Six years ago, I decided to end one of the most toxic relationships in my life.
I had tried to leave a few times prior, but even the breaks that seemed to be permanent never truly kept us apart. The relationship gave me a lot of confidence, but it also ripped me to shreds. I had no power in the relationship, even if I thought I did at times.
I was up. I was down. I was laughing. I was crying. It empowered me to say things I never thought I would, but it also brought out sides of me I never knew existed. It was the kind of relationship I knew I could count on when I needed it, even if deep down I knew it probably wasn't giving me the genuine support I was looking for.
Ultimately, the bad outweighed the good, and I decided to end it. For good.
And just like that, I broke up with alcohol.
Since then, people often ask me what my “rock bottom” moment was or why I ultimately stopped. I tell them I recognized it wasn't bringing out my best self and it truly made me feel down after I used. I see the curiosity in questioning eyes often. Do I drink too much? Should I stop? When is it too much?
While my journey and decision-making process is my own, perhaps there are a few signs and questions you can ask yourself to see if Split City might be the best path for you when it comes to your relationship with alcohol.
1. You regularly miss out on the activities that make you feel good.
While this one may seem obvious, it doesn't always click right away. Whether it's your morning run, your evening home cooking or just talking on the phone with your grandparents -- if your alcohol use clashes with things that make you feel good, chances are it's taking precedence over things it shouldn't.
2. You're constantly hoping someone else gets drunker than you.
No one wants to be the sloppiest, but it happens to the best of us. How often do you find yourself hoping your body balances the chemicals enough to keep you from being the biggest fool, though?
How many times do you find yourself telling other people how drunk they were – even if you make light of it? If you are looking for a way to get the attention off of your own inebriation, time to check yoself.
3. Your friends are still taking care of you.
This was one of my biggest realizations. If I didn't have good friends around me, I would have been in some seriously dangerous situations. Who is ensuring you get home at night? How many people text you to see how you're doing the next day?
Whether they resent the babysitting duties or not, if your friends are playing “adult” to your drinking game, it may be time to rethink your sipping habits.
4. You feel like shit the day after.
Every time. I'm not just talking about having a headache. I'm talking about feeling all the ickiness of drinking. Alcohol is a downer, and a lot of us suffer free the post-drinking blues. You feel depressed, sluggish, inadequate.
You don't want to be alone, and you're manic about finding something to do or someone to hang out with quickly. This is a heavy burden to carry, so giving your mind and your body some reprieve may be the best thing you can do for yourself.
5. You avoid drinking around certain people.
Whether it's Mom and Dad, your co-workers or old drinking buddies who have slowed down, your awareness of tapering your “normal” drinking patterns can be a sign of not trusting yourself when it comes to alcohol. This is a small step toward owning the possibility you're a more pleasant presence when you're sober.
6. You secretly “quit” for a period of time.
This is a big one. You tell yourself you're not drinking tonight, for a week, a month -- whatever. Strangely enough, however, you don't let anyone else in on the plan. Why? Because you're allowing wiggle room. Telling other people means accountability. Asking for support and help means commitment.
Promising yourself you won't drink and then breaking that promise can be self-deprecating and disappointing. If your “no drinking” goals are exclusive to just you, you may want to take note of this red flag.
7. You put yourself and/or others in danger.
This may be a little closer to breaking the bough, but this is the real deal. It's not cool to drink and drive. It never has been. We have Uber and Lyft and all sorts of ways to get around without being reckless.
If you're constantly tempting fate and risking your life and others', it's time to reevaluate. Getting arrested is the softest form of realizing the danger of drinking and driving; don't let it be an accident that put you or others in harm's way. We all know someone who has lost a life because of drunk driving. Be cool.
If you identify with any of these scenarios (or not), it very well could mean drinking isn't the smartest hobby for you to take on. The reality of a breakup, though -- be it with a person or a substance -- is you're only ready when you're really ready.
The “everybody is doing it” mentality doesn't work anymore. Sobriety is all around you -- I promise. Giving up the bottle doesn't mean giving up your life, your friends or having fun. In fact, for some of us, it only makes these things better.
Plus, sparkling water is so in right now.