If you would have told me back in December that I wouldn’t have a drink for four months, I would have laughed. After all, I didn’t have a drinking problem.
I have been putting off writing this post because I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, offend anyone or make it seem as if I’m judging anyone. As a collective group, alcohol is so tightly wound into our culture, so I know I’m taking a risk in sharing this. But often the things we’re most afraid to say, are the things we must. So here is my story.
Like most I perceived around me, I considered myself a “social drinker”, whatever that means. A great bottle of wine over dinner, a spicy margarita on our patio with JP. And every once in a while, having one too many with the girls on a rare Saturday night out. That was about as wild as my story got.
But a drinking “problem”? Never.
As I look back on my relationship with alcohol, I can see now that it was always around me. At every family holiday, at every celebration, marking every occasion. It was (and still is) everywhere, what everyone did. So it quickly became what I did. For over two decades.
This year I celebrated my 42 birthday, sober. And I think this was my first time in 22 years celebrating a birthday sober.
Up until now, I don’t think there was ever one milestone, one occasion, that wasn’t shared hand in hand with a drink. And I NEVER even thought to question it. It was just “what we did”. It’s what everyone did. So it’s what I did.
To add to it, I became a mom as wine culture was at its peak (and I think probably still is). A bottle for baby, and a bottle for mommy.
Even now I hear moms on social media and in my circle joke about how they need a glass or two of wine to relax after a hard day with the kids. That was me. I cringe now every time someone jokes about needing wine after being with their kids. Not out of judgment of them. But out of judgment of ME
I spent YEARS in my motherhood journey, and my adult life in general, with a glass of wine in my hand.
It heightened my anxiety
It robbed me of my sleep
It made me feel lethargic, puffy, and irritable.
It affected my health, my mindset, and my relationships
I was the worst version of myself when I drank. Always. It didn’t matter if it was one glass of wine or three margaritas. Alcohol was, and is, not my friend.
But I had become so accustomed to this watered-down version of me, so surrounded by “social drinking” everywhere I looked that I never even saw the problem.
In the past, I had taken some time off of drinking. A dry January here, a detox there. I had toyed with sobriety, but never truly understood the depth of how alcohol was holding me back until I stopped for more than just a month or two.
For a few years, I had been hearing this voice inside of me each time I drank. I KNEW it wasn’t serving me. I knew it wasn’t helping me. But I let myself off the hook every time. It’s just this one night, or it’s Christmas, we’re on vacation, it’s my birthday. There was always a way I could justify returning to just one more glass of wine here or there. Maybe I was overthinking it. It’s just a few glasses of wine.
This January I had started another round of “detoxing” (or whatever we’re calling it now) but I could feel it was different. It was my time. I shared with JP that I was going to try and go “a little longer”. Maybe an extra week or two. “We’ll see”, I said.
But I think deep down I was too scared to make any bigger commitment. The idea of being “sober” just felt too big. Too daunting. Too overwhelming, and too hard. And to be honest, still a word I couldn’t identify myself with.
I didn’t want to make any commitments.
I was just going to take it day by day.
Zero pressure. Nothing black and white. Just “playing” with it. Seeing how I felt.
A few weeks in, JP gave me a book that would unknowingly, change my life, “Quit Like A Woman”, by Holly Whitaker.
It was the first thing I had ever read that explained things so clearly. That didn’t use the term “alcoholic” or make alcohol seem like it was a “problem” we had to have in order to quit.
It was the push I needed. I was ready.
And I’ll be honest, it’s hard. There are a lot of days I want to have a glass of wine. And lots of firsts. The first adult overnight stay downtown, sober. The first birthday, sober. And the first warm-weather vacation, sober.
And with each one, I go in telling myself it’s ok if you “have a drink”. Knowing that it is. The world will in fact not end.
But, when that experience, or milestone, or dinner arises, I find myself in that moment, taking a deep breath, checking in with myself and then from a place of authenticity, saying “actually, I’m ok”.
And somehow, “one day” turns into another day, and another week, and another month….and I hope….another year.
The first, immediately questioning me (almost assuming I’ll fail). “Well, don’t you think you will this summer?” Or “What about your girl’s trip?”
Or the second reaction, rationalizing their own story with drinking (whatever that might be). Feeling a need to explain how/why they’re “different” than me.
There is nothing scarier to a person who drinks, than a person who quit. It brings all of their insecurities to light. Whether they realize it or not. They aren’t actually explaining their behavior to me, they’re rationalizing it to themselves. And that’s ok. That’s part of the human experience. We all do this (me included). We see ourselves reflected in each other and it brings up parts of us we may or may not be ready to deal with.
This has been me many times over the years. And not just with drinking. Anytime I find myself needing to defend or justify or explain – it’s usually because something is off. And in this case, for me, it was drinking.
