Giving Drinks a Time Out

I'm sitting here on a cozy evening in the middle of a beautiful snowcation thanks to the blizzard we experienced this weekend. The way winter makes us stop and be is both beautiful and daunting. As a teacher, I always get a kick out of parents wanting their kids to just go back to school; I met a young mom on a sledding hill and when she saw school was called for tomorrow, she said, "it has just been a long couple days." Smugly, I think we teachers and mothers are clearly heroes since  we spend both our personal and professional time with children, and still think time flies, yet I notice how selfish we teachers are.  As soon as Tuesday is called "off," we speculate about Wednesday!

But back to the quiet, slowing down and why I'm blogging tonight.  The stillness in my life during this time at home has stirred in me a realization -- I am not happy with my relationship with alcohol.  I hate even going there because I love so much about "a drink." I just looked back on some pictures from the last 12 months and I have so many of where I've been or with whom I have had one:

 I love thinking about going out for a drink, meeting for cocktail, a happy hour play date. I love good gin - Molly told her kindergarten class when they are talking about word families that gin is indeed a word because her mom drinks it.  Fall and winter call for good times with bourbon; most fondly, I enjoy the way good cheer and drinks surround get togethers (in my adult years) with my family. In fact, I usually imbibe so much during the holidays that I take the month of January completely off from any alcohol. I do this to kick off some weight loss as much as for a detox, but this January, I couldn't do it.

I blamed the fact that emotionally I just needed that nightly drink. Too much is on my mind -- stuff has gotten real in my life. This is bigger than needing to unwind   After all, I am with kids all day long and some parents can't handle their own for three days without complaining (tongue in cheek). I excused myself from giving up the nightly glass of wine because I don't have time to do yoga every evening or take a hot bath when I'm stressed, but having a glass of wine takes the edge off quickly.

But lately, a drink is as routine in the evenings as my cup of coffee is in the mornings.

Well, goodness, to be honest -- it is not lately.  I have always been secretly intrigued and afraid of those mommies who proclaim its all fun and games until one day you realize it is not ok.  I rarely drink too much -- I drink too often. That's not new, yet recently I have decided I need to figure this out, to take some time off simply because I emotionally need that nightly glass of wine.  I was saying because I was emotional (afraid, sad, anxious), I needed to drink, but I've realized it is just the opposite. 

This is the scary part to me. Why am I turning to wine when I should be fortifying myself to deal with what life has thrown us?  I need to be better than this, or more present, or more real. Avoiding and not authentically experiencing life, even if it is painful and scary, is not who I want to be.

So as of yesterday, January 24, I am taking a break from alcohol.  I want to put it out here for a couple reasons. Not only do I want the accountability, but I also think I'm not the only person who struggles with finding balance on this issue. When I told a best friend I was not going to drink for a significant time, she said, "how long is significant?" and the truth is that's the question.  I thought about saying after I lose 10 pounds, but I want this to be about more than the weight.

How do I find balance? I have a feeling I'll be writing more on this -- writing helps me process and know what I think.  I want to write my story differently.  Just recently, I told some friends who tried yoga for the first time, "it is my life line," so I am starting with yoga as my guide to be more present, even if that means more anxious. 
This is a scene of my home space to practice yoga -- one night recently I reflected with  gratitude that I was having to do yoga at home because BJ was taking a class (one of the girls wasn't feeling well). The bracelet above is from my sister-in-law and the proceeds benefit research for Parkinson's Disease. Yoga always helps me; it know it will be my guide.  Recently I attended my first yin yoga with BJ, and I thought, "it is hard for me to be mad at Parkinson's here in this moment as we are doing this beautiful yoga class together."  Awareness of the present provides me an appreciation of the raw and beautiful spaces of my life. I need the strength to be present. 
Quotes On Yoga

Also,  here are the questions I'm throwing out there in addition to the question of "What is a significant amount of time?"

-Why is there this difference between drinking socially and drinking alone? And when did it become acceptable to drink alone...or if there are just kids in the house?
-How does one go from drinking a glass of wine as routine to the special occasion type imbiber?


Kristy Robertson said…
Ol' girl, since leaving Facebook, I have missed your posts to your blog. Over break, while trying to clean up from the holidays, I was going through Christmas cards sent and I took the time to read your Dad's letter from start to finish word for word. I was shocked and saddened to read about BJ's early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Immediately I searched the Internet to find your blog again, I read all your posts from the past 6 months and signed up to follow it. After reading this post, I was reminded how much I've always loved your honesty and willingness to be open about your struggles in life. In life, I think we all are guilty of trying to "fill ourselves" with something. I believe God gave us that need in the hopes that we'd just fill ourselves with Him. Be it alcohol, smoking, shopping, exercise, eating, sex (wouldn't our husbands LOVE it if that we our vice), or the drive to climb the ladder of success...I don't know very many people who are able to successfully fill themselves with God's love and peace to truly know/feel that "we are enough". I pray that you're able to become filled in a way that makes having a drink not even enter your mind. I would LOVE to connect with you for a phone date sometime...maybe instead of a drink :). I searched and searched but couldn't find a phone number for you. I'm sure it's not appropriate to post mine on your blog site but I'm hoping your followers won't give it out to telemarketers. Call me 319-462-4526 when you want to hear the voice of an old friend. Our home email is

Thanks again for being courageous enough to post your struggles. Love you! Kristy
Dad said…
Very very profound and provocative indeed. I have seen many people who slipped into a problem. I often take a break myself although I love a scotch at night. My suggestion on the time is that it should be when you dont miss it. Then I have generally taken off a week each month. But your blog was more about life than wine and ginl. I am proud of you... and BJ also
April Edwards said…
Hello, Sarah! In March, it will be two years since I've had a drop of alcohol. I, too, found it had become too routine and too much of a crutch. I was facing a profoundly emotional challenge in my personal life and knew there was a real danger that alcohol could hinder my ability to handle what was coming my way. I didn't really set a timeframe...just told myself alcohol wasn't an option right now. Exercise became my crutch....along with prayer. Your FB post and blog was raw and real and I applaud you for it. It also prompted me to share a bit of my private struggle to let you know that you are not alone. You are so vibrant, Sarah, don't let let anything dull that. :). April Wallace Edwards
JodieMo said…
I find it interesting how, when your mind starts pondering a certain subject, suddenly that subject is everywhere you look. Booze has been a lot on my mind lately as well. Not because I am constantly surrounded by it but because there always seems to be a drink in my hand. I, like you, rarely drink too much but drinking is a daily event. It's easy to slip into that routine and on my very difficult journey to losing a little weight, putting down the wine has been the hardest part. What I have noticed in my case, it's less about the need for the buzz but some defiant train of thought that "dammit, I deserve a glass of wine. " so, getting over the mindset of "giving up" something else I enjoy has been hard but worth it.
Thanks for writing this. It gave me just the little boost I needed. My prayers are with you and BJ, too. I know the good Lord will lead you wherever you need to go.