Quitting Drinking: Part One

For all intents and purposes, I stopped drinking in late August 2017 and it's been 11 months since any alcohol has touched my lips. There wasn't anything dramatic that happened immediately before I stopped and even though I would describe my relationship with alcohol as troubled in my younger years, it wasn't hard to stop. My only explanation is that God intervened in my life and helped me on the path to His plans for me.

Precipitating Events
Prior to my decision to stop drinking, I made two significant life changes and I believe I was guided by the Hand of God. I will write about these two changes in more detail in future posts, but for now, let me just say that in July of 2017, I left the profession I had been unhappy in for over a decade to be home with my kids. At about the same time, I began practicing yoga on a daily basis (read more here). I believe my daily yoga practice became one of the keystone habits that has led to all the other positive changes in my life over the past 18 months. A keystone habit is a regular practice that leads to all sorts of other good habits. You can read more about keystone habits here, and I highly recommend the book, "The Power of Habit", by Charles Duhigg, which is filled with interesting anecdotes and digs into the science behind habits.

Tapering Off
When I was drinking, my drinking habit was erratic. I could go weeks without drinking and then have several drinks at a weekend get-together. Or I might go through a period of time when I would have wine every night after work.

After I decided to stop drinking, there were 4 times that I consumed alcohol during the following 6 month period. This wasn't an intentional plan to taper off, but rather, the last gasps of a dying habit. A few weeks after my decision, another family joined ours to go bowling for my birthday. I wasn't ready to share the news yet, so when my friend offered me a sip of his cocktail, I took the sip.

The second and third times occurred in late January 2018, when my family and I went to Disney World. One day at lunch, I ordered a glass of white wine and drank 3 sips of it. The next night, my husband and I had dinner with just the two of us, during which I ordered a glass of white wine and had 4 sips. I think these two instances were triggered by my habit of having alcohol on vacation in a celebratory and relaxing way.

The final time I drank was when my kids were on winter break in February 2018 and I had a glass of white wine with dinner. I would attribute this drinking to having felt the need to unwind. At this point, it had been so long since I had a glass of wine in my system that it made me feel quite unwell in the sense of being queasy in my stomach. I think this unpleasant feeling reinforced my decision, and along with the Grace of God, is the reason I haven't had a drink since.

Sharing the News 
I can't really remember how I told my husband about my decision, but I didn't really come right out and say it. I think this was because I was uncertain that I would really stick to it. But over a period of weeks, when he would have a glass of wine and offer me one, I would always say no thanks. And at some point, he started to notice. So that's probably when I broke the news to him. He didn't really have anything to say about it ... maybe he felt some skepticism. I guess the point is, it wasn't dramatic enough that I remember much of it.

I do remember when I told my friend, the friend who offered me a sip of his drink on my birthday. We were at his house, and he offered me what was probably a glass of wine. I declined and very casually mentioned that I wasn't drinking anymore. He expressed surprise, but it wasn't the subject of conversation for very long. We hang out with him and his family a lot, and very quickly my not drinking became the new normal.

As for other friends, I either told them when they offered me a drink, or some of them commented on my not drinking in a situation when I normally would have been, and then I told them. My sister didn't even notice until I said something about it. Telling my mom was emotional though, because it was quite some time after I stopped, and right around when I fully realized the negative impact that my drinking had on my life.

Next Time
There is more that I would like to share about cutting out alcohol from my life. Although it has not been hard, I have had to come up with substitute habits to fill the gap it left. I will cover that in tomorrow's post. Having been a part of my life for over 15 years in a less-than-healthy way, my drinking also negatively impacted my relationships and well-being. It wasn't until many months after I stopped, that I really saw the extent of that impact. More on that tomorrow as well.


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