5,4,3,2,1- Lift off!
In exactly 5 days, I am setting off on a new adventure to my home country of Sweden. Having lived in Vancouver, Canada for over 10 years, I’ll be moving back to rediscover my native land. The mythical socialist paradise, the land of lagom (just enough/just right, there really is no equivalent in English) and of nifty solutions to pretty much anything. Home of Abba, Ikea and Swedish meatballs (we just call them meatballs), Sweden is also a land where alcohol is normalized to such an extent that getting raging drunk with your family on a weekday is not exactly frowned upon. To some extent it is understandable, you could say the Swedes really do need a drink to survive the endless winter nights, pitiless four hours of grey fog we call “daylight”, and the pressures of a hyper-modern society. Swedes drink high quantities of alcohol and they drink often. They drink to have fun, to relax, to make social interactions a bit less awkward- I’m one of them. Each time I visit Sweden I find myself drinking myself stupid and falling into a rut of hangovers, negative emotions and deteriorating health.
Now I love the “everything in moderation” mantra, and I apply it to most things in life, save for alcohol. Nope, a glass of wine won’t do, the whole bottle must be finished come hell or high water! And preferably repeated the next evening. So if moderating my alcohol intake doesn’t work, why not cut it out completely? But…yikes, an entire year without alcohol? My social crutch, my relaxation and treat after difficult days at work or those dreaded hours spent running failures and negative self-talk through my head, my friend in times of need. After this initial rush of fear, I begin to ponder the deeper issues. My relationship with alcohol started off rocky (drinking from the bottle of Fireball and Smirnoff vodka did not do my 16 year old body or soul any good). We started going steady in my early 20’s and became a pretty solid pair during my university days. Come to think of it, I’ve had enough alcohol to last me more than one lifetime (with the mortifying Facebook photos to prove it). But it has been a pretty one sided relationship, taking more than its fair share of money, time and energy. What have I gotten in return? Countless lost Sundays, emotional troubles and heightened anxieties.
A very close friend of mine has been living life without alcohol for just over 6 months now. An inspiration to me, I love her presence of being and her approach to life. Among other gifts, she has made me see that a life without alcohol can be full, fun and even better than before! Remembering that taking the “im” out of the word impossible, all I am left with is –possible, I decide to jump head first into this. A year without booze, 365 days of sobriety, here I come!
It’s a family affair
Addiction runs deep in my family. Boozing it up is a huge part of family life and so prevalent and normalized in both cultures I have grown up in (the Nordic one in particular). Although I have yet to develop a full-blown addiction, I can see the warning signs. Bad habits are creeping up on me and taking root in my life. When things are difficult emotionally (not to mention just trying to get/keep a job, be a good lover/friend/daughter/sister, find my place in life), I turn to the bottle (of wine) for support. Friends say it’s good that I can see these patterns, but recognizing my ways is not enough. Now is the time to take charge and kick them to the curb before they begin to determine my life’s path.
A nice meaty challenge
A challenge… This goes way beyond the alcohol. There are so many things I want to do with my life- meditate, exercise regularly (I still avoid it like the plague, even though I know it feels so good!), educate myself (translator, career coach, business owner..all dreams I hope to realize), make personal relationships a focus, and just overall become a more present, loving being. There are a lot of things I want to work on, by cutting out the booze I hope to gain clarity and energy to really get going.
To stop feeling like crap
I yearn to reap the added benefits of an alcohol-free life. Not suffering through entire days of guilt and anxiety after a few too many glasses of red the night before, missing out on those beautiful sunny Sundays while I lie curled up on the couch with a slice of greasy whatever in my hand, having to call friends/lovers/family to apologize for something said or done in the haze of intoxication. And how can I forget the money? To think one can spend almost $2000 per year on something our bodies recognize as poison.
Blogging is a great way to set ourselves up for success and to feel supported in our endeavours, even if no one is listening but us. I love the idea of projects and bloggers like Hello Sunday Morning and the Sober Señorita, sharing their journeys through life without drink in hand. Taking a page out of their book, I’ll be sharing my insights and trials through this year of sobriety on this blog. So let’s start the journey!