When the last of our four children left for college — and we found ourselves a family of 2 living in a big, 3-story, packed-to-the-hills suburban house–we had a yard sale. A mack daddy of sales. We filled the driveway with hundreds of books, toys, clothes, furniture, tools, gadgets, doodads and more. And without even a pang of regret, we freed ourselves from more than 20 years of stuff.
We downsized our home and simplified our life.
The purging was one of the most incredibly freeing experiences of my life. I felt physically lighter as we moved into our 1000-square-foot condo weeks later.
What’s interesting to me today, 164 days into my alcohol-free lifestyle, is that I realize simplicity and sobriety have a lot in common.
To simplify one’s life is to remove the things that remove you from your life. There were times when alcohol was removing me from my life. So I removed alcohol.
Not unlike the dusty boxes of knickknacks that clogged up the attic of our big house, alcohol wasn’t adding value to my life. So, it just had to go.
And it was. Simple. Quitting, for me, was easy. I haven’t spent even one moment wondering if it was the right decision.
What wasn’t easy was the nearly 2 years I spent with this fear of quitting. Thinking about quitting drinking consumed as much of my time as the actual drinking.
The times I considered quitting, I just couldn’t imagine what my life would look like. ALL my friends drink. We meet up at breweries and spend sunny Saturdays at local wineries. We celebrate birthdays, and just regular days, with fancy bourbon cocktails. We hang out in the kitchen, taste testing bottles of red. The fear of losing all all of that camaraderie was crippling.
I even worried about what quitting would do to the dynamics of our marriage. We enjoyed trying new wines and making fancy drinks together. I didn’t expect my husband to quit, but I had no idea what quitting would mean for us. Would he get tired of my tea-totaling and find me boring? The very idea of not drinking ever again was scary.
I spent so much time thinking about quitting that the thinking about quitting drinking became the problem.
Five months in, I feel that same lightness I felt when unburdened of all those belongings. I know that quitting alcohol has simplified my life in so many ways. And here’s the kicker: all those ideas I had about how essential alcohol was in my life? All lies.