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30-Day Chip

November 24, 2010


Some people say you have to hit bottom before you quit drinking. Lost job, threatened divorce, DUI – it makes sense that you’d want to quit.

What is harder to understand is quitting drinking when one is nowhere near bottom, when one, in fact, is not an alcoholic.

I stopped drinking 30 days ago and I’m still sorting out the reasons why.

It was partly inspired by Schmutzie and her quitting. She said she wanted to be more awesome, and I could relate to that. Yes to awesomeness.

I had also met two amazing women in recovery at Creative Alliance 10 who made me think about my relationship with alcohol.

And then in church one day, the visiting Buddhist monk, Kusala Bhikshu, talked about why Buddhists believe you shouldn’t get intoxicated – because drinking can turn a PhD into an idiot in an hour. I thought about that. I guess I thought pretty hard about it, because the next day, I stopped drinking.

So here I am, still wondering what I am doing.

To be clear, I never drank a lot. I have never, ever had a hangover. I got drunk maybe once a year because I have a built-in anti-drunkenness mechanism – I go from mildly buzzed to “OMG, the room is spinning and I’m going to be sick” in the space of about one drink.

But I had a couple glasses of wine, every day, every single day, and I just wanted to see how life would be without that crutch.

I also wanted to end the snack-fest that started when my judgment was clouded by alcohol. Some people get horny when they drink. I get promiscuous with food. Things I would never eat while totally sober suddenly start sounding like a good idea. Third cookie? Why, yes, I believe I will!

I also wanted my buzzed hours back. Once I start drinking, I’m pretty much useless for anything more than sitting on my butt and reading or watching TV, so there were long portions of every evening where I didn’t accomplish much. I wanted to have that time to get more done. To be more awesome.

It was more difficult to stop than I had imagined. Every day when I got home from work, I really, really wanted my glass of wine. I wanted it a lot.

It took me a while to realize that I didn’t want the wine as much as I wanted a marker to the end of my work day. I found that, by making myself a fussy drink like San Pellegrino water with ice and lime, it was enough to put paid to my day and to make me feel like it was time to relax.

Now I have a serious San Pellegrino habit. I’m sure their profits have shot up just on the basis on my addiction.

Going out on the town was a little difficult. I quit drinking right before Restaurant Week, when I ate out at fine restaurants three times. It did kill me a little to sit there with a great meal and some…sigh…jasmine tea. Would one glass of wine have hurt me? No, but I wanted to take a good chunk of time to think about drinking before I considered when and if I would start again. So I held back.

Has it helped? In some ways. I haven’t dropped a bunch of pounds, but I have been more reasonable about my evening eating. I sleep better, I think, and wake up less in the middle of the night.

I’m happy to be present for more of real life, without the fuzzy edges provided by alcohol. I thought I needed that fuzziness, but now that I don’t have it, I find that reality isn’t so bad. I have always been a bit of a control freak, and this just adds a new dimension to that. I’m not entirely sure if that is good or bad.

Awesomeness? I’m still waiting for that to happen.

The weirdest side effect is the realization how alcohol-soaked our culture is. I don’t want to be too much of a pearl-clutcher about this, but it had really never occurred to me before. Now it is like a hangnail that you keep bumping on things. Every third tweet is about drinking or wine. Commercials, billboards, jokes, the giant block of pre-Thanksgiving floor space devoted to wine in the grocery store (it apparently takes a sea of wine to get people through dinner with their families. Shock.)

I’m not sure how long I’ll stay sober. I’m happy to have gone 30 days without. The longer I go, the less I miss my glass of wine, but I can’t say that I won’t start again.

I’m still figuring this out.

  1. November 27, 2010 13:42

    it’s interesting reading this, for more reasons than i feel like going into. but thanks, for the food for though.

    • November 27, 2010 13:48

      Funny – I just finished a conversation with a friend where he asked me if I had gone to an AA meeting.

  2. December 2, 2010 20:05

    It’s ironic that I can across this post today because I’ve never been a drinker myself (I hate the taste of alcohol, the calories, and the potential for me to lose control of what I say or do), and earlier this evening a friend of mine told me that I should start drinking more because it would relax me. I thought that was a horrific idea. (As horrific an idea as the one presented to me yesterday by the sitting next to me on a plane who suggested that I take up smoking weed to relax and cure insomnia.) Your post reminds me, in the best way, why it’s OK – and even good – to go against the grain.

    • December 3, 2010 08:53

      I wonder why people are trying to promote other people getting bad habits…is it so they won’t feel so bad about doing them themselves? Anyway, I like you sober and clean just fine.

  3. December 11, 2010 21:07

    I gave up drinking many years ago. It started because my body started rejecting any form of alcohol but it was also because I couldn’t just have one glass of anything. I didn’t drink often but when I did I went from “I’ll just have a small glass” to “I’d really love to get drunk!” as soon as the booze hit my lips. At first I thought about it a lot but it has probably been 7 years since I’ve had anything to drink & I don’t miss it at all. One thing I did notice when I stopped drinking though is that people love to talk about drinking and think you are very weird when you won’t have a drink – or think you are very religious. But it works for me and I definitely feel it makes me more present in my life compared to when I did drink. Of course, I now have very small children so I can’t imagine drinking – the sleep deprivation makes things fuzzy enough.

    • December 12, 2010 06:41

      Sleep deprivation as a drug! LOL.

  4. December 15, 2010 21:49

    It’s interesting that you say you “never drank a lot.” A couple of glasses of wine every day sounds like a lot to me! Technically, I guess that is “drinking in moderation.” I don’t need to make an effort to give up alcohol. I drink quarterly. At most.

    • December 16, 2010 06:27

      You should meet some of the drinkers I know!

  5. wendy permalink
    December 18, 2010 19:27

    I found you through Jenny/the Bloggess….and I am still wondering why I *need* to drink. But it is something I look forward to every night…once the kids are in bed ( if i have the extra money that week)…I can get stupid. I can release. I can relax. I can finally sleep through the night. Oh, I know I’m an alcoholic, but I’m denying it throughout the daytime. I may not drink every day, but when I do…it’s to get drunk. As a daughter of a full-time alcoholic, I knew these signs in advance….yet, I still want that drink at night. I neeeeed that drink at night…to compensate for the physical & emotional pain I’m in…so it’s a gift to be drunk & not worry about all the worries I have.

    Ugh, that all sounds so horrible when I type it out. I’m struggling to raise two incredible kids on barely no income ($125/a week) and battling with disability/social security to prove to them my physical issues and STILL–I drink to oblivion when I have the spare $10. I hate myself for it and hate that I’m taking the $10 away from my children…but I feel more relaxed and ready to face another day of battling and hoping for our lives to get better.

    I’ve not had a drink in 8 weeks as I’m trying to save back enough money to make sure my kids have a few Christmas gifts…but I yearn for it…but I battle against it because my kids deserve gifts & the magic of Christmas way before I could deserve a drink.

    I admire & commend you. I am proud of you and I totally understand where you are coming from! God bless and I wish you the strength to soldier on! I know you can do it, I am going to try to make it 25 weeks (basically half a year…I am on my way!) It truly is a battle…until you can learn to let it all go.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    • December 18, 2010 20:29

      Thanks, Wendy. I decided to reply via email. Hugs.


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