Eight Months Alcohol-Free

Eight months. Two hundred and forty-four days. Two-thirds of a year. Any way you slice it, I am at a point in this journey that, for all of my adult life, I never thought would be possible – or desirable.

I thought alcohol was a treat. Now I know it is poison.

I thought alcohol was a rite of passage. Now I know it is a master manipulator.

I thought alcohol was a balm. Now I know it is a grenade.

I thought alcohol was a privilege. Now I know it is a sham.

I thought alcohol was a critical component of a good time. Now I know what a genuinely good time feels like.

I thought alcohol made me better/sexier/funnier/[insert comparative here]. Now I know that being alcohol-free makes me best/sexiest/funniest/[insert superlative here].

Now I know. I know the facts (though there is still more to learn). And I know the feelings (though they are not always warm and fuzzy). Now I know that AF life will never be perfect, but it will always be best.

Now I know. And yet.

And yet I don’t feel comfortable proclaiming myself a “teetotaler.” I feel pretty darn sure that I will drink alcohol again at some point in my life, though that thought makes my gut simmer with anxiety. I feel proud and confident as a non-drinker, and yet.

My relationship with alcohol hangs by a thread these days. What is this last remaining tie between us? It’s the possibility of finding myself in a situation where I still believe alcohol would enhance, rather than detract from, the experience. I can only think of a few instances, but they linger in the hypothetical ether and I can’t – and won’t – ignore them. A fancy steak dinner at a beautiful restaurant in Manhattan: wouldn’t a few sips of a sommelier-recommended red bring out the flavor of my $50 filet? An old, picturesque restaurant in Porto, Portugal (where my husband has ancestral ties): surely it would be rude to not partake in the port, and surely the port would be the best I’ve ever tried? A stunning setting, a scrumptious meal, and my sweet take-it-or-leave-it-drinker husband, holding my hand across a crisp white tablecloth. This is alcohol’s last stand.

I don’t miss drinking. The odd pang strikes every now and then, but is swiftly quashed and dismissed. I can’t recall a single moment in the last eight months where alcohol would have had any positive impact on me. On the contrary, I can recall myriad moments, special occasions, and holidays that were all, without exception, more enjoyable because I was not drinking.

I don’t know what the future holds. As of this moment, there are no fancy steakhouse date nights or fabulous European jaunts on our calendar. I continue to remain steadfast in my commitment to reaching one year alcohol-free and have no desire to start drinking again in July.

But what if I have a glass of wine paired with a spectacular meal when we celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary in September? Does that take me back to Day Zero? Does that strip my title of non-drinker? Does that mean all this time was wasted?

I am still figuring out the answers to all of those questions but the last. If and when I take my first sip of alcohol sometime in the future, beyond the comforting confines of my One Year Alcohol-Free, I will do it mindfully and confidently. Secure in my power over alcohol. Power that I gain with each passing day of this year. This year is a gift that will always be mine. This year will keep giving for the rest of my life. That much I know.



3 thoughts on “Eight Months Alcohol-Free”

  1. Hi Jen – great post. (I hope you don’t mind me commenting here since I miss talking with the sober sisters on Connect!) I often find myself in the same thought process as it is truly hard to get my mind around forever. I keep trying to explore why I would want a drink in certain situations and I have come to realize that, for me, I don’t really want to sit with my husband and just enjoy one glass of wine. What I am really after is the feeling – the effect of the drug. If I were to have a drink I know deep down it is because I still long for that effect of being blissed out and driving away whatever it is at the moment that I want to escape from. I had no idea this was even happening before but I recognize it now whenever I think it would be nice to have a glass of wine, and I stop to think about what stress I am trying to let my mind escape from in that moment. I remind myself that alcohol is an addictive drug and although I think about it much less now that I am on day 223 the neural pathways in my brain are not yet faded fully!
    Still hard to say what the future holds but after your year AF you can at least know for sure that you will be much more mindful and educated in your choices as you move forward.


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