KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE…
Every so often, not bound by a New Year’s resolution or Dry January, any particular month or specific amount of time, I do what I call “a weaning.” It could be coffee…sugar. It’s sometimes alcohol. Always for health reasons and generally when I notice quantities of X or Y have crept up without realizing. There are clear cost savings too. Better physical and financial health.
I credit a bubble water maker and mail-in, recyclable CO2 cartridges for getting me through last year. Now, I have Betera too… And having Betera? A fizzy (key), flavorful (bonus), fun (yep) alternative to earth juice (as we call water in my family). I would surely sing the praises of all three of these non-alcoholic drinks, but my husband got to EVERY Rhubarb-Hibiscus before I could…something to look forward to tasting.
BORN NEAR THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
My early awareness of alcohol was limited. Parents didn’t drink. They would occasionally split a beer… One time, I got interested in a six pack of Zima that had languished in the fridge. I opened one... Tasted it. Then super glued the cap back on, pushing it toward the rear.
My parents’ friends, our larger family nor my friends drank. Or if any of them did, I wasn’t around.
I blame nothing and no one for my handling of any matter. But I do find it sober curious (and pure curious) that some subjects were so exhaustively covered, while other teaching moments were left to the fates. Outer signs of health, like weight, were an endless conversation point.
THE QUEEN OF BEERS
There was no tangible judgement or avoidance regarding alcohol. There was simply absence until there wasn’t… College.
I went from indifference to interest to investment quite quickly. I’ve always found the different drink total rules for men and women suspect. I do believe in science. I know studies and stats explain… Regardless, I won’t argue that excessive anything is good for anyone.
I moved through university and after with a fairly fixed pattern of finance-related weekday sobriety paired with sporadic weekend excess…always seeking maximum value. (If I paid 20 bucks for two hours unlimited, I was going to get my money’s worth!) Poor choices made (Edward Fortyhands). Deeply meaningful conversations had (I’m told)…
One morning, I woke to see I had scrawled “I will not fall prey to the parrot” on a piece of paper. To this day, I have no idea.
WHY ASK WHY
It wasn’t until many years later I accidentally decided to do dry. I wish I could say I was sober curious, but I wasn’t even thinking about it. This was a plan with a friend to complete a “30 Day Paleo Challenge.”
It was her idea, and removing alcohol was part of it but not the point. My inherently more-healthy-than-I friend made it about three days… I finished because I will finish. I felt great after a month of non-alcoholic drinks and promptly celebrated success by stuffing my sweet pink mouth with more sushi and sake than I could stomach.
I did another randomly placed 30 Days, loving the overall energy boost more than anything…attributing that to nothing really in the mix of all that wasn’t being consumed.
A couple of years ago, my Dad’s declining health became apparent.
Mom had been flagging it, but without being around daily, signs were easy to miss… I eventually saw Dad struggle to get thoughts out. Then he began to have trouble walking.
It struck me that some of my more joyous, excessive romps through Dry January and the entirety of each year could put me in a similar stumbling state. And what sense did that make? To purposefully impair what I was seeing be stolen from Dad?
He was finally diagnosed with unfixable things. Then we lost him.
Various folks in my inner and outer circles have also prompted greater reflection…painfully so. Twice now, I almost lost one of my most cherished loved ones, with alcohol being a factor.
I seized my own reigns in the fall of 2019. There isn’t one reason I decided to be wholly healthier and sober curious. Ironically, the decision and effort put me in a perfect position prior to the pandemic… All of the events, friends, family, doctor questions about habits, societal shifts, scientific studies and personal reflection moved me toward a more (most of the time) mindful approach. I can’t even claim to love the taste of some things I consume, so replacing the less beneficial items with stuff I legit enjoy wasn’t obvious until it was. Tasty non-alcoholic drink choices matter.
I still have a relationship with alcohol. We haven’t broken up…
I still do the occasional weaning…here specifically to revisit how great Dry January in August feels in preparing these thoughts (and it feels fantastic). I’ve never been a morning bird, but I get up at a more normal time for a night owl and not feel naughty. I think more clearly the next day, next week and so on after not drinking. I’ve found that in the past two years, since I decided to really think about why, what and when, there’s been a huge overall lessening of an awful lot of nonsense.
Dad would say, “Moderation in all things.” I’m listening…
Julie Fogerson, EdD, MS, APR is a storyteller, teacher, traveler, and friend of Betera. You can keep up with her on her website.