I love a good vodka martini. Extra dirty with 4 olives.
I also love a good moscato. And sweet riesling. Oh, and sherry. Really cheap sherry.
Throughout my life alcohol has been a dear friend and a foe.
I had just decided to only drink socially - not at home - when there was literally no social drinking and there was ONLY HOME.
Even my one or two drinks at home had started to make me cry, feel lonely, or craving things I didn't have. I started not liking the way I would feel when drinking at home. When friends would visit and we'd have drinks together, that would be celebratory and fun. But when I was home alone - it was a different story.
Also, my rational brain knew I was up to important things and no longer wanted to waste time to feeling out of it - even if it was just a slightly tired morning after.
I had 20 coaching clients, my kids half the time, was caring for my 96 year old grandma who is shaky on her legs and I feel like I might need to catch at any moment, and had two books in the works. While I've written some fabulous stuff drunk (really, like fabulous, I'm not kidding) that's not how I wanted this time to go.
Since I'd gotten social again - dating and being out with friends regularly - it seemed like I could manage a switch to cut out drinking at home and save it for special occasions out or in with friends.
Breaking the Control Alcohol Had on Me
I did 108 days sober about 18 months ago. AA meetings, Russell Brand's book Recovery, a very sweet sponsor, lots of yoga, and the "I am sober" app helped.
During my sobriety, I heard someone say she wasn't addicted to alcohol, she was addicted to an alcoholic. I laughed when I heard it, but my heart didn't laugh. It fell like a ton of bricks on my heart.
It was the truth. I was addicted to the destruction. I was so used to having what I built broke down, to needing to dive in to fix something, to needing to be needed. (Hello, co-dependency my old friend.) This was the habit I had to break. So my 108 days of sobriety brought me to realize that I needed to break up with the alcoholic (even a sober one), not necessarily the alcohol. So I did. When I started dating again I eased back into drinking one delicious glass of wine in good company at a time.
I went from what had been a daily habit and always being aware of exactly how much alcohol was in the house.... to drinking a bit a few times a week. I could literally take it or leave it. It wasn't a crutch for me anymore. I'd broken the control alcohol had over me. Other than one very unfortunate family gathering (did I mention I'm Irish) alcohol has only been an addition to my life in the past year, not a detriment.
But what would I do now? When this what it? When I was grounded?
Old Liz would have said, no, this is too great a challenge. You are home with two teenagers. What on earth are you thinking?
Old Liz would have gotten a good, solid supply of sherry and Barefoot moscato along with the toilet paper.
But I am not my old self. I seem to have shed her. Because I'm doing something different.
While I know that I can drink moderately under normal circumstances,
I know that I am not capable of drinking moderately under THESE circumstances.
There are plenty of times in my life where choosing to not drink during a time of crisis would have been unthinkable, so if you need or desire your bourbon to get through, I totally get it. You do you. I've been there for sure.
But for me, I know that if I drank now, I would DRINK now. I know it would be a slippery slope into depression and cause me more anxiety than it relieved. It wouldn't be the best for those around me. But - I admit this is the real reason - I know how it feels to be there and I don't want to feel that way any more.
So, I'm taking alcohol off the table.
I know that I can in fact control my drinking and drink in moderation - but in this time I know I wouldn't be able to. So I'm choosing sobriety now - but not for always.
I've not drank for 8 days as of this writing. And only drank one day of the past 15.
I'd love a sherry or three. And a martini. And a moscato. But I'd rather enjoy the sunshine and my yoga and my children and garden growing. I'd rather enjoy how it feels to be me without it.
Just for today.
About the Author
Elizabeth B. Hill, MSW is the author of the bestselling book "Love Notes: Daily Wisdom for the Soul" and "Green Your Heart, Green Your World: Avoid Burnout, Save the World, and Love Your Life".
Elizabeth has special expertise in helping those with anxiety and high-stress lives to cope and get the results they desire in their professional and personal lives. Trained as a social worker, yoga teacher and life coach, she weaves creativity spirituality, and mindfulness into her work with clients.
Elizabeth is the founder of Green Heart Living, which provides coaching, education, healing modalities, and resources to help make the world a more loving and peaceful place - one person at a time.