Today, May 7, 2021, is the second anniversary of my commitment to no longer drink alcohol. Wine had been my drink of choice, with an occasional Appletini, Lemon Drop Martini, or Caipirinha. When I stopped drinking, I was an almost daily drinker, especially enjoying my wine in the evenings. The reason I stopped drinking was two-fold. I knew that it was an unhealthy habit, and I thought it could even be an addiction. I knew that I was playing with fire with this, since my mother and other family members were alcoholics. The other reason was to lose weight.
When I stopped drinking alcohol, I did not think that I was making a forever decision. I did not have a particular time frame in mind for this decision. On that day, May 7, 2019, I just knew it was the right thing to do. I had planned to do this many times before but had not. I do not know what made this day different. To this day, I do not know why May 7 was the day I was able to make this commitment and had not been able to before. I have stopped trying to figure that out and am just thankful that I was finally able to make this commitment.
Stopping drinking has been, for the most part, much easier than I thought it would be. I have not needed any outside assistance, for which I am grateful. If I had needed outside assistance, such as AA, I think it would have been much harder. The fact that I haven’t does not make me any stronger. I think the stronger people are those who do access resources such as AA, helping others as well as themselves. They are braver and stronger than I am.
I go to most of the same places with many of the same people, and I drink iced tea or diet coke while others drink alcohol. Most people most of the time are supportive of my decision, not trying to coerce me to drink. I have alcohol in our home, and even buy it for others. Just because this is my plan does not mean it has to be anyone else’s. Alcohol is not bad. I do believe that alcohol consumption has gotten out of hand, and not just because of COVID. It can be a social activity and not a problem when done in moderation. I do not believe that daily alcohol consumption is moderate drinking.
I have learned many lessons in these two years, about alcohol, myself, and the power of a commitment. I learned from this the power of taking one step, and letting the rest unfold. We do not have to be able to figure it all out at once. If we just trust ourselves, our higher power, and the process, we will be amazed at what we can do.
In the spirit of transparency and full disclosure, I want to share that I had two drinks recently, both last week while on vacation in St. Maarten. They were both very small, and not any of my drinks of choice. Neither were planned, no one coerced me, and I made a quick decision in both cases to not obsess over the decision.
The first was a small glass of champagne given to me by our St. Maarten jeweler friends along with an anniversary cake. I considered not accepting the champagne but decided that might not be gracious. I had a momentary dilemma with this decision but felt ok about it once it was done. I did not accept the offer of a second glass. The second drink was a small glass of limoncello given at the end of our anniversary dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant the next night. I certainly did not “need” to accept that drink but did.
I decided that just because I made those decisions does not change my commitment to not drink alcohol. Nor does that mean that I will have more temptations to drink while on vacation. I am ok with my decision to have those two drinks, and do not think those decisions have anything to do with changing my commitment to not drink alcohol. Yes, on those two occasions, I made a decision not consistent with my commitment, but my commitment is still solid.
I know that for me starting to drink again can be a slippery slope. I do not think that I would be able to drink in moderation. I think it would become a daily habit for me again. I think in the back of my mind I had those two drinks last week as somewhat of a “test,” to see if I would go back to drinking again. If so, I passed that test. I have not been even tempted to do so since then.
There was one temptation that drinking those two drinks last week created. I initially did not want to share the truth about that. I considered not even mentioning them. No one but Mike would know, and he volunteered that he would not divulge that to anyone. But I knew. And that would not meet my standard of honesty. My readers who have heard of this journey of mine and have been supportive in so many ways deserve better than such withholding.
When speaking and teaching on leadership and communication through the years I have often discussed honesty. I have posed the question, “Is withholding being honest?” I have received various answers to the question. The answer I have given is that if the withholding protects the other person, it may be appropriate. If the withholding is to protect oneself, it is usually not appropriate. In making my decision about this I had to remember Gandhi’s mantra, “You Must be the Change You Wish to See in the World.”
We can often hide our behavior from others. But we cannot hide from ourselves.