Today is Day 23. That’s how long it has been since I’ve had a drink. I have 87 days left (or more, if I keep it going) until I’m allowing myself to consume alcohol, reaching 100 straight days of complete sobriety.
Why am I doing this? Well, there are a lot of reasons.
Over the holidays and into the new year, I noticed that I was drinking much more than I normally do. I'm not a big drinker by any means. I'll have wine with dinner, a beer with friends and go to wineries or breweries sometimes, but I don't really "go out" and I certainly don't "party." However, among events such as Thanksgiving, holiday parties, getting married, honeymooning at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica, and normal social gatherings with friends, celebratory drinking was frequent.
In mid-January, I was tossing around the idea of cutting out alcohol for a few weeks or months. Not only had I been drinking more frequently, but eating lots of delicious food and not working out very often. My pants were tighter and I didn’t feel great. Then, during a girls day at a winery in early February, I drank a little too much. The next day, I was ready to start my break.
My family has a long history of alcoholism and I’ve watched people close to me fight this sad disease. Thankfully alcohol addiction isn't an issue for me, which I attribute a lot to my love of running and exercise. Though alcohol isn't a "problem" for me, my body was still craving a break. As I was trying to decide how long to make my alcohol fast, I dove into an Internet rabbit hole and started researching people’s stories of giving up alcohol completely. Many of these people were not alcoholics. However, they came to the realization that so often drinking hurt their health, wallets, fitness progress or personal relationships on nights when they drank too much....and they just became fed up. I realized during this research that so much of our alcohol consumption is driven by an alcoholic culture - adult social events are primarily designed around alcohol. I was also completely inspired by each person's boldness to buck a social norm and pave their own path.
When I went back to work, I started discussing this topic with friends and co-workers. They too agreed that most of their major mistakes and regrets stemmed from alcohol-fueled events and that the primary reason they drank was because it's a common social activity. For a lot of my peers, alcohol over-indulgence (i.e. drinking too much to legally drive) doesn't happen once in a while, but every week (if not multiple times per week.)
In the midst of this research and discussion, I decided I wanted to do something big to confront this cultural tradition and further discipline my life: I wanted to give up alcohol for 100 straight days. This desire came from a need for a “check up from the neck up” - a reminder that I feel better when I don’t drink at all and that I don’t have to follow cultural norms to fit in or have fun. I wanted to prove to myself that I could go to parties and happy hours and other social functions without feeling the pressure or need to drink, just because that’s what we do on a cultural level (literally all over the world, all the time - it’s nuts). And I certainly wanted to show that drinking alcohol to relax after a stressful week was unnecessary and that a good workout or a yoga class does my body much more good.
As an evangelical Christian, I’m used to doing things that culture doesn’t agree with and pushing myself outside my comfort zone. And trust me, giving up alcohol for a substantial amount of time is a challenge: I enjoy good wine and craft beer, especially with meals or sporting events. I'm not much of a stay-out-all-night-and-party kind of girl, but spending time at breweries and wineries with friends is super fun.
Watching people I love deal with an addiction to alcohol is one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with - and it has shown me that in many cases that consuming alcohol isn't necessary or worth it. That's the thing I truly dislike about alcohol: It's so easy to cross the line of being in control to being out of control. For some, that control is much easier than others - but for those it isn't, the effects can be devasting.
(Skip this part if you're not a Bible reader): I don't think having a glass of wine or a beer socially or at home is wrong. The Bible says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:1)," which encourages us to avoid drunkenness, not alcohol all together. However, God also tells us that "Wine is a mocker (Proverbs 20:1)," and that we are to "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8)." And that is where the issues creep in - when we go from consumption in moderation (which for me is 1 drink per hour, for others, it's more) to being drunk. During this challenge, my heart is to gain a greater discipline with my thoughts in this category, and really discern when and where it's okay for me to drink, and to give my body the break it's craving.
So far, my friends' and peers' reactions have been: "Wow, I should really do that too, but [insert reason]." "I could never do that, but I'm glad you are!" "I think I'll do that too, after [insert event]."
It's interesting to hear people's responses. And just to be clear, I accept them with ZERO judgment because I'm not fasting for anyone else or because of anyone else. But I will ask...if you think you "could never do that," maybe you really should and why not join me for the last 87 days? Or if you have a drinking-centric event coming up, why not try to go and enjoy the social scene without a drink? Or if your friend time is primarily spent drinking, why not try something else?
Anyway, this is a terribly long post, so I'll wrap it up. I'll also write some follow-up posts in the coming weeks to let you know how it's going. If you want to join me for the remaining days of my 100 Days of Sobriety Challenge, let me know. And if you've done an alcohol fast, feel free to share what you learned in the comments below!