I have seen and soaked in the light at the end of the tunnel!
My husband and I went alcohol-free for 71 straight days. It started on January 1st and ended on March 13th. That’s the Friday before Saint Patrick’s day – if you’re wondering about the random number. It is our fourth year doing this fast together. You can read about why we do this annual challenge here.
This year’s fast coincided with very stressful events in my life: Third Space Wellness activities were kicking into high gear so I was working crazy long hours (still am), I quit my job (with no new job to fall back on), then I started a new job, had a health scare at home, and a spouse who was equally struggling. So did it feel more difficult? Hell yes. I practically crawled to the end of this challenge.
The physical benefits of doing the fast are better sleep, more energy, and I save a boatload of money. But more importantly, I am able to delineate between wanting alcohol and needing alcohol. My fast does highlight the substantial role that alcohol plays in easing social interactions and as a stress-reliever so finding alternate ways to fill that role is interesting (albeit not always successful) and beneficial. Were they necessarily healthy? Nope. Was I sometimes a grumpy mess at the end of the day? Definitely.
I often faced the question of how to relieve stress at the end of the long day when I was too tired to even do yoga… Snow days were particularly difficult. Fortunately, reading, writing, working, talking to my husband, or a vicious game of battle Tetris were very valuable tools to “take the edge off.” Some days I just gave up and went to sleep. I thought that going alcohol-free would put a strain on my relationship with my husband, but it has, in fact, strengthened our bond. Maybe it is true that misery loves company…
The other interesting aspect of this alcohol fast is everyone’s reactions to it. You would be surprised at how many people internalize it… From…
“Oh, I couldn’t do that.”
“I don’t need to do that. I don’t drink THAT much.”
“HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?”
“Maybe I should do it, too…”
I found myself constantly reassuring people “It’s not you. It’s me. I have to do this for myself.” These comments say more about the individual’s relationship with alcohol than it does about mine. But if my fast causes an individual to reflect on their own alcohol consumption, then that is an unintended bonus for the whole experience.
So will we do it again? Every year, my husband and I joke about never EVER doing this again. But rest assured, January 1st will roll back around and we will be back on the wagon. We have benefited tremendously from this experiment. Every year, we learn something… About ourselves – maybe about others.
I highly encourage you to do the same. It doesn’t have to be alcohol. Abstain from something that you think you can’t live without. You will learn so much about yourself – good or bad. And if you do, I want to hear all about it.
What would you give up temporarily if you were to embark on your own experiment?