Yesterday marked 1 full year without alcohol for me.
A couple of days before, I dreamt that I drank some wine. I couldn’t believe I drank so close to one year. But really, what does one year mean? It’s not like I’m thinking, well that was an interesting experiment, where’s my Pinot Grigio or Moscow Mule or nice cold beer? (My favorite summer drinks.)
Actually, to be honest, part of me is thinking that.
What’s interesting is that is seems to be getting harder the longer I go without drinking. Especially lately. And who can blame me? I mean, alcohol sales have increased over 50% since Covid-19 and lockdowns. It’s an easy way to chill. To relax. To numb the perpetual anxiety I feel about being unemployed, my husband being furloughed, our health insurance being doled out on a month to month basis, cases spiking all around us.
It’s a lot.
Not only have I not been drinking my way through all this, but many of my other easy buttons have been unavailable. I can’t just go shopping because most stores have been closed and we are now living on half of our income. Which means I’m also not shopping online. I can’t hunker down at the bookstore cafe to write because it’s closed. Movie theaters are closed.
So, without those usual routes of escape I’ve had to, ya know, actually feel things. Feel uncomfortable. Anxious. Angry. Sad. Despair. But there have also been moments of joy. Laughter. Gratitude. Ease. I am filling about a notebook a month as I process everything. My yoga practice has also been a crucial part of my toolkit as I navigate these challenging times.
In the beginning, it was easier not drinking because I was excited to make this change. People around me were supportive. Now, the excitement has waned. This is just how life is now. I don’t drink.
And I miss it at times.
I miss sitting on the deck with a drink in the evening. Or going to restaurant patios in the summer.
I don’t miss the hangovers.
I don’t miss how it wrecked my sleep.
Or exacerbated my anxiety or depressive tendencies.
In the last couple of weeks there have been two times when I really considered drinking again. I thought, who would really care? Both times I was greeted with something online that reminded me why I was doing this. Or, not doing this.
One was the news that the American Cancer Society now recommends not drinking at all to reduce risk of cancer. The other was a post on Instagram reminding us that booze is literally ethanol, the same stuff used in hand sanitizer and fuel.
I could drink again. Nobody would care. Nobody would judge me. It’s similar to my writing. I write every single day. I could skip a day. Nobody would care. I could stop writing all together and very few people would care. But I write for me, not other people. I write because I need to. Because it nourishes me in some deep, essential way.
Not drinking does the same thing. I am not drinking for me. When I stopped last year, it wasn’t out of the throes of some massive hangover. It was because it wasn’t serving me anymore. Not drinking is deeply nourishing to my body, mind and spirit.
So, I haven’t had a drink in 365 days and that is something to celebrate for sure. But it is just one year of many more to come…hopefully.