Hi! I’ve decided to share something I consider pretty personal: why I decided to call it quits on the alchy.
You see those pictures of me up above? I’m not proud of them.
I’m glad I can say, those are pictures of the old me.
My request is that IF you do decide to read this, please read all the way through.. even if you start to get bored! (Honor system, thanks!)
Let me start off by saying, the sake of this post was written to simply share why I chose to stop drinking alcohol.. And is NOT meant to criticize those who drink, the act of drinking, clubbing or partying. With that said, I respect you for your choices, so thank you for respecting mine.
I wasn’t an alcoholic. I never drank alone. I wasn’t a habitual partygoer. But when I did go out from time to time, I drank to feel young and alive like the naive teenage girl I was. I always found some kind of reason to go drinking like after a tough week of school and work, being on vacation or just spicing up the fun on a mundane night. I used to think inviting old and new friends out for a drink was an easier way to connect or reconnect with them, since people barely turn down an invite to kick back and have a drink, right? Well, I still do kind of think this, only difference is that I’ll order a Ginger ale on the rocks, or a Shirley Temple, and will most likely still have a good time. I’ve learned that “out for a drink,” doesn’t necessarily have to be an alcoholic drink. My mentality back then was, there’s always a reason to celebrate with some alcohol. I now know that alcohol does not need to be part of the equation of a celebration. However, years ago it seemed like it wasn’t a real party if alcohol was not in the picture. I’m sure you can get an idea of the kind of drinking I did just looking at my disgustingly red face in the pictures above; the kind of drinking where I always had a cup in my hand.
I’ve had my share of nights out with friends, taking shots just to take shots, playing Kings, Watermelon or beer pong, you name it. The worst of all would probably be drinking disgusting Four Lokos in foam cups, that was by far the worst of my drinking days – what was I thinking? Well, I wasn’t thinking. I drank until I felt what I would call “I’m buzz-light year” which in other words was my state of happy buzz. Basically drinking until I no longer remembered how sad and empty I felt deep down, that was not until I sobered up and felt sad and empty all over again the next day anyways. Point is I drank to feel happy, to forget my problems and worries, and probably to fit in. However, I felt worst about myself and farther from who I really wanted to be. Not to mention the bad headaches and the realization of how much I spent the previous night made me feel crappier than ever each time I drank.
I used to think I had more fun when I drank, and also figured I was more fun to be around. On the sporadic occasions that I went out to clubs, lounges and bars, I liked having a drink in my hand to look occupied, it’d usually be a Screwdriver or a Cosmo. On some nights, I’d move around on the dance floor in attempts at dancing if I had some alcohol in me. I do enjoy dancing, even though for a fact, I’m not good at it nor do I think I really know how to, in which case I didn’t care what people thought because I felt great. I thought the alcohol helped me loosen up in such a place that wasn’t my preferred environment, and hid my fear of looking like a fool. To blend in with the crowd, like I knew what I was doing and I wasn’t that odd girl just standing there lost and unsure what the heck I was doing there (when in fact, that was the case). The only problem was my drink was not just a prop that I’d hold for the whole night. Before I knew it, I was holding an empty cup so I made my way to the bar getting my second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth drink. As you might guess, I’m light-weight so by this time, I’m experiencing what some would refer to as supposedly having a really good time. My heart would race fast, and I could hear what I believe to be is my conscience asking myself, “Are you actually having a good time? Are you really enjoying this feeling?” I knew I wasn’t. I’ve never blacked out, and thankfully never got to the point of needing someone to carry me out of the place. For some, pride takes over when it comes to how many drinks they can down. For me, pride was walking out on my own, and thankfully, for the most part, I was able to control my drinking in order to do that.
The combination of stress, confusion, and lostness in life got me looking for something to fill my many voids. I wanted to just feel happy. Alcohol was my escape from what seemed to be at the time considered harsh realities of feelings of isolation, bad relationships or friendships, and loneliness. Besides hating the taste of it, and how it’d make me feel afterwards, alcohol was too temporary. I needed something more worthwhile to fulfill me. Something positive and un-damaging, and even if not permanent, at least less-temporary. I was on the search for this something. I started going to the gym. I did things to keep myself busy. Without putting much thought into it at the time, after not having gone for years since early high school, I somehow ended up attending church again. No one made me go. I was intrigued by the messages. Each week I found myself going again. I didn’t always understand what I was hearing, but a lot of it made sense at the same time. Eventually, there were days I sat in Sunday service having a hard time paying attention to the message because I had so many thoughts. Thoughts of what am I doing in life, questioning myself why I do the things I do. I’d ask myself, why did you drink so much when you don’t even like the taste of it? Why are you sitting in church with a hangover? Why are you searching for happiness, love and acceptance from the wrong places, things and people? Why do you find hope in things that don’t last? I had so many questions. Yet I had no answers.
