Holy freaking cow. I did it! I quit drinking for an entire year! Never in a million years did I think I would hear those words coming out of my own mouth.
When I gave up drinking one year ago, I gave up so much more than a dependency on a false fuel. I gave up life as I knew it to be. It stopped that moment and pivoted in an entirely new direction. One that aimed away from the cozy comfort of many people, places, and things I had known intimately for years. A change occurred. A spark of something that ignited so bright, I could feel it in my core. I had no idea what this burning desire was or what it was leading me to. All I knew, was that I was ready to find out.
"I am going to quit drinking." I said out loud to a few close people in my life. My adult daughters chuckled, "sure, okay Mom!" They too, knew me as the life of the party. The first one tipsy. The first one singing out loud. The first one to fall asleep usually, too. But not before tons of fun was had.
Drinking is a way of life, particularly in our small town. It is just something you do. (Not something you don't do!)
It was the day after my neighbor's huge backyard party. I had tied one on, yet again. I woke to death or at least a hangover that felt a lot like it. I reached for the Tylenol and coffee. I couldn't even look at the coffee cup, let alone smell it. That's how I would always know that I had really over done it the night before. Sure there would be some funny videos of me talking in slur. Sure there would be evidence of my epic karaoke performances. On a really good night, there might even be hysterical footage of me trying to crawl in the door of my home. All fun and games until we have to deal with the consequences the following day, am I right?
I am not sure why this particular hangover was the breaking point for me. I am chalking it up to divine timing since I had been reading a book about this very lifestyle. Drinking as a means of self-sabotage. In fact, I was just finishing up the final chapters of A Happier Hour by Rebecca Weller. A memoir about the author's journey to getting sober. A book that had come recommended by my best friend who immediately took note of the similarities between the main character and myself. A comparison that was easy for me to see as soon as I began reading the words on the page.
This wasn't just a eye-opening, good read, however. This book was an opportunity knocking. My "golden ticket" of sorts. The author made a pitch at the end to join her "90 Day Sobriety Challenge" online. I clicked for more information later that day as I laid nauseous and spinning on my couch. I didn't have to overthink it. I didn't wait for a Monday or the start of a new month. I placed that program into my virtual cart and decided right then and there it was go time. Purchase complete!
The next few days were a welcomed detox considering the level of hangover I was still recovering from. I continued to share out loud that I had committed to a sobriety challenge. The support ranged from laughing out loud... to "you can't do it"... to "good luck with that." But those closest to me, knew those comments were just more fuel to get me to the finish line. When I say I am going to do something- consider it done. No turning back now!
I needed this. Deeply needed this. (I didn't even know how much!) But it would take some time to convince some others. I heard some disappointing remarks from people I would have expected to be full supporters. "You're not an alcoholic." "You are far from an alcoholic." "You don't really have a problem." "Just cut it back to 2 or 3 drinks and stop over doing it." "Try drinking beer instead." "You're going to drink again when the 90 days is up, right?" I was and still am in disbelief at the insensitive comments people let roll out of their mouths.
Clearly, I wouldn't be giving thought to a "sobriety challenge" if I didn't in fact have a problem. I had to remind myself that most people had no idea what my relationship with alcohol was like. They didn't see me add a shot of vodka to a can of Truly to make it stronger. They didn't see me fill the glass to the half way mark with booze before adding a little mixer. They weren't there to watch me sneak the bottle ever so quietly out of the cupboard to make a drink without those in my home knowing what I was up to.
Just because I still did well with my career and paying my bills, doesn't mean there wasn't a red flag. Just like any disease out there, alcoholism comes in varying levels. I was on a downhill trajectory and going fast. I had a rather comfortable relationship with alcohol. I let it control me and I depended on it showing up for me. And it began to show up more and more. Weekend "social drinking" had now turned into 5 or 6 nights per week. 1 or 2 glasses of wine on a weeknight slowly became 3 or 4. I was familiar with this way of life. I come from a long, deadly linage of alcoholics. And I know all to well what could lie ahead for me if I don't take control of the reins now.
Call it what you want... I had an unhealthy alcohol dependency that was growing worse by the day. If you're interested to know how I ended up in such a place, keep your eye out for my book launch in the not too far future! All the juicy details will be on the pages in between.
