Why choose sobriety?
Sober is sexy, that is my new belief. Before you stop reading, hear me out. Sometimes people do not want to take a deeper look within, although they know they should. I know, because that was me.
Consumption of alcohol is perhaps the most highly used coping mechanism for pain both physical and emotional.
Ladies listen up. As a woman, our hormones can be out of whack, emotions are running high, and mid-life crisis thoughts can creep in. Menopause may cause insomnia, hot flashes, mood swings, depression, irritability, headaches, joint pain, and a racing heart. You may be tempted to alleviate these symptoms with a drink. Wine is a very popular drink of choice. Society will tell you it is chic, classy and cool – it will even tout its health benefits!
As your children get older there is also a thing called “mom-guilt.” This is feeling like you haven’t been there to support your child in a healthy way. This dampens self-confidence and may cause thoughts of guilt and shame.
If there is a man in your life, sometimes as women, we build our self-worth on what our man tells us about who we are. That can be great if he is lifting you up and encouraging you…but it can be devastating to your self esteem if he is critical, demeaning, or destructive because of his own insecurities. Our self-worth should come from God only. He has created you in His image (which is perfect) and is molding you and shaping you as much as you allow Him in.
Now, as if all of those things aren’t enough to battle, add on body changes. If a woman has gained some weight, which often happens in the late forties and early fifties, positive self-image goes out the window.
To every problem, there is at least one solution.
So instead of coping with alcohol, what if you did the opposite?
Whether you are just cutting down on alcohol, or giving it up all together, there is a new positive attitude surrounding being sober.
As we age, we become more sensitive to the effects of drinking. For an example, it can create reckless sleep patterns or make certain medical conditions worse. People begin to notice little spots in their memory missing, sometimes big spots. Our brain isn’t processing information and retaining it when we binge drink or have to much in a short period of time.
My Personal Story in a condensed version:
I decided to cut back. When that did not give me the mental relief and physical change, I made a decision. I just made it. Decided. That’s it. I have not ever looked back. Each party I attend, event I go to, and the morning after an event, I am confirmed in my awesome choice.
#soberissexy #soberiscool #sobergivesmepower
There is so much to GAIN from stopping alcohol consumption.
I am embarrassed to admit I started drinking alcohol when I was in 7th grade. I was young for my grade, so I was 12. I cringe at that number. We filled a shampoo bottle with scotch and went to a teenage party where the parents were not home. I hated the taste but chugged it anyway. I drank all through Junior High and High School. Although I did not make severely bad choices sexually, I know I made choices drunk that I never would have made sober. I know I made friend choices based on the partying. I chose my first boyfriend with terrible judgment in 10th grade and suffered an abusive relationship for 16 months. Thank goodness I was raised in a loving home and regained my self confidence to break that chain and never date an abusive person after that.
I met the father of my children at age 18, married at age 20. There were college drinking episodes that did not serve our young relationship well. I started having a love/hate relationship with alcohol. I am that girl that values self-control and I gave that up every time I drank too much. For 28 years as we raised our 3 children and focused on a healthy lifestyle and Christian values, we did not have much to do with alcohol. Barely even had it in the house. It wasn’t much of a thing. Family and our kids were a priority. We faced some marital issues 13 years into our marriage. When your partner commits adultery, it can cause you to look within and try to figure out what you did to cause that. It stole from my self-esteem and really knocked me off my block.
His affair with one of my business partners became very public and I had to deal with rumors, embarrassment and shame, all the while protecting my children and pretending Mommy was ok. Honestly, I think they kept me alive. The infidelity lasted about 18 months and the recovery about 2 years.
I know I coped with alcohol, workouts, and dove headfirst into my business. It kept my mind off of how bad things got. We recovered, or so I thought, but we managed. I did my best to just stay away from any alcohol and was absorbed in raising the kids and building my business. I found myself seeking comfort emotionally from a guy friend and for two years I would say I had an emotional affair. Trying to find myself again and find value in who I was. I finally saw how I was coping and backed off from that friendship, in 2007 our Head Pastor approached us as a couple and asked if we wanted to lead their marriage ministry. We prayed about it, knew we would have to share some hard things, but realized it was a way to serve the Lord. So we went through the training and started a Marriage Course for couples. I believe we reached a lot of people for Christ. There was no sign of any alcohol for years during this time.