But there was something that I knew for sure: I didn’t want to keep being the person that I was at the time. I wasn’t happy with myself, because I knew there was more to who I was; I was made for better and greater things than to be a girl who was constantly feeling self-pity and desolation. I started thinking, maybe I’m sad because I’m choosing to be. I reminded myself to see the positive in things, to be grateful and to stop complaining. Don’t get me wrong, this didn’t happen over night, and believe me I still have days where I perpetually question my life’s purpose. We’re human, it’s natural to experience these feelings and doubt to a certain extent. It’s how we choose to react to them that makes us who we are. I decided I needed to make changes in my life if I wanted my life to be better. I began analyzing myself, my actions, my thoughts, and the people I was surrounding myself with. It didn’t take long for me to see that drinking offered nothing good to my life, and if anything, brought me way down. Soon after, these new thoughts took over and I kept thinking, you need to treat yourself better and love yourself more. God loves me and I think He would be happy to see me taking care of my body and health, and loving myself a little more. The idea of His acceptance and love was more than I needed. In the process of all this happening, I went to Summer Conference and it was there that I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, and it was there that I found real genuine friendships from brothers and sisters that I never knew would actually care about me. At this point, I still drank but much less than before.
I absolutely love worshipping through music. When I close my eyes and sing the words with all my heart, many times I find my heart would beat profusely and sometimes I have to fight the tears trying to come out of my eyes. Similar to the heart racing I get after I’ve had a few drinks, only during worship, it makes me feel alive, forever grateful and at peace even when the music ends. When I’m experiencing this, I’m overwhelmed with this feeling of knowing I’m loved unconditionally despite all my imperfections, mistakes and all, it’s incredible. I know my God is real and He knows what I’m going through. I don’t drink anymore because I want to only feel this way knowing I’m in the presence of God. It was at Urbana Missions Conference that I made the decision to stop drinking when asked in one of the seminars, what are some things that you feel keeps you or distracts you from having a relationship with God.
In the beginning of this self-challenge of choosing to no longer drink alcohol, I was scared to tell people. Afraid of them thinking differently of me, or fear that I’ll fail after a week or two, and how stupid I’ll look at even trying to take on such a feat. Initially, I was worried it would be more tempting if I went to clubs or bars and was near alcohol, was I going to fall into temptation? When friends that either purposely or accidentally asked me if I wanted a drink, I thought I’d have a hard time saying no. In fact, each time I said “No thank you, I’m good..,” I felt more empowered, as opposed to how weak I thought it would make me seem. I felt more in control of MY thoughts and actions, what should have been my own to begin with. I am normally easily influenced by others, so to this day, a part of me still can’t believe I’m capable of such self-control and self-discipline.
Some people often ask me why I didn’t just choose to drink less. My reason is because I wanted to do this boldly, and mainly because I wouldn’t know what exactly “less” is. Do I determine that by a certain number of drinks, or by a matter of tolerance level? I decided to go with not drinking any at all. This doesn’t mean I don’t go out with friends anymore and it doesn’t mean I don’t go to bars — I’m just that girl that orders a soda or juice (and I’m perfectly happy with that).
The 5 things I learned from not drinking that I hope you’ll take away from this as well:
1. Always challenge yourself. Change something that you don’t like about yourself. You’d be surprise at how you’ll feel once you’ve accomplished something you didn’t think you were capable of doing.
2. Accountability is very important. Tell people, especially people you care about. Having their support really helps.
3. If it’s something that’s going to benefit you positively, do it for yourself regardless of what others will say or think.
4. Love and take care of yourself and your body. Without your health, everything else means nothing.
5. Don’t think you can’t do it. You can. Make small steps if you have to, small steps is still progress.
If you made it this far in reading, yay and thanks for taking the time to read this.
I’m really thankful for those of you who have supported me from day one and is still supporting me in this decision. Alcohol showed a side of me that I was not proud of, which was unattractively aggressive and un-Christlike. I still have a long way to go, but not drinking has in my opinion, helped me in my walk with God and allowed me to see His grace even more. December 26th, 2012 was the last time I drank. I can only do this, and can proudly say I’ve gotten this far, only because of the One who I know has and will always have my back; Lord, thank You for Your never-ending love and support.