As some might remember, I quit drinking about eight months ago.
Whenever I shared my decision with someone, I usually got a similar response: "Good for you! Alcohol is bad. I should quit too." What's funny is that they'd usually be sipping a delicious drink, like a Negroni, while saying this. Almost everyone reacted this way—except my therapist. The perspective he offered made me rethink my entire approach to quitting.
He said, "A part of you is solving a problem with drinking. If you quit drinking without figuring out that problem, you'll deny yourself something important." His words shook me. The idea that abusing alcohol could be an attempt to meet one of my needs was eye-opening.
We also discussed identity and how social drinking has been a core part of my experience. My therapist pointed out that losing this aspect of my identity was a genuine loss, and it was okay to mourn it instead of gaslighting myself.
To help me cope, we practiced a scenario I was anxious about. I was planning to attend a wedding in Minneapolis, where I'd encounter friends I used to drink with. We roleplayed expressing my feelings of loss if my friends reacted downplayed my loss to try to make me feel more comfortable. My job was to make space for that feeling instead of covering it up.
When the wedding came around, the scenario played out as expected. It felt awkward to express my disappointment about not drinking. But, it brought me closer to those with whom I shared that vulnerability. I ended up having a great trip.
So here I am, eight months sober, and even though I have my distractions, I'm sad about it still. I'm missing out on a social activity I once enjoyed. But it's okay to feel disappointed. I'm learning that it's okay not to drink and still be true to myself.
Thank you all for listening to my story. I hope my journey can inspire some of you to examine your own lives and habits and even embrace the loss that comes with change. Remember, it's okay to mourn the things we leave behind as long as we keep moving forward.
Take care, and cheers to growth! 🌱