My first memory of alcohol was as a little girl tasting my dad’s beer while sitting on his lap on Saturday afternoons after he mowed the lawn. I loved the taste of the “forbidden” golden, sparkly and fizzy-bitter tasting liquid that sometimes made me hiccup.
My next beer memory was at a friend’s house after school in 10th grade. Since no one was home, we downed a couple, I got my first buzz and loved it.
In college my first date was with a senior who took me to a bowling alley where I drank two beers and got the whirlies, which I didn’t love, but with practice, the whirlies went away and I loved the extra fun drinking brought to parties.
Junior year I studied in Rome and learned to drink wine that was available for the equivalent of $1 from the school’s vending machine in the dining room. Didn’t take me long to learn to love both red and white.
As a “working girl” in the 70s, I followed my mother’s advice to drink scotch and avoid the sweet “girly” drinks that caused hangovers. An acquired taste, but a quicker high, I learned to love scotch.
In my late 20s, night law school wouldn’t have been the same without a wine before and a scotch after class four nights a week for four long years. I loved the interludes these drinks provided.
When pregnant, my doctor told me that a little wine now and then was okay, so I reduced my consumption to a couple glasses of wine per week and loved that I could still imbibe, albeit on a much reduced scale.
For the next 18 years, while raising my daughter, I loved the time of night after dinner and homework, when I could relax with a good book and my vino.
At 50, and a partner in a large law firm, nothing was as much fun as gathering after hours in the bar on the first floor frequented by local politicos and power brokers and loving the buzz of intense conversations and grey goose martinis.
At 60 I retired from full time work and spent more time with wine. Over the next few years, my love affair with wine began to wane. What used to make me feel good was now necessary to not feel bad.
At 67 I quit. It’s been almost a year and here are five reasons (in addition to health, longevity, appearance and money) why I now love my life MORE without alcohol!!!
1) Waking Up Bright Eyed – So this is what it feels like to be a normal person. Clear-headed and bright-eyed, I enjoy a cup of coffee and a light breakfast, check my emails, FB and Instagram, watch TV news, take a walk with my grand dog, or take a swim – all before really beginning my day’s adventures.
2) Feeling Lighter, Both Inside and Out – So this is what it feels like without a monkey on my back. For years I worried that I might be drinking too much and often stopped but later started up again. It became an obsession. Drinking was on my mind way too much. Now the negativity is gone and my mind is free to think about things that matter and that bring me joy. In addition to my inside, my outside is also lighter having shed the extra pounds and belly fat that came from drinking so many empty calories.
3) Realizing the Sky is the Limit – So this is what an optimist feels like without the chemical depressants found in alcohol raining on her parade. Intellectually I knew that alcohol was a depressive, but I never thought it would really affect me. Guess it’s like that joke about how good it feels when someone stops beating you. My outlook is now happy most of the time, my self-esteem is palpable and I do feel that the “sky is my only limit” in living a full life.
4) Living Rather than Watching Life – So this is what it feels like to be full of life and do the things I always said I wanted to do if I ever had the time (and energy). I’m now writing, volunteering for the causes that evoke my passion, reading non-fiction, studying women’s history, taking other history classes, sailing, traveling, making new friends and am even open to potential romance.
5) Being Free to be Me – So this is what it feels like to be comfortable in your own skin (wrinkly and sun-spotted as it may be). Finally free to be me, I decided to go public in the hope that my story may encourage someone else who may “love” drinking a bit too much to find out how much better life without drinking can be. One of my biggest surprises about life without alcohol is that I’m still fun and you can be too!