This is a phrase I picked up from author Annie Grace and her book, “This Naked Mind”. https://thisnakedmind.com/ Wow. What a great read! I absolutely recommend this book for anyone who is dabbling with alcohol cessation. But it’s TRUE! My relationship with alcohol has changed. Now, “changed” can be a loaded word. For some this will mean that they will never again partake in anything involved with alcohol–zero, nada, zilch…get thee behind me, Satan! For others, like me, change means I have changed how I feel and interact with alcohol as a lifestyle choice.
I went seven months sober-with only one slip up on one single evening. I’m extremely proud of those seven long months. Especially given that they were during the early days of quarantine and the rounds of drinking games that were posted on social media and discussed in almost every conversation. I felt like a warrior. And then August happened. One of my sons was the victim of a senseless act of violence. I was happy that I was not hung over the morning of the call from the hospital. But the news was terrifying. He made it through surgery but suffered some permanent damage from some of the injuries. My perfect baby. He has a long recovery road ahead. We are all coping and staying as positive as possible. A new chapter in all of our lives. New adjustments. More change.
Following this event, I didn’t go on a wild bender. I didn’t WANT to. After about a week of dealing with the news, I decided to drive to my neighborhood spirits store and stroll down familiar isles. It was the same young man at the counter. We hadn’t done a ‘head-nod hello’ in quite some time. I found my favorite brand of vodka. I remember holding the neck of the bottle for a few minutes before pulling it from the shelf. I let out a deep breath and bit my lower lip tightly as I approached the counter. ‘Was this kid gonna say anything to me? Why have I never asked his name?’ I set down the vodka, he rang it up in silence. I swiped my credit card and he said, “Thank You!” and went back to watching a television show on a small monitor behind the counter. “Thanks, bye….” I sheepishly replied as I now hurried to my car. I sat for a moment and I could feel a wash of anxiety come over me. Why was I doing this? Is this, it? Am I quitting the sober challenge? OH shut up! I started the car and made it home. I drank. I drank more than I thought I would. I cried for my son. I cried because I lost the challenge. I just cried.
The next morning and in the weeks that followed, I knew everything was different. I no longer craved alcohol. I no longer felt I wouldn’t be able to stop at just one drink. I was still reveling in the high of being able to say No! for weeks and months up to this point. I tried several times to get back to the challenge. I’d go two, almost three, weeks without a drink and then, boom…I’d pick up a bottle. What the F, Melissa? I finally accepted defeat in November and asked myself how I was going to finish my ‘year of sobriety’. I simply promised myself to remain in control of my relationship with alcohol. I mean, alcohol isn’t going anywhere–it was considered an essential business during this damn pandemic! LOL! I don’t have to drink it all-all at once. And this new sense of control is empowering. This experiment was revelatory for me. It showed me that I have grit and stick-to-it-tive-ness–traits I thought I had lost! It proved that old habits can be reshaped. It opened my eyes to a whole life without alcohol. One that is just as amazing or boring–with the exception of the non-alcoholic life having a little more money and never a hangover.
I enjoyed this challenge. And though I wished I could have gone the entire 12 months, I’m choosing to celebrate the seven sober months and the good changes that followed.