(Yes, I’m actually having fun!)
You may recall from this post that my relationship with booze was becoming a problem… It’s been almost 7 months since I’ve had a drink and here are a few things I’ve learned so far:
1. Who Knew Boring Could Be So Excruciating?
Worse than guilt, fear or gas, I HATE the feeling of bored. I drank when bored with the kids (a big trigger), but booze was my go-to solution whenever me and bored got together. What I didn’t realize was that booze just caused me to BE boring. Not sure what to do? Drink. Girls night out? Drink. On vacation? Drink.
2. Numb is Not the Same as Happy
It’s easier to get through anything while buzzed, I’ll give you that. But getting numb whenever things get funky is a good way to “tolerate, put up with, and settle for” your whole life away. The funny thing is, I’ve noticed once you stop using booze to help tolerate shit, you actually stop tolerating it. Works out pretty well if you’re into that kind of thing.
3. It Was Fun But Not “Real” Fun
Andrea Owen talked about getting sober with Huff Post Live last week. There are 3 phases to alcoholism, she shared: The Fun phase, Fun with Problems, and then Just Problems. I remember the “Fun” phase. I was the life of the party. I had many a trick– limbo, break dancing (I can do the worm while moon walking) and the spinning of live humans twice my size behind my back (I shit you not). I was like a dancing monkey trying to all distract you and me from the “just ordinary, blah, not that into talking to you, a bit socially awkward” me…
Sure I still like a game of limbo maybe a little more than the average party goer, but back then it was “fun” because I thought I could morph into “fun Amy” and you would like her. Now I realize it’s much more fun being ordinary-only-occasional-limbo-player-blah me whether you like her or not.
4. Now I Know When I’m Actually Having a Good Time!
When I go out to dinner with my husband and he asks me if I had a good time and I answer “yes,” it’s a real live yes and not a “that ginger infused vodka with pineapple tini was really good” yes. That’s authenticity folks. I’m learning it on a whole new level.
5. Virgin Mojitos Are, In Fact, As Good as the Real Thing
This is good to know because I used to think that it was impossible NOT to drink booze when the sun is out.
6. Fun Wasn’t Always “Real” Fun But the Problems Were Required
I stopped drinking at the Fun with Problems stage, when the fun wasn’t always “real” fun but the problems were a prerequisite. I would drink because I was bored or because I was overstimulated or overwhelmed and this was like pulling the blinds down while being able to change the diaper and get some juice and pay the lawn guy. BUT I started to NEED that boredom, the overstimulation, the overwhelm so I could excuse that glass of wine or two or three (more like three) each night. Instead of actually doing anything about my problems, I was unknowingly enabling them.
7. You CAN Totally Have Fun Without Drinking
I knew I needed to stop when I noticed myself thinking stuff like, “How will I go on vacation without drinking?” I seriously did NOT believe it was possible to have fun without alcohol. Now I know that fun totally exists without booze. It’s gratifying to know that I don’t need to open a bottle of red to celebrate or laugh or relax or break dance, on demand, when that’s what life calls for. [Tweet that!]
8. I’m Not Perfect and Who Said I Needed to Be?
When I decided to stop drinking six months ago I wasn’t sure if I was just being dramatic or if I could legitimately claim to be a problem drinker. My husband doubted it. My friends reassured me I wasn’t. I have a whole family tree of “ugly drunks” to compare myself to and come up smelling like roses… But I listened to my intuition.
Six months later I know I did the right thing. I write about it here despite the very real possibility that you might take away my badge NOT because I think alcohol is evil and I want you to stop (my husband is a totally normal drinker; I know they exist!) but because 1) I’m not perfect nor do I need to be and you need to see that the sun still rises when I share that with you, 2) if you do happen to be in the Fun with Problems stage, you don’t have to wake up in a ditch to “get off the elevator”, and 3) I’m so sick of shame. And I know how to fight it…with light.
I’m okay. In fact, I’m more than okay. Whether I’m doing the worm while moon walking. Or not.
And you are too.