The Dry Spell
Anyone who knows me knows that I love wine. I love the way it smells, the sound of the wine pouring into a beautiful glass, swirling the wine in the glass and looking at its viscosity, I love taking that first sip and savoring the moment prior to devouring a few glasses afterwards. Did I mention how much I love my wine? Over the holidays, I ended up with the flu that turned into bronchitis. The first few days of being sick I couldn’t eat, and was bed bound. Of course I am big ass baby when it comes to being sick. Am I the only member of Singledom who gets sick and begins to think in my cold/flu drug induced state…. “I am going to die alone!!!” As I have to crawl out of bed and grab my own shit and make my own soup and pour my own orange juice. After the first few days of not being able to eat, my body then turned into the complete opposite. My ass couldn’t stop eating. I craved chicken pot pies, ramen noodles (don’t judge me… I know I’m not the only person that thinks it’s ridiculous to go to a Ramen Noodle spot and spend $14 on a bowl when you can get a 10 for a $1 box at Ralph’s), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Twinkies, red wine, white wine, rosé, martini’s, Crustacean’s garlic noodles, then the Holidays hit and I ate everything that wasn’t attached to the ground. I couldn’t believe how I was devouring food. I was beyond binging at this point and I became Precious running the streets with a bucket of fried chicken. By the time the end of the December hit, I looked like I had indulged. I also looked in the mirror and I thought I had aged and my skin was dehydrated. Because I had been sick I had cut out my 6 day per week workouts. And I freaked the fuck out! I was like… oh shit! I need to do something about this before I reach the point of no return. So that long ass ramble was all to lead up… I made the decision to do Dry January strictly for vain reasons. I wish I could say I was doing it to be spiritual or I was doing it because my wine consumption was at an all-time high… nope. I did this shit to lose some weight and regain my “sexy.” I wasn’t about to be 41, single, AND fat in Los Angeles. That would be a travesty! There I go digressing… LOL! So here is my experience going “dry.”
New Year’s Eve I went buck wild. Since I knew I was going to embark on a full month of no alcohol I figured I would drink as much as I could so that I would feel like I wasn’t missing anything. I woke up on January 1st, 2019 with a massive hangover. And I felt and looked like utter SHIT! I was able to peel myself out of bed and make my traditional black eye peas, collard greens, candied yams, and macaroni and cheese for all of my good luck and good vibes as I began the year. I even attempted to have a glass of wine. I figured my official start date would be January 2nd. After all… it was New Year’s Day. But the smell and taste of the wine I poured was OFF. And I couldn’t even finish the first sip. I do not know if this was because I had already decided I was going dry for the month so perhaps my self-imposed guilt had already kicked in or maybe after overindulging the night before my body was like “Have several seats.” So I poured out the glass of wine and the rest of the bottle and I settled on a glass of sparkling water with lime. And decided I was truly going to commit to this month of torture… Most of you all probably do not know but when I was 15 years old I made the decision to stop eating beef and pork. And 2 decades later I haven’t had the desire or need to ever eat it again. When I commit to something… I do it. And I needed to prove to myself that I could do the same thing with alcohol. I know I am not the only drinker who has moments where I wonder, Am I just a lush or am I an alcoholic? Seriously, please don’t let me be the only one who has that thought cross my mind. I decided to approach dry January like it was my latest relationship. And I was going to commit myself to it fully.
The first thing I noticed was I got the most peaceful sleep I had in years. Normally, I crash and every night it never fails between 3:12am-3:17am and I can’t go back to sleep until 5/5:30am. Insomnia is a BITCH! Well, this night I slept. And not only did I sleep it was uninterrupted. You know you slept well when you wake up with pillow marks on your face. When I got up the next morning, I was sleepy but I wasn’t dragging. This was day one. That alone made me feel like I had accomplished something.
