I Quit Drinking Because of Her.
It’s been a full year since I’ve touched booze.
It started out innocently. Last year I was training for a half marathon in my town, and when I train for a race, I tend to shy away from alcohol. When I’m running regularly, even one beer or a glass of wine can affect how I feel the next day running. So I avoid alcohol during my training, but on race day, I get super excited about finishing the race and starting the drinking party. Usually, after the race, I always get drunk.
Last year was different. I thought I was going to drink like usual, I really did. We went out for a post-race celebration, and when I went to order that cold cocktail, I paused. I looked around the table at the faces looking back at me, waiting to order a drink, and then I heard the words come out of my mouth, “I’ll just have some fizzy water, please.”
No one was more surprised than me. What? Why didn’t I want to drink? I was so deserving of a drink, right? I couldn’t explain it to my friends, and I couldn’t even explain it to myself. I certainly didn’t miss what it felt like to have alcohol in my system, so I wondered if it was that. Maybe I had gotten used to feeling so great that I didn’t want to spoil it?
Then summer arrived. Now this is the time of year when I like to step it up a notch. Summer is all about the beach, the cottage, lazing in the sun, and definitely having some drinks. There’s nothing that says summer to me than having a beer on the dock and dozing off in the hot sun. I live for that. That is me!
And yet I didn’t have a drink. Not a single one. People kept asking me, “Why aren’t you drinking? Don’t you want just one?” But I didn’t really. The only reason I could see to drink would have been to shut them up.
Then, I began to notice all of the situations where a drink would have taken the edge off. In social situations where a drink would have made it easier for me to interact with people. It would have settled my nerves and made it easier to mingle. Even with friends, the booze always takes the edge off, and quickly we find ourselves laughing and giggling harder as we knock back the beers.
Without the booze in these situations, I began to notice something else. I began to hear a little voice inside my head. I began to hear her words coming out of my mouth, instead of the words of the slightly tipsy girl who would have been there before. And that little voice, although quiet at first, had something to say that was different than the drunk girl’s.
And I kind of liked her. She reminded me of someone I met a long time ago. This little girl, who was happy, adventurous and talkative. This girl who would run naked through the woods just because it made her feel free. This little girl who did things without stopping herself. This little girl was so amazing — she didn’t care what others thought, she didn’t change her tune based on what others said.
She would get a feeling inside of her, have a thought, and then she would go. Free will, free thinking, uninhibited movement. She was amazing and brave and courageous, and she was nobody but herself. And that was always enough, she was always enough.
She was me!
I began, over the summer months, to recognize myself. I started to see a person who was genuinely happy. Not for any other reason than that. She was born happy, and that’s just how she lived.
Then in the Fall, I was involved in a very close call car accident. In the weeks afterwards, I couldn’t even touch food. And I’m an eater; I love to eat. I can find any reason to eat, even if I’m stuffed. But I had no interest in food. I didn’t even feel hunger.
But oh, I wanted a drink. At 8 am in the morning, after my husband John went to work and the kids went to school, I would stand staring at the alcohol in our liquor cabinet and fantasize about how I would feel if I started doing shots. I kept thinking, if I get drunk right now, I’ll start to feel really good, and I won’t have to feel this black cloud that inhabits my body right now.
Feel. And there it was. I realized why I hadn’t been drinking. It stopped me from feeling. It stopped me from feeling something. And even if it’s only tiny, even if it only halts some smidgen of emotion, I realized that’s what booze does for me. It inhibits feeling.
And I’m a feeler. I have fucking feelings. Ahem, a lot of them! Alcohol over the years has really been there for me when I didn’t want to feel quite so much.
In the last year, I’ve wanted to feel it all. I have wanted to feel every single inch of my skin and the emotion that lies beneath it. I’ve wanted to feel and unearth every drop of buried trauma, shame, guilt, and so on. And I’ve also wanted to feel every emotion from my day to day. Do I feel good around that person? Do I feel good doing this work? Am I happy? Am I sad? What the fuck am I feeling?
I want to feel. I want to know all about myself and be there with myself. I want to know exactly who I am, and in order for that to happen, I have to know how I feel. I want to show up for who I am.
Was I an alcoholic? No, definitely not. Will I ever drink again? I have no idea. Do I have any urges to drink? No, not really. I have so much in my life right now, and I want to feel what that feels like, as much as I can.
I have myself, and that’s enough.
Becky Keen is a soul coach and a writer whose contagious spirit inspires living from a place of wild authenticity. Through soulful conversations and deep awareness within the body, Becky uses a combination of science and spirit to deepen the connection to self. Becky believes that when we tap into our intuitive nature, we expand our inner knowing and move into a space where infinite possibilities of becoming exist. Becky lives on the Eastern shore of Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband and two children. You can read more about Becky’s personal journey at her website.