When I started my alcohol-free challenge, I decided it was nobody’s business but my own. That wasn’t really true.
Fact is I worried what my friends would think, so not talking about it was my natural defense mechanism. Heck, I didn’t talk about it with my husband for a week. My issue with him is that I’d said I was going to take a break so many times before that I figured he’d laugh me out of the room.
Eventually I did have to say something. By now, I’ve been through a 3-day weekend, a birthday party, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, several BBQs, a pool party and a couple date nights. Short of never leaving my house, I couldn’t claim I was giving my liver a break for longer than the first week.
Here’s where I struggled. Does giving up alcohol mean you’re an alcoholic? Does going on a diet mean you’re fat? Does wanting a new job mean you’re ungrateful? What does it say about you when you think your life needs changing, and everyone else thinks your life is just fine? What if it’s just better health you’re after?
I’ve heard well-meaning comments from, “Oh come on. It’s summer.” “You don’t need to lose weight.” “Are you on a cleanse?” “You better drink at my party.” “That Diet Coke is worse for you than wine.” “I never thought you had a problem.”
Some more difficult like, “You’re making me feel like a booze hound.” “Don’t be boring.” “This is just another one of your crazy ideas.” “We’ll get wasted together on day 91.”
And then others that are somewhat offensive mainly because they came from total strangers. “Are you an alcoholic?” “Are you pregnant?” Seriously? I don’t even know you!
It’s hard to convince others that my actions are not a judgement on them. I could care less if anyone in my life has a drink around me. Just as it was fine for someone to eat ice cream when I was cutting calories. Does it make it a tiny bit harder? Maybe but the desire to change is rooted deep within myself, and so it doesn’t matter what people around me do.
I’m finding the similarities between giving up alcohol and trying to lose weight or make a major life change uncanny. Changing yourself can make the people around you insecure. Those closest to you might feel you’re growing apart. Others may feel you don’t want to be around them anymore. And in some ways you may lose the one thing you had in common.
It’s not easy. Not at all. And so I understand how hard it is to stick to a diet over the weekend. To socialize but not undo a week’s worth of hard work. Booze and bar food go together like syrup and pancakes. Can you have one without the other?
But sometimes you just outgrow the person you are. And one thing I’ve learned is that it’s okay to grieve a bit. It’s like when you buy your first house. You love that house. It’s full of memories and good times. But one day you get married and you have children and now the house is too small. You move on. You take the good times and leave the rest behind. Those who love you will come with you.
Updated: You can read Part 3 here.
By Suzie Glassman, Eat To Perform Coach