I decided to take a month off of drinking in January. There wasn’t a single experience or some sort of event that made me want to become a teetotaler. Rather, I’d noticed over the course of the last year that I was having a drink (or two…or three) every night. This habit caused me to build up a tolerance, so one drink became three and I found myself saying “I might as well finish the bottle” a little too often.
A hard and stressful day? Let’s drink about it!
Something exciting was happening? Let’s drink about it!
It’s the holidays? Let’s drink about it!
Sure, there are a few nights where the details are fuzzy and a few mornings that came too quickly. But overall, there wasn’t a big build up that had me thinking I had to stop drinking.
Drinking has been a part of my life for, well, as long as I can remember. There was always alcohol in my house growing up. My father was notorious for grabbing a beer as soon as he got home from work. Then, he’d pour himself a shot of scotch to go with it. Then, he’d drink wine with dinner. My mother, on the other hand, rarely drank.
I was too afraid of my parents to drink much in high school, but I partied pretty hard in college. Did I say pretty hard? I mean really hard. I mean, it took me 5 years to graduate. My poor liver.
I still like to drink today. My husband is really into beer, while I prefer the hard stuff (vodka!) and wine. So, having a drink or two a night has become routine at home. I remember when my daughter was in pre-school and the teacher told me she was pretending to drink wine in the play kitchen. And once, while buying tonic at the grocery, she made up a little ditty, which she sang loudly through the aisles: “I drink my vodka tonic! I drink my vodka tonic!”
So, I wondered – Am I able to stop drinking? Does alcohol have its grips on me? What if I am an Alcoholic?
Should I Stop?
A friend of mine (from college) went 40 days without drinking last year after her father suggested that she couldn’t go 30 days. I imagine my father probably thought the same of me. So, I decided to test myself. I wouldn’t drink for the entire month of January.
I did it! And, it was way easier than I thought it would be. Full disclosure, I came down with a terrible case of bronchitis at the beginning of the month, so I didn’t much feel like drinking for part of the month. I have several friends who think my illness is related to being sober.
I read several stories of people who also took part in “Dry January,” most of which outlined how uncomfortable it was in social settings, but how they slept better. Or how much clearer their minds were. I can’t say that my experience mirrors that.
Attended a wedding. I didn’t drink and it wasn’t uncomfortable.
Happy hour with friends. I didn’t drink and it wasn’t uncomfortable.
A weekend of my sons’ outdoor hockey games. I didn’t drink… but I was cold!
No Big Deal
I guess the whole experience made me realize two things (besides that I am not an alcoholic).
First, I don’t need to have alcohol to have a good time. For some reason, I equated drinking with being fun. Probably something I held onto from college. In hindsight, I think I was more worried about not having fun than not drinking. Having a good time is all about the mindset.
Second, I am stronger than I give myself credit for. I was genuinely worried to attempt a month of not drinking. What if I couldn’t do it? Would I have the willpower? But I did do it and I did have the willpower. And, trust me…I was tempted more than once. If you are anything like me, you know it’s often easier not to try if you think you might fail.
I hope that I can remember what I learned during my month of sobriety and carry it into other areas of my life. All it takes is the right mindset and a little willpower!