A year ago, I started something. An experiment. An experiment that scared me and excited me. What would life be like without alcohol for a whole year? I didn’t know. But I was about to find out. Or was I? From the beginning, I had my doubts. Doubts about whether I could follow through with this ambitious goal, whether I would want to. What if I really had a problem and I couldn’t just give it up? What if a few weeks passed, or a few months, and I lost motivation and momentum and just wanted to stop?
I am honestly shocked that I did this, that I was able to, that my desire to see this through never waned. It all feels a bit surreal and otherworldly that I am here, on this day one year later, celebrating, looking back. And the truth of the matter is that I have so much to say, words to write, pages to fill. And I will do these things. I will indulge in the saying, the writing, the page-filling. In time.
But, for now, two important words: Thank you.
Thank you for being here, for witnessing my imperfections and my evolution, for reminding me again and again and again that my experiences, experiences which often feel impossibly lonely and raw, are in fact universal and, seen from just the right angle, beautiful even. Beautiful. There is an abiding beauty in telling the truth about self and world. That’s what this year has been about: Seeing the truth, and telling it.
And there’s so much more to tell. Again, I will.
Over the past year, and particularly in recent weeks, I’ve heard from so many of you. You say that something in my story – ultimately, a pretty standard story with a pretty standard plot - person struggles with thing – has spoken to you. You have said you can relate. Some of you have vowed to give up alcohol or other things for a month, a year. You have said that there are times when you want to run away, blur edges, escape. Yes. This is part of what it means to be human. And that, human, we all are.
But in this business of being human, we have choices to make. We can choose to be clear, to confront, to finger the sharp edges of existence instead of fleeing them. We can choose to be here in the maddening and magical present moment of reality, a reality that is, and will always be, laced with difficulty, uncertainty, loss of some kind.
These are the choices I have made – for one man, for three little girls, for me - over the past year. And it has been hard at times to see so clearly, to feel so deeply, to be so sober all the time. But it has been amazing, too.
Here’s the truth: This is really about me. Even from this new vantage point, I do not judge people for drinking, for drinking sensibly or recklessly or somewhere in between. I know many people for whom drinking is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, a tiny little footnote, not a big deal. I also know many people who have more complicated relationships with alcohol. Clearly, I was, and still am, one of those people.
At the end of the day, I think, for the most part, we are all doing the best we can, managing in ways that feel familiar and safe somehow. But. To the extent that we are intrigued by ideas of self-improvement and change, to the extent that it is truly within our control and within our interest to ponder and live these things, as, thankfully it was within mine last January, I would be remiss not to underscore how absolutely world-changing it can be to press pause on life, to switch something up, to do things differently, to feel the invigorating pulse of progress, change, and with these things, happiness.
I do not know what I will do going forward. Even though I am here, at the one-year-mark, I do not know. What I do know is that I will be careful and I will not go back. I will not go back to what I was doing. And if I do for some reason, if I slip back into patterns that had come to feel unhealthy and incommensurate with the kind of life I want, I will come here and write about it. I promise you that. I promise me that.
So. I am off to re-read my wine-free posts from this past year (listed chronologically below) and to try to process this day, this big day. But before I go, something important: If you are there, wherever you are, immersed in the pages of your own story, and you’ve been pondering a change, a big change, a small change, a change permanent or temporary, I have something to say:
Go for it. Life is short. And you are worth it.
In closing, those two words again, those two little and not-so-little words I feel with every bit of my being on this day:
Here are all the posts I have written about giving up wine. It’s very possible that the first 32 will be unfamiliar to you as I originally posted them on an anonymous blog before deciding to announce my project here at ADR.
- Wine Is My Weakness
- I’m Really Going to Do This
- Why I Know I Can Do This
- A Clog to the Pen?
- On Secrecy
- On Friendship
- So Many Words
- He Is So Happy
- Reason Enough
- Yesterday and Now Today
- On Feeling More
- Misery & Family
- Pajamas. Presence. Peace.
- The Dead Dads Club
- Happy & Healthy
- Words & Workouts
- Super Bowl Sunday
- One Month In
- White Balloons
- Nervous Nibbling
- Burning with Inspiration
- Like I Was Drunk
- Fridays Are Really Hard
- She Is Here. And She Is Gorgeous.
- I Sit Here Shaking. And Smiling.
- I Did It
- Can I Hold Your Hand?
- This Is Major
- Fun Without Drinking
- The Wine Store
- Feeling Quiet
- Complicated (a.k.a. Three Months Without Wine)
- The Day I Changed
- Drinking Words
- I Miss It (a.k.a. Four Months Without Wine)
- A Note from a Stranger
- I Cried Myself to Sleep
- Five Reasons @ Five Months
- Should I Quit? (The 6 Month Question)
- Yesterday Morning @ 8:06am
- Eight Things @ Eight Months
- Nine Months Without Wine
- Tell a Truth
- Ten Questions @ Ten Months
- Thanksgiving Without Wine
- The Sober Hostess
- I Might Not Go Back to Drinking
- Harsh Words I Needed to Hear?
- You Don’t Need to Feel This Way
- Birthday Words for Husband
- Eleven Secrets @ Eleven Months
- A Year Without Wine: I Did It!