The Good, the Bad & the Truth: 200 Days Without Drinking

by Rebecca A. Watson on October 12, 2013

in 80s rock, change, goals, habits, health, life, Recovery

This time last year I was in the desert, taking awesome hikes while my friends rode around on their bikes. We rented a condo, cooked and had a merry time. One of my friends works for a wine distributor, so needless to say we drank some amazing wine.

After I got home from that trip, I couldn’t seem to shake my vacation blues. It traveled on through November when I found out my grandmother was dying.

Grief dug its claws into me in December when her funeral was held and didn’t let go through the next few months. My grief/depression lingered into March, a month that could never make up its mind, until my counselor suggested I try out some pharmaceuticals.

pharmaceuticals

I balked. I’ve always had a high level of disdain for these bad boys.

And out of my mouth, without asking my permission, came these words, as if they’d been waiting there patiently for the right moment: “I’d rather quit drinking.”

Thursday marked 200 days of not drinking. I wrote back at 100 days about some of the lessons I’ve learned, and re-reading it they still pretty much ring true.

But at 200 days it starts to feel less like a novelty and more like, well, life. And life has its ups and downs — strikes and gutters if you will. And so it is with abstaining, with recovery, with sobriety … whatever you want to call it.

The Good

  • I’m calm. I no longer swing from anxious to depressed to “eff it all.” I’m pretty even-keel, which for me, is an impressive feat. I’ve long been dramatic and my changing state was part of my personality. I’m still me, just new and improved. Rebecca! Now with less drama!
  • I take fewer pills. I’ve weaned off the extra dose of St. Johns Wort I started taking during the first few months of quitting drinking. I often forget to take it all together. And that doesn’t seem to be a problem. I also rarely use pain meds because I never have a hangover. *Awesome!*
  • Mornings rule. Sante and I are waking up earlier these days. I have more time for journaling, iRest and baking. And I’m just gonna say it again … it’s easier because I don’t have a hangover!
  • I’m saving money. I have a little app that tells me I would’ve spent $602 in wine for myself over these last 200 days. It isn’t the astonishing sum I’ve saved from quitting smoking ($2702), but I’ve also been smoke-free much longer.
  • I’m hella healthy. I’ve never been in better shape. Not even when I was an athlete (read: diver) in junior high. I’m running a 10k this weekend. I eat fresh fruits and veggies every day. But it’s not only my body, it’s my mind. I feel centered. Less reactionary. More honest. And my spiritual connections have intensified as well. So, yeah, there’s that.

sheisbeautiful

The Bad

  • I feel like an outcast. Not because anyone I spend time with alienates or really even comments on my not drinking, but because I am not “a part of.” When we’re out at the biergarten, my apfelshorle looks like a beer and I feel like one of the gang until they all start getting tipsy and giggly. Then I feel like I’m Alice on the other side of the looking glass.
  • I’m misunderstood. Our neighbors invited us down to theirs to try a local wine that’s popular this time of year. When I said Sante would be all about it and I’d just stick with tea or perhaps my new favorite drink, Bionade, my neighbor replied that the wine was very low in alcohol and couldn’t I just have a bit?

I think the reason that that and other comments like that make me feel misunderstood is because I’m not willing to open up enough to people about what alcohol really does to me. And so I give you …

The Truth

Although for the past several years, I’ve kept a reign on my drinking, if I’m really being honest, I’d tell you every time I drink I want to get drunk. Like finish-the-bottle, let’s-tie-one-on, party-like-there’s-no-tomorrow, another-round-of-shots drunk.

And while this was fine when I was in my early 20s working at a brewery, I learned it doesn’t go over too well when you have to get up at a reasonable hour and form coherent thoughts. Thus began my attempt to drink in moderation.

Moderation was its own form of hell because I felt like I was denying myself at every turn. And also because I was telling myself that part of me was wrong, or bad, because I wanted to drink like Slash with his whiskey during the ’80s. I wrestled with that decadent, vice-loving part of me every time I drank.

Every. Time.

Every. Time.

