I spent the first half of my summer celebrating: a promotion, new apartment, other good things, why not pop the champagne?! It was at some point in early July when I actually realized how much I was drinking. Multiple bottles of wine a week (or night) had a negative effect on me. So from July 23 through September 14, I didn’t consume a drop of alcohol.
From a physical health perspective, I certainly had more energy after nights out and didn’t eat later at night, something I would do if I drank. From a mental health perspective, being sober helped me to see what triggers my desire to drink. Not surprisingly, long days at work and stressful family situations were the main culprits. As I dug deeper, I found that I was mainly triggered when my values were challenged. Family, loyalty, accountability and communication are my top values so when they were jeopardized, I stressed out. Instead of pouring wine, I looked for alternative methods of self-care to calm me down including journaling, exercising or just putting myself to bed.
Giving up alcohol was an act of radical self-care. The last year taught me to put my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing first. That’s the only way to be at 100% and of service to others. This detox was an opportunity to prioritize my health and now, it’s much easier to cut the booze off.
This shouldn’t be a big deal, right?! But, it was! Alcohol is literally everywhere and having the willpower to forgo is hard, especially in social situations. It’s so ingrained in our society that people look at you like you’re crazy when you decline a drink. It got me thinking about those who choose not to drink. Regardless of why, I feel like we as a society need to be more accepting of that. For a recovering alcoholic, feeling judged or pressured isn’t going to help. Of course, you don’t necessarily know who these individuals are, which means maybe we walk around offering high fives versus clinking drinks.
Believe me, I still very much enjoy a cocktail and after nine weeks without one, I’ve learned that not all social outings have to revolve around alcohol. I also discovered other coping mechanisms that can be more productive. We all should continue celebrating however we like and perhaps have a little less judgement on how others celebrate too.