On Choosing the Dry Life

Posted On: 01.26.17

six months

I haven’t written a post here in a long time. In the past, I would have felt sheepish about this and offered some sort of apology. Not today. Today all I will say that it’s fun to be back here, that I have something I want to share, and celebrate.

And I do.

Many of you know that I have long had a thing with alcohol. I call it a thing because I don’t have a better word. Not yet at least. Five years ago, I decided to give up drinking for a year, for my Year Without Wine. It was a remarkable, eye-opening year. I learned tons about myself and the world. It was not that hard for me to do. There were no sips, no slips. This was a relief, obviously, but it also made figuring out what to do next a bit tricky. If it was not difficult for me to give up drinking then didn’t this mean I was fine? That I could return to drinking moderately? Why would I punish myself unnecessarily? The questions were plentiful and powerful.

Long story short: I returned to drinking. I alternated between long stints of abstinence and shorter stints of partaking. And nothing disastrous happened. At all. There were a few yucky instances of overdoing it, of shame-soaked hangovers, but for the most part, no drama and everything was okay.

Except that it wasn’t.

What I can see now, only in retrospect, was how miserable I was. It was a low-level misery, so easily camouflaged, but it was there. I was not feeling good day to day. I was a bit draggy. A bit lost. When I was drinking, even minimally or moderately, I felt a quiet tug of shame. Not because I wasn’t functioning. I was. And beautifully much of the time. A quiet shame because I knew. I knew that my life was better (read: far better) when it was clear and free of booze. I knew this because, my goodness, I’d spent an entire calendar year learning it and the knowledge was of the deep, in-your-bones variety. This was not something I could un-know even though there were certainly moments where I tried to do just this.

Six months ago, I went for my monthly appointment with my therapist. We sat there in her beautiful office on the Upper East Side and we talked and talked. We didn’t talk about drinking because it wasn’t really on my mind then. I was drinking at that point, but not much, and wasn’t (consciously) terribly worried about it. But in the last minute or two, I said, Oh yeah, and I’m still drinking, not a lot, but I just know it’s not good for me. It’s not compatible with the big, beautiful life I want. 

There was nothing special about what I said to her. They were words I’d thought and said aloud probably hundreds of times. I was not hungover that morning or feeling contrite or ashamed. It all felt very matter-of-fact.

It. Is. Not. Good. For. Me.

I. Am. Happier. Without. It.

And, for some reason, something clicked that morning. A little fire started. Something in me came alive. Guys, I was excited. I thanked her for the session and waved goodbye and went back out into the world. It was the end of July, July 26th, and I came back home to my kiddos and I just remember feeling alive and free. Everything seemed tinged in joy and I took my girls to Columbus Avenue for camp pickup and I had one of my babes take a picture of me on the bench because I knew it was a big day. And it was.

Six months later, guys. I feel so good. This is a crazy time in the world and I’m filled with dread and despair, but physically and mentally and personally I feel stronger, and more like myself, than ever. Truly. This decision to live the dry life is the single best thing I have done for myself. Hands down. Yes, there are challenges. Yes, I have moments of feeling pro-home (I prefer this to anti-social), but on balance, things are leagues better.

And let me say: I know that six months is a relatively short time. Fine. But it is meaningful. It is a big, beautiful start and I’m an eager rookie. Let me also say: I’m still trying to figure out where I fit (though I’m not sure it matters). I do not identify with any labels. Not at this point. I am just a person who has chosen not to drink, who is choosing not to drink, who has committed to this choice, and who is over the moon happy with it. That’s all.

What I am realizing though and this is important: I need community and conversation about this topic (and all topics important to me, including this surreal/alarming political climate). The vast majority of my friends and family drink and I have no problem with this, but I also need to connect with others (online and in the world) who are making this choice or even just thinking about making this choice. To that end, I’ve created a closed Instagram group called drybe (dry + tribe). The handle is @drybeclub. Basically, it’s a little virtual (for now) gathering spot for anyone who shares my hunch that life might be better and brighter without booze and who wants to talk and think about this. So far, there are already 450+ members from around the world. People who have been dry for a long time and people who are still drinking but curious about stopping. People who are proud of labels and people like me who don’t identify with the labels out there. It’s an exquisite, varied group and I’m so excited about what it is already, and might become. Please come by and request to follow if you have any interest/curiosity at all.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in today and say hey and acknowledge this big little day. Big because I have not had a sip of booze or a hangover in six months, baby. Little because this is just the beginning and what an exquisite beginning it’s been.

Thank you, guys. All of you. Those of you who have been reading this blog from its inception and those who are quite new. This is where I come when I need to write and process and feel my way through something. Drinking has been my biggest something and I’m grateful to have this space to talk and think about it.

