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In the first year of falling in love with the man of my dreams I drank more than I ever had before. Which wasn’t to say by society’s standards that was a huge amount, but it was more than I had before. For one, it felt like a time to celebrate, I finally was in love for the first time in my life and that filled by body with adrenalin and excitement. Also, we were going out on dates all the time, getting to know each other.

I do not know if you have seen any episode of The Bachelor but on every single date in every single activity, alcohol is involved. Because that’s what you do, at least if you’re a contestant on The Bachelor or a member of my family.

And lots of it was fun. We danced, we had tipsy nights with our family and friends, we played golf with a buzz. The world seemed brighter and some of it seemed like it was from the alcohol.

Then after a year of working hard during the week, playing hard during the weekends, we started reading more about spirituality and began meditating more. In a lot of the stuff we read, people talked about the fact that alcohol dampens your ability to connect with your higher self by numbing and disconnecting you from your intuition.

Mark and I were thinking about it and we couldn’t remember a weekend when we were not having at least a couple drinks, and so we decided to take a month off. We liked the idea in part because it made us feel so uncomfortable. It made us question whether we could really have as much fun.

The goal was not to hide ourselves away and reappear 30 days later; it was to do everything we would normally do, just sober. During the 30 days we attended parties, watched sporting events at bars, went to family gatherings.

The entire month I felt awkward. I was already a shy person who didn’t thrive at parties. Now I was putting myself at parties with no social lubrication, this made me down right anxiety ridden. Going to Mark’s family gatherings where the first language was Arabic also felt extremely hard. After I had 2 coronas the voice in my head would stop telling me how alone I was, but now I had to figure out how to do that with no help. And just in general the weekends felt a little less fun.

The entire time I was counting down the days until we could unwind with a nice big margarita. For different reasons Mark was too. We got to the end, went to our favorite Mexican restaurant, ordered the drinks and then….just didn’t feel like having them. Something had changed. I can’t really explain it to you except to say that once we were off our commitment to ourselves and free from alcohol for that period of time the negative things alcohol brought with it seemed much clearer:

1) Sometimes when I drank with Mark it was fun, other times the voice in my head about my own insecurities got louder, making me feel upset instead of free

2) Even when I had a blast drinking over the weekend by Monday afternoon I started to feel this anxiety and shakiness in my body that I only felt after I drank

3) Not drinking made me feel overall more balanced and happier

And I’ll tell you six years later giving up alcohol did all the things I mentioned and more. It got me to a whole new level of confidence in myself. I love that I can access my internal peaceful place any time, anywhere, and I love that being with the people I care about and being in nature are the times when I am having the most fun and feel the freest.