Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hi, My Name is Gina....

...and it has been 365 days since my last drink.

Yes.  Seriously.  A whole year.

I'm not going to get on a whole soapbox about the evils of alcohol (it's not), or give you a list of reasons why I stopped drinking (boring), or get into a whole thing about how much better life is without booze (I mean really it's pretty good either way, I just have fewer hangovers now).  One year ago today I woke up and realized I needed to make a serious change in my life, and alcohol just wasn't going to be a part of it anymore. 

And that was a tough thing for me to say.  I love beer.  I love wine.  I even love the occasional shot of tequila (although it doesn't like me very much anymore).  To imagine a life without a glass of wine to toast with was very daunting in the beginning.  And there were a few challenges to overcome at first.

For example....

The biggest challenge was how to be sociable without suds.  I love being out and about with Nick and with friends...and with the exception of going dry for Lent, you could always find me out and about  with a beer in my hand. 

The first true test of my sobriety hit on a visit to Tucson last year:

Laughing and talking, catching up on each other's lives...all was going well until the waitress looked at me and asked "...and what will you have to drink?" 

Ummmm.......water is boring, not in the mood for soda, what do I get...what do I get...what do i get....I reallywantabeerabeerabeerbeerbeer.....

And then the magic words I had long forgotten...."Wait....can I get this without alcohol?"

Voila!  The HiFi Birthday Milkshake...normally made with vodka, but since I was able to remember the magic words....I got it without alcohol.  How did I forget that I could order virgin beverages?  Holy crap!  A whole new world! 

(and yes, for those of you saying "well, duh" in your heads...I had truly become so used to just having booze in hand that I forgot you could actually order mixed drinks with just mix.  Don't worry, I smacked myself on my own head to save y'all the trouble.)

Next challenge:

I love craft beer and going to breweries.  Nick and I would make day trips out of visits to various breweries around town, ordering samplers and enjoying the discussion about which we thought were better and why.  We would talk with the brewmasters whenever we could; I love the stories about how they got started and the stories behind their beers.  I also love visiting wineries.  Driving around the countryside, stopping for a glass of wine here and there at the vineyards.  Laughing with friends and sampling a variety of varietals.  When I stopped drinking, I thought that I was done with the sampling daytrips.  Until I discovered coffee sampling!!

So now instead of horrible hangovers the next day, I can just stay awake all the way through TO the next day!!

Now I know it sounds like I'm trying to make light of my addiction, and to some degree I suppose I am, because laughter helps me cope.  But I admit that it's no joke when they say the first step really is recognizing you have a problem.  And that probably was the hardest part.  Time and time again I would wake up and say "never again", only to find myself ordering a drink at dinner (it's's almost the weekend...) or automatically pouring a glass of wine when I got home from work (well...I had such a rough day!...).  But 365 days ago I finally had to admit to myself that there was a problem, and realized that I needed to change, not only for my health and my sanity but for those around me that I love so dearly.  Most days are easy to get through without thinking about a drink, and every day I'm glad I made the decision to quit...but there are still moments where I want to cave in and reach for a bottle of anything. I'm very thankful that I have a very good support system and I've had a lot of encouragement along the way.  The hardest part to accept?  It's not like a race - there's no finish line, my sobriety can't end; because I know what will happen if I have that first drink...and it won't be pretty.  Each day I wake up and make a mark on the calendar to remind myself to just keep going forward.  Tomorrow I'll wake up and try for day 366...and then I will try for 367...and then I won't go any further because I can't look that far out.

I promised no soapbox, so I'm not going to preach.  But I just felt that on this particular anniversary, I needed to share my story.  I know there are those who have a much more difficult time putting down the bottle and walking away than others. And I can't even pretend to put myself in their shoes, because everyone's struggle is unique.  But I greatly admire and respect those who have quit before me and those who will come after - regardless of the level of addiction.  And if you happen to read this and find that you need to reassess things in your life...maybe make a few changes of your own...know that you can do it.  You may stumble, it may take a few do-overs...but you can make the changes in your life you want.  And if you find that you're ready to change, go ahead make today your Day 1.  Next year we can celebrate our anniversaries together!

And that is something I'll happily drink (...a cup of coffee) to!