Almost three months ago, I quit drinking. You read that correctly. It has been 12 weeks since I had a glass of wine, a margarita, some prosecco, or even a beer.
There was no fanfare or a public proclamation when I quit. I didn’t even say anything about it to my husband. I just quit drinking. I did some thinking and decided, “No more. I’m done living like that.”
To be clear, I didn’t quit because I hit bottom. I mean, what bottom would I hit – losing a job because of drinking (unlikely), driving drunk (even more unlikely), or something worse? I’ve already done just about every other stupid, regretful thing you can do while drinking – blacking out while awake, hitting a colleague in the face, vomiting in a trash can on the way to work, making promises to myself or my husband that I never kept. I don’t need to bottom out to know how deeply I am capable of falling.
No, I quit drinking because the way I drink doesn’t represent the values I hold or the person I aspire to be. I don’t want to be the kind of person who blacks out while still awake, hits a colleague in the face, vomits in a trash can on the way to work, or can’t even trust herself to honor the commitments she makes. I quit drinking, because when I started on this road to mental health recovery, I made a decision to try and live a conscious and conscientious life, and I can’t do that if I can’t drink responsibly. And I can’t reliably drink responsibly.
For all the writing I do about being a better version of myself, all the writing I do about healing and evolving, drinking has been the one area of my life in which I wasn’t honoring that pledge to personal transformation. So, to continue moving forward, to grow as a human, I had to quit drinking. And that was it.
Truthfully, I have had a few stressful days/events in the last 12 weeks where I thought, “Boy, would I love a glass of wine right now to take the edge off.” But I know that a glass would turn into the whole bottle and what problems would be solved? My life would be worse off, not better if I had that “one drink.” So I didn’t. I don’t.
This is not to say that my life is now pure bliss, that quitting drinking solved all my problems. I haven’t found a new job. I haven’t lost 10 pounds. I am not any faster when running, and I’ve hardly written anything in months. All that is still on my plate to deal with.
What is better, however, is that I don’t have the added weight of feeling guilt or self-loathing or the undercurrent of conflict in my marriage that my drinking produces. Those three things alone are worth giving up alcohol. Apparently, I just needed a clearer head to see that.
I had a really bad habit and now I don’t. But, like everything else worth doing – exercise, eating well, meditating, writing daily – not drinking will take some effort to maintain. So, here I go. Days into weeks into months (and I hope beyond) of sobriety.