In 2009, when my oldest was getting married…I was struggling with my husband’s relationship with a woman in his youth ministry. He was pursuing a Campus Pastor position at the time and took on a lot of church duties. He was caught up in his mission to serve others, I was caught up in my work, and somewhere in between we were helping the kids graduate, go to college, and get married.
When I looked up from my work to take a breath, I realized my marriage was in big trouble. In 2011 I began to grieve the loss of my marriage, and the funky thing was, I was still in it. I just knew it was over. I started drinking again in 2012 in spurts, to kill my pain. I had lost my husband to another woman, again, and I could not cope. Once every six months I would drink too much. I remember feeling like I poisoned my body. For 2 years we lived under the same roof, for a large period of time in the same bedroom, separate beds, while navigating a very destructive divorce. I was so lost in my grief I could hardly function. I could not even communicate with my three grown children, for some reason, I felt I needed to protect them from what happened between their dad and I. It only made me look worse. With all of the rumors circulating in church and in my business, I went into a deep depression. You would never know it from my Facebook, my public face, or my day to day life. I thank God for residual income because I got so bad, I couldn’t work. I took a sabbatical for about 2 ½ years not being able to accept this loss in my life. In 2014, I felt I had lost the relationship with my kids because they though Mom wanted a new life without any of them. I believed they blamed me for the dissolve of the marriage. Whether that is true or not, it was my belief.
I was grieving the loss of my dream-home which we built in 1990 and remodeled in 2011. It was the only home I knew. I moved to a rental for a year trying to find my way. In my grief I was not just dealing with the loss of my life partner, soul mate, lover, best friend, husband, I was dealing with the loss of my family unit, my hopes and dreams, my home, my vision of my awesome life. I lost myself. I was confused, foggy, blurred, and my drinking became an escape. I would sleep for days, wouldn’t shower, would hide from the world. I am so grateful that God was with me every step of the way. I cried out to him regularly. I knew he was there. I proactively pursued healing. I went through a certification program and got certified as a Grief Recovery Specialist. My goal was to help those going through a divorce. I didn’t feel like society treated it as a deep loss and I wanted to help others through their grief.
In 2015, I felt like I was revived. I was back to drinking only on occasion, only one or two drinks, I had healed my mind and my heart. I experienced supernatural forgiveness for the second time in my life regarding my former husband. God opened my heart to love again when I found my Charlie. We dated 2 years long distance and finally got married May 21, 2017. He knew how I felt about alcohol. He liked to have his cocktails and it was often a point of contingency for us. I kept at my moderation level. Although I never saw him drunk, he liked to drink almost daily. He was very social. October 31, 2017 – just 5 months after we said “I do” he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and died 34 days later.
I was no stranger to grief. I applied all of my training from my program to myself. I took a step back from work but not a full sabbatical. I chose not to medicate or use alcohol to cope. I honored my Charlie for one year in a really beautiful way. I surrounded myself with people who helped me heal in a healthy way. Grief did not grip me, it worked through me.
Once in a while I would have some alcohol, and honestly, each time I would regret having it – I felt like I was poisoning my body. As a single woman in her 50’s it is at every social event I go to. So, for a while I just drank socially. Then, I made a decision to draw a line in the sand. What if I said I was sober? What if I just didn’t drink at all, ever. That would be the most ultimate self-control I have ever exercised. Some people cannot fathom it. They think because they don’t “have a problem” – why should I? There is no “reason” to. Well, my reason, is for the health of it. I want to remember everything. People who drink over their limit think they have more control than they do, they think they remember everything, but they don’t – they think its no big deal. When you step outside of that way of thinking it is an amazing freedom.
So now I am sober. I think sober is sexy. I think sober is smart.
Now I face a new issue socially…the dynamic of what happens when I tell people I am sober or that I don’t drink simply because I just choose not to. The responses are interesting.