Over the next few days, I can’t say anything magical happened that doesn’t usually happen. I am a very focused person so I was getting all of my work done and handling my business as usual. I wish I could say I had greater focus than normal or there was something magical or mystical occurring to me due to not drinking but that wasn’t the case. Sparkling Water and lime was my new wine. Bottled water was my new martini and I was saving money. I didn’t need to take Lyft when I went out. And instead of suggesting meeting friends and colleagues for cocktails, we met for lunch or coffee for those initial few days. I wasn’t ready to go out to a bar and not have a drink the first few days of the month. Although ironically I wasn’t craving the alcohol. There was one day I had a craving so I had a non-alcoholic beer. It was refreshing and did the trick for that day. But other than that, it was easy breezy. And that shocked me… It made my soul dance. I wasn’t an alcoholic after all. I realized for me drinking was just a habit. I had created a daily schedule. Work, workout, come home, make dinner, and have a glass of wine while I cook, and another glass of wine with my meal… and another glass just because. So now, I poured my sparkling water in a wine glass and if I was feeling extra fancy, I poured ginger ale into a champagne glass and closed my eyes and pretended like it was Verve. These were the times when my overactive imagination came in handy.
It was an easy task when I was in my own world. I told my girlfriends ahead of time that I was doing dry January and not to reach out. So I was getting used to being in my own company and creating my new routine. I found a lot of times I drank out of boredom. I also noticed how much drinking there was on TV. You all know how much I love every single Real Housewives Franchise. I felt like every single time I turned on the TV I was bombarded with folks having wine. I wanted to indulge with my favorite housewives. But I was beginning to learn how to watch dry… And in my own world it worked…
Then the unthinkable happened… the cutie I met at a New Year’s Eve party asked me out on a date. He sent me a text… Let’s grab drinks. And I didn’t want to make “Dry January” a “thing” so I reluctantly agreed to go out with “Ryan” on the date. The thought of going out with a man and not ordering a drink was a completely foreign concept to me. And I tried to think of the last time I went out on a date and didn’t have a drink… I thought really long and hard… It was in fucking High School! How the hell was this going to work? Not only did I not want to make “Dry January” a thing but I also didn’t want to give this man the false impression that I wasn’t a drinker. And I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable ordering a cocktail himself. So… I came up with the bright idea of getting to the location early. I made friends with our waitress before he got there. “Listen, I’m doing ‘Dry January’ and I don’t want to make it a ‘thing’ so I am going to order mojitos. And could you please please please make sure they are virgin.” Clearly, this wasn’t the first time this particular waitress had this same request… “Sure thing! I got you covered.” My date arrived and I was actually a little nervous. Normally I would have had my pre-date party and had a glass of wine while I got ready for the date at home. But this time I was just… me. I felt exposed. I almost felt like I was sitting in the bar with just my bra and panties on. I didn’t have my usual comfort wine glass that I held onto like Linus held on to his blanket in Charlie Brown. I had a complete clear head. The waitress came by and he ordered scotch on the rocks and I ordered my mojito. When she came back she placed my mojito down on the table and gave me a subtle wink. It was perfect!
But unfortunately… this cutie pie was boring as hell. As he talked I struggled to appear interested in what he was saying. At one point I figured out what color I was going to get my nails polished the next day at the nail salon. That helped me seem interested in what he was saying. Tying to decide between red or nude pink was a deep decision! LOL! This date was a fucking Snoozefest! I’m not sure how many other dates I had like this but didn’t fully realize it because I had my liquid encouragement to help me and the guy out. And he was really a nice person but just not for me.
By the time I ordered my third virgin mojito and he ordered his 3rd scotch on the rocks “Ryan” leaned over and said, “It’s kind of loud in here… can we go somewhere that’s a little more quiet so we can actually hear each other? I’m not used to talking this loud.” I looked at him and realized… he thought I was drinking real mojitos! He thought I was tipsy because I gulped down 3 glasses of this nonalcoholic beverage unbeknownst to him! Now this shit was actually funny… AND on top of that, if you are a loyal reader of my blog you know I have a rule… I do not date men who do not drink. I feel like they judge people who do drink. I feel like they are low key counting how many drinks you consume and making assumptions…. Well guess what I was right! Because that’s exactly what I was doing. I counted his drinks. I observed how he loosened up after the first one. I saw how after the second one he was a little more touchy feely and the final third drink he had the confidence to ask me to Go somewhere more quiet. People who do not drink are low key judging people who do. And I think a part of it is because they are jealous they aren’t drinking. Hell… I know I was jealous I couldn’t have a drink. And the other part is they are seeing how many drinks it takes you to get loose… and that’s exactly what I did. Keep in mind this man thought I was tipsy. Did I mention one of the other fascinating things I observed during my “dry” month. I am just as crazy sober as I am tipsy and drunk. I am silly, fun, inappropriate, flirty, and I have no filter whether I am liquored up or completely sober. This was indeed my personality! I was learning so many things about myself during this time.
