I think I was introduced to alcohol in the usual fashion. In high school you just wanted to try it, try it to be cool, try it to see what it was like. Smirnoff and beer to start then to graduate to vodka was the ultimate in coolness. It was a pissing match to see who could drink the most. I even remember it feeling cool to drink so much you had your head in the toilet all night. We often bragged about how drunk we got or were going to be getting at the weekend.
Moving along to college, the drinking only progressed. No parents to come home to and plenty of frat boys to impress was probably what helped escalate the drinking for most people. We had plenty of fun, embarrassed ourselves, woke up in beds we wish we hadn’t. One habit I also picked up was drinking when life seemed to suck. Be it after a breakup, a bout of depression or after a fight with a friend. Alcohol seemed like a good way to cope.
As the years went on, this pattern of behavior continued. Especially when I moved to other countries where drinking was a big part of the culture. There was no excuse not to drink. It was how I was able to bond with new coworkers, meet new people and make friends. And in my early twenties, the hangovers weren’t so bad.
Fast forward to age 30. The drinking may or may not be turning into a problem at this point. My then boyfriend hated it when I drank, and I often made a fool of myself when I did. The hangovers were starting to get worse.
I soon found myself single and again, and without a reason to stop drinking. But around this time is when I realized that the drinking was no longer serving me. There were many dates I messed up, fun occasions I missed, people I pissed off all because I was shit faced. Not to mention the anxiety that now decided to show up when I was hung over. Many times I would lay in bed after a night of drinking on the brink of a panic attack. It was becoming too much to bear.
Fitness was becoming more and more prevalent in my life. I loved working out and starting my day with a big session at the gym. It was this (coupled with my new boyfriend – now husband who didn’t really drink) that made me slow things down. I found myself wanting to wake up fresh the next day and go to the gym or be productive. I also realized how much more fun it was to socialize when sober. I could remember conversations, not act like an asshole and truly enjoy interactions with people.
Before I realized, I was sober and didn’t even realize it. Well, for the most part, I still enjoy a glass or two of wine every now and again. But I don’t remember the last time I was drunk and I am thankful for that.
Looking back, I wish I had known the real dangers of alcohol. Not necessarily the health dangers but more so the social dangers. The fights it could cause, the moments it could ruin or the relationships it could end. All in all, I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned in stopping drinking and am excited for the rest of my life without it!