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  • Kerry Chaput

My Breakup With Alcohol



It's been a good ride. But it's time to say goodbye to my close companion that's seen me through the good times and bad, the laughs and the tears. My one-stop-shop for coping has finally run its course. To my old friend, wine, I bid you adieu.


OK, not goodbye. You're still welcome at the table, but only for a brief appearance. You may not stay for the evening.


I grew up in wine country and believe me when I tell you that wine flows through our veins. Our love for a big jammy Syrah or a cool crisp Sauvignon Blanc runs deep. It's how we live, socialize, celebrate, and grieve. It's part of our everyday lives.


I've been pretty open on this blog about my lifelong struggle with anxiety. Many different faces of that monster have been with me for as long as I can remember. Panic attacks in junior high, trips to the ER in college. Social anxiety bubbling up from a fairly normal existence in my later years. I used wine to quell the crippling anxiety that lived in my head for many many years. And it worked. Until it didn't.


Somewhere along the way, the thing that used to keep me centered and calm became the thing that sent me spinning. The thing that triggered my anxiety and made me feel terrible. Even 1 glass seemed to cause my heart to race and nightmares to burrow in.


So, I slowed down and limited myself. I drank a hot toddy on Christmas (because there's nothing like it for a sore throat), and nothing else for 3 weeks. My anxiety seems to be better than it has in a long time. Here's what I didn't expect. I'm more productive. My workouts are easier. Food tastes better (who knew?). I can read the news without feeling like the world is imploding. In essence, I think I'm balanced. And to that, I say...is this how normal people live?


Sure, I'll still probably pour a glass on the occasional weekend and sip a can along the river in the summer. But at 43, I've finally stopped running. My body's tired. So is my mind. It feels a heck of a lot better to sit in the reality of the hard things in my life. Anxiety is nothing more than the banging drums and pots and pans and screeching with my ears plugged so I don't have to listen to the real music. So I've stopped running. And I've started listening.


I still have a coffee addiction. But you'll have to pry that from my cold dead fingers.

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