Today marks 1 year and 9 months of being alcohol-free.
No, I have never been an alcoholic. You don’t have to have an addiction to quit drinking, and staying sober is a completely voluntary choice of mine.
I’ve always had a very complex relationship with alcohol. After years of trying to figure out how to have it in my life without it disturbing my state of mind, it became clear that the only way was to eliminate it altogether. There was no big revelation. Nothing happened that set things into motion. I just naturally stopped. I randomly thought about it one day, tried to calculate how long it had been since my last drink, smiled when I got my answer, and just kept going about my day. It felt really good and I haven’t looked back since.
This wasn’t a huge change for me. I had already not been a big drinker in years, but on the rare occasions when I did, I was doing it just to do it. I was joining in to feel like everyone else; to force “normalcy” on myself that I felt I was lacking. To not have to stand out in the crowd and feel compelled to explain my decisions. I didn’t need an invisible spotlight on me every time I declined a drink. So I just went with it.
Looking back, I now realize that the only person I was hurting was myself. I was doing something I didn’t really want to do just to make my life easier, and I wasn’t giving other people a chance to accept me for who I was. More importantly, I was damaging my mind by challenging myself to do the one thing that would hurt my mental progress…something I was working really hard on.
In addition to doing it for myself, I also do it for my kids. I made a promise to myself at a very young age that my children wouldn’t constantly be surrounded by alcohol, and I’m determined to keep that promise. I want them to see that even though it’s natural for adults to drink at times, that it’s in no way necessary and doesn’t need to be a staple in your home. I want to teach them what’s normal and what’s not. As they get older, I want them to understand the importance of being self-aware and thinking freely. That they have every right to make the choice for themselves, that peer pressure doesn’t have to be detrimental to their health, and to not live life trying to fit into a box someone else created. These are lessons I had to learn the hard way over time, and I want to make sure that I’m there to guide them through those moments if they need me. I want to be a walking example of what I’m trying to teach them. In some ways, it makes me a better mother. It helps me to be the version of the mom I grew up wanting to be; the one my kids deserve. It helps decrease my anxiety, which is something I’m already focused on balancing with parenthood. It helps to make me feel centered. I like to be completely in control of myself, my body and actions at all times. I don’t ever want my state of mind being altered in any way when my children are present, and I want to always remain their reliable safe space. And even though they might not ever appreciate why I take it so seriously, I’m glad to know that at least they’ll be able to look back one day and remember that they had all of me.
Now, let me make something very clear. I do not judge anyone for not agreeing with me – I wouldn’t expect you to. I don’t think any less of a parent (or a person) for doing things just because I don’t do the same. If you know me well enough, then you already know that. We live different lives and have been through different things. My lifestyle stems from my own personal experiences. This is just MY choice and the way I choose to live and be a mother…and I think both ways are completely okay.
Although navigating through an alcohol- filled world can be tricky sometimes, it’s opened my eyes to the way society behaves and reminds me that I need to stand my ground for what’s important to me. You wouldn’t believe how much it seems to affect other people when they find out you don’t drink. They immediately assume there has to be a logical explanation other than the truth. They’ll ask if I’m pregnant, in recovery, still drunk from the night before, or will boldly just come out and ask the personal reason behind it. I’ve heard…them…all. Add in the fact that they’re almost always giving me a strange look and it’s enough to make anyone want to crawl in a hole. This used to really bother me. I was uncomfortable and self conscious. For some reason, I was embarrased about something that I chose and was usually proud of. After almost 2 years, I’ve realized that I don’t need to jeopardize my hard work or my mental health in order to fit other peoples standards…and I certainly don’t need to explain myself. I’ve reached a place where I’m confident enough to walk this path, 100% sure of myself, and do it with ease.
I don’t miss it – ever. I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I don’t miss that foggy feeling when I’ve had one too many. I don’t miss trying to piece together details of nights that I wish I could remember. I don’t miss feeling pressured. I don’t miss the taste or the smell. And I certainly don’t miss the painful hangover the next morning.
I didn’t have to detox from alcohol, but in cutting ties with it, I inadvertently detoxed from a lot of negative feelings I was harboring without even realizing. My body started releasing a lot of anger, fear, resentment, and hurt that I had been holding onto for a long time. I think I’m most grateful for that. I’ve been healing in my own way without even trying, and my shoulders and heart both feel a lot lighter these days.
I’m so much happier to live a clear-headed life; to be intoxicated by pure joy, thrill, and love – not a substance. I have found such peace from this…mentally and physically. I have realized that my peace of mind is so much more valuable than my need to feel understood. Being sober has made me become even more of the person, and the parent, I want to be. I don’t drink, and that’s okay.