I didn’t set out to become alcohol free this year but that’s what’s happened. As of today, it’s 215 days, and if you’d told me last year that this is one of the things that 2019 would bring, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are.
My story is no different than thousands of people in their 64th year of life. One day you wake up with yet another headache, your body aches, it’s 3:30 in the morning and you’re asking yourself “what the hell am I doing?” How did that “one glass” end up being six? Have I crossed “that” line? Am I an alcoholic? Am I doomed to die early or end up in a smoke filled room baring my soul to others who “just can’t handle their booze?”
In May, and for no particular reason, and after no particular event, I washed my wine glass and put it away. My goal was 30 days alcohol free. I had read a book by Annie Grace called This Naked Mind, Control Alcohol – Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life earlier in the year and wanted to “experiment” on myself and see what this alcohol free, sober, curious movement was like.
30 days came and went and, as Annie herself says, “you can’t unlearn this stuff”. Finally, it all just started to “sink in”. Alcohol, in any quantity is ethanol…and its poison. We dress it up to become the fancy cabernet sauvignon, but our body knows differently and spends all day (and night) trying to get rid of the stuff. At the end of my 30 day experiment I knew I wanted to live hangover free. Mostly…I just want to live.
In the past 215 days I have gained a new coaching accreditation with endless hours of studying (that would have made a university student cry) and passed the exam. I’ve celebrated birthdays, attended weddings, gone on vacation and had many dinners out with friends. We celebrated the birth of a new granddaughter, dealt with the bad news of my mom’s cancer diagnosis and watched her die only few months ago.
That’s a lot…and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when it was hard. Damn hard.
But here’s what I’ve learned…. I simply FEEL better. I sleep better, which has been an antidote to all the stress. My mind is sharper and retains information…like exam questions, and last night’s movie or a conversation from yesterday. My incessant “monkey mind” has taken a back seat to being more present, proactive and engaged and our bank account isn’t taking a weekly “wine hit” so there’s money to buy a few new clothes…a size smaller.
Mostly, I’m not catastrophizing about my own mortality and worrying about that imminent brain aneurysm, cancer diagnosis or heart attack. This alone feels like freedom. Not that these things won’t happen – but it no longer takes up space in my head in the middle of the night.
I’m not an alcoholic, and chances are pretty good that neither are you, in fact according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, of the 87% of adults in America who drink alcohol, only 10% are considered physically addicted. I had not crossed “that line” but I could certainly see it in the distance.
If any of this resonates with you, try out a 30 day Alcohol Experiment – here is a link to one starting through This Naked Mind on January 1st January 2020 Alcohol Experiment
And if you want to talk…please get in touch. You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org
What I know for sure is…you’ll feel better and… you’re worth it.