Shedding Identities

I was inspired to write this blog because of a colleague who was writing about her experience giving up drinking. Though the reasons  for each of our choices are  slightly different, there are still tons of similarities. It got me thinking that there could be some people out there who are grappling with the same concepts and experiences I was when I started to switch from full blown party girl (which was my on air name during a college internship at a radio station) to the “friend who doesn’t really drink that much” at the ripe age of 27.  It never dawned on me to share this information, because honestly from my vantage point it never seemed like anyone else was really struggling with it.

Just like our relationship with food, when it comes to our relationship with alcohol, it’s never usually just about the alcohol. I think we’re all familiar with the concept of using alcohol to numb feelings, but  to me, it’s even more than that. After so many years, it can become a part of our identity. I’ll speak for myself here and say that when I started to realize that the adjectives and behaviors that defined me for so long were no longer valid, I felt like a fraud. It was the most uncomfortable, scary thing in the world to wonder, without alcohol, who the hell am I?

How Did I Get Here:

So how did I get from binge drinking 3-4 times a week to having a couple drinks a month (if that)? Small ass baby steps. This transformation has taken time. I started binge drinking when I was 16. I had some friends parents who tried to teach me and my pals to drink responsibly, but inevitable when we were on our own, our main mission was to enter the black hole. During college binge drinking was normalized even further, but also much more intensely. During pregames me and a few girl friends would get together, finish an entire handle of whiskey, and THEN go to the bar until it closed. I would wake up for tailgates at 7 AM to start drinking, knowing I had no intention of ever making it to the game. And this was normal for everyone involved. Post college, when my body and brain were still somehow ale to function with vodka floating in it and a few hours of sleep, I would drink 4-5x a week. Even the company I worked at promoted partying at work and after hours.

I started experience pretty bad depression and anxiety. I remember laughing in a therapists face when they suggested that maybe I try not have 12 drinks a night- perhaps there was a correlation between the drinking and moods. But, I could not conceive a world in which I wasn’t drinking.

The thing is, I never really was “out of control” or destructive. I rarely blacked out or even lost my composure. Sure I was super slurry and loose, but my behavior while drunk was not particularly offensive. I was just a girl trying to have some fun. Until one therapist suggested I enter AA. That was a huge wake up call. I never went, but it did ignite the changes that led me to where I am today.

One Baseball Game at a Time

The first time I intentionally elected to not drink was at a Nationals game in DC. It was painful. It was uncomfortable. It was frustrating. The adult child in me was screaming “WHY CAN’T I?”, But here’s the thing,  I made a commitment to myself that I was hell bent on keeping.

Now

It’s been about 4 years since I started shifting from the party identity. Along the way, I’ve uncovered many more reasons why that lifestyle, and drinking ingeneral doesnt really serve me, and keeps me dodging it during the week, and most weekends too.

Some of those include:

-Hangovers suck
-I’d rather not sleep all day– there are so many fun things to do!
-I like being at full brain capacity
-It disrupts my creative flow and output
-My body clearly hates it– I start breaking out in eczema if I drink too much
-It lowers my vibration
-It prevents me from doing things I want to do the next day
-It doesn’t fit in with what I am committed to (Health, wellness, healing, etc).
-I like myself better sober

The biggest lessons I’ve learned from my journey with this are

1) Staying in commitment to yourself is the most powerful thing we can do for ourselves.

2) It;s ok to change, or to be more than 1 thing

3) Community is everything

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