Whether it was a glass of wine at dinner or an afternoon beer on a hot day. It didn’t matter. It was party time in part of my world.

The Plan

It’s been 200 days. Now what? Am I going to start drinking again? After reading my truth above, do you really think the answer is yes? Well, in a way, maybe.

I’m a firm believer that we can change anything about ourselves. Hell, last week I wrote about altering our DNA. Anything is possible. I do not subscribe to labels, and I certainly don’t believe “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.”

That being said, I do think that changing this part of me will take a lot of work and a significant amount of energy. Right now, I’m really more interested in spending my energy on other things, like updating my blog design (it’s coming!), learning German and writing an e-book. Just to name a few.

I also don’t want to have an “Oh, eff it! I just wanna drink” moment, in which I decide that a glass of wine would be nice and hell, I guess I’m ready to do the work and spend the energy on this project!

So I’ve decided since I’m not ready to give it the energy it needs this year, that I am going to revisit it next year. In fact, I’ll revisit it every year, on or around March 24, which is the first day I started living without alcohol.

Since life is constantly surprising me (which is awesome), I have no idea if I’ll ever get around to this project. Who knows, maybe in retirement? Or perhaps a few years from now I’ll have dealt with all the other emotional and mental health issues I have and feel like I’m ready for a new challenge.

Regardless, I’ve figured out how to thrive without alcohol and for now, that’s just fine. Even when my friends who love good wine visit. Because for as much as they love wine, they love me more and don’t care whether I’m drinking or not.They just want me to be happy.

And I just want them to be stoked on life, which is why I don’t begrudge them their vino. After all, when you live in German wine country, right next door to French wine country, who would, really?

Interested in what I’ve been up to without booze? Read Before and After: One Year Without Alcohol, or just check out all my posts about not drinking and recovery.

Wondering if you should quit drinking? Check out my audio class here. In the 20 minute class, I’ll walk you through my simple test to tell you if you should take the 100 Day Challenge and tips on how to do it.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jande October 12, 2013 at 7:42 am

Becca once again you move me to tears.

Thank you for sharing the best parts of you, that is all of you! <3 You make me remember all the good, wonderful, miraculous things about being human. You remind me of our amazing creative potential in the face of all dross we humans can manage to dredge up in our lives. You are a goddess of hope, sister!

I know the struggle toward our highest selves, and that is the most meaningful life anyone can live. Thanks for living it and reminding the rest of us to keep struggling toward the light.

<3

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Ms. Becca October 12, 2013 at 9:32 am

Awwww Jande, thank you! You say the nicest things 🙂 I like being the goddess of hope! And with all that love you’re sending me, I’m calling you Venus 😉

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Jande October 12, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Hahah! <3

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Pinky January 5, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Hi Ms. Becca, thought I’d say hello here. Love this. So you just go on…very good. And did I read here somewhere you are returning to Germany? Is Sante German? Good luck, thanks for the nice writing…

Pinky

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Ms. Becca January 5, 2014 at 10:10 pm

HI lady! Glad to hear from you 🙂 Yep, for now I’m just going on. Working for me so far. I live in Germany and was just visiting California, which is where Sante is from and where I lived for several years before.

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KK March 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

WOW! Really great post… and congrats. I did something similar when I became a vegetarian. The first idea was for 90 days – as a cleanse. I went complete VEGAN, but then I felt so good that I continued it for a year. But, after a trip to France, eating almost nothing but iceberg lettuce (starving!!), I decided I would add in dairy and cheese and now eating in France is much more doable 🙂 Every year, people ask if I am still vegetarian and I say, ‘yes’ – you can ask next year too, but I’m pretty sure the answer will be the same. This is my 7th year!!

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Rebecca A. Watson March 4, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Thanks KK … I can’t imagine being vegan in France. Vegetarian on the other hand wouldn’t be too tough with all the delicious pastries around 😉 Yep, it’s a good thing to revisit your behavior every year I think, even if you’re pretty sure you’re gonna stick with it. Then it’s done more intentionally I think. Congrats on seven years a veggie. I’m impressed 🙂 I bet you feel amazing!

