1,000 Days with no alcohol!
Halloween - October 31, 2019. I had a glass (or maybe it was a bottle) of wine after trick-or-treating. That was my last drink…. Maybe forever.
Today, July 27, 2022, has been 1,000 days!
Some of you know this fact about me. I’m guessing many of you probably wonder why.
Before I go on, let me be clear. I do not think that everyone that drinks is required to stop or has a problem. Everyone that drinks are not bad people.
For me? It was bad a bad behavior and I needed to stop. I want to share why.
It was the biggest distraction I had. I LOVED it – seriously LOVED it. Not that it was a distraction, but I loved wine. It was a big part of my identity, and I was proud of it. However, it wasn’t who I truly was. It wasn't the role model I wanted to be for my son.
Here is the story for me how I came to realize it was an issue for me and how long it took for me to overcome it.
In early 2019 I was trying to become healthier. I had changed my eating for 30 days and followed an elimination diet. This diet is intended to help bring attention to what, if anything, was making me not feel well. One part of this diet is eliminating all alcohol, among many other things. I felt really good after 30 days! I lost a little weight and was pretty happy. On day 31 I went right back to drinking wine, just like the book says is ok.
What those 30 days did do for me is to bring awareness to how much I was drinking.
At the time, I used wine as a reward – I had a great day! Let me get a bottle of wine. I used wine as a numbing – I had a bad day – let me get a bottle of wine. I also used it as tool to be healthy, you know I want a glass of wine with dinner – it's healthy and good for my heart (there are studies that prove it!).
There were two problems with this. 1) if I had a glass, I usually drank the entire bottle (can’t waste any…) and 2) if this wasn’t every day, it was a few days a week. Too many.
Sometime in that spring I realized that when I got in the car after work I would think about wine. This was like when I quit smoking years ago! I would think, “should I get a bottle?” or if I had already decided to get wine my thoughts would change to where to buy – well, if I buy it at that store again the guy at the counter is going to judge me, so where should I go?
What really came into my awareness is I was spending WAY too much time and energy thinking about it, drinking it, and then feeling physically and mentally cruddy after drinking.
Therefore, for me it was not a positive impact in my life.
It was impacting my life, but not in the destruction of my marriage, family or my job the way we think of when “Someone has a problem with drinking”. I could have continued and been socially accepted forever.
However, I felt guilty and had bad feelings around it. I just KNEW God had more for me. I felt I was being prompted to give it up physically.
Here I am in the spring/summer of 2019. I am arguing with myself almost daily as to whether to drink.
I started to pray intensely and intentionally about whether or not I had to give it up completely. I didn't want to as it felt like giving up a friend. I was giving up a piece of me. I think my prayer was probably more so something like "I really don't have to completely stop, right?"
I started to pray prior to getting to the store. I would say out loud “God, if I am not supposed to buy this, I know you are bigger and you can stop me.” Then many nights I would still pull into the store…. and guess what followed. Shame, embarrassment, wonder if people were judging me. The guilt.
People (including my closest people) couldn’t understand because “I am not an alcoholic”. My relationship was stable, my job was stable. It wasn’t a “problem”.
Again, I heard God, and He had more for me. I had no idea what “more” was.
Lauren Daigle has a song that says, “I’m taking all I have and now I’m laying it at your feet”. That is what I had to do.
There is a verse in Matthew that talks about how we cannot serve two masters. It is about God and money. I felt like this was me. I couldn’t continue being a wine drinker and follow God (because the wine seemed like it was ruling my life).
The Bible also mentions in a few places that we need to renew our thoughts. Which means, as my Pastor used to say, we need to change our stinking thinking.
So I did. Slowly. Through trial, error, trial, error. Tried again. Screwed up again.
Have you heard me say before – CHANGE IS HARD! And it SUCKS to change! I also knew that staying the same would suck. I had to choose my suck. Each time I would drink again it wasn't the end of the world, but my guilt and shame were overwhelming.
Finally, Halloween 2019 was my last drink. People ask me if I will ever have a drink again? And honestly – I don’t know. I have had a sip of this or that on a rare occasion since then. But you know what. I don’t like the taste or even the smell!
Here is what I do know. I feel better physically, mentally, and spiritually than I ever have. This feeling is WAY better than any feeling or taste of wine that I ever had. I know that the joy I have now is way better than the guilt and shame I had then.
1,000 days later and I have heard God tell me to share my story. I have become a speaker because I want to encourage others to check what you are identifying with. I have become a coach because I want to help others find their truest version of themselves as I have.
It is such a much nicer life on this side being truly authentic. It allows me to tell my story without any attached guilt or shame.
I now have a peace that I can't explain. It wasn't there prior to 2019.
I am happy to have been through those feelings so I can now be an encourager to others.
Do you have something in your life that you feel you need to let go? Are you finding that small voice in your head saying, “this isn’t you”? I have learned that the guilty feeling we have is an indication, like a symptom, that something isn’t right. If you have that feeling – you have more in your life that you can do and be. That feeling is you not being your truest self.
You can be released from that identify.
You can become your truest self.