I don’t know when it happened but I recently came to realization that I needed to reevaluate my relationship with alcohol.
It’s strange to think isn’t it? That you could have a relationship, a connection, with booze. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not tossing shots of tequila back at my desk but more often than not 5 p.m. (OK, sometimes 4 p.m.) roles around and I’m ready for my obligatory adult beverage. The question I’ve found myself asking lately is, “When did drinking booze become an obligation?” So I started to think.
I began working from home in March 2013, two months before my wedding. Add together the stress of planning and the freedom to start happy hour from the comfort of my home office and you have the beginning of a convenient, not so healthy relationship. Fast forward two and a half years later, I still work from home and find myself more comfortable than ever pouring a vodka Red Bull on Mondays before settling down to watch The Bachelor. While I typically limit myself to one, the occasional two, weeknight adult bevies let’s be real: no one should be drinking the same cocktail they have to party on the weekends at home chilling on their couch.
Then the questions started flooding my head… Do I have a drinking problem? I don’t drink and drive. I don’t drink to excess. I don’t miss deadlines or get drunk while working. OK, maybe I don’t have drinking problem. So, what do I have? Should I limit the nights I drink? Should I try beer or wine.. You hate beer. OK, wine. Still booze but a step in the right direction, right?.. Right?
Afraid to share my thoughts with anyone out of fear of being mislabeled, I instead did what all responsible adults do… I ignored it. Until New Year’s Day rolled around and I was mindlessly scrolling through everyone’s resolutions on Facebook and one caught my eye. A former colleague of mine announced she was going to do “Dry January.” I had never heard of it before so I clicked on the link she shared. The concept was simple: Make it through the month of January without drinking any booze.
I thought about it and realized I was quickly trying to talk myself out of such a ridiculous goal. What if I failed? Think of all the fun I’ll miss. Then I tossed my doubt aside and decided to make the commitment. January = No booze.
Now we’re in February and I’m sure you’re wondering if I succeeded. The answer is yes!.. Well, almost. We’ll get to that part later but let’s take a look at how I set myself up for success:
Find a schmuck to do it with you
My husband is anything but a schmuck (that part’s a joke). In fact, I knew if I went to him with this idea his stoke level would kick into high gear. Seriously, my husband is the most excited person I know. He likes setting goals the way zombie kid likes turtles. So the first thing I did was get him on board. This was also a good test for him because he knows making me a cocktail is a guaranteed way to get on my good side. Now, he’d have to be clever with his tricks.
Put it out there
The second thing I did, like any wide-eyed resolution setting dreamer, is put that shit on Facebook. If I know people know that I’m working towards a goal, there is no way I’ll back out of it. Failure is not an option!
Focus on being active
I also used this as an opportunity to get back in the gym. That’s what January is for, right? I found a Groupon for Pure Barre and dedicated to going twice a week. I would schedule classes for Friday afternoons (Happy Hour) and Sunday morning (usually when I’m sluggish from drinking) to help replace those habits with positive activities. Now I’m up to going to three, sometimes four classes every week.
Eat in, not out
I’m always a sucker for cocktails while dining out. One, I like the pretty presentation that says, “I’m an adult.” Two, I always feel peer pressured by the server. “Oh, you just want water?.. Not going to pay attention to you guys the rest of your time here.” So, we opted for nights in over nights out. The one night we did go out, we asked our waiter if they had any mocktails and what do you know… They did! Who’d have thunk it?
There were several times I felt like I needed a drink. And when that feeling happened, I went to my happy place and reminded myself why I was doing this in the first place. You want to feel better, look better, be better. Happiness takes work. I was never that naturally happy and bubbly person everyone expected my blonde hair to be and the older I get, the more I realize that I want that happiness more than anything. Now that I have it, I work to keep it alive and becoming less alcohol dependent would only increase that happiness.
Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Yes. The first few days went by pretty fast. It was when Friday came around that I found myself a little stir crazy. But week one, two, three and four came and went and the hubs and I worked our way through it. I feel lighter, more energetic, happier even. My hubs and I even saved a bunch of money by not buying booze or eating out all month. I think a new pair of shoes are in order. What I did not do was lose a bunch of weight or magically become a morning person… A girl can dream. But now is the part where that “almost” in the title comes in.
During January I went on a business trip to Austria. Remember that Red Bull vodka mention a little earlier? Well, Austria is the birthplace of this favorite beverage of mine and I decided to have a celebratory cocktail in honor of my first trip to the country. I was there for five days and had one adult beverage. YOLO.
So I guess my consensus is this: After 31 (-1) days without booze my relationship with alcohol is stronger than ever. I like to think of us as friends with benefits. We know where we stand with each other and while we may not hang out everyday, we get together on the weekends and the occasional trip to Austria. If I get lonely and need a shoulder to cry on, I may give alcohol a boozey call for those offbeat hookups. If I want to celebrate something awesome happening in my life, I’ll probably look to alcohol for validation in my joy. And regardless of how things go in my life, I now know that I’m the one who controls where the relationship goes and if I want to take another break, I can.