It’s been over 35 days days since I've last had wine. Albeit, it wasn’t very much wine. Only a glass of red, but my body felt like I had the whole bottle. I remember that night, I woke up sweating profusely with insomnia. I couldn’t get comfortable at all. After washing my sweat soaked sheets I decided then and there to stop drinking. Since it was after Ash Wednesday it was a perfect time to cleanse, and I would have a great excuse for friends and family. I would tell people I gave up alcohol for lent, but I was really contemplating giving up Alcohol forever.
Then I started thinking, why do I even have to make up an excuse for giving it up? Why would people even care? Is it that coded into our social norm that saying you don’t drink is likened to blasphemy? Then I started thinking-thinking, "Holy crap, am I really not going to drink for the rest of my life?". I have to admit panic set in. Though I wasn’t the classic text book description of an alcoholic, and I could easily stop myself after one or two glasses (depending on the circumstances), This sudden anxiety tied to booze made me realize perhaps I had more of a dependency on it than I would’ve liked. I mean, who am I kidding? I enjoy a cocktail! I’m not a sloppy mess when I drink, so why should I stop? The search for answers had unfolded.
I started thinking about my relationship with alcohol. I was raised in an immigrant Italian family. We only had wine on weekends with Sunday dinner. That was the only time I remember seeing Carlo Rossi bottles at the dinner table. I was allowed to have some wine or beer mixed with my soda (I hope some of you can relate?) but I didn't actually start getting well acquainted with libations until my late 20s when I began working in a corporate environment and was exposed to Happy Hour.
Ahhhh Happy Hour—The working class' ultimate way to "relax", and at the epicenter are the ties that bind us—liquor, beer and chicken wings. Social lubricant indeed. Those were the days I was actually capable of staying out on a work night, with no hangover at all, and go to work on time the next morning. Unbeknownst to me I had turned into a legitimate binge drinker. My biggest problem was that I was a charming drunk person. I could handle my booze. I never embarrassed myself, threw up, or blacked out. No one had to carry me to my door—in fact I was the person taking care of others. My friends would stare in amazement at my ability to polish off multiple shots and still walk a straight line. I wore the compliments like a badge of honor. LOL! (Enter SMH emoji here.)
Though there were some moments I honestly didn’t know how I did not wake up in a black market warehouse somewhere. I was the party girl who had all her wits about her (unless there was a guy I really liked involved) and no one ever viewed me as someone who had a drinking problem because I was quite responsible, and well composed. Drinks continued to dominate social situations more and more as I matured—Shockingly so. It's like as you get older there is nothing much to do with one another but have a mojitos at brunch, or wine at dinner with the family—even my relationships and dates were driven by booze.
There were many moments in between those binge drinking Saturday nights when I broke up with Captain Morgan, then came crawling back. My body started to feel not so good, so I would cleanse and detox for periods of time only to find myself going out with friends and drinking again. I would go out with them sober and have a great time, but I liked the Captain, and the Gin, and the Titos in da club [soda]. They gave me the warm fuzzies. Perhaps a feeling of release and relaxation that lasted but a night.
Here is what happened when I stopped drinking:
1. I SLEEP BETTER.
I haven’t woken up with a night sweat. I sleep peacefully and i wake up without use of an alarm clock (that’s a whole other article). I feel clear. As a spiritual counselor I require a level of clarity in my waking life. I must be conscious of my being. This is much easier for me to do since kicking the boozey woozey out of my life. I feel focused and able to connect to energies easily.
2. I STOPPED CARING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK OF ME.
Honestly it’s not a big deal that you don't drink. Tell ur family and friends you just don't drink anymore. if they have a problem with it then maybe they need to stop drinking too. They should support you not condemn you.
3. YOU TOO WILL HAVE A SPECIAL DISDAIN FOR MOCKTAILS (or impostor cocktails as I like to call them).
Do we give heroine addicts needles with saline solution in them? No. So why in the world would a fake cocktail be ok for someone who is breaking the drinking habit? And from what I've seen in real life...people who smoke vape kind of look like vape addicts now. You are still keeping the neurological impulses there. The pretty drink, the feeling of inertia—you’re holding onto it. You require recoding—Water, diet soda, or my fave lemonade are all ok to drink in public with people. You do not have to disguise your sobriety and fool others and fool yourself! To hell with them I say! Give me another unsweetened ice tea.
4. (Sorry boys) BETTER MOON BLOOD CYCLES.
My moon cycle is far less painful. Little to no cramps and a regular flow. Count me in!
5. YOU ATTRACT LIKE MINDED INDIVIDUALS.
So long drinking buddies. The people you really get along with won't care two straws about your decision. The people you thought you connected with only because you drank together will soon be gone. Good riddance. Your circle becomes elevated, as you elevate and evolve.
6. GET TO KNOW YOURSELF.
Sober Michelle is still quite charming, funny, and can hang with the best of them. Perhaps I didn't need alcohol after all? Take a good look at why you feel you need alcohol to loosen you up. Maybe take an acting class? Or join a group that will help you overcome your anxieties about socializing with humans.
7. RESPECTING YOUR BODY.
When we drink we put our bodies through all kinds of trouble. Whether it is toxicity from the alcohol itself or physical. Not drinking brings consciousness to your actions. You ultimately make better decisions with a clear head.
8. YOU CAN RELAX WITHOUT WINE.
If I had a nickel... Wine doesn't truly help you relax. Go on fight with me. I will let you argue.
It just doesn't. Your mind makes you think it will help you relax. The calm you feel after a glass will make you think that you are relaxing but the more wine you have the more anxiety sets in. You are taxing your liver and nervous system. There are alternate methods. Like...sit in a chair or in bed, and well...relax. Consciously release the tension in every area of your body. Sink in to relaxation.
9. YOU SAVE MONEY.
Do I even have to elaborate on this one?
10. LOSE WEIGHT.
If you are not drinking. There is less of a chance for your blood sugar to drop, causing massive cravings for grilled cheese and mozzarella fries with gravy, or a giant breakfast the next morning. See #9.
I know there are tons of articles on this topic—I think I have read them all. I hope you will find some clarity with this one. If you are struggling with your addictions please reach out to a licensed health care center. There are so many wonderful people who are willing to help you. You are not alone. Ever!