This past December, I decided to stop drinking.
While I’ve always had a complicated relationship with booze, I wouldn’t consider myself an alcoholic. I’ve been drunk a handful of times in my life, and for the most part, just have a couple of glasses of something maybe once or twice a week, then start to feel not so great (yay anxiety), and switch to water.
Most of my suffering with alcohol, especially after turning forty, was the day after, when I’d feel anxious and depressed for the next twenty-four hours.
I’m grateful that stopping wasn’t a difficult decision for me, nor was it a challenging undertaking. (Ask me to put down a bag of Sour Patch Watermelons or some Udi’s chocolate gluten-free muffins and that’s a whole other thing).
My dad was a raging alcoholic and died from an alcohol-related cancer (throat and tongue), though if you look at the research when it comes to booze and cancer, A LOT of cancers are booze related. (Thanks to Jessica Lahey for this astonishing information). I’ve always been extremely careful about my alcohol intake.
So, because I didn’t quite identify as an alcoholic and now as a sober person, I waffled about reading Quit Like a Woman. And honestly, after a couple of chapters in, I was like “hm, maybe this book is not for me.” I found it tough to personally relate to author Holly Whitaker’s experiences waking up with a Jamison bottle in her own vomit on many occasions. But once she hit the data about alcohol and how entrenched it is in our culture, well, I was hooked.
(Caveat: I know alcoholism and alcohol use in general, looks different for everyone, which is why I kept going. Just because I didn’t wake up and not remember what happened the night before after a binge drink fest didn’t mean I didn’t have issues with booze)
It’s like when you know something is wrong and kinda not great, and you know the info is out that really says something is wrong and really not great, and then when you finally read that info (or hear it), your whole world view changes.
From the social milestone of turning twenty-one (now you can drink yay! – uh…) to this idea that we can’t make it through our day as women (and in our case, parenting) without drinking, to how we worry about everything we put in our bodies (gasp SUGAR gasp) but we’re sucking down the same stuff that powers jets (ethanol is ethanol, folks), Holly takes everything we’ve thought about alcohol and flips it upside down.
But that’s not all. Holly offers really helpful, well-researched advice on not just about how to stop drinking (which her take on AA is quite fascinating), but how to create the life that you want to have and be the woman you were born to be, without booze. For so many of us, booze helped us cope; whether it was a bad day or a crappy husband or a terrible childhood, it served a purpose. And just taking that away, especially cold turkey, leaves us unarmed and vulnerable.
So she shares what worked for her, and what didn’t, and gives smart, actionable things you can do to support your alcohol-free journey. And by the end of the book, I was espousing its greatness to everyone (if you follow us on Instagram, you’ll know I’ve already posted about it twice). Her description of radical self-care as “mothering” resonated with me. Heavily.
Whether you’re a social drinker or a rarely drinker or a heavy drinker. Whether you don’t think you have a problem or think you might have a problem or know you have a problem. If anything, you’ll be armed with the knowledge of what you’re putting in your body, the role that alcohol plays in your life (and in our culture), and if you so choose, other ways to cope with the challenges life throws at us on a daily basis.