Let me set the stage:
Your boss was super needy today and you can’t wait to go home. Time to pick up the kids from after school care, cook dinner, review and help with homework, cleanup and bedtime.
As you pull out the dishes and food for dinner, you grab a glass to pour [insert your drink of choice]. You work through your evening while you sip. Somewhere around the end of cooking, you pour yourself a second glass.
You continue to go through the motions. Finally, you get the kids to bed so you can relax. Time for drink number three.
You don’t drink every day, but your recycle bin has more than a couple of bottles in it. When you’re stressed at work, when you park in front of your home, when you pull out your house keys, your mind is already on the drink sitting in the liquor cabinet.
You realize drinking has become ingrained in your routine; you don’t think even about it. You haven’t been able to relax without several drinks, sometimes four or five a night. You can’t even remember the last time that you didn’t keep alcohol in your house.
When did this happen? When did we make drinking synonymous with fun/relaxing/group activities?
Relaxing was so much simpler in my youth! I loved to dance with my friends until early in the morning with none of us consuming one drink!
As I get older, I can’t separate drinking from spending time with my friends and it’s gone too far. There’s rarely an occasion that doesn’t include alcohol. Now with the added stress of Covid, many women are drinking more at home than ever before! And companies are noticing.
Alcohol advertisements flood our television shows and commercials at an all-time high levels. Even Tropicana (yes, the orange juice company) has jumped into alcohol sales with their “hiding mimosa in your closet” campaign to show that sometimes you just need to drink in peace. They created a hashtag #TakeaMimoment for women to share their solo drinking experiences with the world.
It’s not as easy to quit as you might think, and if you’ve tried and failed, you are not alone. Making the personal decision to become a non-drinker seems to have a very interesting effect on others.
My first experience with the backlash of not drinking was during a nail appointment. My nail technician and I were talking, and last year she gave up alcohol. She looked great; I hadn’t seen her happier or healthier since I’d known her. I thought it was admirable and healthy. She had lost friends over the decision. They informed her they felt she was judging them for drinking and so they no longer wanted to be around her.
In another instance, a friend of mine wanted to do a “Sober October”. She posted a meme on her social media, which has a large following. In her caption, she simply asked her followers to join in if they wanted to, so they could hold each other accountable. Yet, after less than 24 hours, the vitriol in response was overwhelming for her otherwise peaceful page. Women attacked her for attacking words: “How dare you tell us we can’t drink?” Unfortunately, she took down the graphic.
And for myself, I went to a gathering of four people from my cluster. I wanted to just skip drinking for the night. Oddly, everyone seemed to find an issue with it. “It’s just one drink,” they said, “we’re toasting our friend on her new job.” You decline. I never intended it to be a “thing”. I really didn’t think it would be an issue at all. Now, I felt I was a buzzkill, so I took a shot just to avoid the discomfort.
I’ve come across several other examples of this happening, especially in circles of women. It’s hard to imagine that others would hesitate to support their friend making a very personal decision. But it happens.
Do any of these examples resonate with you? Do you want to stop drinking and find it hard for your friends and family to relate? Try these tips for the first steps in the right direction.
First, you have to make this decision. Are you ready? It sounds cliche, but you have to find your why. Why now? Is it your fitness? Too many calories? Even tequila and vodka are empty calories with no nutritional value. Is it your overall health or energy level? Why else would you choose to not drink? Yes, “Because I don’t want to” is an acceptable answer.
Second, keep your decision to not drink to yourself! This one sucks. It’s much easier to achieve goals with someone that can hold you accountable. But unless you know that the surrounding people will support you, it’s just easier to keep this information close to the vest until you’re comfortable with the decision yourself.
Finally, find online groups that support a sober lifestyle. There are lots of groups that support leaving drinking (and drugs) in your past. If you’re interested in getting tied in, please let me know.
If you need an excellent book to start down this path, give Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker a read. This book takes a groundbreaking look at how drinking has become integral to our society and how to stop.