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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    A Look Back.



Why I Quit Drinking.

I’ve been asked to write this post for almost two years now, and for whatever reason, I just haven’t been ready.  (I appreciate your patience!)  I am finally comfortable enough with the journey that we’ve been through to find the words to share it with all of you.  Here goes…

A Little Bit of Background.

To make a long story short, and in the interest of privacy, I’m giving you the slightly abbreviated version (but don’t be fooled – this post is looooong).  I grew up in a loving and wonderful home that seemed almost perfect until I was 15.  That was the year my parents got divorced and my whole world unraveled around me.  Not soon after, I reached the age where high school kids start getting drunk at parties and wondering what alcohol is all about.  But having seen what substance abuse had done to my family, I made a promise to myself that I would never let alcohol be something that affected my life again. 

I didn’t drink a drop through all of high school, even though my friends started drinking and the temptation and opportunity were always there.  Even so, I went to parties as the designated driver, and never minded the constant questions I got from others as to why I didn’t drink.  But as comfortable as I was with it in high school around my close friends, I was incredibly nervous to start college in a sea of total strangers.  I remember coming home at Christmas break and celebrating New Year’s Eve with my high school friends who asked, “are you still not drinking?”

Mid-way through my freshman year, I joined a sorority and my social calendar suddenly got a lot more full.  At our very first sorority party, I ended up deciding –why not? – and drank a few beers.  I realized that drinking was actually really fun, and that it gave me the social courage that had inhibited me so much before.

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The rest of college was pretty typical.  I drank – a LOT.  But it was college and drinking was the norm – I was no different than anyone else.  I sucked at beer pong, but I owned the table in flip cup, and I was always down for a drink off. 

Drinking was never a problem for me, but it was certainly the focus of most of our college activities.  Looking back now of course, I see it all differently.  At the time I didn’t realize just how much time I spent planning drinking activities and recovering from late nights.  It all seemed normal, and since everyone else was doing it I never gave it a second thought.  My friends and I had four years of constant fun and parties.

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Casey and I met in November of 2005, and as is the case for many relationships, ours was fueled by meeting up in bars, happy hours, and dinners over a bottle of wine.  We were a great team and I was excited to have a new boyfriend who was always up for something fun.  As our relationship grew and we got closer, Casey encouraged me to get into running and working out.  The early days of dating and too many happy hours had helped me pack on a few extra pounds. 

As I started to get healthier and more focused on fitness and nutrition, I realized that drinking became a lot less tempting, and a lot less important to me.  The combination of my new healthy lifestyle along with the fact that I was simply growing up, ended with me passing up drinks and offering to be the designated driver more and more often.

The Tipping Point.

To make a long story, short – I had drastically scaled back my own drinking, but Casey was still drinking like a college kid.  Again, it wasn’t really much different than what his friends or anyone else was doing, but I had gotten tired of the party scene and the issues that come along with drinking too much alcohol.  The disconnect between our feelings on drinking was starting to affect our relationship.  And the more we got into running and fitness, the harder it was for us to justify the unhealthy drinking activities planned on our weekends.

On top of a pretty heavy drinking habit, Casey has epilepsy.  The closer our relationship grew, the more nervous I got about his potential seizures and slip ups with medicine after a few drinks.  Finally, after one long out of town weekend of too much partying, Casey came home and told me he was done.  No more drinking – none, zero, nada.  He said that he had seen others head down similar paths, and he wanted to stop himself before he went any farther or lost any more time. 

He never came out and asked me to stop drinking, because I volunteered to do it with him before he got the chance.  There was no big last hurrah or anything of that nature.  It was just over, plain and simple.  I’d had my “last drink” a few days before, and didn’t even know it at the time.  Giving up alcohol is similar to giving up meat – you make a decision and you stick to it. 

The weeks and months that followed were difficult and awkward.  People didn’t understand our decision, and we felt very socially isolated and unsure of how to spend our time.  We overcompensated, and went out to dinner, movies, or other activities every weekend.  Whether you consider yourself to be a big drinker or not, I can promise you this – you’ll never understand the role that alcohol plays in your life until you cut it out completely.

There is only one big negative that I have discovered since I stopped drinking.  The hardest part about being a non-drinker is other people’s reaction to the decision

The Social Paradox of a Non-Drinker.

“Why don’t you drink?”  People don’t get it.  Everyone wants a story, an explanation.  No one judges you when you tell them you’re not into drugs, but alcohol – that’s another story.  The first few months of our new non-drinking lifestyle were really tough – thank god we had each other. 

