Shining Brighter Through Sobriety.
The day had come. I was quitting drinking. Forever.
I woke up feeling normal; slightly hungover, a bit sluggish, and not quite rested. I made my way to the coffee maker. I thought about my decision with trepidation as I poured a cup of coffee into my favorite mug.
I was anxious and excited. I was at peace and terrified. I trusted myself to succeed, and I was convinced I would not.
Today was the last day a hangover was going to be my normal morning. I had made a choice to change my life.
I had known for a long time it was going to have to come to this. When I find something I like to wear, I want five, not one. When I discover something I like to eat, I make it four times a week. When I love, I love 100 percent. And I loved wine.
Moderation was not an option for me. I am not a moderate person. I am an all-or-nothing person.
Wine had become the central part of my life. When I was happy, I celebrated with wine. When I was sad, I used it to lift my spirits.
When I was stressed, it calmed me down. When my feelings were too painful, it dulled the sharpness. When I wanted to connect with friends, we connected over a drink.
The wine was my support system. My tribe was in a bottle of cabernet.
As I grew unhappier in my marriage, wine allowed me to escape the sadness. It gave me an excuse to fall asleep on the couch because going to bed with someone I wasn’t in love with anymore broke my heart, and his, every night.
Wine was the numbing agent I used to make it hurt a little less. Wine was my social life and my private life. I didn’t do anything without it.
My dependence grew, but no one noticed. I was successful, put together, and high energy. But I was also the friend everyone sent all the wine memes to. The inside joke I had with so many because, at some point, I had drunk too much wine with everyone I knew.
I was holding it all together, but it started to take more work to keep up. The nights were where I felt it the most. The crippling 3 a.m. suddenly-awake-in-a-panic anxiety. My heart beating fast. Sweating. My mind spinning.
I tried everything to comfort myself. I had devised so many plans to lull myself back to sleep. To get my mind to settle. Sometimes it worked. Most times, it did not.
Finally, I got too tired to keep up with my tribe, my bottle of cabernet. I was tired of not sleeping. Tired of the 3 a.m. anxiety. Tired of being tired. Tired of making plans around wine.
Tired of worrying about following the drinking rules I made for myself. Tired of counting down the minutes until I could have a glass of wine. Tired of wondering if I’d said anything dumb. Tired of morning headaches. Tired of not being my best. Tired of dimming my light.
I could decide to change or decide to stay the same. I knew that, for now, I had a choice. I could choose to stop drinking. Or I could wait until it was not my choice anymore.
I think many await the rock bottom moment before deciding to quit. But I knew that if I did not choose to change now, it was only a matter of time before my rock bottom moment arrived.
I had already decided to leave a good man I wasn’t in love with anymore. I had made the choice that, to leave completely, I had to be far away. I left my home and friends who I cherished and moved across the country. I was building a new life—in a new place.
The life I was creating was full of so much good. It was lighter and brighter than the life I had left behind. I had already changed so much. (Except for the one thing that I let get in the way over and over.)
I knew the vibrant life I was creating was getting less shiny by the day. I was less passionate. My enthusiasm for the joys in life was dwindling. Unless those joys were found around a glass of wine, they did not feel special anymore.
I had quietly decided going through life at half-mast was just as painful as a jarring rock bottom.
I decided to make a change with no sweeping announcement. There was no pomp and circumstance around pouring out the wine in the house.
There was no great party to say goodbye to my cabernet companion. I simply promised myself a better life.
And on the morning of December 2, 2019, I began the work of letting go of the one thing holding me back.