The majority of my adult life has been filled with attempts at moderating my drinking. That is about twenty years of wanting to drink less, but never to quit. God forbid! How sad would that be?
To give up my friend, my crutch. The companion that soothed my sadness, softened my anxiety, eased my stress, celebrated my success and made the mundane fun. No. I never wanted to give that up. It never even crossed my mind. I just wanted to drink a little less, to moderate. To feel all of that companionship without the hangovers, without the nagging feeling that I was holding myself back.
The volume and frequency of my consumption varied over the years and was by far, the worst in my late twenties to early thirties. I had a brief epiphany that alcohol wasn’t all that when I was 36. I’d ended a toxic 11 year relationship that revolved around drinking. I was done with the toxic man and I wanted to make sure the toxic drinking stopped, too. Just the toxic part mind you, not the drinking altogether.
It was a time of rebirth for me. I was living alone for the first time and experiencing ease in life. Everything was up. I’ve always been an incredibly anxious person, to the point of being frozen by anxiety at times. The anxiety faded. I only drank 1-2 times a week during this period and only 1-2 glasses at a time. While I didn’t quite catch on at the time, I can see in retrospect that for me alcohol = anxiety.
As life continued, my drinking gradually increased and I went back to trying to keep it in check. I turned 40 this year and my body stopped metabolizing alcohol as well as it used to. I mostly stuck to my well established drink limits, but started experiencing more hangovers. I stopped getting the fun, relaxed, drunk feeling. I felt disconnected even when I spent time with friends and family. I spent more of my time out thinking about getting the next drink, hoping it would take me to the fun, drunk side and being disappointed. The drinks took me from sober to irritated and tired. The happy middle no longer existed. I didn’t think anything was fun without alcohol anymore, but I also wasn’t finding alcohol fun.
My alcohol brain started pouring me glasses on nights I didn’t feel good and didn’t want to drink, but before I knew it the bottle would be in my hand pouring a glass. And well, I didn’t want to drink, but the glass was already poured…
I was regularly feeling tired, unhappy and toxic inside. All the stars aligned and I stumbled on This Naked Mind’s 30 day alcohol experiment at the right time. Oh, a break? That sounded nice. And 30 days? I could do that. Give myself a little reset and then I’d be able to moderate successfully!
That 30 day experiment moved into a 60 day experiment because sobriety made me feel so good! I wanted to keep it going, but still wasn’t ready to quit. My 90 days is less than 2 weeks away and I’m going to keep it going. I don’t want to go back to alcohol. My anxiety is almost nonexistent, stress is much easier to manage, my communication is open and honest, life fills me with wonder. I’m able to appreciate the beauty around me. I’m curious about myself and other people. For so long I used alcohol to numb myself. Initially to make the hurt less painful, but it ended up numbing everything, all the good times, too. I am not numb anymore.