I’m still “Booze Free for 33”! Yes, I had two glasses of wine in July, so maybe I’m a bit of a cheat. But, I haven’t had a drink since July, so I guess I’m “Booze Free Since July”. Regardless, this has been a fantastic experiment.
I quit drinking because I realized I had some concerns. The spring was a very stressful time for me and it seemed I was drinking for the wrong reasons. I wanted to avoid the stress of moving, dealing with tough communication, handling a mini home remodel, and other things that seemed hard to deal with at the time. I’ve never been much of a drinker anyway, so more than a couple a week is a lot for me. Now, I wasn’t consuming tons and tons of alcohol, rather, I was using it as a crutch during troubled times. Then I really couldn’t stop. Anything to take me away from reality. And I did a few embarrassing things under the influence that I wish I could take back, but nothing too troubling or concerning. I spent my entire birthday under the influence. The entire day. Who does that? I quit drinking because I saw where that was headed. Once I made up my mind, it really wasn’t that hard.
The side benefits have been awesome. I lost those extra five pounds I had put on, my bank account is not draining as quickly, and I generally feel healthier. I’m back to my old self. I don’t need a drink to feel relaxed or talk about my feelings. I have mental clarity. I hope to keep this up for as long as I can, though I’m writing this post because I’m conflicted. This weekend will be a challenge for sure, but as my parents taught me, there is a time and a place for drinking. Hanging out in the woods around a fire playing poker with your best buds may just be that time. However, I enjoy not drinking, too, and feel like having a bit of sweet tea vodka is cheating. It’s what I would feel like if all the sudden I started eating red meat again…who and what does it really hurt, other than my conviction (and a dead cow)?
One thing I have noticed, probably because I’m more sensitive to it, is how people react when I say I won’t have a drink. They look at me funny. They try halfheartedly to convince me. They ask why, how long has it been and for how long do I intend to keep it up. Most people drop it after this light round of questioning. (Note: I had a killer date on Sunday who didn’t even blink an eye. Very supportive of him, and I’m definitely going out with him again.) Happy hours are not the same, but I still have a blast. But think about what happy hours are…an hour dedicated just to drinking. That’s odd, right? An hour dedicated to putting toxins in our body to cloud our thinking. Was the day really that bad that we have to do that to ourselves?
I’ve picked up on a lot more of how society tells us to have a drink when we are stressed out, too. It is all over the media, often used as silly sitcom jokes or around the conference room at work. I’m trying to think of better examples for the way society uses drinking as a go-to for jokes, but I’m coming up empty. Saying you don’t drink is like a woman in her late 30s saying she doesn’t want kids. Or like seeing two men in bed together in a mattress commercial. These things are part of normal life, but not mainstream life. Women don’t want babies, men share beds and there are people who don’t drink. I consider myself to be pretty open minded, yet I still have stereotypical reactions to some of these things, too. How have you reacted in the past to something not so mainstream? Have you caught yourself reacting as society would have you react or reacting the way you really feel?