You know what sounds like a lot of fun (because that’s how I usually decide whether or not to do something)? Not drinking for 30 days.
Yeah. My thoughts exactly. Why on earth would I agree to something that is so unrealistic for me? I couldn’t possibly…or could I?
About two months ago, I had a very close friend relapse for the third time in a year and It was sad and scary and frustrating but mostly it made be feel so helpless. There was nothing I could do to help him and really there never had been. He was going to get sober when he was ready to. Shortly after that, another very good friend that lives too far away finally took me up on my suggestion to give up all recreational substances for 30 days. Well that was the kicker. If both of them were going to give it up, so was I. It wasn’t an easy decision. I had tried it (at least once) in the past and failed. Talking to a friend the day I decided I would try it, he said, “Commit to it: in or out?” I think I muttered “in” and he said “what?” and I said “FINE! ALRIGHT ALRIGHT! I’M IN!” And that was it. It was hard, especially that first week or two, but it got easier. I had a support system like I never had before. I could text my out of state friend when I really wanted a martini that I was mad that he accepted my challenge and now I had to do it. I was talked out of quitting altogether when I realized my final divorce date fell within those 30 days. Who goes through a divorce sober?!?! Um this girl…that’s who! I didn’t need it. I needed to feel every emotion.
So what was the point? At first I really didn’t know. I would answer “just to prove to myself that I can do it” when people asked but I knew there was more. What would it be like to be sober again for the first time in seven years because I wanted to, not because I was pregnant? (I use the word “wanted” loosely.) Was I also an alcoholic? Can I handle my emotions on my own? Can I have fun without it? Would it make that much of a difference in my fitness?
The answer is that I can have fun without it and I don’t need it to handle my emotions and I’m not an alcoholic and being able to say all of those things makes me very proud of myself (Yes I’m singing Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson in my head right now). It’s weird to be completely clear and aware for an entire month. It’s a good weird though. It’s a weird where I feel more like working out than I used to. It’s a weird where I spend more quality, focused attention on my son (although some of those times made me want to drink even more). It’s a weird where you realize the things you used to enjoy really aren’t all that fun and the world really is a beautiful place to be enjoyed in a completely different way.
The 30 days are over and I’m sitting on my balcony of the Hyatt Savannah sipping on a glass of Merlot enjoying a breezy night. I’m in no rush to go out and drink and to be honest I’m actually a little nervous. I want to keep this feeling of being aware. After 30 days of sobriety I know this for certain: I have to take pride in myself. No more “shame caves.” I’m not sure how wine or martinis play into that but I know they do play a part and the next 30 days might be more interesting than the ones that just passed. Stay tuned…