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A year ago, I started something. An experiment. An experiment that scared me and excited me. What would life be like without alcohol for a whole year? I didn't know. But I was about to find out. Or was I? From the beginning, I had my doubts. Doubts about whether I could follow through with this ambitious goal, whether I would want to. What if I really had a problem and I couldn't just give it up? What if a few weeks passed, or a few months, and I lost motivation and momentum and just wanted to stop?

I am honestly shocked that I did this, that I was able to, that my desire to see this through never waned. It all feels a bit surreal and otherworldly that I am here, on this day one year later, celebrating, looking back. And the truth of the matter is that I have so much to say, words to write, pages to fill. And I will do these things. I will indulge in the saying, the writing, the page-filling. In time.

But, for now, two important words: Thank you.

Thank you for being here, for witnessing my imperfections and my evolution, for reminding me again and again and again that my experiences, experiences which often feel impossibly lonely and raw, are in fact universal and, seen from just the right angle, beautiful even. Beautiful. There is an abiding beauty in telling the truth about self and world. That's what this year has been about: Seeing the truth, and telling it.

And there's so much more to tell. Again, I will.

Over the past year, and particularly in recent weeks, I've heard from so many of you. You say that something in my story - ultimately, a pretty standard story with a pretty standard plot -Β  person struggles with thing - has spoken to you. You have said you can relate. Some of you have vowed to give up alcohol or other things for a month, a year. You have said that there are times when you want to run away, blur edges, escape. Yes. This is part of what it means to be human. And that, human, we all are.

But in this business of being human, we have choices to make. We can choose to be clear, to confront, to finger the sharp edges of existence instead of fleeing them. We can choose to be here in the maddening and magical present moment of reality, a reality that is, and will always be, laced with difficulty, uncertainty, loss of some kind.

These are the choices I have made - for one man, for three little girls, for me - over the past year. And it has been hard at times to see so clearly, to feel so deeply, to be so sober all the time. But it has been amazing, too.

Here's the truth: This is really about me. Even from this new vantage point, I do not judge people for drinking, for drinking sensibly or recklessly or somewhere in between. I know many people for whom drinking is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, a tiny little footnote, not a big deal. I also know many people who have more complicated relationships with alcohol. Clearly, I was, and still am, one of those people.

At the end of the day, I think, for the most part, we are all doing the best we can, managing in ways that feel familiar and safe somehow. But. To the extent that we are intrigued by ideas of self-improvement and change, to the extent that it is truly within our control and within our interest to ponder and live these things, as, thankfully it was within mine last January, I would be remiss not to underscore how absolutely world-changing it can be to press pause on life, to switch something up, to do things differently, to feel the invigorating pulse of progress, change, and with these things, happiness.

I do not know what I will do going forward. Even though I am here, at the one-year-mark, I do not know. What I do know is that I will be careful and I will not go back. I will not go back to what I was doing. And if I do for some reason, if I slip back into patterns that had come to feel unhealthy and incommensurate with the kind of life I want, I will come here and write about it. I promise you that. I promise me that.

So. I am off to re-read my wine-free posts from this past year (listed chronologically below) and to try to process this day, this big day. But before I go, something important: If you are there, wherever you are, immersed in the pages of your own story, and you've been pondering a change, a big change, a small change, a change permanent or temporary, I have something to say:

Go for it. Life is short. And you are worth it.

In closing, those two words again, those two little and not-so-little words I feel with every bit of my being on this day:

thank you.

β™₯

Here are all the posts I have written about giving up wine. It's very possible that the first 32 will be unfamiliar to you as I originally posted them on an anonymous blog before deciding to announce my project here at ADR.

  1. Wine Is My Weakness
  2. I'm Really Going to Do This
  3. Lunch
  4. Why I Know I Can Do This
  5. A Clog to the Pen?
  6. On Secrecy
  7. On Friendship
  8. So Many Words
  9. He Is So Happy
  10. Reason Enough
  11. Yesterday and Now Today
  12. Optimistic
  13. On Feeling More
  14. Sick
  15. Misery & Family
  16. Pajamas. Presence. Peace.
  17. Floating
  18. The Dead Dads Club
  19. Happy & Healthy
  20. Words & Workouts
  21. Super Bowl Sunday
  22. Valentine's
  23. One Month In
  24. White Balloons
  25. Anxious
  26. Nervous Nibbling
  27. Seminar
  28. Burning with Inspiration
  29. Like I Was Drunk
  30. Fridays Are Really Hard
  31. Labor
  32. She Is Here. And She Is Gorgeous.
  33. I Sit Here Shaking. And Smiling.
  34. I Did It
  35. Can I Hold Your Hand?
  36. This Is Major
  37. Fun Without Drinking
  38. The Wine Store
  39. Feeling Quiet
  40. Complicated (a.k.a. Three Months Without Wine)
  41. The Day I Changed
  42. Drinking Words
  43. I Miss It (a.k.a. Four Months Without Wine)
  44. A Note from a Stranger
  45. I Cried Myself to Sleep
  46. Five Reasons @ Five Months
  47. Should I Quit? (The 6 Month Question)
  48. Yesterday Morning @ 8:06am
  49. Eight Things @ Eight Months
  50. Nine Months Without Wine
  51. Tell a Truth
  52. Ten Questions @ Ten Months
  53. Thanksgiving Without Wine
  54. The Sober Hostess
  55. I Might Not Go Back to Drinking
  56. Harsh Words I Needed to Hear?
  57. You Don't Need to Feel This Way
  58. Birthday Words for Husband
  59. Eleven Secrets @ Eleven Months
  60. A Year Without Wine: I Did It!

Clarity Can Be Its Own Drug

Five Happy Things