My Year of Less, Chapter Three: Sobriety
On the 4th of July, I knew I was done. I’d had an impending sense of a pull to abstinence from alcohol for quite some time despite having no “real” consequences from my drinking. I knew this was on the horizon when I started the My Year of Less project but, at the time, I didn’t quite know how it would materialize. Now, I know. The “done-ness” was firm an clear.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your general outlook on life) my first week without alcohol for this undetermined amount of time revealed that I, indeed, need an indefinite pause from booze. It’s been four weeks since I made the decision and am, at present, feeling just fine, but want to tell you a bit about the Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday of week 1.
To be fair to myself, I’ve gone 4-6 weeks before without imbibing. Maybe 4-5. A dry January here, a Lent there, all without incident or majorly changing my life one way or another. I intended for Lent 2020 to be dry as well, but when I picked up my kids from school on Friday, March 13th, knowing deep in my soul that they would not be returning to school any time soon because of the looming global pandemic, I quickly slid back to nightly cocktails. Well, singular, really. Because, you see, I’m a bad drinker.
Sure, I could (and would) regularly enjoy a martini every night, but that’s really all I drank. I haven’t (since college) drank to get drunk, have never once blacked out, never drank and drove, and never drank during the day or instead of other responsibilities.
The problem, however, became two-fold. 1. A martini, when made properly, is really the equivalent of 2-3 drinks based on alcohol content. 2. I used alcohol to unplug at the end of each day. And I began checking the clock as “cocktail hour” neared, my body anxious for that first sip.
Alas, this most recent “week 1” found me irritable around 4:00PM. Not in a yelling-at-everyone sort of way, but a loud disruption in my spirit that was the undeniable clawing of desperation. Desperation I was certain that could only be satisfied a few sips into a cosmopolitan or a French martini. The internal alarm would sound, and I was disappointed to recognize not the signs of alcohol addiction, but a budding dependence—even if it began emotionally.
From one drink a day, you might find yourself asking? The only answer I have is a saying I’ve seen in the sober and sober curious spaces that goes, “Alcohol is a problem for you if it’s a problem for you.” The fan of introspection that I am, I sat with this question for several months, collecting enough data to present (to myself) an honest answer.
Let’s see, I’ve always make sure we had liquor in the house, would await the post-dinner, pre-bedtime quiet in the house to ask my dear husband to mix me up a drink, and then I’d bask in the immediate soft glow of life around me that came around the second or third sip. Further, where I used to only have a drink out at dinner, or maybe once or twice a week, starting in the late fall of 2016 I started drinking nightly (mostly one, but sometimes two drinks) and my substantial 3.5 year weight gain tracks along with that increase. Further, as my kids get older, I realize they don’t have anyone—anyone—in their daily lives that they see choosing not to drink and, to be honest, God has called me to present this as an option to them and to people around me who might otherwise be struggling in our over alcohol-ized culture.
Back to the weight for a moment. The weight gain I’ve undergone after a several-year weight loss and maintenance was brought on by several factors that I will cover over the course of a couple of blog posts. However, the data point that it began to tick upwards as the frequency of my drinking ticked upwards is a hearty data point that cannot go unrecorded. While I do not believe this will be any sort of magic bullet for my weight loss, it’s a massive step in my overall health journey.
Alas, the half of a martini I consumed on the 4th of July was my last drink for now. I will certainly be writing more about this as I process the ups and downs of opting out of alcohol and its associated culture, but for now, My Year of Less absolutely includes less (no) alcohol. God’s calling in my life to simplify goes beyond stuff in cabinets and drawers. In fact, it originates from deep within, and the more I lean into this “less” journey, the more I’m seeing the “more” I sensed would result.
Where can less lead for more in your life?