Quitting Drinking: Part One
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.
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.
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.