When did you have your last alcoholic drink? What was it, and why did you drink it?
Mine was a Guinness. I had it because I was drinking with friends.
When did you have your first taste of alcohol? What was it, and why did you have it?
I don’t know when I had mine, or what it was. Whiskey on the gums when I was teething? A shot of Fernet when I felt sick? A little splash of red wine in my Brookdale soda at dinner? A few sips of Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante on New Year’s Eve? I can’t remember.
I also can’t remember my first full alcoholic beverage. Can you?
When did sips and tastes turn into actual drinks? When did ‘having a drink’ become an activity, and when did ‘drinking’ become a pastime? Do you remember when?
The last time I got together with friends ‘for drinks’ was on January 31, 2016. We were toasting the coming month of sobriety.
For the 3rd February in a row I was giving up beer. This year, just as in the previous two, somewhere in the middle of ‘ the challenge’ I started to hear the whisper.
Whenever someone (usually someone with a drink in their hand) would ask me how long I planned on doing this I’d say ‘Just for the month.’
And then I would hear this faint whisper… Maybe you won’t ever drink again.
For two years, I dismissed that whisper. But this year I started saying it out loud, half-jokingly.
‘Maybe I’ll never go back to it!’ I replied.
My words were greeted by drunken laughter. No one believed that, not even me. Or did I?
I think the daily meditation practice I actively pursued in February allowed me just the right amount of quiet time to hear the whisper clearly. In my moments of clarity I started to question everything. One of the questions that kept arising was what would my life be like without alcohol?
Besides the fact that I love (and I mean LOVE) the taste of a good beer or a really great glass of wine, there was also the fact that my entire social life was built around it; let’s go grab a drink, or meet me for a drink, or I’ll grab a 6-pack and come over, or the cooler is full come hang on the deck…
I’m not an alcoholic, but I’ve certainly been an alcohol user for most of my life. After all, I was created by the convergence of 2 very long lines of alcohol use and abuse. It’s in my DNA.
I learned at a young age that alcohol was a social lubricant. It helped me through the awkward years and carried me into adulthood. Give me two beers and I could make friends and broker business deals. It was definitely my go to OTC medication. Feeling a little stressed? anxious? aggravated? Just have a glass of wine. Ease the tension. Breathe easier.
Heredity and overuse allowed me to build up a strong tolerance. On more than one occasion I heard people saying things about me like ‘She can really hold her liquor’ and ‘She’ll drink you under the table’. Those things were definitely true. I could maintain a buzz like nobody’s business.
So when I said ‘Maybe I’ll never drink again’ no one really believed me. Everyone knew I’d be raising a glass on March 1st.
But this year I didn’t plan a Fast-Breaking Binge Party. I just figured, I’ll have a drink when I want one. But I heard the whisper saying ‘Maybe I won’t ever want one again.’
April 1st came and went. And then May 1st. And tomorrow it will be 100 days. 100 days without even the slightest desire to enjoy a beer. It’s really weird what a little whisper can do.
Maybe I should raise a toast or two tomorrow!
Or maybe not.
What have you been whispering in you quietest moments?
That’s how it starts.
Listen to Tracy. She knows what whispers can do.