Why I’ve Decided to Stop Drinking
Of all the vulnerable posts I’ve written (and there have been many), this one tops the charts, you guys. Maybe it’s because I’m writing this before I’ve had any success, any victory. Because normally, no matter how difficult the topic, I write these posts from a place of strength. Today, I write from a place of weakness and vulnerability. I decided to stop drinking last night. It wasn’t really my idea. I can’t even say it’s something I really want to do either, but I’m gonna follow though with it.
I want to clarify that this is not a post about the evils of alcohol. It’s not. Nor is it a deep delve into why I’m in the place I’m in now. It’s more of a confession and an attempt at public accountability. Because the real problem is that it was God who told me I needed to stop drinking last night, and sadly, it wasn’t the first time.
But before I go any further about that, let me give you a brief background on my relationship with alcohol, because it’s probably not your typical story.
I never drank as a teen and I don’t even remember celebrating my twenty-first with a drink. If I did, it certainly wasn’t memorable. Other than the occasional glass of champagne or super-sweet liquor I’d drink at weddings, I pretty much abstained until I was in my early thirties, when I, like many other young mothers my age, discovered the magical powers of wine.
At that time of my life, drinking was really just a reprieve from the hard work of parenting and working through my (many) issues with counselors and prayer ministers. Having some wine diffused the tension, even if only for a little bit, and it loosened me up. My friends could tell you I needed that desperately. I was insecure, introverted, and inhibited. Wound tighter than the elastic band that held up my spiral-permed hair.
Thankfully, part of that personality package kept me from ever wanting to be out of control, so I never drank too much. I hated the feeling of being altered, of not having my full faculties about me, and the two times I actually did get drunk were honestly accidental.
But somewhere along the way, I made two critical associations with drinking;
- It relieves stress and anxiety
- It’s how one celebrates the good things in life.
I’ve been very open about my struggles with anxiety throughout my life. I’ve let you guys in on the feelings, the worries, the victories, and some of the fears. But I didn’t let you in on a couple of the fears, because I didn’t want to communicate the wrong message.
I’ve been afraid to ‘need’ to take medication daily for my anxiety. I never believed there was anything wrong with that (for other people), but strangely for me, I felt like it would be an admission of my powerlessness over my anxiety. As long as I didn’t ‘need’ to take daily medication, I had the upper hand on my anxiety. I was in control of it.
The other fear I had was becoming addicted to the “take only when needed” medication I had, which I reserved for extreme emergencies, when the need was unquestionable, and the risk of nuclear meltdown outweighed the risk of possible addiction.
Anyway, I discovered along the way that taking a drink had the same immediate effect as those ‘as needed’ meds, and usually by the time I finished my drink, whatever was troubling me didn’t seem such a big deal anymore. It was also way more enjoyable than swallowing pills.
But the problem was (and is) that I feel anxious just about every day. And some days are more anxiety-producing than others. You can see where this is heading.
Now, add to that my dedication (my mission!) to enjoying life, celebrating, and thriving, and my association between those things and drinking.
And I realized, you guys, that both in the good times and in the bad times, my life has begun to revolve around drinking.
I think it about it more often than I’m comfortable admitting.
I have planned events, dinners, and get-togethers around it. Even ones in the future, I’m already thinking about what drinks I’ll have then.
And I am genuinely sad, like, grieving sad, as I think about having to give that all up.
I am actually filled with fear about it. Fear that I will be miserable without it. That I’ll never really have as much fun as I could be having. That people won’t like coming to my parties if I don’t drink or if (gasp!) we don’t serve it.
That I’ll run out of ways to cope with my anxiety.
I’ve never been in touch with these thoughts before and it scares me. And I’m ashamed that I’m sadder about giving it up than the fact that I’ve let myself get to this place. I must admit that this place I’ve gotten to isn’t healthy, and before I can consider having a drink again (if ever), I must completely break the grip it’s had on me. It’s had enough of a grip that I’ve turned a deaf ear to God when He’s told me to stop. More than once. It might be the only area I’ve ever knowingly disobeyed God in. And that breaks my heart, because I love Him so much and He has been so, so good to me. And though He wants the best for me, I have turned the other way in this area because I wanted what felt best to me.
Drinking, for me, has felt like freedom. Freedom from legalism, freedom from my own inhibitions, freedom from worries. It also felt like celebration, like fun, like enjoying life the way it’s meant to be enjoyed. But because I did not submit all of that to God and let Him in on my decision-making, what I thought was freedom has now become bondage.
Will alcohol always be bondage in my life? I can’t say right now. Maybe, maybe not. But I won’t really know that answer until I have the clear perspective of walking in true freedom without it.
Just so you know, I have the support, encouragement, and accountability of my husband and my close circle of friends on all of this. And I don’t want to misrepresent how things are on the outside, either. I don’t drink to excess, but it’s become way too often. It hasn’t interfered with my life—as in, my job, my family, or my relationships—but it’s interfering with my desire to live whole, free, and right before God. And you can’t be living right before Him when you’re ignoring what He’s telling you to do.
And that’s where I am right now. No victory story, no inspiring words. Just plain truth, plain facts.
Today, I quit drinking. And that is that.