I recognize men will try to see how far they can get. I can’t blame him. I was able to pick up on “Ryan’s” schtick. He played up the newly divorced guy who is socially awkward and not used to dating. He played up that he is a nerdy, shy loner. Now I am smart girl. I am able to sense some bullshit pretty quickly. But the since I was “dry” (in more ways than one on this date) when it came to “Ryan” I was able to pick up on his bullshit pretty quickly. And also, because he was FINE… I decided NOT to be total bitch. I’m still a sucker for a good looking man. The bill came… and to this day I am not sure if the waitress charged him for virgin mojitos or non-alcoholic mojitos (not my problem), I told “Ryan” I had a great time, but I have an early morning so I need to get home and call it a night. Which wasn’t a total lie… I did have a nail appointment that next morning and thanks to the boring date I knew the exact color I would be choosing. He walked me to my car. I gave him a hug. Normally, after a few cocktails I might have given him a little kiss. But the hug was more than sufficient in my sober state. I knew would not be going back out with “Ryan” again. I hightailed my ass home and went to sleep. I was able to master a boring date alcohol free for the first time in decades. This was a huge win!!!!
A week later I was invited to an event. I invited one of my girlfriends. She met me at my house prior so we could talk shit and catch up. Normally, we would go through a bottle of wine and then head out to the party. Instead, I had a glass of non-alcoholic sparkling wine. I poured her a glass of my favorite wine. And the smell of it and looking at the glass did not trigger me to want to drink wine. I couldn’t believe how easy this had become. But I have to admit… I did low key found myself judging her as she had her second glass. Me… judging… my friend! Who did I think I was? I wasn’t suddenly Mother Theresa just because I wasn’t drinking. But I am stressing that people who do not drink whether intentional or not JUDGE drinkers. It’s just a fact.
We got to the event… the crowd was young and Hollywood AND ghetto ass hell. The second we walked into the event the smell of weed almost had me having the munchies immediately just from the second hand smoke. I was now 3 weeks dry. And I could see everything clearly My friend and I looked at each other and debated whether or not to leave immediately. She suggested we at least have a drink and say connect with the person who had invited me. We got to the open bar AND they were serving my favorite Sauvignon Blanc. THE DEVIL IS A LIAR!!! Why????!!!! This was temptation island! What was a girl to do? So I did what made the most sense… I asked the bartender if they had a nonalcoholic beer. And luckily for me they did. I was able to feel like I was part of the party and stick to my dry January. We stayed for another hour too long, did the red carpet and came back to my house. My friend had another glass of wine. I had sparkling water. And I once again found myself judging her wine consumption because I was envious that I couldn’t indulge with her the way I normally did. I found myself trying to follow her repeated conversation that went in circles. A conversation that I could have totally understood had I been drinking wine with her. Wine drinkers speak the same tipsy language. By the time she left, I was exhausted from the entire night.. I had to fight my temptation to drink wine, try to make the best of a whack ass event sober, and finally I had to translate tipsy talk in a sober state. What a damn night! But another win… I attended an industry event and didn’t have cocktail. Not one. The last time this happened was… NEVER!!! I was proud of myself. But I realized going “dry” is easy when you isolate yourself. But when trying to be social it is a hard task. Dirnking is so embedded in our daily lives!
