I have recently made the decision to abstain from alcohol. I currently have 2 days and 12 hours alcohol free, which is definitely not the longest I’ve gone without drinking. I don’t normally drink daily, sometimes not even weekly, but I’ve also never kept track of the days. I have never felt that I had a problem with alcohol but looking back on my life I see some patterns that may show otherwise.
I started drinking at 13 when my older sisters and their friends would party and have beers at our house. I started out sneaking them, hiding it from my parents, but got caught after the second time. I did not try to hide it at that point and my mom was one of those moms who figured it was better if we did it at home rather than sneaking out to parties and getting trashed in the woods with kids from school, putting ourselves in dangerous situations. She would buy me wine coolers or Arbor Mist if I asked, expressing her disapproval but still doing it.
I drank as often as I could as a teenager. I met my now ex-husband when I was 15 and we drank every weekend, either at the racetrack or at a friend’s house. I got to the point in high school where I felt that the weekend was wasted if I did not get drunk. I caught myself at that point, realizing that it was toxic and that I should slow down a bit.
I drove drunk for the first time on my ex-husband’s 21st birthday when I was 18. I had recently gotten my first car and we drove it to the bar to celebrate his birthday. I borrowed my sister’s ID, something I continued to do for the next 3 years until I could use my own ID to get into bars. At the end of the night his parents offered to drive us home but I selfishly and stupidly did not want to leave my car in the parking lot of the bar so I assured everyone I was okay to drive and drove us home. I knew as soon as I got on the road that I was drunk and should not be driving but instead of turning around and parking my car I prayed to God to get us home safe and kept driving. Luckily we made it to my parents’ house 20 minutes away without incident.
My marriage revolved around alcohol and partying. Our wedding was one giant party, surprisingly leaving us with lots of leftover wine. We had a party every weekend and lived a block from the local bar so we spent lots of nights there, bringing the party back to our house after the bars closed. Not shockingly, that marriage only lasted 4 years.
After my divorce I spent lots of time with friends at parties, bars, and breweries. I had moved on from drinking only on the weekends to going out on weeknights as well. Taco Tuesday (with margaritas and Coronas), Wednesday trivia night at Diamond Knot brewing, as well as the weekends at my favorite bars on the Hewitt strip in Everett where the owners knew me and would give me free drinks.
I met my son’s father shortly after my divorce and our relationship also revolved around drinking. We would buy a bottle of whiskey or tequila or rum and have drinks whenever we hung out together. We were together for 5 years and it was a very unhealthy and abusive relationship, mostly due to the amount we drank. He spent many nights in jail due to fights we had gotten into when we were drinking. I obviously was sober during my pregnancy but I complained the whole time that all I wanted was a drink or beer.
After my split from my son’s father I remember being excited to be able to buy the beer I wanted and that it would be in the fridge whenever I wanted it, knowing he would not be able to drink it when I wasn’t around. I met my current boyfriend shortly after that split and our relationship also started with drinking. We would BBQ and always had beer or drinks. He was in the Navy and lived over an hour away so on Fridays when he was on his way I would crack open a beer and would continue to drink all weekend with him.
I don’t remember a time that I did not celebrate without alcohol. Every holiday, BBQ, get together, birthday, etc. I have always had drinks. They have all centered around what type of alcohol I wanted to drink to celebrate. Cranberry mimosas for Christmas and Thanksgiving, wine for most every other holiday, beer for BBQs, margaritas every spring and summer, beer for floating the river in the summer, Pink Panty Droppers for big races at the racetrack, champagne just because.
Alcohol has never affected my work, luckily. I have never gotten drunk while alone. I could quit drinking, I just didn’t want to. I’ve never noticed any physical problems due to drinking besides a hangover. I’ve never had alcohol affect my relationships, the other person was just an asshole. These are all things I regularly told myself to justify my drinking. I’m realizing even more now as I put this all out there that I was in denial.
This past Sunday was Mother’s Day. We’ve been under quarantine for 2 months due to COVID-19 and haven’t been able to see my family all together in that amount of time. I spent it at a family friend’s house with my family, BBQing and enjoying the nice weather and actually being able to be all together again. I also spent it drinking margaritas. I didn’t feel that I was drunk. I felt like I kept a good buzz going all day but didn’t feel that I was actually drunk. I drove us all home that night and went to bed. I woke up late the next morning, missed my workout I had planned on doing, and my mouth tasted terrible like alcohol fumes. I was exhausted and dehydrated all day at work. I decided at that point that it wasn’t worth it. Drinking the day before was pointless. I would have enjoyed myself just as much without the buzz and the margaritas and I wouldn’t have felt like shit the next day and would have gotten up and had energy to do my workout. Instead I overslept and sat at work all day sipping water and regretting my decisions.
I know that I will be tempted still. The first float on the river this summer I’m sure I’m going to be craving beer. I know I’ll be tempted at the next BBQ I go to where everyone else is drinking and I’m not. And who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to have a beer here and there and not keep going until I’m drunk. Maybe I’ll learn to have a healthier relationship with alcohol and I’ll be able to limit myself to ONE drink for a special occasion. But for now I really don’t think it’s worth it. The way I feel in the morning afterwards, the amount of wasted calories I’ve been consuming for years resulting in steady weight gain, the poor decisions I make when drinking just don’t seem to be worth it anymore. Maybe I’ve grown up.