We both had friends who didn’t understand, friends who always thought of us as fun partiers, and apparently not much more.  We had other friends who rallied around us, making sure we felt comfortable and respected.  I guess that’s why the saying goes “you find out who your friends are…” 

But for the most part, people are really freaked out by non-drinkers.  Someone mentions an upcoming wine tasting or beer sampler dinner in front of you, and suddenly a tension fills the air.  But would they care as much if I was not drinking because I was pregnant?  Giving up alcohol by choice makes people uncomfortable.  And to be perfectly honest with you, in nearly two years of not drinking, we have both found that those who are the least comfortable around us, are also those who struggle the most with drinking themselves.  I think that they think we know their secret. 

There have been many occasions where I have felt left out and excluded from dinners, parties, and other occasions.  Afterwards I’ve been offered “I didn’t think you’d want to come because you don’t drink.”  Even if the intention was good, the effect is always hurtful.  Maybe I would have gone, maybe I wouldn’t have – but the choice should have been mine.

I have no judgment for those who drink, and for the most part I don’t mind being around it.  Just as I will sit at a table with meat eaters at dinner, I have no problem hanging out with friends over a table of beers.  That is, of course, if they invite me. 

Despite the social reactions we  deal with, quitting drinking has been the best decision I’ve ever made.  And even though I’ve given you all this back story, it’s not important why we quit drinking.  The important part is why we’ll never start again. 

A Better Way of Life.

While you may not believe me (and I don’t blame you – I wouldn’t have either), life without alcohol is so SO much better.  Like I said, until you remove it completely, you don’t realize how much time and energy you spend planning to drink – seriously.  Please understand, I don’t want to be preachy.  I just want to show you that a life without alcohol isn’t as unfathomable as it seems.  We have discovered so many wonderful things as non-drinkers.

I am never too hung-over to get up early and run.  I never have to wonder how I will get home from a party because I can always drive myself.  I never have to plan my workouts early in the day, because I know I’m going to happy hour in the afternoon.  My bar and restaurant spending is down to almost nothing.  My body always feels clean and happy and healthy.  I dropped an additional 7 pounds when I stopped drinking.  I am always in control of my thoughts and actions.  I feel empowered by making a tough decision and sticking to it.

I started drinking when I was 19, and quit by the time I was 27.  I’ve experienced both sides of the fence, and ultimately settled into life on the sober side, where after a year and a half, it finally feels peaceful and comfortable to write about today.  For me, life is too precious to waste on being wasted.

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Steve R.     at 2:54 pm

Born Broken is an inspirational story about acute alcoholism, a story about hope and belief that there is a better way.

http://bornbrokenbook.com

Born Broken is the story of my struggle with alcoholism, and the different stages of my journey to recovery. It is the story of growing up in a poor white neighborhood called Okieville, with no way out and no hope for a better tomorrow. You will feel the wrenching pains and paralyzing fears of my childhood as I waited for heart surgery to be developed, hoping that one day I could live a normal life like other children. As you travel through this story with me, you will discover how alcohol took control of my life while I was still very young and vulnerable. Yes, most of my struggles stem from chronic alcohol abuse, a disorder that this story will expose for its true nature. It will reveal insights I gained during my climb back into the real world from this deadly disease. How God grasped my trembling hands one desperate night and summoned me out of the abyss that held me captive for so long, one day and one step at a time.
Born Broken is a story that comes out of an era when many believed we only gained from life what we earned, through self-will and strong determination. I view my world from a very different perspective than one in which I grew up. In the 1950’s and early 60’s there was a belief that if you worked hard enough, received at least a high school diploma, a strong willed individual could reach whatever goals they set their mind to. But I was to discover that insights weren’t any more than rearrangement of facts. Sometimes in life things happen for a reason, though that reason may not be apparent.
From the early moments of my birth, everything that happened in my life was inevitable. I needed to experience what I experienced the way that I did. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, there was a mission of self-discovery that needed to be accomplished at any cost. This self-discovery would eventually have a profound impact on my life, altering its direction many times.
This book will concentrate on lost directions, while chronicling my journey through alcoholism. Even though I will use a variety of simple analogies to illustrate my personal experiences, these are just whispers of the true reality of where I came from, shadows left behind after escaping the darkness, the complex moments of uncertainty and clarity that marked my path toward recovery.
I pray that my story will impart a message of hope and courage to those still suffering from this sad disease. I hope that it mirrors the horrors of millions of like people, and shows how I was able to learn the truths that I can now share and write about candidly.
My hope is that my readers will experience a greater understanding of God’s Mercy and Grace, and their own capabilities. It doesn’t matter where you came from in life—where you are headed though is of the utmost importance. Inside this book you may come to recognize similarities to your own life, similarities that many alcoholics have endured over the years.
What makes this story so heart-felt is the fact that I have gained freedom from the obstacles that held me captive for most of my life. How I was able to leave behind problems that had previously shackled me. Agree with me or disagree with me, we should all pray that those who seek help may find God’s Grace.
The world of alcoholism is a darkened abyss, waiting patiently to devour all those who dare to venture beyond its gates. As we listen to those cries of anguish and torment inside our troubled minds, our spirits stay troubled. Without a powerful merciful intervention, who knows what future those still lost inside must face?
Once, maybe even twice in a person’s life, an opportunity may appear that can brush against that person’s soul. It can alter what they were destined to become. It can leave an impression on broken hearts and injured souls. These are the Evidence, the Footprints that God leaves behind. I am one of those blessed individuals who have emerged Within God’s Grace, to share His Merciful and Gracious message.

