It happens as it usually does: a period of time where Mr. Tucker and I find ourselves drinking a lot of alcohol but enjoying it less and less. Our solution to that is usually a month of sobering up followed by some grandiose “falling off the wagon” as a holiday hits, friends come over, or it’s Friday. Rinse, repeat.
The pandemic has brought with it exploding alcohol sales. In the spring drinking just brought me anxiety but once the summer hit I was kicking back poolside, drink in hand. The seasons turned once again and by the fall I couldn’t get any sleep unless I had a drink or two. It wasn’t until October that Mr. Tucker and I realized that we were just drinking because it was habit and that neither of us was enjoying it all that much. So one day I turned to him and said, “Do you think we could quit drinking for an entire year?”
So on November 1st we completely stopped drinking alcohol for one entire year.
As creatures of habit I knew what our patterns were and I wanted to break them. I chose a year because it is probably the longest either of us has gone without a drink since we met (even pregnancy is only 9 months!). We also aren’t used to denying ourselves. Mr. Tucker and I are so incredibly compatible but that’s a bad thing if you are heading in the wrong direction. Also, Mr. Tucker is the worst at being the bad guy. Having a supportive partner is amazing but it also means that he sometimes enables my bad behaviour. For example, we will set a goal and say, try to not spend money because we are saving for something. Mr. Tucker will be great at not spending but as soon as I want to spend he takes it as his cue to go all-in and suddenly we are both spending and no closer to our shared goal.
With alcohol though, we have particular triggers. It’s as if you took the game of LIFE and made it into a drinking game. Rough day at work? DRINK! First day of spring? DRINK! Zoom call with friends? DRINK! But when you don’t have a plan aside from the very vague, “we’re not drinking right now,” cracking open a bottle of wine doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. So we crack open a bottle of wine and then a couple of days later we’re drinking two bottles…We’re stuck inside our old pattern again. So making a concrete goal and determining that we want to make it to a year made sense. It’s not open-ended so it’s harder to give in.
I will admit that quitting alcohol was not the only goal. Alcohol is also ridiculously expensive. In our youth we could drink whatever $5 special landed into our little hands but as you get older your tastes generally swing to more expensive brands. Our go-to wine was a regional wine that was on the low-end at $17 and even drinking one of these a night is a $119 a week. Where we live in Canada, there is no decent-tasting “two buck chuck” so you are looking at $400 a month. $400 that could be better spent somewhere else.
The other thing that really convinced me to give a long period of temperance a go is my health. I have often given up alcohol, done a lot of stretching, exercise & meditation, and made sure I my diet was well constructed. But I’ve never done all three at the same time. So I wanted to see if it would improve my mobility if I combined all of the healthy habits. As much as I never wanted to admit it: alcohol increases my spasticity & makes my balance worse. Not just in the “ha ha I am tipsy and can’t walk a straight line” way but in a way that lasts for days even after I’ve not had a drink for awhile. So that was my primary motivator.
Finally, I just didn’t want the kids seeing us drink everyday. Mr.Tucker and I have a saying and it’s, “we’re not moderation kind of people.” I can’t tell you how many times I have turned down “just one drink” at parties because I am driving. I know myself and I can’t just have one drink. It’s much easier for me to stay sober. So while I don’t want to make it sound like we were hammered every night (we weren’t) we did drink most nights of the week. Now that the kids are entering their tween years it seems even more pressing to model spending our evenings doing other things besides drinking (and spending time online but that’s another post).
So how has it gone? Pretty well, actually. We are two months in and neither of us think about it too much. Christmas was a bit difficult because of old habits but it helped that we weren’t hosting a large dinner this year. Being in a pandemic year helped a bit in that respect. For me the difficulty will lie in when the first really warm day of spring happens and when we open the pool this summer. I also feel like it will be easier by that time as well with 6 months behind us.
It helps that we are doing this for myriad reasons: health, money, parenting and life goals. When you look at the choice objectively it makes a lot of sense for our life to make this one change. I will say though, both Mr. Tucker and I – while constant drinkers – aren’t alcoholics. Obviously I don’t want to suggest that quitting alcohol is in any way easy if you have an addiction. If you do, please seek out professional help instead of trying to quit on your own. I know one person who passed away from complications due to alcohol addiction and it is a real, dangerous way to quit. Call your doctor or check out aa.org for more info.