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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

150 Days

I love to share my experiences and tell you about my journey across the USA but for the most part, I keep my life private. I had a conversation with someone very special to me last night who said, “You never know what will come into your life that causes you to change direction. It could be as simple as someone saying something to you that would strike a chord for change.”

Today marks my 150th day without alcohol. Not even one glass of wine with friends or a beer by the campfire. It has been one of the hardest challenges in my life. There were plenty of opportunities to drink during these 150 days, especially the day my beloved dog, Maggie died.

“Have a drink, you’ll feel better,” would pass through my brain. It’s easy to get lost in a drink to celebrate, to commiserate, or to just be. I have to say that this has not been an easy road. I love my wine. I enjoy time with friends over a glass of wine. I love the taste, I love having the perfect glass with a meal, and I love discussing the complexity of each sip with friends. At times, I loved it too much. It was my reward for a hard day or the nerve calmer before a big social event. My lover. My friend. Always there when I needed an escape.

I decided to make this decision for myself because I was just tired of it. Tired of the hangovers. Tired of the non productive hours of 8am to noon, or beyond. Tired of being tired. I had to face the fact that nothing positive came out of it.

The most difficult times were in the first 50 days. I suppose that’s the case with any change in life. It was a hard adjustment in a social respect. It’s a reason to get together with friends. It’s easy to have a glass of wine with one friend one night, another with another friend the following night. I had to tell some friends more than once that I stopped drinking. When I told one person in particular I wasn’t drinking, the comment back was, “well, that doesn’t sound like fun.” Quite frankly, it didn’t sound like fun to me either.

After a while, the questions would follow; “How long are you not drinking for?” “Can’t you just have one?” “Is this forever?” “Why are you doing this?” “You are not a heavy drinker, I don’t understand.”

All of the unproductive hours I waited to feel better are now spent doing things I’ve always wanted to do. I started to paint, I am taking more pictures, I am journaling, and I am living the life I wanted to live. It doesn’t hurt that I lost 20 pounds in the last 150 days. You would be surprised how fast your body changes just by eliminating alcohol from your diet. I wake up each day remembering the day before and free from headaches and regrets.

So here I am…living day by day. I am not perfect. In fact, you may not relate to any of this. It might be considered a weakness in your eyes. I risk putting it out there but for me, this was the choice I wanted to make. I am experiencing a sweet life full of potential. Listening, observing, grieving, healing and feeling everything. Thank you to my friends and family that have stuck by me and offered support. It means the world to me.

I believe that everyone has a voice inside of them that tells us what we really need to do with our lives. It’s whether or not we choose to listen and are brave enough to follow through on it. I have been blessed with this opportunity and am thankful of everything life has to offer.

Each day is a gift.

16 comments:

Spooner said...

Congratulations Alison. This is an amazing accomplishment. So proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Turner! An accomplishment to be proud of. Keep up the good work!
~McCrea

Millina said...

congrats. i like to hear your thoughts. inspiring as always. thanks for sharing. i wish you all the best in this journey. keep going, learning, exploring, living...and writing, of course!

Wendy said...

Thanks, Alison. This was really moving.

Dian Reid said...

I never cease to be amazed at how you inspire me. You took a look at yourself, your life, and not only made a decision to change what you didn't like, but actually followed through on that decision. I love your honesty and fortitude. Thanks so much for sharing this piece of yourself with us. I am honored to know you.

Alison said...

Thank you all for your words of support. It hasn't been an easy road, but worth every moment.

La La said...

Amen.

Angela Russo said...

I had no idea until I read this. I have decided to all but give it up for no good reason except that I never feel great after I do. I am one of those people that get the hangover even before I finish having the 1st drink. I may have one a year, but always regret it. I have lost many friends because I have always been one to take it or leave it-mostly leave it. I have been told: "when you decide to do it again, let me know". What a thing to say to someone! All through my formative years I decided to focus and make my work as a photographer my main objective. WHile everyone else, i mean everyone else was getting high and doing tons of drugs and alcohol, i was working on my art. When asked I would tell people I was "high on life". That usually shut them up as I can be quite jovial and effusive without all that. It takes quite a lot of courage to do what you are doing, but keep going because it singles you out for something really special: real experiences that you are actually available for!!

Richard said...

Thanks for sharing this piece. I found your blog via travelblogs.com and stumbled across this entry - and just wanted to say that I admire your courage and willingness to be who you want to be and to change when it feels right.

Go you. :)

MCCasey said...

I did the same thing when I started working with patients with liver disease. I don't miss it anymore (it has been 8 years). When you get older (like me)being able to remember and feel peppy is worth it!

dbridgewater said...

This is a very brave passage. It is especially moving for me because the day we met at the AIDS Walk I was already drinking before the event began...at 9am. By the time the walk was over I was drunk.
2 years have passed since that event and I am proud to see that we both are FREE from alcohol. I have been sober for 9 months, and have never felt more alive. Congrats to Living your life free and clear!

Alison said...

Thank you all so much for the comments. Especially since this post was one of a more personal nature.

Dawn, I do remember that day. I was right there with you drinking the mimosas before the AIDS walk...

Thank you Angela, Richard and McCasey..it's been a such a relief to see that there are people out there that support us non-drinker folk.

george said...

Hi Allison, I found your blog about not drinking because I myself decided to stop drinking just over 5mths ago. I didnt drink at home often and never over drank at home. I drank when I went out with friends. I would drink at dinners, happy hours, etc. It was a social lubercant for me. I've met most of my friends while drinking and most of the women I've dated. I dont find it that hard to not drink. I kind of compare it to giving up one of my favorite foods, like giving up pizza for ever. My question for you is what do you drink when you go out with friends? I miss a frosty cold schooner of beer on a warm summer night out with friends, or a occasional martini before dinner with a date. I was never a big wine drinker but now I even miss that when my date or someone I'm with will order one. Diet cokes, lemon water, diet red bull etc just dont take their place.


Thanks,
George

Scott said...

I came across your posts while searching around looking for stories of people giving up alcohol. I have decided to give it up as well, and it's been about a month and a half. The thing that shocks me the most and what I think is most difficult is how uncomfortable it can make others. Some of my friends like to party a lot in the weekends, I used to too, but now when I firmly say no thank you... It's like a threat to their security. Naturally they want someone down in the trenches with them feeling like they have justification. I realize it's their own insecurity or warped view of the world that is the problem, but nonetheless it can be difficult and unsettling to make other people uncomfortable in this way when you want everyone to relax and have fun. The less emotionally developed they are, the more likely they are to push away completely and avoid contact. Just knowing that happens is disheartening, but all the same, sober is a decision for US not for other people!

Alison said...

Thank you for your comments George and Scott.

I have found that many people can relate to this blog. I am so glad. Scott, what you are going through is exactly what I went through at the beginning. There will be people that do not support you because you not drinking is threatening to them. Keep on your path and choose wisely who you spend your time with. I found that I needed to meet new friends and keep the ones who supported me on this journey.

All the best to you!

Rachel Mccurdy said...

I applaud your ability to give up alcohol. I recently gave up my wine habit. I could easily drink a bottle in one evening and my health and home life were suffering. I'm working on reducing the amount of beer I drink now. Will I quit cold turkey? Probably not. I probably haven't had 3 glasses of wine in a few months. It's hard but I really took what you wrote about your first 150 days to heart. I haven't read all of your blogs but so far what I have read is inspirational and very interesting. I'm a 41 year old mother of 2. Wish I could travel more but husband, kids, and job don't allow much free time. I'll definitely be following your travels. Thanks!

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