I have been sober for 84 consecutive days.
It was February 22 when I gave up my beloved wine for Lent. I was hoping it might just be the one change I needed to kick start a series of other healthy changes. It had been a long, sedentary winter and my chronic depression was rearing its ugly head. I knew in my heart that my daily wine habit was only making things worse.
Well, I’m happy to report that indeed, giving up the hooch has made a huge difference in my mental and physical health.
The first few weeks were pretty ugly. Looking back, my body was clearly in withdrawal. And even though my daily consumption was never the kind of thing that anyone would ever question (1-2 glasses, max), it was obviously enough for my body to become dependent.
I tried to be gentle with myself by making healthy substitutions like a cup of green tea every afternoon instead of wine. Focusing on all the good I was doing for my heart and skin with that green tea made me think less about my wine, whose loss I was definitely grieving.
I also ate jellybeans by the fistful those first 6 weeks to keep my sugar cravings at bay. I’m pretty sure that’s why jellybeans are associated with Easter…to keep all the struggling Lenten promise-makers alive.
And then came Easter, the ultimate celebration on the Christian liturgical calendar, and the exciting conclusion to all our Lenten sacrifices.
Only, by the time Easter arrived, I felt so much healthier and less depressed by just giving up my daily wine habit, that I decided to stay the course.
So here we are. Eighty-four days later.
The extreme sugar cravings are finally gone. My temper and sleep patterns seem to have improved as well. And oh my God, what is this strange feeling? Is it happiness? I think it is! Shut the front door! I am happy.
I haven’t started consistently exercising yet. But I do find myself drinking a lot more water every day and not spending so much time in front of the TV. As a result, I’ve lost about 5 pounds. Now my former muffintop is more like a small dinner roll, which makes me feel so much less depressed. I was right! One small healthy choice begets other healthy choices. Well, what do you know!
Last month, my In the Powder Room colleague Heidi wrote a poignant post “Why I’m a better mother when I don’t drink” that really resonated with me. Heidi found that not only did her relationships improve while she tee-totaled, but her capacity for joy increased as well. I couldn’t agree more. The feelings! Good God, the feelings I have now that I’m not so comfortably numb every afternoon…so worth it.
So I take it back. Turns out, I’m not a better mother on the sauce. I was just too numb to know it.
I can’t say for certain that this is the path I will walk forever…I’m just taking it one day at a time. But I will say this: it’s working for me right now, and that is all I need to know.
Originally published at In the Powder Room, May 15, 2012.