Anyone who has ever tried to get sober knows just how much of an effort it takes. There is a huge level of self respect that is required to play a hand in your daily efforts. This journey back to inner strength looks very different for everyone. For my father, a severe alcoholic for decades, it was "cold turkey." He literally just woke one day and said no more. He has now been sober for nearly 30 years! For my older brother, it was the support of AA meetings that prompted his sobriety. He is soon approaching 18 years sober!
For me, it was reading a recommended book that helped me to see myself in the mirror for the first time. It was a deep seeded need to be a better role model for my two daughters. It was finding more productive ways to spend my free time. It was searching out healthier options for sleep and relaxation that weren't harming my body and mind. It was opening daily inspiring emails and watching interviews of women in similar predicaments vow to change their lives. And it was learning new coping skills that would teach me to address the stressors the booze had masked on any given day. That little 90 day program did not disappoint! I was led to just the right people and resources I needed for the metamorphosis taking place. I was like a sponge. The more I read and learned... the more I wanted. I consumed tons of articles and books the kept me on the path forward.
I cannot fail to mention the biggest benefit of quitting. I feel freaking amazing! I sleep better than I ever have before. ( I used to think that booze helped with that. Wrong!) My anxiety and need to control everything went away. Literally disappeared. I am now more relaxed than I have ever been in my adult life. Mental clarity showed up for the first time and uncovered a great deal about my spirituality, values, and beliefs. Sobriety has been a rebirth for me. I had heard the term "awakening" before. I obviously didn't realize that it was an actual life event. One that I am delighted to say I am still partaking in.
I have been drinking since I was about 14 years old, maybe even earlier. For most of my life, it has been in social situations and under control. It was never "a real problem" for me until recent years. Booze became the replacement vice for me when I could no longer turn to food because of weight loss surgery. (Something my physician had warned me could happen.) Liquid calories are easy to consume, especially when they numb out all things causing pain and stress in our lives. It's fair to say I have an addictive personality and had a need to rely on something "outside" of myself for comfort. I am proud to say, that has all changed.
When I started the challenge, it was important for me to be able continue socializing where alcohol would be served. As I mentioned, drinking opportunities are everywhere in these parts. (Including my own backyard cabana!) I didn't remove one single bottle of booze or wine from my shelves. I simply wanted to gain the power to look at a bottle and say, "no thank you." It did not mean everyone around me had to stop drinking. After all, I was the one with the problem. I wanted to do this for me.
As I celebrate ONE YEAR SOBER! I am already being asked if I will go back to drinking. Even in moderation. And here is the analogy I often share with people who don't understand addictive personality.
You wouldn't tell a recovering crack addict it's okay to take just "a couple hits." You wouldn't tell a recovering gambler they could "play the cards, just not the slots." You wouldn't tell a former cigarette smoker they'll be okay with a "few puffs, just not a whole cigarette." If moderation were an option, people fighting addictions and dependencies wouldn't have to quit in the first place. Trust me, we wish we had that control. But we do not. When we are strong enough to give something up for good, we often replace it with something else. I am lucky that giving up booze led me to my journey as an author. I now know the time has come for me to share my many life lessons with the world. My new vice is writing and connection through this blog page.
Was it hard? Of course. Were there days I felt I needed a drink? Most definitely. I had to remind myself many, many times that I control my thoughts and actions. I had to stop and appreciate just how good I feel. Will I ever go back to drinking? I don't see it happening. The benefits and improvements in my life are just too substantial to ignore.
If I were still drinking, I would not have the clarity, stamina, or desire to sit down and write each day. I wouldn't have experienced the amazing awakening within. The one that woke the power of my inner wisdom, little Jill, who has wanted nothing more than to share her story and be heard. I am loving the fact that sobriety has helped me to recover my own superpowers.
Thank you Universe for leading me on a sobriety journey. Thank you sobriety for the gift of finding my way back to my true self. ❤
Anything is possible when we put our mind to it. Period. I am living proof! If you have ever thought about a sobriety challenge, I encourage you to see it through. Life changing.
If you are interested in the book that inspired my sobriety simply click the image below!