Was it hard to give it up?
Why did you stop when you didn’t have an addiction?
Don’t you miss it?
Isn’t it awkward at parties?
I had one person tell me – “wow, the poor guy who dates you, I could never date someone who doesn’t drink alcohol.”
I have seen people show immediate guilt as though I am judging them and their drinking. They start to explain to me how many drinks they have had or that they had a hard day or they simply avoid me.
So here are some things I have found:
Many people are generally in denial about their own consumption.
Ultimately, alcohol is a poison. Your body can only process one unit of alcohol an hour. That’s the equivalent of a third of a pint of beer or half a standard glass of wine. When you relate that to a standard night out (or even at home with a few glasses after a stressful day) we’d all have to admit to drinking too much.
What Immediate Effect Does Alcohol Have On The Body?
- Slows down brain function and you lose your sense of balance.
- Dehydrates you (and most of us don’t drink enough water as it is!)
- Irritates your stomach.
- Lowers the body temperature.
- Lowers blood sugar levels.
How Does Alcohol Effect Sleep?
Regular drinking affects sleep quality and makes you feel tired and sluggish. Alcohol affects your sleep cycle.
People are under the illusion that drinking helps you go to sleep quicker and sleep better. The former may be true, but as the night goes on, your sleep is less deep and more time is spent in less restful Rapid Eye Movement (R.E.M.) sleep.
In reality, this leaves you feeling more tired, no matter how long you stay in bed the next day.
Alcohol and Sugar
A sound bite often used is alcohol is full of empty calories, but what does this mean? Alcoholic drinks have no nutritional value and are full of sugar, which is bad news for your waistline.
We all know too much sugar is bad for us in a number of ways:
- It’s high in calories.
- Too much leads to unhealthy weight gain.
- Being overweight makes you susceptible to long-term health problems such as heart disease and type two diabetes.
- It can lead to tooth decay
When you consume alcohol, the body channels the toxins and expel them. This has an effect on your bodily functions, not least the production of glucose and hormones needed to regulate the body.. Over time, the more you drink, too much alcohol decreases the effectiveness of insulin which leads to high blood sugar levels. It can also have the opposite effect and increase insulin levels, which leads to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). This causes a feeling of light-headed and fatigue and is responsible for a host of longer-term problems.
Alcohol and The Liver
The liver is the largest internal organ and has hundreds of roles including:
- Breaking down food into energy.
- Helping the body get rid of waste.
- Fighting infection.
When your liver is damaged, you won’t generally know about it until things get serious. Drinking can increase the risk of developing liver disease and cause irreparable damage. Alcohol is responsible for over one third of liver disease deaths and research shows those suffering are getting younger.
How Does Alcohol Damage Your Liver?
The liver tries to breakdown alcohol and the resultant reaction damages cells. Alcohol can also damage your intestine and cause gut bacteria to get into the liver. This damage leads to inflammation and scarring.
Alcohol also affects the way the liver handles fat, so your liver cells get stuffed full of it. The good news is, stop drinking for two weeks and then sticking to the recommended alcohol units, means your liver should start shedding excess fat.
Other Health Related Problems
On top of liver problems, alcohol can cause many other issues including high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes. Dehydration from drinking too much alcohol can also affect your skin, as well as causing headaches.
Should I Give Up Alcohol?
Many people over 50 are finding themselves cutting down on alcohol consumption. As well as the many problems that alcohol causes, quitting alcohol or cutting down can make you feel great. Through getting decent sleep; losing weight, cutting down on sugar, and giving your body the chance to repair damage done, the lifestyle benefits you gain from saying no to alcohol can make you feel amazing!
I will leave you with personal reflections:
Here are some of the things I have noticed in being sober:
I remember everyone and all the conversations at a party, making the experience far richer and more enjoyable than I realized.
I can be fun and uninhibited without help from liquid courage when I simply learn to assert myself.
I feel great the next day.
I took off my extra weight in a short period of time
I save money by not having a bar tab, I know this could make a profound financial difference for some.
It gives me a higher sense of self control.