Onward, loves. It’s a crazy world out there, so hang in there, write postcards to your elected officials, think big, speak up and snuggle your favorite creatures.

Oh, and I just snapped the picture above. I’m gross and un-showered, utterly makeup-free, but still I look at this image and I think: Wait a minute… she looks kinda happy 🙂



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16 Comments for: "On Choosing the Dry Life"
  1. Gale

    Congrats on six months! In the words of my favorite Diane Keaton character, J.C. Wiatt, this is “major big.” And I’m happy that you’re happy.

    I’ve never really weighed in much on your abstinence posts because alcohol is not a problem I have. I drink, and I enjoy it, but it’s just not something that is a “thing” for me. (Trust me, plenty of other things are…) But I hope you’ve never mistaken my silence for lack of support. I commend you for taking difficult steps that make your life better. It’s a great example for all of us, on any number of fronts.

    Congrats again.

  2. Ali

    Congratulations on six months! I have found your instagram, drybe, and blog only recently — in the last two months. And I have had a world of help & inspiration reading your posts. I am nearing four months for myself. So not only congrats, but thank you. I really appreciate your voice in this “dry” world! xo

  3. Pamela Hunt Cloyd

    Congratulations and thank you for the conversation. Alcohol is definitely a thing for me. After I stopped I woke up in the middle of the night after 3 dry days and I just felt happy.

    Heading over to IG. And you look STUNNING!!

  4. CC

    This is the most radiant photo of you I’ve ever seen. I thought that before I read your post. Congratulations.

  5. Kathy

    You are radiant Aidan! Thanks for your continued inspirational words, and thoughts. I am part of drybe, but I am not part of the dry community…yet. But I want to be. I just can’t quite get there.

  6. Kelly M

    So happy for you!
    I’m almost 4.5 years without a drink… when I quit, I felt like I was doing do temporarily… and I never felt like I’d had a problem, really. I quit because my (now) husband desperately needed to quit, and I wanted to actively support him in doing so. But as the months passed and the fog lifted… and even as my husband jumped/fell off the wagon time and time again… I stayed dry, and I realized that I had REALLY NEEDED to quit. It was like getting to know a whole new me… the one who didn’t go to sleep at night via a “nightcap” shot of bourbon and wake up to a coffee mug full of wine. Every. Day. What the hell, how did I not know I had a “thing” with alcohol?!
    Anyway congratulations! The ONE thing I find myself missing in everyday life is “normal” socialization and friendships that centered around drinking. I no longer have social relationships to speak of. And generally, that’s fine. I’m a happy introvert when I’m sober. But finding others like me out there… has been really exciting. Even if it’s only online. 🙂

  7. Bravo to you. I know this is a good thing, and it’s a joy to watch your wings unfurl. xox

  8. Congratulations, congratulations.

    When I read these types of posts – especially from you – it makes me realize that having just turned 30 is not a big deal and I can still make changes that will make me happy and keep me healthy and help me flourish and grow.

    I’m so happy for you.


  9. Good for you! Congratulations! You look amazing.

  10. I’m so glad you wrote!!! Today is 4 weeks for me… I’m not sure where I’m going to go… I’m just taking January off, but I do feel so much bettter. I’ve realized I don’t miss the wine, I miss looking forward to it, and I miss the idea of it.

  11. Lovely, the picture, the journey and the words. Congrats, Aidan!

  12. Kay

    Thank for always sharing. I’m new into this sober life. I also have a thing with booze – nothing extraordinary just don’t like my restionship with it. It’s hard because I live in Paris and life here is terrace, apero & wine. But I’m giving it a go and trying to enter the second half of my 30s hazy free

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  14. s

    Congratulations on your choice. You look like a different person–and not because you have no makeup on. You look truly and wonderfully happy and content and those feelings jump off the page. Well done.

  15. Angie

    I just listened to you on HOME. Loved what you had to say! I too fell into that “grey” area of maybe thinking I was drinking too much…definitely had some shame spirals with friends/my kids after having too much…and frankly just decided it was time. In fact, exactly 6 months ago was my last drink! I’m very much at peace not having alcohol in my life but have found that it’s a little lonely in the “dry club.” Would love to find more dry reality tribes! The virtual world is full of them but am looking for actual people to connect with in the real world! I’m working up the courage to out myself on social media with my friends (some who know – most do not) but that’s a big step! Anyway, thank you for your voice and the inspiration! I joined drybe as well! 🙂

  16. Laura

    I love the post and I just listed to you on the HOME podcast. I know that there are so many of us fall into a gray area with drinking, so I think you are doing a big service here. I quit drinking 6 years ago, and it’s the best decision I ever made. Now, it doesn’t take up brain space. I have time to do all the other stuff I want to do. I admire your courage, Aidan.

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