What 30 Days of Sobriety Taught Me About Resilience
Cheers, dear readers,
I have taken myself on an unusual journey. When I am feeling strong (both physically and mentally), I generally like to challenge myself as often as I am able to see what I am made of. I suppose I think it builds character. For months – even years – I have wondered if I could go 30 days without a drop of alcohol. Up until now, I did not think I could do it. Yes even in my days of trying to conceive, I cut back dramatically on my consumption of alcohol… for about 3 weeks out of the month – in the hopes that would up my chances of success. Then when my menstrual cycle would begin anew – letting me know that there was no life growing inside of me – I would self-soothe my bruised heart with a glass of wine. My husband and I would very guiltlessly allow ourselves to share a bottle of wine at our not-very-consoling dinner that evening. Another month, another cycle, another what-are-we-depriving-ourselves-a-simple-glass-of-wine-for… that is if it seems that pregnancy and growing our family biologically was never going to happen for us.
Fast forward to today about 7 years later… I have much to be thankful for. I know that I have gotten through some of the most difficult years of my life thus far. I have survived infertility, losing my father to cancer, losing my mother to old age and an old heart, losing my sweet cat to cancer as well, losing some friends, losing tens of thousands of dollars on treatment, and some days losing my own sanity and emotional well-being. So much loss…
Yet I have gained so much as well. I have gained confidence, pride, new friends, new passions, knowledge of my own resilience, the ability to help other people who have walked in my shoes. In many ways, my life feels like a miracle. My incredibly awesome relationship with my husband – despite everything that we have been through – feels like a miracle. Heck it all IS a miracle. What is a miracle anyways besides something amazing happening that blows your mind? Well consider my mind blown in the most beautiful of ways. Yay for that after all of those depressing and soul crushing years! I came through it better and stronger in the end.
So partly based on inspiration from a very good friend of mine, Troy Young, I decided that I wanted to see if I could not drink my beloved soul-soothing wine (or any other alcohol) for 30 days straight. No excuses. No whining (OK maybe there was a bit of whining, but no “wine-ing”). No “just this one time for this one event.”
And you know what? The experience has been fascinating and eye opening. Many of these lessons can help anyone on a challenging journey such as the infertility journey. It is powerful to remember that we can do anything we set our minds to that is within our power (eg. not drink alcohol, make decisions for our own health and well-being, get IVF treatments if we choose). And we can also accept some things that are out of our control (your favorite wine being offered at a birthday party when you are abstaining, another IVF cycle not producing a positive pregnancy test).
Without further ado, here’s what 30 DNA (Days No Alcohol) has taught me so far (I’m currently on Day 23 and rocking it!). I totally believe I can do this and will get to Day 30!
1) There are other ways to “celebrate” something (or self-soothe) versus a glass of wine to cheers with (for example after a speaking engagement recently, I ordered a black cherry soda and cheese fries and felt very “celebratory.” I know it was not a super healthy choice, but it was my celebratory little treat, and I’m cool with that).
2) Doing this challenge is not as hard as I thought it would be and keeps getting easier. It is simply a commitment that I made to myself. So I’m honoring that commitment because I am worth honoring my own integrity. I’m worth it! Boom!
3) My friends really appreciate me being designated driver and driving them around. Also I take better photos and videos when I’m not drinking that we enjoy the next day after we are all safely home.
4) I’m proud of myself, and that’s pretty awesome. I’m also learning that I can do anything that I set my mind to. That’s hugely powerful!
5) I don’t know that my waistline is smaller yet (a side goal of mine at age 48). But I believe it is in sight because I am also working out and strength training more as I have more energy.
6) My friend that offered to do this challenge with me is doing fantastically too, and the experience is helping to strengthen my friendship with her. Yay for deepening friendships and accountability buddies!
7) I’m sleeping better! Much better actually so I wake up rested and ready to take on the day having already accomplished something as soon as I wake up (another day with no alcohol to rock my challenge).
8) I feel great! Both emotionally and physically. I also am inspiring myself, as well as others. That feels wonderful!
9) Why do we wait to be all that we can be? We often give ourselves waaaaay more slack than we realize, and we just don’t “need” it like we think we do. We are capable of so much more.
I am finding that I can do anything for 30 days. Building resilience is a gift that we can give ourselves. What would be powerful for you to do for 30 days? What kind of impact can you have in your own life by practicing some willpower? I am betting that you are more powerful, stronger, and resilient than you are currently giving yourself credit for.
For further inspiration, feel free to read Troy Young’s blog post that inspired me to create this quest in the first place.
Please join me next week to hear more about my personal journey down the infertility path. I look forward to speaking with you. I wish you the best on your journey.