Growing up I used to think AA was something shameful. That’s for people who did bad things, were out of control, ruined their relationships, were untrustworthy and had something wrong with them. I think I felt that way about most disorders or problems people were open about. Was it me or what I was told to think at a young age? Where ever that mindset came from, you grow up and you learn better.
- A few of my great friends I used to drink with for fun and had a wonderful time with ended up going totally sober and regularly attend AA meetings. It’s brave and it’s strong. And it helps them thrive.
- They realized alcohol or more things developed a hold on them that was unhealthy so they shifted their life and got support. They weren’t bad people inside. They didn’t derive joy from harming innocent people, they just developed a dependency on a substance that made them feel happy again or made them forget their problems. They faced it and worked to fix it.
- That’s incredible to me. It’s also not really my story.
- I don’t go to AA and never have. I never felt like alcohol was a problem for me, it was always fun. Even on those nights where it was more wine than it should have been, I still could let it go if I wanted to. But I didn’t. It was still fun. It was still relaxing. Red wine and an aromatherapy bath was my heaven for so long.
- So what changed? Someone I loved very deeply died. Ever since then even one sip could send me down a giant hole of weeping grief. It’s not a pretty cry. As the years pass I’m less broken by it although it was completely gutting at first. Still, the wrong thing can trigger it and I remember just how deep the pain s of that level of loss.
- Alcohol stopped being fun.
- Weeping on a dime is not a good party trick. It hurts. My whole life shifted after that. It was a strange transition but I stopped drinking almost completely. It took a little while to acknowledge that wine made grief harder. A little wine and music would still end in tears at some point. What used to lift my spirits now made it harder to keep emotionally afloat. So I stopped, and then I realized how much better it feels during the day to not be a drinker. I never realized that alcohol impacted my mood in the middle of the day even a few days after only drinking a little. It’s very subtle, but I feel more generally positive.
- It still feels weird to not be sipping on a drink at parties, but it becomes more normal with time. I do go to substantially fewer parties these days and that’s just fine with me. I feel like I got so much out of my system. A weekend with a book is more fun now. New Year’s Eve is less special to me now too as much as setting intentions on New Year’s Day. I go to a yoga class or do a beach walk. I breathe deeply. I feel better.
- You learn how to celebrate differently and relax differently too. Doing something sporty outside puts me into the best mood now.
- Exercise and being well hydrated became my new favorite thing. Going for long walk. Doing yoga. Cooking. These things filled the void until there was none.
- It’s been a few years and I can honestly say I don’t miss alcohol. If I really want a beer I can let myself have it. I could let myself be a drinker again if I wanted to. I probably wont get emotional now since I’ve healed a whole lot, but I typically don’t even want it. I used to have a drink every weekend and frequently a glass of wine with dinner most nights. Now if I catch myself actually wanting to drink it’s only once in a blue moon and usually what I’m really craving is something cold effervescent and relaxing. Kombucha and fresh fruit mocktails (sparkling water and fruit juice) really are like my new beer, wine, and hard cider.
- I love not having hangovers, even just the tiny low grade sluggish morning ones. My life feels clearer, more upbeat and energized. I’m not perfect everyday, but in general my mood is way up.
- I like life more for not drinking. That’s something I never thought I’d say as a once deeply held lover of red wine. I let it go and I’m happier for it.
- Exercise and art and time at the beach are where I find joy now. So if you feel like you need a shift, try letting alcohol go and see what happens. It lifted a lot of anger and sadness out of my life and replaced it with a hopeful peace and a sincere love of feeling really healthy. For how cheesy that might sound, it’s true. ❤