My Breakup with Alcohol 7 Years Ago…
I remember the first time I got drunk… Well sort of…
I was 15 and my best friend and I snuck some of her parents gin into OJ and took a few good gulps before a block party. Honestly I don’t think I was drunk but instead high off the fact that we were actually drinking.
But shortly after our first encounter I become quite infatuated with alcohol. The next time I remember getting truly drunk was in my friends backyard and involved 5-6 beers. I was about 95 lbs at the time. I was smashed.
And thus began our relationship. Me and alcohol become good friends and hung out almost every single weekend.
That was just high school mind you. In college I upgraded to a fake id where I was able to buy kegs and get into bars (many of which I danced on top of.)
Then there were my early to mid twenties where Jagermeister and Tequila shots were the weekend treat and the drinks were almost always free. In the most intense, scary and tumultuous times of my life alcohol was always the instigator.
When I jumped out of a moving car at 20 after having a fight with my boyfriend, I was drunk. When I threw my stiletto at my boyfriend’s head after we had a BIG fight, I was drunk. When a really scary girl pulled my hair and wouldn’t let go back on train tracks when I was 17 years old, I was drunk.
And I know you may be waiting for the moment where I come out as an alcoholic but let me save you the confusion. I’m not addicted to alcohol. Alcoholism is a disease I do not have. But my relationship with alcohol was not a healthy one.
And the scary thing is that not only were my drinking habits totally accepted by society, they were often encouraged and validated by every friend in my life downing Tequila shots and cheering me on as I danced in the middle of a circle.
During the week I was pretty chill but once the weekend rolled around my main focus was seeing how wasted I could get. I even remember one time saying and I quote, “I want to get so drunk I don’t even remember my name.” Not my proudest moment but sadly it’s true.
I was a die hard party girl who also just so happened to be teaching yoga. Yup, this wasn’t all BEFORE yoga. Some of it was was during. And there I go tumbling off the pedestal I’ve seen so many people put me on. It’s cool. I didn’t belong up there anyway. No one does.
Fast forward to the moment when everything changed. I was sitting in my very first session with my Shamanic Healer explaining to her how I was beginning to see a ravine split down the center of my life.
On one side was the wild, curly haired life of the party girl who constantly received validation for her antics while intoxicated.
Then on the other side was the girl who had been teaching yoga for the past 6 years and just returned from my first fundraising trip to Cambodia after raising $20K with Off the Mat Into the World.
And then came the question that changed life as I knew it. My Shamanic Healer asked me, “What if you stop drinking alcohol?”
I sat there as still as possible with the best smile I could muster as my mind jumped from the array of plans coming up in the next few weeks. Al of which involved getting wasted, including Forth of July weekend and a wedding that Saturday set in a bar. Clearly this wasn’t an option.
But she persisted. She told me that I could try it. I could see how it would feel to still attend these events and just not drink. I humored her while in my mind I noted that this would clearly not be happening.
And then the wedding came and despite being in the bar from 4pm-2am I didn’t have even one drink. That didn’t stop me from singing at the top of my lungs out the window while Journey played in the background. No one ever noticed. They all thought I was just like them.
But then my friends started to realize I was no longer like them. I told them I wanted to stop drinking. And the backlash ensued. No one really understood what I was doing. They laughed at me. Made fun of me. Scolded me for saying I wasn’t going to drink but having a drink or two as I navigated what this all meant to have a social life like I once did while abstaining from alcohol.
In time I found my groove and true to form jumped to the opposite extreme. Gone where the times where I wore my party girl status as a badge of honor.
Now I clung to the fact that I didn’t drink. That was my identity. I see now that at the time it was the only way I was going to really figure it out. I needed to see what it felt to stop drinking completely.
And over the next year a very interesting thing happened. ALL of my friends changed. Some just slipped away. Some goodbyes where a bit more dramatic and painful. But it just didn’t feel right anymore.
As this was happening I was starting to meet more and more people that didn’t always drink. And I must say this was a foreign concept to me. My weekends consisted of drinking my shit away for so long that I didn’t know there was another way.
I no longer had a way to numb myself. If I was stressed, I had to feel it. If I was upset, I had to feel it. If my back was achy, I had to feel it. No longer could I bypass my feelings. They were all right in my face. So instead I started to face them one breath at a time.
And now here I am seven years later. And I still drink alcohol from time to time but our relationship is so much different. I no longer drink to get drunk. In fact I never get drunk because I very rarely have more than a glass or two of wine or a beer with dinner.
I now have a drink because I love craft beer or that glass of wine goes so well with that cheese. I drink as a form of celebration and not to check out.
And in the 5 years my partner (who also rarely drinks) and I have been together, we have NEVER had sex while drunk, never had a fight while drunk and as a result have the most conscious relationship I’ve ever had.
And I’m not saying that this is the way to go for every single person. But it was my way to go. For me that life no longer worked. There was something inside of me clawing to get out. There was anger, there was fear, there was so much insecurity.
At times the alcohol brought it to the surface causing me to lash out and get really mean. And other times I was just the crazy girl dancing in the streets.
But I see it as no coincidence that the moment I started shifting my relationship with alcohol I started healing all of these broken pieces. Because I had nowhere to hide.
So while we did break up seven years ago I found this wasn’t exactly the way I needed to go. I still have a relationship with alcohol. My intention is just completely different. And intention is everything.
This post was inspired by another blog post about alcohol that you can read here: http://qz.com/762868/giving-up-alcohol-opened-my-eyes-to-the-infuriating-truth-about-why-women-drink/