Editor’s Notice: This text explores alcohol consumption habits from the non-public lens of the writer and isn’t meant to be knowledgeable suggestion for the way others ought to strategy their relationship with alcohol. For those who’d favor to not learn a chunk that discusses alcohol, you could wish to sit this one out. For those who or somebody is scuffling with substance abuse, please take into account reaching out to a useful resource such because the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Psychological Well being Providers Administration) Helpline at 1.800.662.HELP (4357).
I first determined to take a month off of consuming on the sledding hill. It was January 1 and I had lugged my kids down the block to get some recent air. It was a shiny winter day, round 10:00 am, and I had a gnarly hangover, as many do on New 12 months’s Day. I felt ~nice~, however beneath the sensation of ~nice~, there was a sea of tension and sweatiness and nausea inside me.
A pal was additionally on the sledding hill. He talked about that he was going to do a dry January this yr. I instantly jumped on board. I knew I wanted a little bit break. I wanted a while to reset.
Surprisingly, everybody I spoke to the next week was additionally doing a dry January. I didn’t even know “Dry Jan” was a factor. I’d by no means heard of it earlier than, however Dry Jan was in all places. Maybe a whole lot of us had been leaning a little bit too closely on the previous, comforting crutch of alcohol. It is sensible, what with the worldwide pandemic and being locked up at residence and all.
I’ll say right here that I’m not an skilled on something associated to alcohol. What I’m sharing are my private notes on being a constant drinker who took a break. Nothing extra.
I’d additionally prefer to preface this reflection with the assertion: Speaking about alcohol is bizarre. Bizarre and intimidating. It feels a bit taboo, proper? Such as you would possibly say the improper factor and unintentionally paint your self as a raging alcoholic, even if you happen to don’t really feel like one. Or, you would possibly offend somebody by categorizing them as an alcoholic with out aspiring to. Not that being an alcoholic makes somebody inherently unhealthy (Agh! One other landmine!), however you don’t wish to use the time period in reference to somebody with out their consent. Are we collectively on this?
There are elements of my consuming habits I’m not pleased with. I began consuming in highschool (Sorry, Mother!) and have continued consuming at a fairly regular tempo till, properly, now. It was a routine and one thing I regarded ahead to after an extended day.
Clearly, I took breaks once I was pregnant, however as Braunwyn Windham-Burke mentioned on the RHOOC 2020 season finale, there’s a distinction between taking a self-imposed break from alcohol and taking a break to have a child. The framework behind selecting to take a break and having to take a break are a lot totally different.
The primary half of Dry Jan was not laborious. As soon as I made a decision to not drink, not consuming wasn’t a difficulty. Generally, midafternoon, I’d really feel bummed once I’d keep in mind I couldn’t sit up for a glass of wine that night, nevertheless it was a fleeting feeling. And that was principally the extent of my chagrin.
I famous many positives. After all, I felt higher within the mornings. I had extra vitality that lasted till later within the afternoons. I used to be capable of train extra typically and I learn extra books.
Alcohol had been giving me a spike of vitality to speak (not a nasty factor) however with out it, I’m extra prone to learn, observe up on my skin-care routine, and go to mattress early (additionally not unhealthy issues). It may very well be that I’m a bit extra in tune with my pure ebb and movement of vitality once I’m not consuming.
It felt bizarre admitting this, however I felt much less social with out alcohol. You’re in all probability pondering, duh, however I didn’t see it coming. Pre-January, I’d gotten into the behavior of calling buddies within the night after I received the children to mattress. It was good to reconnect with expensive buds who dwell far-off. We’d set dates and have drinks collectively over the cellphone. As soon as I ended consuming, the calls did additionally. I puzzled if I used to be at the same time as social with my companion within the night once I wasn’t consuming. It felt icky to contemplate that alcohol is likely to be the one entry level for connecting with others.
