What Happened When One Mom Quit Drinking For 90 Days
Let me tell you, 2017 was a year. My hubby battled some health stuff, he quit his job, my dad died, my work life was a total roller coaster…and for a woman who normally can handle stress, this year I didn’t even do that well. I ate too much. I drank too much. I exercised too little, and boy, did I feel it – yuck. So, like the rest of the world, I kicked off 2018 with a pledge to eat better, drink less and exercise more. More veggies – yes please! 10,000 steps – get it done! More water – on it. The biggest challenge though….I planned to quit drinking for 90 days. Yep, alcohol free, 90 days sans cocktails, sans vino, sans it all.
Here’s how it went.
Day 1 – We wrapped up 2017 with a bang – eating and drinking more than we should have. And despite sleeping in, I was beat. But I had a resolution to get to and I was ready. Bring it 2018 – I can do this!!! All was going well and then the invite to hang out with friends on New Years Day, the same friends who we drink with all the time. My first test; deep breath…I can do this!
And you know what? I did. “Dry January?” I was asked repeatedly, all with that sympathetic, questioning look in their eyes. Apparently Dry January is a thing – who knew? I finally just started answering, “Yeah, something like that.” Trust me, it wasn’t easy watching the wine poured over and over and over and over again. But watch I did, and that’s what matters! One day down…
Day 2 – It was back to work and the daily grind. The day at work was of course, easy…well, at least from the drinking perspective. But once I got home, it was irritation city from there. All of my boys had the day off, but yet nothing was done about dinner,. Oh, and they all took a nap – arrrrrggghhhh! Breathe. Then came the text from my BFF, “Anyone want to meet for a glass of wine?”
Yep, sure do, except I’m not drinking. Met her anyway, had soda water with a splash of cranberry – it was no Cosmopolitan, but not too bad. Two days down, 88 to go.
Day 3 – Soccer night – still in my work clothes well after 7:00, we decided to grab a quick dinner with friends at the neighborhood Mexican joint. So there it was, staring me in the face, again, alcohol.
Day 7 – This one could have gotten me….the dreaded 4th grade science fair project. Yes, assigned over Christmas Break with two weeks to work on it, but of course, we didn’t. Have you done a science fair project recently? They are a lot of work, I mean a lot! And here it was…the weekend before it was due and we’re all in. But #3 didn’t really understand what he was supposed to be doing. I was tearing my hair out, and I had quit drinking. We got through the project and somehow, I didn’t cave to the vino.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to take you on all 90 days of the journey. But it didn’t take me long to realize I really hadn’t realized how much alcohol is around…all the time. All. The. Time. Birthday dinner for a dear friend from high school, last minute taco night with neighborhood friends, Friday night Mexican, Sunday morning football….it’s pervasive! I held strong.
But, I’m a drinker. My friends are drinkers. I come from a family of drinkers. And frankly, I missed it. I missed it a lot. I started to have thoughts of throwing in the towel and settling for getting through Dry January. Why not, who had I really committed to?
But I decided to keep at it.
Then Omaha happened. I have history in the Big O – I went to college there. I met #2’s Dad there. We lived there after we got married. #2 was born there. My first hubby died there. I still have dear friends there. And I was traveling there for work. I made lunch plans with my dear friend at one of our old haunts and the internal debate began, after all lunch was scheduled for February 2nd.
I skipped the drink at the happy hour we hosted, but at lunch the next day…I caved. I ordered a glass of Pinot Gris and then a second. And I enjoyed every last drop and didn’t feel (too) badly about it, Lent was coming after all, another opportunity to dry out for a bit. But why wait until Lent? I jumped right back on.
Day 37 and beyond….
Day 37 could have been another one that got me. I got a call from school that one of my kids made a whopper of a bad decision. One of those bad decisions that I’m always warning them about. The type that would drive a mom to drink. But I didn’t…at least that night. I held off until Friday. After a long week, the pull of the vino was strong, and I indulged. That Rose went down so easily I could have downed the whole bottle, but not this gal, not this time. This time I stopped at two but cheated again on Mardi Gras. Isn’t that what I was supposed to do with Lent starting the next day?
Fast forward a few weeks, school fundraiser at our local Mexican joint which means hanging with my neighborhood BFFs – and that means one thing – margaritas all around. Not for me, I stuck with water. Funny thing was that I found out days later that one of my dear friends has been trying to cut back as well and it was me drinking water that night helped her stay on track. Wow – didn’t see that coming, me an inspiration, I’ll take it!
The temptation kept coming at warp speed. Just two days later, another tough one. Inexplicably our neighborhood tribe has been entangled in a real life Dateline story and Day 60 was the three year anniversary of the tragedy. Adding to the sadness, just two weeks prior there was a major turning point in the case that ripped through the hood. And while I’m not intimately involved, I’ve been pulled into the fray. So, the girls got together to celebrate our friendship and the wine flowed. Man, did I want that drink.
But I held strong until Day 62 when I cheated, yes, again. We were invited to a beer tasting by some friends. Kinda hard not to drink at a beer tasting…so, I did and traded my Sunday “cheat” drink for a Saturday drink and enjoyed myself. I cheated again later that week when we were at friends for dinner a bottle of wine, a nice Zinfandel had been opened and she wasn’t a fan. I couldn’t stand the thought of that $25 going down the drain, so I had a glass – again, trading for my Sunday cheat. Which came a day early the following weekend too, after all it was St. Patrick’s day and almost my birthday.
The days ticked by, one by one, and there we were, headed for Spring break for the last 10 days and we had a trip back east to visit my hubby’s family on the books. Don’t get me wrong, his family is great, but it’s his family and just like with my family, just like with all families…well, there’s stuff. Stuff that that makes me want a little helper to get through – usually in the form of a glass of wine or two. But I had committed to this thing and it was almost over. So, despite the constant temptation and I didn’t do it. (Hopefully my irritation wasn’t too obvious.)
And then it was done…over…three months (nearly) alcohol free. I did it! So, what did I learn when I quit drinking for 90 days?
Alcohol really is a bunch of empty calories – They aren’t lying when they say this – it didn’t take anywhere near 90 days for me to get back into my work pants again. Oh sweet victory!
I’m not an alcoholic – More importantly than my pants fitting, it seems I’m not an alcoholic. Truth be told, this is a constant worry of mine. Two of my grandparents were alcoholics and there’s always been a nagging voice in the back of my head about it. But honestly, I think I’m okay. But, if I’m not an alcoholic, what is it about that drink that I crave so often?
Alcohol does help me manage my stress – Some of the pull of the wine is flat out stress management. I fill a demanding role within my organization juggling multiple competing priorities every hour of the day. Frankly, that glass of wine truly helps me relax. But I learned there’s more to it than that.
Drinking is a habit – I drink water all day at work, so coming home to drink more water feels pretty anticlimactic. When I quit drinking, finding a new ritual was key. Enter LaCroix – believe it or not, sipping on sparkling water was a decent distraction. Don’t get me wrong – it was no cocktail, but it did the trick. Seems that at times, it’s more about the change of routine than the drink itself.
So , here we are on day 90-something…what’s next for me? A drink, not now, not even necessarily today, but I will definitely go back to my drinking ways…but in a tamer format. And you know what? I may just make “Dry January” my thing.