Cheers to Kiah and Tara Jean!
With a simple Facebook post, my life changed.
Uh, that’s a bit over-dramatic. It wasn’t *that* life-changing. More of an awakening. An awakening of the mind and spirit; a stirring of things long-since buried; a whisper from a once-lived life; a… well, you get the picture.
It was January 3rd. The new year had just begun.
The previous year had been a gong show, and I was happy to leave it behind! Puppies, cars, nonnies (I’ll tell you about that later!) – I was DONE! Christmas had sucked balls (I got an almost-empty Kleenex box from one of the children and nothing from hubby, not that it’s about presents but COME ON!!!), New Years was no better (watched tv, went to bed early, woo, hoo), and I was drowning in self-pity (obviously!)
The new year had started like all previous years (except that one when I was pregnant) – with my standard 2 Coronas in the evening. The first one couldn’t come fast enough. Sometimes I made it to 5 o’clock, sometimes I didn’t. And if that one went too fast, I’d be into my second one by 6. If there was ANY reason to stay up – reality show, friends over, whatever – I’d even get to a third beer. Or gin and tonic or rum and eggnog or whatever was on the menu, because let’s face it, after the second beer I was pretty much up for anything!
My two-beer habit started way back in university, when I shared a house with a few girlfriends. I was stressed out, miserable, and lost. I started drinking, alone. My girlfriends rarely drank, and they were far younger and more studious than me. So my 32 year old self sat on our front porch, often sucking back an entire 6 pack by myself while smoking cigarettes and watching traffic. I was a sorry ball of failure and bad decisions, often witnessed by nameless one-nighters and hangover Tylenols.
Since then, there have been days, weeks, even months of beer-free times – mere moments, lost in the fog of memories – when I didn’t touch a drop. Those days I was mostly pregnant or breast feeding. My memory fails me now, but I’m sure there were other times too, like when I was too poor to buy booze. Many, many times, probably. But again, those times are a distant memory.
There was always a reason to drink: loneliness, entertainment, socializing, stress, joy, sadness, thirst, exhaustion, energy, motivation, courage, too much to do, too little to do, etc, etc, etc. Blue moon? CHEERS! Any reason would do, and I told myself that I deserved it. Life was hard and adulting sucked.
When marriage, kids, and family overtook, the beer took the back stage. It was still there, but it wasn’t the focus. The focus was merely getting through the day, and getting to 5pm so I could have that first beer. The kids ran me ragged from their birth – diapers, play dates, laundry, 24/7 alertness – I was exhausted by the end of the day. Therefore, I drink! That first beer at 5pm washed away all of the day’s stresses. I became numb as I felt my stress seep away with that first sip. Aaaah, heaven.
So when Kiah and Tara Jean from Jack FM in Vancouver put a post on their Facebook page on January 3rd that read:
“WHAT’S YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION?
Accountability is key. So, we’ll check back on this post in exactly 4 weeks.
KIAH: Speak up. Stand up for myself. Take control.
TARA JEAN: Swim a 400 metre kick in under 9 minutes.
ERIC: Gain 10lbs”
I replied in my usual sarcastic fashion. I wrote:
“GAIN 10lbs?? *sheesh* Mine’s the complete opposite! LOL! It’s definitely time to take more control and quit drinking so much. But don’t quote me on that because I’m not sure I can pull that off…” and added a winking emoji.
“you’ll hear from us on the 31st. Have at ‘er!! ~ Tara Jean”
Ooooh, snap! What have I done?! They’re going to check in on me in a month – what will I tell them?!?! AUGH!!
At first I laughed it off, but slowly the seed took hold. Like a cigarette tossed into an arid forest, the fire smoldered at first and then grew quickly. At 9:07am I had written down a thought, and by 5pm that evening, it had grown into a major motion picture!
My sister-in-law was visiting and that afternoon she offered me a beer. I said “No thanks.” and continued to stare at my computer screen as if nothing was amiss. Inside, my eyes were wide, darting around, mouth agape. What had just happened??? Had I… had I… made a decision??? ACK!!! Okay, okay, just calm down, go with it.
And go with it I did. The first few days were hard. I drank a lot of tea. I had promised myself I would only drink on Fridays and Saturdays. Let’s see how this goes…
That first Friday, I got hammered. I drank an entire week’s worth of booze at my friend’s place, and I had to text my husband to come get me. I was bouncing off the walls on the way to the bathroom and laughing at myself. Ooooh, this was going to hurt the next day!
Saturday started with a couple of Tylenols, but I was mostly fine. That night I took it easy and stuck to my 2-beer rule.
Come Sunday, I was back to the new me: dry! I drank tea, played cards with my kids, cleaned, and went to bed EARLY. Some nights it wasn’t even 8:30! But when there’s no alcohol to drink, I’m bored. Bed is a nice place to stay – it’s alcohol-free and I have Twitter. And my kids – they like to snuggle while we all play on our respective devices. I was (oddly) happy.
That Thursday, hubby and I talked about having a few beer while we watched our show which would air that night. He picked up a 6 pack for me and some random tall cans for him, and it gave me pause. I was considering not having a beer and sticking to the plan, but when I turned around, he had opened a beer for me. Huh. Oh well, I guess I’ll have one. Or two. I must admit, I didn’t really enjoy the first one… it didn’t taste as good as I remembered. But the second one? YUM!! I had two that night.
And the next night.
And the night after that.
But when Sunday morning came, I was happy to welcome it! I felt different. More awake. More aware. I wasn’t foggy or lazy or unmotivated, as I had been for the past god-knows-how-many years. I felt lighter – the kids didn’t bother me, I didn’t hate my life or the dogs or my husband. It didn’t bother me that I didn’t have a car or a penny in my pocket, when usually these things would irk me to snarkiness. What the hell was going on???
Over the next few days, I started to take back my life. I started cleaning and organizing my house, I started writing more, I started ticking things off my to-do list. I exercised, went on a diet (when did I get so pudgy?! Was I just bloated??), and made some hard decisions about things I’d been hanging onto *just in case*…
Looking back with a clear head, I now see that this habit has been holding me back. It lulled me into an odd combination of false contentment and dissatisfaction. Was I happy? No. Was I satisfied? I wasn’t sure. Was I DISsatisfied? I didn’t *think* so. I didn’t know WHAT I was, because I was just “making it through the day” so I could have that first beer!
Now, I’m not saying that I’ve turned my life around and suddenly I’m this amazing person. I’m not. I’m still the same person, but I feel… happier? I’ve come to the realization (or perhaps it’s just a belief) that the two-beer-per-day habit did not do me any favours, and may have contributed to my self-loathing and low self-esteem. If you had asked me before Christmas if I had low self-esteem, I would’ve balked – hell no! But you know what? I DID!
And I probably still do, but now I’m sober so I hide it better… *snicker*
So thanks, Kiah and Tara Jean, for writing that post. If you hadn’t actually replied to my comment, I probably wouldn’t be on this path right now. I would’ve just forgotten about that post and not given it a second thought. “drink less”?? HAH! It’s easy to write stuff in comments and never follow through with them, but knowing that you were going to check in on me at the end of the month gave me the push that I needed to put down that beer.
So… CHEERS! I will raise a toast to you this Friday!
One small step for Anne-kind, one giant leap for… ok, I’ll see myself out.