Giving up alcohol has been something I’ve wanted to explore for some time, however FOMA (fear of missing alcohol) has been too real in the past for me to follow through. Over the last few years, I’ve had a few stints of not drinking for months at a time, however those were usually after nights of over-indulging, blacking out, making stupid decisions, and promising myself I’d “do better”.
Here’s what my life has looked like for the past 4 years living in D.C. up until October of last year: Working 24/7 at as many jobs as I could juggle, sharing my house with strangers (Airbnb), not sleeping, eating healthy – but usually on the go, not reflecting, and simply putting all but the nutrition part of my health last (despite telling everyone else they should put their health first). I was addicted to the hustle. The more money I made, the more I wanted to make. I didn’t need it, but the satisfaction of making all of the money and the constant praise for being able to do it all drove me to continue to justify my unhealthy obsession and chalk it up as normal. Yes, some of my close friends raised concern, however if you know me, I am about as stubborn as they come. After doing several health tests with my functional medicine doctor that came back worse than expected, I committed to slowing down. I quit the hustle, I quit most of my jobs, I stopped caring about a perfectly curated instagram and I committed to focusing on my health and healing journey. What that commitment looked like, I wasn’t sure, but it certainly didn’t involve giving up alcohol. After all, I didn’t drink very often so it couldn’t be that bad.
Fast forward to mid-December walking into my Organic Chemistry final after a drinking binge with some friends. I was hungover, barely able to drive to school and obviously not completely prepared for my final. For those who have been following me for a while – you know how much I prayed for the opportunity to go back to school and pursue becoming a nutritionist. God had to open a lot of doors, and it was over 2 years of waiting before I finally was able to start pursuing my degree, which praise God, ended up being fully funded. When I found out in June that my entire degree was going to be paid for, I promised myself I wouldn’t take it for granted, yet here I was.
After the final, I came home and journaled about my use of alcohol throughout 2018. There were only about 10-12 times total that I drank so I wrote them down and thought about why I drank in each of those situations. Here were some of my reasons – Unhappy in my relationship, overly stressed from working too much, wanting to express feelings I couldn’t when I was sober, overwhelming anxiety, desire to make sure everyone is having a good time (hello, ESFP personality type), family issues, being hurt, dating, and finally feeling more like myself when I was drinking than when I was sober (because I could finally “relax” and not think about the endless amount of work I had to do).
After writing down my reasons for drinking, I realized that I had a lot of things I needed to work through, and I was not going to be able to work though them if I kept using alcohol as a numbing agent for my problems and lack of vulnerability. Not to mention the insane amount of anxiety and depression I experienced the day after drinking.
Before sitting down and making this list, I honestly never thought about why I drank. Crazy, right? Not really. Drinking has become such a normal part of our society that no one really thinks about why they are putting a toxic substance into their bodies daily, weekly, monthly… it’s just something that we do and is socially acceptable.
Alcohol has always been something I have been wary of because alcoholism runs in my family. A couple of people that I love with ever fiber of my being struggle with alcohol abuse. The amount of pain it has caused me in my life is indescribable. I’ve cried, begged, and pleaded for them to stop. I’ve questioned their love for me because I couldn’t understand how alcohol could be more important than a relationship with a family member. Because of this, I’ve always limited the amount of times I would drink in a month because I never wanted it to become a habit. To me, if I didn’t do it frequently, it wouldn’t become a problem. My list made me realize two things, one, its not about the relationship or the frequency of drinking, it’s about the long list of hurts and problems that were not addressed, but instead numbed by alcohol. Eventually, this lead them to become dependent on alcohol to feel ok. After I came to this realization, I decided that was not going to be my story.
I will be writing more about this subject over the course of this year. If you’re considering your own sober curious journey, I highly recommend the book Sober Curious. Although I had already made up my mind about giving up alcohol for the year, this book helped me dig deeper and helped strengthen my resolve. It also helped me feel less alone, knowing that other people were embarking on a sober curious journey for similar reasons.