I sat with this uncomfortable concept for a bit. Then I assumed, Possibly I’m simply drained within the evenings and that’s okay. Alcohol had been giving me a spike of vitality to speak (not a nasty factor) however with out it, I’m extra prone to learn, observe up on my skin-care routine, and go to mattress early (additionally not unhealthy issues). It may very well be that I’m a bit extra in tune with my pure ebb and movement of vitality once I’m not consuming.
Nonetheless, questioning if alcohol made hanging out extra enjoyable, particularly with my companion felt…like a bummer. It took a number of weeks, however I started to see that alcohol didn’t serve the perform in my life I assumed it did. I assumed it helped make issues full of life and foolish. However, when Caleb and I watched Survivor throughout Dry Jan, we’d talk about dwell tribals with the identical depth. (Sidebar: Survivor is a extremely good present and Caleb might be going to be on it sometime so hold your T.V. critiques to your self.) We nonetheless made hundreds of thousands of bizarre, silly jokes all through the day, which is our love language. We have been nonetheless as goofy with one another as ever. It simply took a number of days to recalibrate.
Chatty evenings fueled by two (nice, three) beers are good! Nonetheless, Dry Jan was exhibiting me that I additionally like being chatty within the mornings with a cup of espresso or throughout our weekly nap drives* or once I name a pal (nice, my dad) from the automobile once I’m out working errands. There are simply alternative ways and occasions for connecting.
The second half of January went rather a lot like the primary. I nonetheless didn’t miss consuming as a lot as I assumed I might. A pal instructed consuming La Croix from a wine glass, which was truly a enjoyable substitute.
The one hiccup got here once I acknowledged how a lot much less anxious I felt day by day. It took some time to see it, however issues have been typically simpler once I wasn’t consuming. There was a extra even keel. It sucked to confess, nevertheless it’s true.
I made a decision to make a plan for the longer term as an alternative of berating myself for my previous consuming habits. I acknowledged that life was good with out alcohol. Famous. Might life even be good with a little bit alcohol? Possibly I might make use of a extra conscious strategy to consuming, as an alternative of simply mechanically opening a bottle of wine whereas cooking dinner each evening. Possibly I might discover a good steadiness.
I acknowledged that life was good with out alcohol. Famous. Might life even be good with a little bit alcohol? Possibly I might make use of a extra conscious strategy to consuming, as an alternative of simply mechanically opening a bottle of wine whereas cooking dinner each evening. Possibly I might discover a good steadiness.
January is likely to be time to take a tough look within the mirror, however February is the month for locating movement. As a substitute of taking on a harsh regiment to reasonable my consuming, I’m going to ease again into issues. I’m going to try this by being considerate about once I’ll have a drink. I’ll take a minute to note if I truly really feel like having some wine or if, in actual fact, I’m drained or overwhelmed or bored.
Up to now, this strategy is working properly. As I write this, we’re executed with the primary ⅓ of February, and I’ve solely had a few drinks to say. One evening I did have two (nice, three) beers with Caleb and we had some laughs. Many different nights, I haven’t felt like having something.
I really feel protecting of the success Dry Jan introduced me. I like feeling good; it’s bizarre, I do know. If I can’t discover a light, straightforward movement with alcohol, perhaps I’ll take an excellent longer break. Figuring out what I do know now, one other break wouldn’t appear scary. The truth is, I’d welcome it, if it felt like the correct selection.
In the interim, I’m going to really feel out this new rhythm. The wonderful factor about being within the groove is, if you’re there. I believe I’m getting shut—nearer than I’ve ever been (!!) to my very own private balanced tempo with alcohol and I’d prefer to thank Dry Jan for her assist. Couldn’t have executed it with out her.
*We’re magicians who discovered the best way to make all our youngsters nap within the automobile on the similar time so we are able to take lengthy Sunday drives whereas I learn out loud. It’s fairly cute.
When not caring for her two small however weirdly sturdy children, Meggie enjoys all of the thrifting, educating barre and children’ yoga lessons at Blooma Yoga, studying fiction, watching Shrill, hanging out with buds and/or her husband, and laughing at her personal jokes.