I did it.
I spent the whole last year without even the tiniest of tipples. There was no pumpkin-flavored IPA in October. No glass of peppery shiraz in front of a fire. No pinot grigio with notes of sweet pear on a hot spring day, and no ice-cold Coors Light on a fiery summer afternoon.
I better stop, because those sound delightful, don’t they? But, honestly, not delightful enough to make up for how they make my insides feel.
When I decided to do life minus alcohol on a random August evening last year — Aug. 18, if you must know — I had zero end game. Would my experiment last a month? Three months? Six? A year? Forever?
A few days passed. No drastic feelings of deprivation ensued, but I cannot tell a lie. There was an itch as I prepared dinner, when I would typically have a smidge of vino, but it was easily scratched by pouring fizzy, sweet kombucha into a wine glass and effectively tricking myself. (Clearly not an incredibly hard task.)
And then it was my one-month anniversary. Every night I etched out one more day on a scraggly piece of paper magnetized to my refrigerator and trotted off to bed. My sleep in those first couple of months seemed deeper.
Six months rolled around. I briefly considered ending my fast. Half a year seemed admirable enough. But the dinnertime itch was gone, so why go wrecking a good thing? It’s like when you decide to break up with sugar or even an ex-boyfriend. It takes a few days, a week, maybe longer, depending on the intensity of your relationship, to get over the cravings, but it will get easier. Eventually you don’t jones for it or him at all.
And now one year. I didn’t do anything to mark the occasion. There was no Champagne toast to myself. I’d long since given up scratching out another booze-free night on my fridge tally, so I reflected on the journey for a few moments, gave myself a mental high-five and put myself to bed.
Now what? I still have no end game, but I’m extremely reluctant to break my streak and start pouring poison back into my body. And don’t fool yourself, it is a poison. We’ve been fed a Non-Happy Meal of lies about a small amount being good for us. I no longer believe it. One large study published in The Lancet three years ago found the safest amount of alcohol is zero.
But the real judge is my body. She already knows the results of a few sips of a full-bodied red wine, my formerly favorite adult grog: a foggy haze of sleepiness tinged with the beginnings of crunchy irritability. That, paired with a night of poor alcohol-laced sleep sounds delightful, yes? No, it does not.
Plus, I was reminded what it feels like to overdo the adult libations after receiving the COVID vaccine. I spent the next day feeling like I had a hangover. It’s been years since I had an actual hangover, and I’m about 1,000% sure I never want one again.
Adopting the title of nondrinker feels pretty good. It feels like freedom to not worry about a particularly toxic substance anymore, and what it might do to my insides or make my outsides do. Those were never wise choices.
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