I’ve only been sober now for four months. It feels like a millisecond. And in many ways, like years.
I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep going. But I can say that I hope for a while.
There are too many things I’m feeling now that I’m not ready to give up, and also not quite ready to talk about. Too many changes that I’m just now getting used to.
The days seem brighter, the possibilities seem bigger.
Feeling emotions I haven’t in decades. Dealing with things I probably haven’t in decades. And for the first time showing up to my life raw and awake. It’s amazing and terrifying all at once. There is nowhere to hide when you’re sober.
As I sit here and write this, I’m scared I’ll fail. That I’ll start drinking again. And I know that’s a very real possibility. But I also know that there’s a possibility that this is just the beginning.
I don’t know how I’ll feel about alcohol a year from now, or even a month from now. But the good news is, I don’t have to.
What I do know, is that I’m not drinking TODAY, and that’s good enough for me.
LEAVE A COMMENT & RATE
Wow, wow, wow. I’m so happy for you. To put all of this “out there” is indeed courageous. Making a huge change in one’s life takes constant work. I don’t profess to understand what you are going through because I have never gravitated toward consistent consumption of alcohol. However, I have my own vices that challenge me!! 🙂 You mention the mommy wine culture in our country and that does worry me A LOT. This mindset is really toxic to so many women and I imagine many have looked up and found themselves in situations that are unhealthy. Your post probably resonates with more individuals than you will ever know. Best of luck to you and your family. But remember: We are all a work in progress. If you have a set back, start again. You are strong enough to do anything. The beginning (of any endeavor) is the hardest part and you have already done that and found what success feels like. Take care and I’m so psyched for you!!
Timing ! Thank you for these words. Today I begin! 🙏🏼🙏🏼✨✨
I could have written this.. I’m not as far in but I’m taking it one day at a time. And loving this new “raw” me. When you wrote there’s nowhere to hide when you’re sober that struck a nerve. No more hiding.
Always love reading and hearing your thoughts, Katy. I’ve often found myself not drinking when everyone around me is, even back in the college days! The reasons have changed over the years, but in general remain due to evaluating the cost/benefit. Sometimes it was because I knew I was driving home, or was waking up at 7am, or had a really full day ahead of me, and most recently having to be a Mom all day the following day. During the last year, for lack of things to do, my husband I started to bond over wine- learning about it, shopping for new wines, comparing them with our at home tastings etc. Because it brings us together, and I don’t ever consume more than 6-8 ounces, it doesn’t effect me in a negative way but instead is a positive for our relationship. Again, that cost/benefit. I love that you feel so confident and secure making the decisions that are the best for you, your family, and relationships. Enjoy those fun mocktails, living your best life, all while sharing and impacting other people 😘😘😘
Thank you for sharing your journey. I just found you on IG and this is the first post I have read. I too am on the sober journey currently 2.5 months in and can relate to everything you’ve said. Best of luck to you
Sarah, first and foremost, WELCOME! I’m so glad you’re here and that you found our little corner of the web. Welcome. I love it that you too are on a path to being more mindful with drinking – whatever that ends up looking like. 2.5 months is a big deal. Congratulations. I hope you feel really proud. I found that the decision to stop was the hardest part – but the actual “not drinking” was easier. Especially as time goes on. I hope you find that too. Congratulations again on almost 3 months and welcome. xoxo
Katy!!!! I freaking love this! This is exactly what I went through when I decided to go “sober”. These are the exact emotions and experiences I had myself and still have. I love that you are doing this for yourself and I literally want to crawl tbrew this laptop and give you the biggest hug.
I’m cheering you on and joining you in the sober mom squad. I can’t wait to hear all the revelations and self-discovery that happens for you. Life will never be the same, I promise!
Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m also accidentally sober, after two years. And the weight I feel lifted from me is pretty incredible. My story is so similar to yours. And I also encounter those two reactions. And sometimes I get a “good for you!”. That’s great too. For me, the longer I go, the easier it gets. I hope it does for you too!
Hi I just read your blog.as I read it I feel like I knew from following you that something changed. I saw your photo and you just seem happy. I can’t relate to the drinking my self because I don’t drink but once a year. But I believe that I don’t because as an adult I took care of people who drank. And I use to think if they knew how they were they would be so upset with themselves. But as you said it is every where and so much of celebration are center around alcohol. But I applauded you for making your self happy and enjoying you family. I feel I was present for my kids growing up and feel that they turned out to be 6 great adults and I feel like you said that being preset for them is why. I feel if you show good example then you hope they follow. Much happiness for you and I will continue to follow your journey.Take good care of you and everything else will follow.
These is me, too! And it feels so good.