Thursday, February 21, 2013

On Quitting

Two years ago today I quit drinking.

I quit without much fanfare. No last hurrah. I simply decided I needed a break, that my body needed a break, that, maybe, it was time to just give it up.

I love drinking. I have loved drinking since the first time, when we all snuck peach schnapps from my friend's parents' liquor cabinet the summer after my sophomore year of high school. I love the warm happiness it offers, the confidence, the way it eases the buzzing of an overactive mind.

And I love the social aspect of drinking. Sharing a bottle of wine and stories and gossip with friends over a nice dinner. Or going out for a few drinks at a bar. I love bars. I met my husband in a bar.

I love the ritual of it: a cold beer at the end of a long day, in the middle of a hot summer day, to celebrate a good day or to make a bad day not so bad. It was a part of my life the way anything is.

When I was pregnant, I didn't drink, and after I had my daughters I stopped drinking the way I did (and could) when I was in my twenties. But motherhood brought on new reasons to partake. More than ever, I appreciated the palliative qualities of a drink, or two, or three.

So why quit? Because as much as I love a pretty cocktail or a Corona with a sour wedge of lime, there are many, many things I don't love about drinking. I didn't love the way, at 41, it made my body feel wrecked. The way it interrupted my sleep. The self-loathing I felt each time I thought of something I'd said that I might never have said without a little buzz, my tongue loosened by a few too many. The guilt I felt when my daughters asked if I needed a beer whenever they got up to go to the fridge.

So I quit. I just stopped. I wasn't a heavy drinker, a problem drinker, but a regular drinker. A habitual and happy drinker. But I am also an all-or-nothing kind of girl (for both good things and bad), and so I quit.

The hardest part was explaining my new abstinence to friends. It wasn't until I stopped drinking that I realized what an enormous role it plays in so many adult social gatherings. People seemed baffled by my decision. Respectful, but bewildered. Why on earth would anybody who wasn't pregnant or an alcoholic give it up? I came up with a variety of answers until people just stopped offering me drinks and pointed me to the sparkling water instead.

And two years later, I don't miss it. Not much anyway. And there are certainly perks to being a non-drinker. For one, I never get hangovers. Secondly, I am always available to drive anyone home safely. Third, instead of going to bed with a fuzzy brain and fuzzy tongue at night, I go to bed with a book. I have read twice as much in the last two years than I would have before. And lastly, I feel no shame around my daughters who are still young but are also very smart and very observant. I want to set a good example; that matters. I also want to be present for them. Fully present. I feel like a better person without drinking, like I might if I did yoga or ran or did anything else that's good for me. Two years. I'm kind of proud.

Now I just need to figure out how to quit sugar...


monica eastin said...

Hey, I don't think I knew this Tammy. I am glad you shared. I quit drinking about 14 years ago, and have many of the same feelings you have about it. I don't miss it at all! I am glad you joined the club of "available drivers." :)

T. Greenwood said...

:) said...

I'm working on the sugar one too. Quit drinking many years ago, and though I have the occasional glass of spumante, or half a beer -perhaps a few sips every other month, even this sometimes feels unnecessary. However, the real trick is sugar. Let me know if you figure it out. :-)

T. Greenwood said...

That must be hard given where you live, Vanessa!

Anonymous said...

My father had a problem with drinking and he was not present for a lot of my life. He robbed me of his intellect, of his family history, and made life miserable for the rest of us. So you should be very proud of yourself because I certainly am very proud of you. Love you, Leslie

T. Greenwood said...

It definitely feels like the healthiest choice for me :) Thanks, Leslie XO