Why I Committed to 100 Days of Sobriety

Today I made the decision to go 100 days without a drink of alcohol mostly as an experiment to see if I can do it (and if I can’t, that just proves I am in fact the alcoholic I’m denying that I am). Nothing crazy dramatic happened recently that’s caused me to come to this realization. In fact, I don’t keep alcohol in the house and probably only drink socially 1-2 times a week (although that hasn’t always been the case, as you’ll read about below…). I’m blasting it out to the world for accountability because I’m much more likely to stick to something when I know I’m under a microscope.

So why now?

I’ve never considered myself a real alcoholic. After all, the real alcoholics are the ones who can’t hold down jobs and beat their wives, right? I’ve always associated drinking with a warm fuzzy feeling that feels like sunshine and makes me (think I’m) a better dancer, singer, kisser and a hilarious stand up comedian. From a young age I saw drinking as a way to be more social, fun, and extroverted. And besides, being sober sounded like quite the opposite — boring, nerdy, and lame.

I started drinking when I was 13 because I was ready to party and drinking was cool. From the very beginning, I loved drinking. I loved how it made me feel so carefree and light, numb to any worry in the world. It wasn’t long before I was puking Boone’s Farm out of my nose in the middle of a cornfield in rural Ohio. I went from 0-60 in no time. “Moderation” wasn’t in my vocabulary and when I drank, I drank to black out. Yep, I ran with the cool kids. No boring sober losers in my group.

At 14 years old I was suspended from school for coming to a homecoming dance drunk. And not just drunk, but so blacked out intoxicated that I filled two trashcans with vomit, almost had to have my stomach pumped, and was forced to attend an AA meeting to get my suspension reduced from 10 to 3 days.

So at 14 I was suspended from school and attending AA.

But I’m not a real alcoholic…

According to a study by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “individuals who began drinking before age 14, 47 percent experienced dependence at some point, vs. 9 percent of those who began drinking at age 21 or older.” (Hingson, 2006).

So according to that statistic, I have nearly a 50/50 chance of becoming dependent on alcohol. Awesome.

Fast forward to my college years at the University of Kentucky where I would wake up every Thursday - Sunday in October and April for the horse races, put on my fancy dress, and start drinking bourbon at 10:00am and not stop until I was blacked out at Two Keys. I spent every single weekend chasing shots of cheap vodka with fruit juice until I literally blacked out. But this of course is normal college behavior so I’m definitely not a real alcoholic. (There are so many other stories I could tell about my college years, but because I know family members will be reading this, we’ll just keep it to that small paragraph).

In my 20’s, the drinking subsided a bit, although I still loved to party when I could. I eventually got married and somewhere along the way, found myself depressed and trapped. I was in a terrible marriage and drinking a bottle of red wine a night to numb out. I spent my days looking forward to when I could come home and pour a glass. I would tell myself every time I’d stop at two glasses, but was barely ever able to. Sure, there were days I wouldn’t drink at all and it wasn’t like I’d developed the shakes or anything, so for that reason, I wasn’t a real alcoholic. I was functioning and I was fine. And after all, I could have worse vices….(you can already see all the ways I justify in my mind, right?)

My marriage ultimately ended in divorce and although I don’t totally blame the alcohol, it also didn’t help and actually made the situation much more toxic than it needed to be. I went on a post-divorce boozy bender for about a year and a half after that and honestly don’t remember much of that time in my life. This makes sense, as alcohol has damaging effects on the brain and can cause permanent memory loss (according to a scientific study that I’m too lazy and tired to cite right now).

I’ve always been able to take breaks from drinking. I’ve done two separate 30-day alcohol detoxes; one for a Dry January and one was when I spent a month in Bali. By the end of both detoxes, I felt amazing. I was sleeping through the night, my skin was glowing, my body was tighter, the whites of my eyes were whiter, and I swear colors were brighter! I felt so good, I’m honestly not sure why I ever went back.

Actually, yes I do.

I always went back to it because alcohol is a social lubricant. It makes first dates, family reunions, and social functions a little less awkward by softening the edge. In fact, most if not all of my social interactions revolve around alcohol (“wanna grab a drink?”). It also mellows me out and melts away stress. It’s something to look forward to. For these reasons, I’m not ready to say I’m giving alcohol up forever. I’m just hoping I love how I feel so much, I won’t want to go back.

I’m excited about what I learn over these next 100 days of sobriety and plan on sharing my journey with you all here. Stay tuned… xxoo

Katie Daehler