It’s been a full five months since I’ve sipped on a perfectly chilled vodka martini; a grand total of 21 weeks since I’ve overindulged in a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc or a fruit-forward pinot noir; and a whopping 150 days since I’ve woken up with a hangover.
The mathematics of my drinking days are quietly coming to an end. Not that I’m going to start drinking again, but I think I’m going to stop counting pretty soon. Not yet, but soon.
Deciding to take a break from alcohol has opened me up to myself. That sounds a little melodramatic, but it's true. I’ve gotten reacquainted with what drives me and what makes me happy. I’m just starting to figure out what exactly makes me tick. All this knowing is helping me to make better decisions and choices for me, as well as for my family. I’m becoming a more direct communicator and not masking my thoughts and anxieties with alcohol before I speak. I’m taking time to pause and think about any repercussions or fallout before committing to things.
I'm 100% present in my life right now.
I'm putting myself first and that's been both uncomfortable and a comfort, if that makes sense.
On a recent hike, I was lamenting to a girlfriend about my inability to achieve balance when it comes to drinking. I had just written a blog post about how I’m an all or nothing gal and how that troubled me because I felt like it was the same thing - two extremes - ALL or NOTHING. It leaves no room for me to land somewhere safely in the middle. I’m either all in or I’m all out. I want to find some common ground; I shared that I wanted balance.
My friend quietly listened and then said, “You have balance, Tammi. You have it. By removing alcohol, you actually have more balance in your life now. You have it! You don’t need to be a balanced drinker to be a balanced person. You just don’t. Drinking doesn’t serve you. You never need to drink again. I mean, drink if you want to, but you don’t need to drink to find balance. You found balance once you stopped drinking, right? With your family? With school? With your health? See? You don’t have to balance alcohol. You can just simply continue on as you are and leave alcohol behind. Remove it from your life.”
This was my lightbulb moment and it stopped me dead in my tracks. She was right (as she often is) and this premise swirled around in my head for the rest of the day.
By choosing to live with more intention and an awareness of my actions (that had previously eluded me), I am reaping the benefits in spades. The choice to live without the distraction and anxiety-producing effects of alcohol has changed me profoundly over these past five months and I know this is a small, yet significant, step in the right direction for the balance I've been chasing all these years.
The equation I’ve been operating my life under for the past few decades has been altered. I’ve subtracted social drinking, foggy day-afters and storytelling that involved looping and late-night exaggerated emotions. In its place, I've added in healthier hobbies, like exercise and going back to school, and made time to be alone with myself and simmer with all of these feelings and new ideas. I like myself so much better now and I think it shows.
This new-way-of-living-life-formula is still in the beta testing stages, but I’m hoping it all adds up to increased contentedness and creates a multiplying effect for good things to enter and remain in my life my life from now on.