It Ain't Easy
To the outside world it probably looked easy when I quit drinking in 2021. To some it looked like I joined an online quit-drinking-alcohol challenge, boom, I was alcohol-free, and all was great in my life. What people didn’t see was it took me about 15 years of moderating and knowing I needed to change something. I just didn’t know what I needed to change.
I started drinking at such a young age -- birthday parties, Christmases, funerals, weddings -- any kind of celebration at any time. I didn’t know any different. I didn’t know how to act without alcohol at any event.
The Beginning of My Journey
There was a tug at me that my inner self didn't feel comfortable with getting drunk all the time. I feel like there was an internal force pushing me to do better, to want better, and to try to live my life better. I remember walking in my neighborhood bawling my eyes out listening to the song, Rescue by Lauren Daigle (who, BTW, grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, right down the road from where I live). It was like God or some universal force was telling me through that song: I'm gonna help you. I'm gonna rescue you.
Later I was sitting at my daughter's soccer practice, flipping through Facebook. Have you heard the saying, "Your phone hears the things you talk about?" Well, that's what happened. Flip, flip, flip, wait, what? There's an online quit-drinking program? I didn't even know such a thing existed. It just popped up. That's how I found it. I didn't go looking for it.
I was so glad I joined where I had support in a video-chat setting. I could see faces and talk out my struggles and help others when they were struggling. The video-chat was so intimate. I became really good friends with those ladies, and we're still friends to this day. They know more about my journey than anybody, because I feel so comfortable. It was a powerful tool and a huge deal for me. I don't think I would have thrived in a group that didn't have the video-chat, like a Facebook-only group, because there's no way I'm going to say private things to 200 or 300 people on Facebook. Surrounding myself with people that had the same goal in mind or the idea that something was wrong with their drinking was such a crucial piece to my success, because I didn't have that in my everyday physical life.
"Surrounding myself with people that had the same goal in mind or the idea that something was wrong with their drinking was such a crucial piece to my success..."
The First Year
So of course the first year trying to quit is going to be super bumpy. I call it a fish out of water. You just kind of feel you know you’re doing the right thing but it still hasn’t clicked yet. It’s a weird time. But it does get better if you just get through that and see, OMG, I went through Christmas without drinking. And then you take that memory and you go to the next thing. Oh, I went to that wedding without drinking. And you take that memory and so on. It just keeps on building on one another -- a ripple effect. I think that’s where it starts to stick. Until you can get some time doing that, it’s hard. It took me a few times doing that to prove to myself and start making new ways of seeing things and new ways of thinking, hey, I went to that get-together and didn’t drink! It takes your mind time to catch up with what you've decided to do.
When you’re in that drinking mode, when you’re in that cycle, when you’re in that world, you think drinking is awesome. It’s so backwards thanks to advertising. It takes some time to get away from it. Giving yourself time to figure out what works for you, you start to get confidence and you start to see what life is like without it.
"Giving yourself time to figure out what works for you, you start to get confidence and you start to see what life is like without it."
How I Succeeded
I believe part of my success came from the fact that I went from one thing to the next. I signed up for a program, got some information from there, signed up for another group, got some information there. I listened to this book and that podcast. I don’t think it was just one thing that helped me. I think it was a combination of listening to people’s stories and getting nuggets here and there. There have been books that others have recommended that I’ve downloaded on Audible, and within two to three days, I’m like, nope, can’t relate. And that’s okay. It’s all about figuring out what works best for you.
We all have such different schedules, different lifestyles, and different pasts. We all need different things, and that’s what makes it difficult. I can tell you I did A, B, and C, and you go do A, B, and C, and it really doesn’t work for you. It is challenging. But I think that’s what it’s all about -- trying to figure out what works best for you.
Reluctant to Share My Highlights
At first, I didn't want to share all the highlights of my alcohol-free lifestyle because I didn’t want it to seem like I was better than anyone. When someone is struggling with quitting, and I say, “Not drinking is great! I felt so good when I woke up this morning,” that might be hard to take. But I don’t think it’s in anybody’s best interest to downplay how awesome not drinking is! You will get there. You will get to a place where you don’t have the fear of missing out.
"You will get to a place where you don’t have the fear of missing out."
Be patient. Quitting alcohol is not easy, but it's so worth it. If you are determined to change your relationship with alcohol, do research. Sign up for different things. Read books. Listen to podcasts. Figure out what works for you. This is not a one-size-fits-all type deal. We’ve all got to find our own path to freedom. And true freedom is what you’ll find when you make the commitment to change your relationship with alcohol.