I stopped drinking heavily a couple years ago. I stopped drinking altogether a little over six months ago. Sure, I’ve had a few drinks here and there to celebrate my birthday or a new job, but I haven’t participated in the American alcohol binge in quite some time.
Most people cock their head to the side and wonder why a healthy, non-alcoholic girl in her 20s stopped drinking. “Why wouldn’t you want this cold, shitty beer?!” they wonder. What follows is always this look of suspicion as if there’s some extremely deep and/or sinister reason for my sobriety. Truth is, I just like being sober.
The funny thing is, I’ve sort of always been the only sober girl in the room. I’ve always been the one who could handle the bar or a party or a family function without the crutch of alcohol. I was the girl who would volunteer to be DD first because I didn’t mind not libating (and I really, really, really wanted to stop the debate my girlfriends were about to have about whose turn it was behind the wheel). Basically, I’ve been able to dance like a drunk maniac without actually being drunk since I came out of the womb.
But when you tell people, “No thank you, I don’t drink,” there is this uncomfortable silence as if you have somehow betrayed them by not taking their offer of a too-strong rum and coke. They don’t remember the 1,000 times that came before when I sipped Dr. Pepper instead of wine; they seem to be looking for a lost limb I never knew I had. I find myself having the “it’s not you, it’s me” talk with a lot of folks as I let them and their whisky down gently.
I chose to drink, and I chose to stop drinking. The fact of the matter is, my body doesn’t like alcohol. It refuses to participate in the bar scene like Captain Kirk refuses to follow the rules. I can’t function when there’s alcohol running through my blood stream, and I like doing things too much to wait for peak body performance to return. My health became more important than my annoyance for having to explain why I didn’t want red wine with my meal on 99 more occasions. And though I’ve had to explain myself quite a few times since, the benefits from dropping the alcohol have been phenomenal.
My skin is glowing. It has its hormonal days as I do, but it looks more hydrated than it has in years.
I have kept weight off with less effort, especially in the always-problematic torso region.
My hair looks better, even when I neglect it, and it’s actually starting to fill in in a couple of places where there was a lot of frequent breakage.
My mental health, while always a work in progress, only has to deal with the swings of reality without any dizzy nights to confuse it.
I never wake up wondering what I did the night before, the dread washing over me, not knowing if I unreasonably started a fight or lost something important.
And you know what? The only drinks I truly miss are cheap champagne and a quality craft beer. But thanks to the healing ixnaying alcohol has done to my body, I can enjoy those things every once in a blue moon without the consequences of long-term drinking.
I can have my cake and drink it, too… or something like that.