[Reply]

Anna     at 4:00 am

Beautiful post. Thanks for the honesty. I don’t know you but just came across this and it was much more helpful to me than you could ever know.

[Reply]

Kay     at 3:04 pm

I no longer drink. I will be 60 on November 30. Due to studying my spiritual books and my teacher, “Seth” I feel I have restructured my cellular makeup. I don’t like the taste anymore and don’t like the way it makes me feel. I was such a partier for decades. Life of the party. Now, my best friend never invites me to her home anymore. This has gone on for 3 years. It’s sad and it can feel isolating. However, I am enjoying my clear thoughts and I am very healthy. I am the fortunate one! Take care!

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Bree     at 8:43 am

I’ve been reading your blog for almost 2 years and I never knew you were a fellow sober life lover! I completely agree about all the time spent and wasted when drinking is involved. I have never met so many actually interested/interesting people, excelled at hobbies, and loved myself more than since I decided to stop drinking completely. It’s awesome and I am so happy you are sober awesome too. :)

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Amy     at 10:13 am

Years later, I came across this post while looking for a tofu recipe…

I grew up in a family that was impacted by alcoholism and never felt comfortable drinking for that reason. Although I experimented in my late teens and early twenties, by around 25 or so, I was done for good. My husband barely drinks either, and it is true that this seemed to make people almost uncomfortable at times. I figured out early on that the trick to cutting the awkwardness was to just be breezy about it and make it clear that I have no problem with anyone else drinking (which I don’t), but it’s not for me.

When I made the decision to become a parent, there was simply no way that I would place my family and children in the jeopardy that my parents’ drinking placed my brother and I as children. For me, there is really nothing I take more seriously, and with my family background, the risk is far too great.

Fortunately, at 48, I have plenty of contemporaries who don’t drink either, for one reason or another.

[Reply]

job     at 6:19 am

Thanks for the post. Good, earnest writing. Hope you’re well.

[Reply]

Amanda     at 8:47 pm

Hi. I loved your story! I just decided to quit drinking myself, and its been 16 days since ive had a drink. So far I feel really good. I have lots of energy I didnt know I was capable of. I’ve been working out 6 days a week from doing nothing and haven’t had to wake up feeling like absolute death for the last 16 days. Which has been nice. I agree that people do give u a negative reaction sometimes. They dont understand. But I had to do what is best for me. Also they dont know what ive been through Also I agree that it is weird finding out how big a part of your life alcohol was. When u stop u notice that it actually defines too much of our every day lives. Its all around us, everywhere u go, almost every social event. But he thing is im not missing out on any of it. I get to experience it and also everything els the following morning. Also I can drive myself home in my car!
Thanks for listening :)

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Dustin     at 8:02 am

Thank you for writing this post. I am at a cross roads in my life where I know I need to give up alcohol. I didn’t have my first drink until college. I graduated in the fall of 2010 and have been struggling to quit drinking ever sense. My wife does not drink, and we have argued many times over how I think she’s worried about nothing. My wife is pregnant with our first child that is due on December 8th. I want to quit drinking now for myself, my wife, and our baby. I know now precious life is, and how lucky I am. But for some reason I can’t get back to my pre-college ways. I hope this past weekend was my last drink. I really do want to quit.

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Meredith     at 1:25 pm

I am coming to this post very late but it rings true to me. I have several close family members who have struggled and continue to struggle with alcohol. I have not officially quit drinking because it is expected of me at work functions/dinners. But even then it is a glass of wine and that’s it. I often feel the social pressures and questions as to why I don’t want to drink heavily. I commend you for your post and thank you, it makes me feel less alone.

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