One Day at a Time

One year ago today, I quietly quit drinking. There was no big announcement, no standing in front of a group of people or admitting to anyone other than myself that I needed to stop. I didn’t know it would be my last drink. I didn’t commit to never drink again. I just knew the best thing to do was to stop for “a while” - whatever that turned out to be. I’d done a dry January several times. I’d gone for a couple of weeks without drinking here and there. But there was always the counting, the mild obsession with when the next drink was coming. This time felt different. More and more my actions weren’t lining up with the vision I held for myself. I was tired of balancing on the tightrope between a health-minded business owner and yoga teacher and a sloppy lush who didn’t know how or when to stop filling the wine glass. Wine was my drink of choice. I loved the happy buzz I got after the first glass. But I could never stop there without deliberate intention. I often knew one was enough, but I wanted more. Even when the second, third or fourth glass never tasted as good as the first, I drank it anyway. I was chasing the satisfaction of that happy, heady feeling but never able to reach it, although I tried pretty damn hard. I was usually a happy drunk, albeit sloppy with a tendency to fall down. I’d learned along the way that too much vodka made me mean, so I steered clear of it for the most part. I wanted to be the girl who had a good time. I could drink beer too, and would accept it when offered, but didn’t particularly enjoy the taste and the duller buzz than wine offered. Plus after a couple I felt too full. Instead of stopping, I’d just switch to wine. Light, crisp, cool chardonnay.. how I loved it! But more and more I realized it wasn’t loving me back. When I decided to stop drinking a year ago, I didn’t say “never again” (like I had said so many times before upon waking up with a pounding head, but never really meaning it). I told myself I would be more mindful. I would ask myself why I wanted to drink. Was it to relax? Relieve stress? To be more social? To take the edge off anxiety? To feel more at ease in a crowd? Out of boredom? These were all common reasons for popping the cork before. I had plenty of better fixes in my yoga toolbox. Why did I look to wine instead? I told myself I would be more mindful and aware of my thoughts, feelings and desires when I was tempted to stick with the status quo and numb out. I told myself I would remember how it made me feel. Sure that first glass was usually nice, but what about the times when I couldn’t stop with one? I’d remember how it felt to get sloppy and fall down; how it felt to wake up and not remember going to bed; how it felt to feel like shit, physically and emotionally; and I would ask myself, is it worth it? The answer was always no. There were many times over the past year that I wanted to drink, more out of habit than anything else. I always told myself that after connecting with those feelings and asking myself if it was worth it, if the answer was yes, then I would allow myself to indulge. My husband’s big birthday celebration was my first test, less than one month out from my commitment to stop. I told myself I’d allow myself a beer or glass of wine if i really wanted it, but I found that I didn’t really want it. I felt clear and confident with my glass of kombucha in hand. And it felt good to have conversations with old friends where I didn’t lose my train of thought or slur my words. It felt good to know that I could safely and easily drive us home without having to think about it. It felt good to be clear-headed and in control. There were many other moments that were tempting: Memorial Day weekend (first big holiday weekend on the beach without a cooler of beer), my best friend visiting for a week from Colorado (catching up over wine was our norm), July 4th weekend (the anniversary of my Dad’s death), Hurricane Florence (stress city), a friend’s wedding, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s… literally every big event that comes throughout the year. I couldn’t remember a time I’d celebrated any of them without a drink. The more awareness I brought to my feelings and the more occasions I conquered without wine, the more confidence I had in my ability to be happily sober, and the more confidence I had in myself overall. 365 days without a drink, and I am happier, healthier, more in tune and connected to myself and my life than I’ve ever been before. Do I still think about drinking? Yes, but in a different way. It’s more like it’s something I used to do when I was someone I used to be. Will I ever drink again? Honestly, I don’t know. I think what contributed to my success in getting to year one was that I didn’t put a specific time limit or restriction on it. I didn’t say “never again.” I took it one day at a time, feeling and thinking with intention, making the decision that felt good and right to me in each moment. And that’s what I intend to keep doing, acting in a way that feels good and right and in line with the highest vision I hold for myself. One day at a time.