Day 6 of The Alcohol Experiment: start spreading the news. Or not. Do what works for you!
This is an interesting and timely topic for me today, as I have been contending with the social double-whammy of St. Patrick’s Day and throwing a birthday party for my 4-year-old son (triple whammy if you count my dad and stepmom being here and my dad starting to drink at 11am, two hours before the birthday party even started).
Annie Grace makes the point that telling friends that you are not drinking is a lot more complex than it may seem, because, in her view, society does not acknowledge that alcohol is addictive. And that is how we justify the fact that so many of us drink so much.
So, in cutting back or cutting out alcohol, you are setting yourself apart from your friends and that can be uncomfortable and nerve-wracking. Ultimately, I think the message in today’s lesson is the more comfortable and confident you are with your choice, the less of a big deal it will be.
I definitely identified with Annie’s evolution in how she has dealt with ditching booze. She went from being preachy to self-deprecating to, finally, just authentically positive. I have a hard time not preaching to friends and family about all I have learned about alcohol and its effects on the body. This knowledge has felt like such a life-changing gift, it’s something I am very eager to share with others. But I have to remind myself how deeply personal an issue drinking truly is. The last thing I would ever want to do is accidentally shame a friend.
So I have tried the self-deprecating approach as well. Especially this time around, because I feel like a lot of people are perfectly accepting of Dry January, or a post-holiday detox. But this time, I have voluntarily chosen to go alcohol-free for 30 days starting randomly in the middle of March. A time period that includes St. Patrick’s Day, a girls’ weekend, a school gala, and other events in which alcohol would normally play a prominent role for me. These 30 days are tougher for me to explain to people. So I have gone the self-deprecating route: “I know, what is wrong with me?!” “What was I thinking?!” “I know I’m crazy, but…”
Like Annie, I feel inauthentic when I make statements like that. Because I feel RIGHT making this choice, I know exactly what I’m thinking, and I actually feel quite sane and even proud for doing this right now, with all of these opportunities to experience fun events sober instead of drunk!
So I am trying to get myself to a confident, positive place pronto. I believe that if I own this choice, proudly but not pompously, I can address any questions directly and efficiently and we can move past it. And if pressed, I can honestly and authentically say that I have just been so exhausted lately that I figured I need all the help I can get, and cutting out booze gives me a good boost of energy. Which is the simple truth. No biggie!
So far, my friends have been totally supportive and seem to get it. I do sometimes wonder if they think I have a problem, or if they think I think I have a problem – but when I start to go down that road, I try to u-turn as quickly as I can. Because I have good friends, and even if they don’t fully understand my choice or feel a bit awkward around me right now, I know that they will support me as best they can.
I am going to end here for tonight, because I have eaten WAY too much cake and other junk today (another epic sugar and salt snack attack and I feel disgusting – but that’s an issue for another day). My son’s birthday party was such a blast, both my kids truly had the time of their lives, but it’s not even 9pm on St. Patrick’s Day and I am busted. So worth it though! And I’d rather be busted and bloated than wasted! At least I’ve got that going for me.
But I did just want to mention – if anyone reading these posts is feeling anxious about or hung up on the term “alcoholic,” I highly recommend the bonus video included in the material from Day 6 (or the equivalent section of This Naked Mind). Annie Grace has a VERY strong stance on this topic that I found enlightening and liberating.
Hoping everyone is having a wonderful and fun St. Patrick’s Day!
[The Alcohol Experiment is a free, interactive 30-day program designed by Annie Grace, author of This Naked Mind. For more information: www.alcoholexperiment.com.]