Last summer, when I was getting certified as a life coach, two of my teachers were talking about how they’d given up alcohol for 90 days, and they were recommending it. They claimed they were happier. It blew my mind. I thought Noooooooooo! How can they do that? I hope they don’t make us do that.
And then I knew that I would have to do that. Why? Because I was scared. I teach people to face fears and learn from them, so I have to face my own.
I knew when I decided to do it, I would really only miss one thing: wine. Wine! I loved wine.
!!! Before you keep reading, you need to know that I am a social drinker, not an addict. If you have a serious problem, alcohol withdrawal can be very dangerous. Problem drinkers will not want to try my little experiment without help. !!!
So, I started flirting with not drinking. Last Fall, my friends were doing a Whole Life challenge thing and they were all cutting back too. I usually don’t drink Sunday through Thursday (school nights), but since I don’t teach on Fridays, I’d usually drink (wine!) Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Ok fine, most Sundays too.
When I cut back, I had only one glass of wine a night (I’d write a little 1 on my calendar) and tried to incorporate other forms of stress relief.
Cutting back was totally annoying. I didn’t enjoy it. It was a constant challenge.
Then, this Spring, I took a trip to the desert alone. I was silent for a few days, and realized that I didn’t think about drinking.
I came home determined to quit for 30 days. A month off.
Here’s how the month went:
Days 1-4: No problem. School nights.
Day 5: Wanted wine. Irritated.
Days 6-14: Extremely irritated. Occasional mild headaches. Super sugar cravings. Mainlining chamomile tea. Amped up alternative stress relief: self-coaching, meditation, forgiveness, EFT tapping (not entirely sold on that one). Exercised more. A couple of nights, I took an Advil PM, and I don’t usually take pills or sleep aids. I love sleeping! But, without wine, I laid awake with thoughts that used to get numbed by alcohol.
Oh man, I had so many thoughts. Without wine, I thought I should be doing so many other more productive things. I thought of all the improvements I needed to make to be a better person. It was so hard to catch a break from myself. Apparently, wine was my magic Dumbo feather that allowed me to chill out. A wine glass in my hand was my socially acceptable excuse for doing nothing.
Apparently, I needed an excuse. You can make a sad face at that. It’s sad.
The good thing is that I had to learn to write a different story. Here it is: You get to relax. You get to rest. You can just chill. Today, as is, you are enough. You don’t need to look different or be different. You have done enough and you have always been doing the best you can. You are allowed to be grateful, sit back, and enjoy your life.
Can you see what I’m doing there? I’m getting on my own side. I’m learning to treat myself the way I treat the people I love. Imagine that. What a good idea. I gotta say, that story feels so much better, but it does need practice. It doesn’t come easy right now.
Day 15: Feeling good. Waking up every morning feeling healthy and ready. My friends don’t really notice that I’m not drinking. Red Solo cups are great for hiding sparkling water. I am relieved that I’m not sweating out toxins when I work out. I don’t wake up at 2 or 3am needing water. I don’t skip workouts. My thoughts are clear and less scary.
Also, because of practicing my new stories, my mental chatter has improved. I’m actually kind of proud of myself. I am kinder to myself. I am happier.
Oh yeah, that might also be because alcohol is a depressant.
Day 21: I am the space shuttle. I made it through the turbulent atmosphere and fought a bunch of resistance but now, I’m out of gravity and happily in orbit. Yes, I am eating more sugar. Turns out drinking is really tied up with sugar. But, I choose to table that issue for now. I just focus on no drinking for 30. One thing at a time, people!
Day 30: Happy. Feeling so great that I decide to shoot for 90 days. Then, a colleague wants me to drink on a work trip to Denver, so I agree because the trip will be at day 60, and I think it will be a good celebration and test.
Day 30-60: Happy. Orbiting. If you can’t believe it, I understand. I can’t believe it. I’m amazed. I used to love wine. Like, more than chocolate. More than ice cream.
Night of Day 60: We go to three different places in Denver and have a blast. I have three glasses of wine. Wine makes me feel super confident about everything I say. The thing is, I’m already very confident about what I say. With wine, I might have too much confidence. I have a pointless debate with a guy. It is kind of fun, and kind of annoying.
Morning 61: Headache. Skipped running, took ibuprofen. Mad at myself for not working out. Regretting arguing with the guy (over a metaphor. He argued that “love is hard work” and I am 100% sure that love is never hard work. He wasn’t listening to me. Sober me would have known that and I would have kept my loving opinion to myself.)
Into the Future: I never thought I would say it, but I’ve stopped craving wine. Remember that I was just a social drinker, and everyone is different. I may have a glass of wine from time to time to toast something important, or if I get invited to some amazing food and wine dinner, but I realize now that what is so much more important to me is feeling good and aligning with my values.
Beautiful reader, here’s my closing claim: Your life can be just as great, if not better, without alcohol. If you have ever considered cutting back, trust that you can. For me, stopping altogether was actually easier. And yes, if you are a social drinker, then you can do 30 days. You can do 60. So many people do forever, and they are happy.
You see, Dumbo had a feather, but with or without it, he could always fly. The trick is, sometimes when you get on a plane, the takeoff sucks. You are going against the wind, and you are using a lot of strength to fight resistance. But, it gets so much easier once you escape gravity and start to orbit.
Orbiting is chill. You are going to love it.
Also, even if you don’t give up wine, choose to love yourself. Love is never hard work. You have never been hard to love. Practice giving yourself a break and being compassionate with yourself without turning to alcohol, food, TV, or pills, or whatever.
Instead, practice this story: You get to relax. You get to rest. You get to just chill. Today, as is, you are enough. You don’t need to look different or be different. You have done enough and you have always been doing the best you can. Be grateful, sit back, and enjoy your life.
Cheers to that.