A few days later I met up with another girlfriend for dinner. She is a lover of champagne. “I do not understand why you are doing this. I support you but I’m ordering my champagne.” She shrugged as she ordered her glass of champagne unapologetically. And I wanted to fit in… So I asked the waiter to bring me a glass of half cranberry and half club soda in a champagne glass. I wanted to feel like I was having sparkling rosé with her. I realized the feel of the glass is half of the appeal of drinking. I remember being a kid and seeing the “grown folks” drink at parties or watching Hollywood movies and they made drinking look so glamourous because of the glass and how they held it and how they sipped the wine and champagne. At one point I asked my girlfriend to let me smell her champagne. It smelled so damn good… and I only had 8 days left of the month. Although it smelled good… my commitment was solid. I handed her back her glass and continued to drink my mocktail.
The last week of the month was the hardest. I think when you know you’re almost at the end of a journey the very last few days are the hardest. It’s a psychological mind fuck because you’re almost at the finish line! I was so proud of myself. By this time my face had lost its holiday alcohol bloat, my skin had an unusual brighter glow to it, AND my waist was indeed shrinking. I was getting the best sleep of my life consistently so my eyes were bright and I was well rested.
And then I was hit with my final test. I woke up on a Saturday morning missing a loved one that had passed. I had a wonderful dream about him. For those who have lost loved ones you might have experienced those times when you have a dream that feels so real. I was talking to my loved one and hanging out with him. I was catching him up on all the great things that were happening in my life. And we had so much fun. We laughed and just kicked it. When I woke up, for a minute I forgot that he had passed away 19 years ago. The sun was shining bright. When I was fully awake the realization that it has been almost two decades since he passed hit me so hard. It was palpable… it was painful. It hurt my soul and I was a hot ass mess! I wanted to pour myself a glass of wine or two or three just to shut off the emotion. But I was faced with having to deal with this shit head on. When he first passed, I purposefully didn’t drink for a period of time 19 years ago. I knew I couldn’t because I knew back then that it could have become a problem. But over the years, when I had moments like this I would have wine to “calm my nerves.” This was the first time in two decades I had to face this and not push it down. I didn’t even want to have a nonalcoholic beer or nonalcoholic sparkling wine. I wanted to face this feeling that I had avoided for so long. It was now or never. I needed to pass this last challenge. I allowed myself to be a complete mess and fall apart. I allowed myself to cry. I allowed myself to feel every single feeling I hadn’t allowed myself to feel in years… wow… the fact I am even writing about this right now is major growth. I normally keep these moments to myself. But this was some deep shit. At a certain point I was able to finally take a shower, brush my teeth, and instead of going to BevMo or Ralph’s to get the 6 bottles of wine for my 30% off, I went to Pressed Juicery and got juices. I then went over the hill to Neiman Marcus and bought this fabulous Vince dress that I could wear proudly now that my wine belly bulge was gone, I then went home, poured my Pressed Juicery juice in a beautiful Waterford crystal glass and did a cheers to my loved one and had a good cry. Another victory.
Within one month, I experienced every single trigger you could imagine to knock my off my “dry” January. But I stayed the course and was so proud of myself for doing it.
On Friday, February 1st, my mother came into town. We went to Avra in Beverly Hills and I had my very first drink in 31 days. I ordered a glass of Moët and Chandon… and after one glass I was buzzed and after two glasses I was HAMMERED!
Would I do an entire dry month again…maybe February… unless there is a shorter month than that. Am I saying that Cocktails and Confessions will now be Sparkling Water and Confessions? Hell to the no! I love wine and champagne. And that’s not changing. Can I drink in moderation? Absolutely! As a matter f fact as I write this blog post I am enjoying a glass of sparkling water in a beautiful wine glass. They say it take 28 days to form habit. I have definitely cut back on my consumption but I am still planning on enjoying my cocktails in social settings. Besides the great sleep, glowing skin, brighter eyes, loss of bloating and belly fat there wasn’t anything miraculous that happened to me by going “dry.” I was proud I could commit to something and stay the course no matter what life threw my way. And I was also relieved to be able to answer my own question with confidence… I was indeed just a lush not an alcoholic and that made this 31 day experiment worth it!