On Choosing the Dry Life
I haven't written a post here in a long time. In the past, I would have felt sheepish about this and offered some sort of apology. Not today. Today all I will say that it's fun to be back here, that I have something I want to share, and celebrate.
And I do.
Many of you know that I have long had a thing with alcohol. I call it a thing because I don't have a better word. Not yet at least. Five years ago, I decided to give up drinking for a year, for my Year Without Wine. It was a remarkable, eye-opening year. I learned tons about myself and the world. It was not that hard for me to do. There were no sips, no slips. This was a relief, obviously, but it also made figuring out what to do next a bit tricky. If it was not difficult for me to give up drinking then didn't this mean I was fine? That I could return to drinking moderately? Why would I punish myself unnecessarily? The questions were plentiful and powerful.
Long story short: I returned to drinking. I alternated between long stints of abstinence and shorter stints of partaking. And nothing disastrous happened. At all. There were a few yucky instances of overdoing it, of shame-soaked hangovers, but for the most part, no drama and everything was okay.
Except that it wasn't.
What I can see now, only in retrospect, was how miserable I was. It was a low-level misery, so easily camouflaged, but it was there. I was not feeling good day to day. I was a bit draggy. A bit lost. When I was drinking, even minimally or moderately, I felt a quiet tug of shame. Not because I wasn't functioning. I was. And beautifully much of the time. A quiet shame because I knew. I knew that my life was better (read: far better) when it was clear and free of booze. I knew this because, my goodness, I'd spent an entire calendar year learning it and the knowledge was of the deep, in-your-bones variety. This was not something I could un-know even though there were certainly moments where I tried to do just this.
Six months ago, I went for my monthly appointment with my therapist. We sat there in her beautiful office on the Upper East Side and we talked and talked. We didn't talk about drinking because it wasn't really on my mind then. I was drinking at that point, but not much, and wasn't (consciously) terribly worried about it. But in the last minute or two, I said, Oh yeah, and I'm still drinking, not a lot, but I just know it's not good for me. It's not compatible with the big, beautiful life I want.
There was nothing special about what I said to her. They were words I'd thought and said aloud probably hundreds of times. I was not hungover that morning or feeling contrite or ashamed. It all felt very matter-of-fact.
It. Is. Not. Good. For. Me.
I. Am. Happier. Without. It.
And, for some reason, something clicked that morning. A little fire started. Something in me came alive. Guys, I was excited. I thanked her for the session and waved goodbye and went back out into the world. It was the end of July, July 26th, and I came back home to my kiddos and I just remember feeling alive and free. Everything seemed tinged in joy and I took my girls to Columbus Avenue for camp pickup and I had one of my babes take a picture of me on the bench because I knew it was a big day. And it was.
Six months later, guys. I feel so good. This is a crazy time in the world and I'm filled with dread and despair, but physically and mentally and personally I feel stronger, and more like myself, than ever. Truly. This decision to live the dry life is the single best thing I have done for myself. Hands down. Yes, there are challenges. Yes, I have moments of feeling pro-home (I prefer this to anti-social), but on balance, things are leagues better.
And let me say: I know that six months is a relatively short time. Fine. But it is meaningful. It is a big, beautiful start and I'm an eager rookie. Let me also say: I'm still trying to figure out where I fit (though I'm not sure it matters). I do not identify with any labels. Not at this point. I am just a person who has chosen not to drink, who is choosing not to drink, who has committed to this choice, and who is over the moon happy with it. That's all.
What I am realizing though and this is important: I need community and conversation about this topic (and all topics important to me, including this surreal/alarming political climate). The vast majority of my friends and family drink and I have no problem with this, but I also need to connect with others (online and in the world) who are making this choice or even just thinking about making this choice. To that end, I've created a closed Instagram group called drybe (dry + tribe).The handle is @drybeclub. Basically, it's a little virtual (for now) gathering spot for anyone who shares my hunch that life might be better and brighter without booze and who wants to talk and think about this. So far, there are already 450+ members from around the world. People who have been dry for a long time and people who are still drinking but curious about stopping. People who are proud of labels and people like me who don't identify with the labels out there. It's an exquisite, varied group and I'm so excited about what it is already, and might become. Please come by and request to follow if you have any interest/curiosity at all.
Anyway, I just wanted to check in today and say hey and acknowledge this big little day. Big because I have not had a sip of booze or a hangover in six months, baby. Little because this is just the beginning and what an exquisite beginning it's been.
Thank you, guys. All of you. Those of you who have been reading this blog from its inception and those who are quite new. This is where I come when I need to write and process and feel my way through something. Drinking has been my biggest something and I'm grateful to have this space to talk and think about it.
Onward, loves. It's a crazy world out there, so hang in there, write postcards to your elected officials, think big, speak up and snuggle your favorite creatures.
Oh, and I just snapped the picture above. I'm gross and un-showered, utterly makeup-free, but still I look at this image and I think: Wait a minute... she looks kinda happy :)