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It’s almost laughable how huge of a role we allow alcohol to assume in our lives.
For many of us, we usher in a new year paying homage to alcohol and how do we start that new year? Full of potential, joy, and vigor for what lies ahead?
Oh no, for most of us it is with a hangover and regret for what we did and how much we drank the night before. Yet, it isn’t just New Year’s that brings us a reason to drink. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to find any day of the year where we can’t come up with a justification for why we should be drinking.
From Wine Wednesday to the current trend of COVID cocktails, people are always finding a reason to drink—it’s finding why not to that we struggle with.
As spring starts to turn into summer here in Colorado and the social distancing restrictions begin to ease, I’m beginning to see many of the occasions that always gave me a reason to pick up my glass and slowly start forgetting my night and my inhibitions. Backyard barbecues, camping trips, or just a warm summer evening—no matter the day of the week, the time, or the season—there was always a reason and an excuse to drink.
It’s funny that nothing else holds such great power over us when it comes to convincing us to indulge. I mean, I’m a huge fan of Taco Tuesdays, but I can look forward to Tuesday without justifying to myself that I should pregame on Sunday with just one taco.
Yet, how many of us have found ourselves having a drink before we go out to a party or other event where we know we’ll be drinking—just to get in the mood.
When you substitute alcohol with something silly like tacos, it makes you realize how we’ve all been grasping at straws with all the reasons we should be drinking. I didn’t realize just how hard I’d been working at convincing myself I needed to drink until I actually stopped drinking. It was such an eye-opener to experience all these things I’d been convinced that alcohol enhanced without the fog I’d been experiencing them under.
I didn’t realize that a sunset viewed from around our firepit was even more beautiful when I wasn’t distracted by needing another drink. I also had no idea it was possible to not only view that sunset but to also be up early enough the next day as well as clearheaded enough to enjoy all the sights and sounds of the sunrise. I can guarantee that if I was drinking at sunset, there was no way I was up and sipping coffee at sunrise the next morning.
Yet, for a long time, I still worried that somehow I’d be missing out on something by not drinking with everyone else. I was convinced that no matter what I was doing, from celebrating holidays with family, to business lunches, weddings, or just a Friday night at home, everyone else would be drinking and I’d be the outcast. Once again—I was wrong and all along I’d been telling myself that just to give myself a reason to drink.
I know I’m not alone in that thought process either. Recently, in one of my Facebook groups, a member spent all day stressing out about attending her first neighborhood block party while alcohol-free. She was really concerned about how she’d be able to deal with everyone else drinking and what excuses she’d make for not drinking, to the point where she almost stayed home.
I could remember being as shocked as she was upon showing up and realizing that everyone else wasn’t drinking and not one person asked why she wasn’t drinking.
The irony is that we are so focused on our need for alcohol and our desire to drink that we naturally assume that everyone else is feeling and thinking exactly what we are. When we don’t drink at these functions but still desire to, our focus remains on the individuals who are drinking and what we’re missing out on. I know this because anytime I was trying to moderate or acting as the designated driver, I would hone in on those who were drinking and feel so deprived that I couldn’t do the same.
Yet, when I removed the desire to drink and participated in these same activities, it was amazing to look through new lenses and see clearly that I wasn’t alone in my decision not to drink. Furthermore, it wasn’t keeping myself or anyone else from enjoying ourselves. In fact, the opposite seemed to be true.
Those of us who were alcohol-free were probably having the best time of all.
That realization is what stopped me from looking for reasons to drink and instead created gratitude for all the reasons I not only didn’t have to drink, but also had no desire to…
because I want to remember the conversations.
because I want to fall asleep without any guilt or regrets.
because I want to create my own memories and not rely on what others tell me happened.
because my friends deserve to be listened to.
because I deserve to love myself enough to not need alcohol in order to dull me and change me.
I could go on and on with all the reasons I’ve found not to drink, but the greatest one is that I simply no longer have any desire to—regardless of the day of the week, the season of the year, the holiday, sporting event, or celebration.
What a win that is indeed!
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