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So, Did You Drink?

So, did you drink in Mexico?

I’ve gotten that question more than a few times since returning from six glorious days of sun, water, and soul tending. Every time I hear it, I can feel my haunches raise. The question seemed to reduce what felt like a huge inquiry to just a single decision, minimizing the intentionality spent journaling, reflecting and examining myself for 164 days to a mindless choice on a vacation escape. I know that isn’t the intention of the question, and that, in and of itself is something I’ve had to think about. Why does that question feel so big now?

My inner self doubt and criticism immediately go back to all of those times in high school where I was convinced others were waiting, maybe even hoping, for me to fail. I was class president, co-valedictorian, captain of a sports team, and never drank or partied. Everyone wants those at the “top” to fall, right? That’s how it felt back then, and those thoughts still creep in when I’m feeling vulnerable. I felt like people were waiting for me to “fail” if I chose to drink.

Immediately upon our arrival at our resort the first question from the concierge was “What can I get you to drink?” I’d be lying if I said I didn’t salivate at my friend’s margarita. But I grabbed a bottle of water and stayed with a commitment I had made to myself: I’d get to the resort and be intentional about reflecting while I was in that environment before I made any decision.

The next morning, we had an amazing breakfast and grabbed chairs by the pool to soak up the heat and sun. I continued to journal while lying there. When the pool attendants starting coming around at 11 am to ask for drink orders, I got my non-alcoholic margarita, and if I’m honest, I didn’t love it. It was missing something, and I can definitively say it wasn’t the tequila. What I realized at that moment was that I had made this decision into something monumental. It was no longer a curious inquiry into what my relationship with alcohol was. It had become a question of failing if I chose to drink or some sort of martyrdom if I stayed sober, and the binary nature of what it had become was far from what I had started this journey seeking.

If I didn’t “stick with” sobriety, I was questioning if I could stick with something, like I wasn’t dedicated enough. Hello? Did I miss the part where I had chosen not to drink the 164 days prior? Could I not remember the time I did 22 hours of natural labor to have the VBAC I so wanted? Had I forgotten how hard I worked to get through months and months of coach training (while homeschooling kids during a pandemic)? And on and on. Being able to stick with something wasn’t in question.

I questioned whether I could “trust” myself, as if I had somehow altered the foundation of my self-trust if I drank alcohol. And as soon as I got clear on that thought, I threw it in the trash. Of course I could trust myself. I had done the work reflecting and journaling. I had thought about how my relationship with alcohol had become unintentional. I knew that whenever I drank again, I wanted my relationship with alcohol to be more thoughtful and intentional, enjoying it, not numbing with it. Choosing to drink wasn’t opening a dam.

In many ways, this midpoint check in has made my journey even stronger. I’ve had a forced point of checking in with how this journey started and where it is now. I’m clear on the learning I’ve done, and how much more still needs to be attended to. I know what kinds of things are important to me as I finish this year, and what I want my relationship with alcohol to look like in 2023.

Oh, and the glass above? It’s my empty margarita glass. This one with tequila.


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