My good friend Kim is talking all about how alcohol negatively affected her life for seven years–you guys, it’s a good read! When you get to the end, let me know what ya think!
As I prepared to say goodbye to 2017, I found myself frantically writing new goals to achieve in 2018. Sitting on the couch writing in my journal, I remember being tired, bloated and feeling really guilty for overindulging during the holiday season….again! But doesn’t everyone overdo It during the holidays? To find out, I would do a gut check in the form of texts.
That year I traded the typical texts with a group of girlfriends joking about how I hoped they would visit me in a Betty Ford clinic because my drinking was out of hand. And since everyone would send notes of support back, while commiserating with me – assuring me that they were all drinking too much too – I felt like it was fine. I knew deep down I would benefit from taking a break from drinking. I thought about it a lot. But, it seemed so futile. Most times I would notice my drinking would elevate to an amount and regularity I wasn’t comfortable with. And, when that would happen, I would take a break – only to start drinking a week or two later once I felt better.
Learning how alcohol negatively impacted my life
However, in January of 2018, I sat down and saw the larger picture on how alcohol negatively impacted my life. Even during the times I was drinking too much, I always thought alcohol was harmless (healthy even!) and waking up with a hangover most days was a price young mothers made.
I could justify my alcohol intake by reminding myself I had a good job. We lived in a comfortable home. I walked the dog and remember to give him his heartworm each month. I mean, it’s not like I had a problem with alcohol. Or so I thought.
A cultivated life evaluation
That year I decided to do a goal setting activity through Lara Casey’s goal setting sheets, PowerSheets . A photographer friend of mine had recommended them as a way to visualize big goals, and I was intrigued. I had never really had a lot of experience in writing down actionable goals for my life before this – so it was all new to me.
I would, of course, half-heartedly make New Year’s Resolutions that I wouldn’t keep for longer than a few days.
But the PowerSheers activity was so different and I really enjoyed the process! At the beginning, Lara asks you to do a cultivated life evaluation which focuses on deep diving into several different categories.
It was then that I saw – literally on paper! – how alcohol negatively affected EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
My anxiety and depression had worsened over time, and my cholesterol levels were always higher than normal. And while I’ve always incorporated exercise into my daily routine, I had started to do it “just to check it off the list.” Most days I felt it was a struggle to even get the energy or motivation to go for a run or get to a fitness class.
I felt disconnected with friends and was withdrawing from social situations because my anxiety and depression had increased to unmanageable levels. It’s weird to explain but I felt like “everyone hated me” and that they were thinking the worst of me all the time. I was uncomfortable to be around even friends who had been in my life for decades! I know now that this was the anxiety creeping up to higher-than-normal levels.
I was constantly fighting with my husband. It seemed I was either mad at him for something he did or – alternatively – apologizing for something I said. I felt like I was just so miserable. And I didn’t even realize that most of it was because of my actions until after I stopped drinking. There was one time he told me, “you just suck when you drink” and I honestly couldn’t argue with that.
Alcohol is so expensive. In addition to high-priced bar tabs, extravagant brunch dates, budget line items to include several bottles of wine a week, Uber rides and more, I realized that there were other expenses that indirectly related to my alcohol consumption.
Because I had started to look on the outside as bad as I felt on the inside, I began spending loads of money to help me look better. Feeling better was, of course, secondary. This came in the form of skin creams, eyelash extensions, expensive make up and more.
My skin broke out regularly and I gained weight as a result of all the wine I was drinking. I was investing in external solutions instead of looking at what I could change from within. This obviously proved a strain on our finances.
I’ve always been interested in cultivating more faith-based activities in my life. Ever since I had the boys (about six years ago), it’s been a goal of mine to attend church regularly as a family. But until I stopped drinking, I could never get my kids to church or find motivation to read my devotional in the mornings.
I was always just worn out by the time Sunday morning came around. And I never even really tried to make a daily habit of setting aside time for a meditation or devotional practice, because my brain was undeniably foggy each morning.
Even though I was functioning really well in my PR career, I was quickly losing motivation and enthusiasm for my work. Alcohol was affecting that. I used to be super precise in editing reports and documents, would love to come up with new ideas and angles for my clients and truly loved the collaboration process between myself and my clients.
But, lately, I had found myself totally apathetic to my work, lacking in creative ideas and not focused on finishing the most simple of tasks.
While I wanted to explore my area and go on adventures with my family, I would quickly revert back to old lazy ways on the weekend. Because I was hungover, if truth be told. And just worn out.
The cultivated life evaluation opened my eyes to the fact that, because of my emotional dependency on wine, I was just basically surviving. I had lost my zest for life and I certainly wasn’t “thriving” in any one area.
There were periods of time where I thought I could not live without my beloved wine. I looked forward to it every night! And I do believe that there was a time where I enjoyed drinking wine. But that time had long passed and it wasn’t “working” for me the way it used to. It certainly wasn’t doing me any favors.
Alcohol affected my decision making abilities, motivation and enthusiasm, anxiety and stress levels. And it wasn’t fair to my family, myself or anyone else in my life.
I decided to stop drinking – not because anyone asked me to – because I wanted to feel better, look better and treat people (including myself better). I honestly believe that anyone who drinks would benefit from taking a break to see the benefits they can experience.
Now, I feel I have the energy and enthusiasm and passion to achieve my goals and more. I’m thankful for the cultivated life evaluation. It was hard to look at – but ultimately served me by forcing me to make a chance and gain a new perspective on the role alcohol plays in my life.
DISCLAIMER – My husband and several of my close friends still drink regularly. Even with me sharing my experience, they aren’t the least bit interested in taking a break. And that’s O.K. But, I share this story because if you or someone you know is stuck in a cycle where drinking is no longer serving you, I want you to know you aren’t alone!
In fact, I host a private Facebook group which has turned into a supportive community full of people who are looking at the role alcohol plays in their lives. I’d love for you to join us if you would like to be around people ‘who get it” or for more support. You can request to join here. Additionally, I share more sober success stories from women online at kimbanksreset.com.