Three years ago I decided to step away from alcohol for a year and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
If you’ve talked to me at all in the past years you’re probably like I KNOW ANNIE YOU GAVE UP ALCOHOL NOW SHUT UP ABOUT IT SO I CAN HAVE MY NEW YEAR’S MIMOSA.
And that’s cool. There’s no judgment here, cuz we all know I like bubbly things and celebration and fun.
I just thought I’d bring up my milestone for the following reasons:
To celebrate an anniversary of my try-hard-ness in a year that was hard to try in
To send this missive out into the void to anyone who is curious about taking a break from alcohol, and
to segue into my new series: The Scope of Cope.
Like I said last week, I’ve been thinking about coping a lot lately. And I think the question of “How do I deal with life?” is a normal one that a lot of people had in 2020.
Adopting habits or behaviors that help us deal with our hard days MAKES SENSE. Coping is normal. We all have mechanisms we use to get by. But sometimes those practices end up hurting us more than they help--and that’s what happened with me and alcohol. I slowly realized: this isn’t helping me stay afloat, it’s sinking me deeper.
So if you’ve been drinking more than usual and feeling down as a result, I just want to say: you’re not “doing it wrong” if your go-to coping mechanism of alcohol isn’t working for you.
You’re not broken if consuming a depressant doesn’t help you feel less depressed. You’re not an “addict” if you find yourself caught in a cycle where booze spikes the guns of your dopamine—only to have it plummet almost immediately, as you desperately attempt to re-elevate it in the hopes it will return to an initial stasis of brain-chemical-joy that only sinks lower with each glass.
(PS this scam alcohol dopamine cycle is for real. You will CONSTANTLY attempt to regain the dopamine levels you had before a first drink, never getting there).
You’re not a mess. You are being bamboozled by booze.
I’m not trying to go on a rant here about alcohol being evil or something, because I don’t believe that. I used to like cocktails and cold beers and bubbly champagne and whiskey neat, but one day I realized they just weren’t helping me—a sensitive depressive—function at maximum capacity in the world.
If you have depression, if you feel beaten down by this time (like a lot of us do), if you feel despair on the reg, maybe take a break from alcohol—just for a challenge, for a lark, for curiosity, for experimentation. (This is an amazing “Take a Break” Challenge. And it’s FREE!)
I, totes obvs, highly support taking a break from the booze.
For me, quitting alcohol created the SPACE for incredible things to thrive. It helped me grow tools and practices that continue to give dividends. It empowered me in ways I didn’t expect.
For those of you who find your relationship with “the sauce” as symbiotic as usje, maybe take a look at your other coping mechanisms. Are they serving you? Are they helping you stay afloat? Are they adding moments of reflection, peace, rest, and decompression to your life? If so, CHEERS!
Next week I’m going to go a bit more into the mechanics of coping--and I’d love to hear from you! What have you been doing to “stay afloat”? Have you found yourself looking deeper at your go-to behaviors? What is your relationship to your coping mechanisms? Are you able to meet them with mindfulness and equanimity?
Lastly, I want to thank you for being on this ANNIEGRAM journey with me. My goal in 2021 is to show up here, in this space, as consistently as possible with buoying tales of self-growth, creativity, mental health processes, and, hopefully, some funny ha has along the way).
Sending you love, joy, and a spirit of resilience in 2021,
THREE GOOD THINGS
If you haven’t processed your year yet, I highly recommend you get your lil’ hiney on over to www.theyearcompass.com
Someone reminded me of this silly video the other day, and it still makes me giggle. (PS Please don’t start a diet today. Bagels don’t belong in the garbage.)
My dad and I concocted a NA holiday cocktail! It’s called The Christmas Crush (That Won’t Leave You Smashed) and it’s made (loosely) as followed: 2 ounces of Ikea’s Vintersaga (a seasonal delight when served hot on its own, as well), 1-2 ounces (to taste) of Seedlip Garden 108, a couple splashes of orange bitters, a couple shakes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, shaken and poured over one giant ice cube, garnished with a squeeze of orange and a bing cherry.
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