Have you ever tried doing something that you knew would be challenging, but you felt like you could do it….
And then once you committed and told people publicly and got going, all of a sudden, things went crazy it got waaaaaaaaay harder than you initially expected?
Well, lemme tell ya~ that’s what I happened when I decided to quit drinking alcohol for Lent this year.
I’m sort of surprised that here we are in the beginning of May, and I’m just now realizing that I haven’t mentioned this very important accomplishment….
It may be completely tooting my own horn, but…...
I MADE IT THROUGH LENT!!!!!
LIKE ALL THE WAY THROUGH…..
Not just part of the way.
Not even most of the way with a few days off (apparently that’s a thing some people do…)
I made it ALL THE FREAKING WAY.
Yep. All 46 Days~ even when I originally thought I was only signing up for 40.
Did I also mention the mass of insanely stressful events that fell into my lap during that time?
Like a ginormous medical crisis in which my mom almost died and the aftermath that ensued was chock full of SO MUCH HARD STUFF.
But I did it.
Not Drinking is Not Easy!
And I’m while proud, there’s more to why I think it’s important to talk about.
I have people on all sides of my family who’ve struggled with alcohol or other substances. Most of them handle occasional drinking just fine, but for some, it just doesn’t work out.
And no matter how hard they try, it just doesn’t end up well.
And my kids inherit that background from both my side and their dads’.
Besides family, we’ve seen neighbors and friends, people we care about as well as just plenty of people walking down or laying on the streets who clearly have crossed the line between use and abuse.
So, addiction is something that’s always right on the edge of my line of sight. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, and talking with my kids about it, because if the current scientific theories are accurate, the tendency towards addiction is in our DNA.
Knowing that the line could become fuzzy for any of us is an important thing to realize.
None of us is immune, and some of us might be a bit more prone to problems, especially if we don’t pay attention.
So, I try to pay attention~ to watch myself, that is~ to be aware of not only how much I’m consuming and how often, but also the why behind it.
The thing is, I enjoy almost everything about having a glass of wine or a margarita with friends.
It’s tasty and relaxing and I like it.
But when times are tough, I don’t want to rely on drinking to be the thing I look forward to to help me chill. And I certainly don’t want to need it.
So, I pay attention~
I think about what my motive is, about how I feel if and when I drink and to how I feel if and when I don’t.
It’s not a guarantee, of course, and many people are skilled at deluding themselves into thinking they’re fine when they’re not.
But I’m also of the opinion that paying attention is a lot smarter than just blindly acting like you’re invincible or being so paranoid that you live in fear.
Some days are better than other days of course, and I think it’s good to set some extra limits sometimes, like I did with Lent.
And because the timing turned out to be so freaking difficult, I feel good knowing that I managed some of the hardest stuff of my life without resorting to any sort of self medicating~ not even a glass of wine.
It was important too, because I really needed to be present and aware and making lots of decisions and coming up with plans and taking ridiculous amounts of action on entirely unpleasant things.
It would have been nice to have a margarita, but I didn’t. Not until Easter at least, and then, I enjoyed a glass that I had earned times ten at least.
I think I enjoyed it more knowing that I didn’t need it, but that I chose it.
My Lenten Experiment was good for my peace of mind, and probably my liver too.
And I’m hoping it was good for my kids to see, hear and talk about~ for them to know that if they choose to drink when they come of age, it’s a choice, but it should be an informed one~ that paying attention matters and that knowing your limits is priceless.
My own mom took the approach of removing all traces of alcohol from the home before we became teens, taking the sudden stance that alcohol was BAD.
She warned us that if we tried drinking, we might think we were having fun, but we really weren’t.
This just made my sarcastic teenage self question whether that mattered, because as long as a person thought they were having fun, wasn’t that the point?
She also resorted to hysterically screaming that smoking pot will make you jump off a building. Not that it might, or that it possibly happened one time ever in the history of the world~ but that it WOULD HAPPEN~ as in an undeniable fact.
Well, it didn’t happen~ at least not to anyone I could see in real life.
I know she meant well with these tactics, but they were so extreme I really kind of lost any belief in any of what was being said on the subject. And that didn't really help me.
So, I wanted with my own kids to have dialogue, to point out risks and possibilities, to guide them towards thinking for themselves.
Years ago, I knew a smart young lady who had gone abroad for a year and while away, she found parties and boys and other things that can be both alluring and troublesome. When I asked about her various experiences, she said one of the wisest things I’ve ever heard in regards to the subject of alcohol.
She told me, “You know, the second time I tried drinking, I realized that it’s a lot more fun to catch a buzz that to get sh*#faced and puke.”
Bless her brilliant young heart. At 18, she had figured out what takes many people YEARS if not an entire lifetime to realize.
The drunken homeless person passed out in the alley probably didn’t start out in life thinking that was gonna be their fate. They probably had goals and dreams and people they loved, but somehow they lost it.
It could happen to anyone and if addiction is in your family tree, it’s even more likely that it could happen to you. No one is invincible.
So, I hope my kids will pay attention too. I hope that as they come of age, the conversations and the observations we’ve been having for years will help them think and be aware, to be careful and as I tell them with pretty much everything, to make good choices.
Lemme know in the comments below how you handle talking about intoxicants with your offspring, and if they’re grown, how it worked out.
And if you liked this rambling rant, please like and share on facebook.
Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / Former Goat-Herding HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Semi-Crazy Chicken Lady and Mamacita Extraordinaire to a couple of Cage Free Kids.