Hello you fine fabulous person who has decided that you would like to read my blog. I’ve never written a blog before, so I am quite honored that you are here!
I’ll start by answering the question I’ve gotten from a lot of people since I “came out” as Alcohol Free – why? Why are you telling the world about your biggest weaknesses and shortcomings? Well, I’ll tell you… There are probably a hundred different little moments and whispers from the universe that lead me to this decision, but I’ll try to get right to the point.
Shortly before my 35th birthday I started to take serious inventory of my life so far. Hopefully I’ll make it past 70, but for some reason if I don’t this could be the half-way point and that made me seriously start to reconsider how I was spending my time. I wrote down all of my goals for the next part of my life and anything that I needed to do to reach that goal. Guess what the number one step to every goal was? CHANGE MY RELATIONSHIP WITH ALCOHOL. For the larger part of the time since I turned 21, I had been spending a lot of time with a drink in my hand and did not have nearly as many memories as I should have compared to the amount of drinks that had been in said hand.
It’s important to understand I did not start really drinking until I was 21. There were a handful of instances before that, but I was way too afraid to do too much because I was a reeaalllly good kid and HATED the idea of getting into any kind of trouble or disappointing my mother (no sarcasm – god’s honest truth). The very first time I drank anything was a Mike’s Hard Lemonade my senior year of high school. That is “a” Mike’s Hard Lemonade as in one, uno. Unbeknownst to me, there was also a violent stomach bug brewing in me that subsequently had me throwing up for the next three days. I was convinced that one malt beverage had made so sick that I should probably never drink again. And – to drive home the point, God had also punished my mom and sister with the same inexplicable 3-day hangover.
Suffice it to say, somewhere between that Mike’s Hard Lemonade-induced stomach bug and my 35th birthday, things went off the rails. I finally came out of my shell and found loads of confidence at the bottom of a (okay lots of) vodka cranberry drinks (how unoriginal, right?) when I went away to College of Charleston. A lot of things got fuzzy, muddled, and super crazy fun (so I thought). I became a social butterfly and boozehound. Binge drinking and blackouts became my normal and I was spending a lot of time having a blast, apologizing, hating myself, and wondering what the hell had happened to that really good kid I once was. The drinking became my best friend and my worst enemy and at some point this year I realized that things had to change.
After a particularly awful binge night, where I threw any number of important life relationships into major jeopardy this past October, I wondered into Barnes & Noble in search of some help. Sidenote: I went in search of a book because I didn’t want to believe I was so bad off that I needed to invest in therapy or rehab or anything else that I would spend a lot of money on and eventually give up. I ended up with a copy of Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind in my hands and OMG – it shook my world. Entranced by the fantasy of her hangxiety-free world I took her challenge and entered into 30 days alcohol-free. Damn, was it hard. Damn, it was AMAZING. It was literally the longest I had been alcohol-free since college (except for the 16 weeks I was pregnant – more on that later) and I felt like I had found the secret to life and youth and joy. I was on to something. I did go back to drinking after my 30 days (because who could give up alcohol FOREVER?), but there was a change happening in me. A pull to strive for more, to expect better from myself, to live the life I had always imagined for myself. A life that I deserved and could be proud of living.
I’m 129 days into this and it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Over those 4ish months, I’ve been over 96% sober. So – basically out of 129 days, I’ve only had drinks on 3 of those days. After getting bombed at a friend’s wedding in March, experiencing possibly the worst hangover of my entire life, and spending a week full of anxiety – I decided that I’m done drinking for good. It’s not worth it, I hate the way it makes me feel, and I like sober me so much more than I ever did Bad Decision Brantley (more on that later).
So – why am I writing about this? Plenty of people go through struggles, make life changes, do new things, etc and don’t feel the need to share with the world – so why am I? One of the hardest parts about quitting something that is so socially acceptable and feels so socially required, is feeling so alone. In all honesty – that’s a large part of why it’s taken me until now to really get serious about changing my relationship with the bottle. Hearing and reading other stories that I could relate to and that made me feel less alone and less of a big ol’ freaky freak really lit a fire in me that no other attempts at quitting were able to. I don’t need a pat on the back, a gold star (even though I literally mark every sober day in my calendar with a gold star), or a medal – I just want to share my story so that if even one person sees it and feels less alone and less crazy, I’ve done my part and made a small impact on this banana pants world we live in.
I’m going to cover the ups and downs of quitting, what resources were helpful for me, stories (some funny, some horrifying, some horrifyingly funny) about my drinking days, and other helpful hints and tidbits I’ve gained in my quest for contentment (which is really what it all boils down to). I am not, I repeat NOT a doctor, but I am simply sharing my story and you can take from it what you will.