Bike Life Ramblings: To Drink or Not To Drink

At the beginning of November, I decided that a break from alcohol was in order, simply because I felt like it. There wasn't a monumental moment that made me decide to stop drinking beer, I didn't have a massive hangover or anything of the sort, but I simply wanted to take a break to reevaluate my relationship with it.

I don't know when it happened, but over the past couple of years, I started to question my relationship with alcohol. 

Also, for the past year or so, I've found myself feeling a bit indifferent towards beer. The thrill of trying a new IPA was not as great as it was before, and trying a new beer that didn't meet my flavor expectations was a letdown. Something shifted and I started questioning more and more WHY I drank in the first place.

I'd say the idea of drinking beer came to fruition more or less because my step-dad drank beer when we milked cows every night. I felt that if I learned how to appreciate beer, my relationship with my step-dad would strengthen because we could bond over a shared beverage. We've had beers together a couple of times, and in those moments I felt included and it made me happy...because all I ever wanted was a man who I considered to be a father, to love and accept me. 

Growing up, I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world to have two men who were father figures in my life. I had this idea that if something happened to one, I would have a backup. I'd always have a dad in my life, no matter what.

Now fast forward to 2020 and my mom and step-dad are getting divorced. Sadly, my relationship with my step-dad disintegrated over the past several years, and not necessarily by my choice. I won't say that I was perfect with trying to cultivate our relationship, but after so many attempts of trying to invite him over to visit or include him and not getting a response...I gave up. This happened before my real dad passed away in 2018. I feel like the loss of my dad, Steve, and the overall loss of my step-dad in my life sent me into a downward spiral of sadness. Now that things are officially moving forward between my mom and step-dad, it feels obvious that I'm no longer a part of his life. I'm accepting of his decision and with that, why not take a break from alcohol? It only seems fitting to do so, because I feel like part of my drinking was to be more accepted by other people- not necessarily because I felt that it added value to my life.

I have absolutely nothing against folks who drink, but I know that I need a break from it on a personal level. In 2018 I indulged slightly more than I usually would because the pain I had from losing my dad was so great. The stresses I encountered from being shoved into a world of unknown adulting were overwhelming. Beer was a security blanket. I also felt that it helped me when I would have extremely painful nerve pain episodes. I'll admit, I used it to help me cope to a degree. Even tho I wasn't getting drunk, I feel that having beer for me should always be a simple pleasure, and not for coping. Instead, I looked at beer more like something to get me through the darkness. The reality was this: I was depressed and my anxiety was through the roof. Beer wasn't the answer, but I felt like it was good enough at the time.

I've been suspecting my gut hasn't liked high alcohol content beer for a while now, but it's my favorite kind, so I did what many other folks likely do and ignored it. When I took a break from drinking in January 2020, I found that my gut felt happier and in theory, I should have continued my sober journey but I went back to beer within a few months. Basically, beer was my cozy sweatshirt and I didn't want to let it go.

The idea of eliminating alcohol from my life has been something on my mind since late 2019 and into 2020. Being it was an idea that kept coming into my thoughts, I figured it should be something that I legitimately take the time to investigate long-term, and not just for a month. When I did my first sober month I relied on tea and sparkling water as replacements. This time I wanted to find some other options without alcohol or classified as NA to try. I feel that a sober life shouldn't be boring and that I could use it as an opportunity to try something new!

I'll be rambling some on JBL about this personal sober journey, and I'll talk about the NA and alcohol-free options I've discovered that have made the transition enjoyable. I'm not here to preach alcohol-free living, but I hope that my rambling about this topic might help folks who are flirting with the idea of trying a sober month or more to go ahead and give it a go. You have absolutely nothing to lose and you'll gain a better understanding of yourself, your wants, and your needs. Cheers!

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