I too thought the best part would be when it was over...but I've been pleasantly surprised by this journey. Learning and growth were not really what I expected. I truly began thinking about getting healthier physically, but gained so much more.
My greatest takeaway from this experience is clarity. I'll give you a few reasons why this has been such a blessing.
For starters, I accept myself more. The good and the messy. I give myself more grace too. Sober, for me, is a gift. I had to learn to deal without a crutch. Like many things, alcohol doesn't have power unless we give it power. I'm a talk to God type of gal, but Sober caused me to pray even more which is the ONLY thing that really got me through this. Being sober was tough no doubt, but I'll never regret doing this. Yes physically I lost 12 lbs but mentally I gained exactly what I was looking for...more peace.
How this began? I just felt off, had for a while...maybe you can relate??? I couldn't put my finger on it, and even though I had started working out and cleaned up my diet big, I still never felt 100. I was cloudy. My mind would race through busy days and I'd often feel sadness and hurt that I couldn't explain. (NOT ONCE did I consider alcohol as an issue btw) My anxiety was off the charts at times AND as much as I loathe admitting it, I was stuck.
So...I prayed hard for God to show me what was ailing me...alcohol kept coming to mind, but over and over I kept denying it. Giving up alcohol?? No way, how would I adult??? Or have fun??? Embarrassing now, but very true thoughts. I knew what I had to do and this year I picked something I knew would be a challenge. Years before I picked things I knew I wouldn't fail at. This time was much different. I wanted change.
I made the final choice on 2/9...I was all in. Being sober for Lent meant I could no longer reach for my wine at the end of a tough day...or even when we went out with friends. I was forced (and pleasantly surprised) to see that I can have fun and loosen up without it. I was reminded that I'm really fun loving, whitty, quite smart, brave, not a morning person, and that I can absolutely cope without alcohol. We all have choices. I want mine to count more.
Surprisingly, not drinking didn't cause me to be left out of anything fun that involved alcohol, my friends and family just understood that I wouldn't be drinking and in all cases I loved being the DD. People watching gets good sober.
For 40 solid days I didn't have a sip and now I've realized two important things.
1. Alcohol cunsumption, for me, was a habit. I broke that habit and although I drink again...it's now the last thing I look to after a bad day. It's no longer a crutch. It was actually unnerving, the first couple of weeks, how often I thought about "having a drink". The struggle is real. And I know I'm not alone. Many can relate which is why I share this. You can break any habit you want to, you just have to want to more than you fear the change.
2. Alcohol can be consumed responsibly. Before Lent I couldn't remember the last time I had been alcohol free, for more than a week, since BEFORE college. What!?! Yes I was shocked too. Or the last time I had a Saturday without a hangover. Not many. Sure we are young and it's time to live it up they say...especially before kids...they say...but I want to make memories too. Drinking too much hinders those memories. By the grace of God I will control my drinking and GASP getting drunk is NO LONGER a goal...because that drunken high is a terrible way to cope with anything.
Note***I did go alcohol free when I did mission work in Ethiopia for obvious reasons, but truthfully that was the only time in over a decade. Scary how quick that escalated. I ask you to answer this question too. Not as a judgement, but as a friend. We need more clarity and the only way we get it is sober.
Fact: Alcoholism is real. It runs in my family and it ruins lives. My childhood and beyond is scattered with the horror of this disease. I've always been aware of this and you'd think I would leave it alone all together, but I believe I have self control. Lent showed me this is fact, but it's a tight rope I walk in terms of alcohol. I catch a lot of feelings and let me tell you...feelings not dealt with become problems and problems don't age well. Truthfully, I did this because I didn't want to wake up in 10 more years carrying around the same baggage that alcohol helps me drown away. I've got more work to do, but awareness is the first step.
So, If any of this speaks to you I encourage you to ask yourself the same questions I did. Reach out. I now realize that alcohol isn't a problem for me, addiction wise, but what if I hadn't prayed? What if I'd kept saying "I'll slow down when we have kids?" Because here I am at 31 with no kids and A LOT of wine. I'm not ashamed one bit. I'm proud I dug deep. We never really know what we are made of until we push ourselves farther than we think we can go. AGAIN, I'm not judging. I'm sharing my journey.
As a God fearing woman some may think I shouldn't drink at all, but let me say this. I'll do me, and you do you. My plan is to leave a solid positive mark on this earth and wine won't change that. Let's worry less about "being" good and more about DOING good shall we?
In closing, It is Good Friday...ultimately I know my flesh is weak and for that, I will always lean on the promises of Jesus. During Lent, I not only learned more about me, but I often thought of how little my struggles are compared to what Jesus went through. I found more strength in this than anything else. Thankful for the life he led, the kind that breaths life and love into others. That's what I hope to do.
So....the BEST part was all of it really, but especially the clarity. Clarity that my life is not my own, I am a child of God and loved far more than I can ever imagine. Blessings to you. My prayer is that my light will help light others along the way. You are loved, you are important, and you are forgiven. Just like me. I appreciate you tuning in and hope you enjoyed learning more about my 2016 Lent journey.