A Year Of Clarity - A Year Without Alcohol
My intention for 2017 was ADVENTURE.
And adventurous it was.
I decided to follow my gut. To listen to my needs, my dreams, my wisdom. To go places I’ve never gone, learn things I’ve never learned, and achieve things I’ve never achieved! I did all of this over the past year and I’ve never felt more alive.
My adventure in 2017 was full of inspiration, roundedness, and risk all at the same time!
Unexpectedly it’s also brought incredible clarity.
On December 25, 2016, I had my last alcoholic beverage. I made the commitment to myself and shared with a few close friends. The commitment was part experiment, part health need.
Rheumatoid arthritis and debilitating medications left my body fragile and vulnerable. Alcohol always takes a toll. But that toll became much higher. Higher anxiety. Higher alcohol sensitivity. Higher depression. Higher self-doubt. Higher joint pain. Higher stomach upset. Higher cost (literally, good booze is so expensive). The toll was just too high not to consider stopping it altogether.
So that was it. I stopped drinking alcohol.
I won’t lie - the change was difficult. I learned to substitute any alcoholic drink with a fun, non-boozy version. I should have bought stock in La Croix sparkling water when I started. And ginger beer. And tea. And San Pellegrino.
I made friends with other non-drinkers, joined a Facebook group, and still check in with them frequently. Yeah, I know nerd-alert alarms are going off as I write this. But there’s no better way to make a big change than to make it an adventure with other like-minded individuals.
Over the past year, I’ve taken a few sips (literally, tiny tastes) of a drink if my husband ordered a fun craft cocktail. I was simply curious about the flavor. And once my Spanish-speaking neighbor cooked me homemade tacos and handed me a beer. With the language barrier, there was no way to explain that I don’t eat red meat, or chicken, or drink beer, but that I was also grateful for his kindness. So I ate all the traditional carne asada and pollo, and had a quarter can of Tecate Light in the name of hospitality.
Otherwise, I’ve been booze-free. And anxiety-free (almost). And insomnia-free. And hangover-free. And haze-free.
I have been free.
I’ve been able to drive myself anytime, anywhere. And help drive others too if they weren’t able. I’ve written more content. I’ve created more things (uh hello business, website, branding, and marketing). I’ve learned more about my body and what it truly needs to heal. I’ve met new people and made friends across the globe who also care about the full spectrum of health. I’ve become more physically active than I’ve been in ten years. It’s so much more energizing to replenish my sleep on a Friday night, and wake up refreshed to do yoga the next morning. Instead of evening drinks, I take neighborhood walks with my husband. We spend more time in nature, more time focused on each other. I sleep well at night and wake up feeling refreshed every morning.
So as I step into 2018 with personal and professional goals, I can’t wait for what this year will bring.
I’m embracing the growth from 2017. I’m propelling forward with my intention for 2018:
What does freedom mean to you?
I know there is so much that goes into this conversation. That there is so much stigma around drinking alcohol and around not drinking alcohol. It’s troubling how both ends can be so polarized. This post is not meant to be a how-to-stop-drinking instruction. It's not a replacement for professional services needed in substance abuse, addiction, and recovery. This post isn’t exhaustive in the least - it’s merely a report of my year without alcohol and the health benefits I've reaped. If you find yourself wanting more information about quitting alcohol, please see the resources listed below.
WebMD on How To Stop Drinking
Harvard Health on 11 Ways to Curb Your Drinking
HelpGuide on How to Stop Drinking