Some of you may have done a double-take when you read the title of this article. I can hear the “I’ll believe it when I see it,”comments from where I sit. But hang on a minute, and hear me out.
A little over six months ago, my husband Tim had a very serious stroke. I’m not going into details here, as many know or have read our story (written by our daughter Brooke) in this magazine, as well as on Facebook and in Caring Bridge posts. However, I feel that I must start at the beginning… I plan to continue writing this column as long as there is interest and if I change just one person’s life, then it will be worth it.
The decision to stop drinking was not made consciously for either Tim or me. We were camped out in ICU after his stroke, and later practically lived in inpatient rehab – the hospital was our home for nearly a month! Beer, wine, and cocktails were not only missing from the hospital menu; they were nowhere to be found at all in that environment.
Despite everything, though, at one point, I began to notice how well I had been sleeping. As you can imagine, a recliner pushed up next to a hospital bed (I wanted to be close enough for him to reach out and touch me if he needed anything) is not most people’s idea of a comfortable sleeping arrangement. But somehow I rested amazingly well during our hospital stay. I believe that was a whole lot of God’s help, but also a little bit because I had no opportunity to have, and thus, had not been drinking, any alcohol.
When we were finally (finally!) back home, we opened our refrigerator and noticed it was full of beer and wine. I looked at the bottles and cans and wondered, “Are we going to settle back into our old routine? Or create a totally new one?” I can’t really explain my reasoning – perhaps it was my competitive nature – but I had been several weeks without alcohol, and I was kind of curious. How long could I go without it?
Ultimately, I was just not ready to go down that road again: the almost daily ‘happy’ hours, weekends, holidays, and of course, there was almost always something to celebrate. When I look back, I was drinking alcohol on more days than I was happy to admit. Plus there were the little side effects that every drinker takes as a given: waking up every few hours, dry mouth/being thirsty, headaches, fatigue, etc.…if you are a drinker, you know the drill.
In the back of my head I was thinking of all the positive things that could happen in this sober-minded journey without alcohol…
- Everyone knows that cancer and alcohol are not a good combination, well… with Breast Cancer 2.0 now on my resume that seemed like a HUGE reason to give it up!
- Being a support system for my husband.
- Surely I would lose weight.
- Sleeping – yes, sleeping! I mean REAL sleep – the kind where you lay your head down and fall asleep within a few minutes. If later in the night you do wake up, you can go right back to sleep (a completely new concept for me!).
- Waking up with a clear head…. Every. Single. Day!
I would love to have you follow along with me on this journey. You may not have a plan to be completely alcohol-free (AF) like I am trying, but maybe you want to take a mindful break from your daily glass of wine, or simply cut back on what you are currently drinking. It’s never too early to renegotiate your relationship with alcohol.
Whatever your choice, be sure to give yourself some grace when things don’t go exactly as planned. You may slip up at some point, no matter what your intention is, just forgive yourself and keep moving forward!