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Jack Martin March 27, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Great blog. Thank you for sharing your insight. Very motivational. I appreciate your honesty. One of the best I’ve read on dealing with alcohol in our daily lives.

Jack

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Rebecca A. Watson March 27, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Thanks so much Jack and thanks for stopping by 🙂

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cheekyfritz April 22, 2014 at 10:24 am

Hey Rebecca,

thank you for your posts, reassuring they are, help me to straighten my back, take a step aside to get a better impression of what’s actually going on in my life. The way you’re writing about that quite serious stuff is sincere but at the same time pretty engaging. Keep it up, it’s gorgeous!

Being an expat isn’t easy, I guess the key is to try out new stuff. Stuff is meant as broad as it gets. To beat the hesitating side in ourselves, leave the comfort zone. You’ve got some experience wiv that, as I learned reading your blog. Keep going – and give it a go!

Iamcheekyfritz

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Rebecca A. Watson April 23, 2014 at 9:56 am

Thanks for your kind words about my blog and the encouragement. I really appreciate it. Getting outside my comfort zone was something I’ve always enjoyed. It seems that living outside it has made me crave more stability in other places, so I’m trying, like you said to let it get broader. Langsam langsam as they say in German 🙂

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Leah June 30, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Thank you so much for your blog!! I did 3 months without drinking a year and a half ago and it was pretty revolutionary. And while for a time drinking lost its appeal and role in my life, and I felt more amazing and vibrant than I ever have, it seems to have slowly crept back in. Maybe alcohol is not a center star like it was in my 20’s, but it did slowly carve back out a role in my life and I realize now the many ways it effects my life and quite simply how it keeps me from being the best version of myself. The healthy, happy, vibrant, loving , happy and kind version of me.

So I logged on last night to find some inspiration and found your blog. What a wonderful gift! Thank you for your writing and words of encouragement, wisdom and understanding.

Keep it up!!
-Leah

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Rebecca A. Watson June 30, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Hey Leah! Thanks for the kind words 🙂 I’m glad you’re seeing that you’re able to be your best self without alcohol. It doesn’t matter if we’re “problem drinkers” or “alcoholics” or just folks who drink when “everyone else does,” it just doesn’t work for some of us and letting go of it is what works for us 🙂 Hugs to you and may you have a life filled with light and happiness!

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Terri August 4, 2014 at 7:19 pm

I am so extremely happy I found this site! I have spent the past hour just reading and taking in comments. I have been a heavy drinker for at least 15+ years. I occasionally go 2 or 3 days on and off during the week without a drink, but rarely. I have found that now I have reached the ripe old age of 53, I am truly sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I passed the weekend “social drinker” status ages ago, and started staying home and getting plastered during the week. Incredible how fast that happened! Constantly thinking about how long it will be until I can leave work and get home to a drink… I am done. I really want to start the challenge, but it is terrifying – like REALLY terrifying, even though I KNOW how amazing I will feel if I carry through. Your posts and all the comments here have made me feel like I really CAN do it! I am jumping in and will definitely be here reading on a regular basis. Thanks for your great words! Wish me luck!!

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Rebecca A. Watson August 7, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Hi Terri! I am so glad you found my site too and also that you find it so encouraging 🙂 You definitely can do it! Best of luck to you and reach out for help! The blogging community is great for that. Check out the bottom of my Resources page for other good bloggers. Hugs to you!

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Nigel taylor October 23, 2017 at 9:25 am

Hiya……..Did you write those blogs, or did I ! Haha….could have been me..Like you Becca , the only thing I miss is the camaraderie and that lovely relaxing feeling after the first beer….I deffo dont miss the morning after…I too, gave up smoking…that was really hard….no comparison…last time I stopped drinking it was for six years…also as one gets older, the health issues come to the fore…alcohol deffo doesnt help on that front….I live in Spain where the ex pats drink to excess….ive lost friends to drink…and will lose more..but hey ho we all make choices every minute of every day…Good Luck with yours x

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