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I Gave Up Alcohol For a Year (real story)

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Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

I’m honored to have the first guest post on The Living Well. A collective of voices to raise one another up in love to walk in health. This article is written by Whitney Bowen. I hope you enjoy her words.


My year of sobriety.

Oh, where to begin… I decided on the evening of December 27th, 2019, that 2020 would be my year of sobriety. Not much thought went into the decision because, let’s be honest, that’s just how I roll.

After an anxiety-ridden fall and holiday season, I decided that something needed to change, that I needed to change.

I’ve never had what I would call a “drinking problem,” nor would anyone close to me say that I did, but I knew that I did. I knew because of how I was using alcohol.

In private, I used it as an escape. In public, it made me relax and made me feel like I could be my “true self.” I was self-medicating, but I was controlled, or so I thought. I knew my limits well, thus why no one else realized I had a problem.

I knew that what I was using alcohol for was not healthy, even if my limits were.

So, in December, I decided on that night that sobriety in 2020 was my answer.

I remember feeling nervous going into January.

Not nervous about quitting but worried about having to explain myself. I didn’t want to tell people that I quit drinking. I felt embarrassed. It’s like as soon as you tell people that you’re sober, they automatically assume you were a raging alcoholic before, which I was not.

I was a fairly average consumer of alcohol, maybe even below average, and I did not want the sobriety stigma on my back. I’m telling you this because, although 2020 was an awful year, in this part of my life, 2020 became a gift.

It was a gift in the sense that my life (like everyone else’s) all of a sudden became very private. I didn’t have to worry about explaining my sobriety because there was nowhere to go. No parties, no dinners out with friends, no bar on Friday night after work… nothing!

And yet, this presented its own set of challenges. 

So then there was March. The beginning of a long season of time. Time to reflect, time to pray, time to discuss, and time to think about not drinking. I remember many days in March and April, and by days I mean mornings, where I would start contemplating my evening margarita.

I began to develop that, “Who gives a…” attitude. I wanted to give in because the world seemed like it was falling apart, and frankly, I just wanted to have a little fun while it did.

I remember telling my husband that I wanted to have a drink, and his response would always be, “I won’t judge you if you do, and I won’t judge you if you don’t.”

But then I would call my sister (Alexa), knowing she would never give me permission (which is what I was looking for). The thing of it was, while I had all of these thoughts in the morning (in the middle of trying to homeschool my kids while also working from home) by the time evening came, I just didn’t want to anymore.

Now, that is not a testament to my own willpower, because I have none, I can only attribute this success to God intervening on my behalf. He was with me through those rough days because that definitely was.not.me.

Summer was here, finally! Some sweet sunshine reprieve from the dark days of the COVID shutdown. I had made it six months and was ready to celebrate my 34th birthday. I was proud of myself for making it that far, and I wanted to celebrate. I told my husband, who, mind you, had been pretty passive thus far (see above comment), that I wanted to have ONE drink to celebrate my birthday.

His response was surprisingly opinionated. To give you the jist, he basically said that he was proud of me coming this far and that he didn’t think that I should, that I would regret it, and that one would never be one. Not that I would have more than one that night, but he said if I found one excuse to have a drink that I would justify finding another.

He was right. And so, I didn’t. 

June, July, and August went by in a blink, despite 2020 and its ability to stop time. We were able to resume school in-person, and the whole season was filled with normal-ish things. Before I knew it, the holidays were upon us, and I realized that I had stopped counting down the months and days until I could have a drink.

I remember thinking in December that I really wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be. I mean, I was proud of myself, I suppose, but it honestly was feeling more and more normal not to drink.

This is a very different place from where I was in the spring – thinking that I would ring in the new year with a drink. But no, it was actually January 2nd before I had a drink.

I’m sure many of you thought that I would say that I haven’t drank since that evening in December, but I have. It’s definitely not as great as I remembered it being, and I think it’s because I don’t need it anymore. My taste for it has definitely diminished greatly.

Will I enjoy a drink when out to dinner with my husband or friends? Sure. Will I celebrate with a toast at the next wedding I attend? Absolutely.

The beauty is that I don’t have to, and I don’t need to.

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