Recently I read a post on facebook from a woman who was incredibly defensive about her drinking. She said a bunch of things like... "I work hard, I don't neglect my kids, I'm a community person... but don't you dare suggest I shouldn't have my wine...." She also went on to say more about how she appreciated good wine and supports the industry and the culture behind it and so on, and so on. I've read a thousand posts like this, but for some reason this one really hit me. It was like the old me wrote this post - her words could have been my words. And then an intense feeling of loneliness came over me as I remembered what it was like to be that person. I was hugely defensive about my drinking because I was desperately afraid I would have to give it up if was identified as problematic - and then what would I do when I was lonely? I would be without my most trusted tool, my emotion-squasher, my best friend in a bottle. It sounds sad, but I'm going to suggest that there are a lot - like millions - of women out there who are pretending to have it all together, who depend on wine to get them through times of loneliness. A person doesn't have to actually be alone to feel this way. A person can feel alone in a crowd, in a workplace, at a party or in their own company. It's isolation, and it's devastating.
Quitting drinking has led me to make significant changes to my perspective. You see, in order to quit drinking, you have to address the problems that lie beneath the problem (drinking). The problem of loneliness required a lot of self-care and introspection. Without the numbing tool I once used to avoid my feelings, I had to get up close and personal with my own mind. I had to learn to like myself, help myself and entertain myself with the content I truly enjoyed and found satisfying. As a result, my feelings of isolation began to shift towards feelings of solitude. Solitude can also be felt in a crowd. It is a about being okay with yourself and enjoying your own company.
This weekend, while my children and spouse trip through the lakes and forests of Algonquin, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time alone. Reading, writing, cleaning, cooking, working, resting, exercising. In the past I might have tried hard to find someone to drink wine with - and if nobody was available would most likely have justified a Netflix & wine marathon and called it "relaxing". Coming out of a weekend like that I would have felt depressed, exhausted and lonely.
The new me after a weekend alone is rested, rejuvenated and feeling actually joyful in my solitude. (I did actually watch a Netflix show, but it was about nutrition and changing the world for the better - very inspiring).
If you are contemplating quitting drinking, please know that over time your life improves, and continues to improve. If you would like support in your decision, let me know. It took time, but there is no doubt in my mind that life is better without booze!