One month. 30 days.
When you think about it, it's not a very long period of time; unless, of course, you're talking about going 'dry'. In other words, no alcohol whatsoever - wine, beer, cocktail, champagne, any kind of spirit.
When I first decided to go dry I didn't think it would be that big a deal. "It's only 30 days, how hard could it be?" I thought. My bravado would only last so long as the first day of my 'fast' I was on a business trip with many of my colleagues. We went out for a nice dinner that evening and they were all pounding back glasses of Bordeaux and scotch while I was carefully nursing my 'cran and soda'. That was a tough evening.
And it would only get tougher. While my consumption of alcohol immediately stopped, my social calendar didn't. I hadn't realized how much of a social drinker I was - and with birthday parties and dinners and girls nights out and my Dad's 70th birthday all occurring during this month, I couldn't have picked a worse time to prove to myself that I had strong willpower. Willpower to withstand the tastes, scents and fun conversation that always came with a glass of wine or a cocktail.
People sometimes refer to smokers and their issues with withdrawl. There is the systemic addictive effect and then there's the habitual addiction. I've realized - and now experienced - both of those effects with alcohol. I understand the jitters, the shakes that the body indicates to you that it is missing something. An almost internal frustration with a lack of a substance that used to fuel it.
The first 10 days were hard. My body was adjusting and it wasn't happy, which made me not so happy either. I was also partially in denial, surprised that my system was so dependent on alcohol and that I couldn't gain better control over it. This was not good for my Type-A personality.
On the other hand, I don't think I've drunk as much water and tea during this period than I ever had in the same amount of time in my life. What I also lost in alcohol, I gained in energy. Before going dry, I was constantly feeling lethargic. I'd wake up not quite feeling refreshed. The last 30 days I have never felt better. I'm sleeping better, more alert and even my clothes fit me differently.
As I write this, I am sipping a glass of wine, celebrating the end of my dry month and getting back on the horse. What I have gained during this 30 days has taught me the old adage is true: everything in moderation. Maybe I will be much more judicious in what, when and how I consume alcohol; recognizing and experiencing the benefits that come with a commitment to health and wellness and not to simply 'living the good life'.