinks in me, I was starting to not remember things.
I wouldn’t totally black out, but the next day, parts of the night before were either fuzzy or just totally gone.
Another red flag.
The second thing was that I had been kind of in limbo with the blog and my website. I didn’t know what I was doing and I was kind of at a crossroads, and I finally decided I was going to commit 100% to really trying to do something with it.
Because I had to start generating some sort of substantial income from it, or it was time to move on.
Since it was summer and all the kids were home and it was just me with them all day long, if I wanted to get any work done, I’d have to do most of it in the mornings before the kids woke up.
And if I was going to do that, I couldn’t lose any mornings to hangovers and feeling crappy from drinking the night before.
When I looked at it that way, another light bulb went off.
While drinking was fun — or at least at the time I thought it was fun — it was not adding to the quality of my life at all. It was not moving me closer to where I wanted to be.
In fact, every time I drank, I moved one (sometimes really BIG) step back.
I didn’t want to admit it, but it was time for me to cut it out of my life.
I had been thinking this for quite a while. Probably close to a year. I hadn’t told anyone. Not my friends, not my parents, not my husband.
But there was absolutely nothing positive that drinking alcohol was bringing to my life.
So one day, I just decided it was time.
It was time to be a grown up.
It was time to make an adult, healthy decision for myself.
Not because I had gotten myself into trouble (although alcohol was a big factor in several previous, seriously fucked up incidents in my life). Not because I had been given an ultimatum.
Not because I had broken that (lame) promise to my husband from ten years earlier.
It was just time for me to finally make a smart and healthy decision for my body.
And so on a random day in July — July 2nd, to be exact — I quit drinking.
It was a Sunday. And it was two days before a bunch of people were coming over to our house for a 4th of July barbeque.
I guess I decided if I could quit drinking two days before one of my favorite drinking days of the year, then I could pretty much do anything.
And now, ten days shy of eighteen months later, I can honestly say it is the smartest and best decision I have ever made for myself.
I can’t imagine going back. And now I don’t really even miss it.
On a very rare occasion I’ll see people drinking and I’ll feel a tiny twinge of jealousy.
But that is fleeting.
Because all I have to do is remind myself of the things that are important to me.
And catching a buzz is NEVER on that list.
So I was asked, “How did you go about not drinking anymore?”
How did I go about it?
I JUST STOPPED.
Not easy, but simple.
There is no easy button for anything.
Not for anything that matters, anyway.
In the beginning, in those first few months especially, it was hard.
It was really fucking hard.
I used to go out fairly regularly with the travel baseball moms. There was a lot of drinking at those get-togethers.
I found myself resenting my friends.
One of the most effective things you can do to break a bad habit is to make it as inconvenient as possible.
So I had to stop going to the baseball Moms Nights Out.
That was very hard for me.
The next thing I did was I announced it to the world.
Now I had a whole bunch of people to be accountable to.
I didn’t want to fall off the wagon after making that proclamation.
Then I told my kids.
Kids are really good about keeping you accountable.
And when Number 4 told me she always thought she was going to drink when she got older because she always saw me doing it with my friends and was afraid she was going to miss out on something fun but now she had decided she would never drink because I had quit, that was when I realized how closely your children are watching you.
I don’t know what will happen with Number 4 when she is older. I don’t know what path she will go down.
But I know for sure which path I am going to take, and hopefully she decides to keep following me forever.
Someone else asked me, “How long into quitting before it wasn’t so hard?”
Well, I think if drinking is a part of your life and especially your social life, it is going to be hard for at least six months.
If you want the cold, hard truth, it could always be hard.
I can sincerely say that it is not difficult now at eighteen months.
But it has taken me that long to associate myself with this new lifestyle.
I was always the party girl. The life of the party. The loud one. The crazy one. The bold one. The ballsy one.
I’d do anything with a couple drinks in me.
And I prided myself on that for a long, long time.
So I had to form a new identity.
Not for other people, but for myself.
I had to value being sober and clear headed more than being the crazy chick at the party.
I can say that I have arrived at that point. But it took a long time.
And the funny thing is now that I don’t drink anymore, I could give a flying f*ck what people think about me.
I don’t care.
Because I know what my priorities are. I know what my goals are. Drinking alcohol won’t get me to them.
I have some pretty big plans for myself, and I’m no longer willing to put obstacles in my path unnecessarily.
Someone asked me if I had any tips for quitting.
I can say that if you think you should quit drinking, then you should probably quit drinking.
I mean, people who don’t need to quit drinking don’t wonder if they need to quit drinking.
Then you need to accept that it’s going to be fucking hard. And then embrace the challenge.
Change your circle of friends if they are all big drinkers.
Then start exercising.
Do it every day.
If you can sign yourself up for a 5K or something, something you have to train for, even better.
That gives you a focus and also a reason to not drink your face off on a Friday night when you know you have to get a run or a workout in the next day.
And finally, the biggest tip.
Another simple one.
Not easy, but simple.
YOU JUST GOTTA FUCKING COMMIT.
There is really no way around that one.
Either you’re gonna decide to make a change, or you’re not.
If you decide for option A, it will be hard work.
Very hard work.
But I can also tell you that my quality of life has improved by about a hundred percent as a result of my hard work.
After the birth of my children, quitting drinking is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
And I think this second half of my life is going to SERIOUSLY kick some ass.