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  • Writer's pictureRebekah Mallory

A Year Without...Again

Updated: Mar 15

A woman in a gift shop with salt-and-pepper hair, smiling, wearing sunglasses on her head and a black v-necked t-shirt.
Alcohol-free in May, 2023

I've been here before. Made it a year without alcohol. This is attempt number two (or three?), but it feels different this time. Maybe it's because I'm older? Maybe because I've paid more attention to how flavored ethanol affects my aging body. I can tell you, it ain't good. At forty-whatever, hangovers last three, four days, I'm foggy-minded, and have seen that black, dancing spider in the corners of my eyes a time or two. I never got the DTs or really felt the withdrawal, so most would say I wasn't addicted. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn't. Doesn't matter. Either way, I feel better without it.

The Second to Last Time

The last time I quit was between July of 2021 and August of 2022. I made it over a year. Before that was in 2019, and I made it until the pandemic forced us indoors with little to do. Both times, there were some cravings and moments I romanticized alcohol, but they faded after a while. In 2022, I had a bad falling out with a dear friend. Had to rework parts of both books and republish because this friend no longer wanted to be a character. This friend bruised my very soul when they spoke disparagingly about my writing.

You know, it's always there for you...alcohol. Dido sings a song called "Don't Leave Home". I miss Dido. I loved her in the 90s. I still do. To me, the song is sung from the point of view of alcohol, but I guess you could insert any drug or even a very controlling significant other. "If you're cold, I'll keep you warm, if you're alone just hold on, 'cause I will be your safety...don't leave home." Reminded me of what alcohol became for me, but you interpret the song how you want.

After not drinking for over a year in 2022, and being okay with it, I gave myself what I'd been looking for: an excuse. I mean, my friend had just broken up with me, my husband and I were celebrating our ten-year anniversary, and why couldn't I have a glass of Montepulciano to both celebrate our wedded bliss and ache over my loss? One glass became two and you know how the rest goes. It's insidious.

Why Stop Now?

Then I began writing characters who were alcoholics, and, well, I had to drink with them to fully get them while writing, you know? NaNoWriMo arrived (National Novel Writing Month, every November—write 50k words in 30 days), and I pressured myself to not only write (and finish) this manuscript about an alcoholic, Italian woman fighting demons in a villa off the southern coast of Italy, but I also drank with the little hussy (I say that with affection, she's a cute tramp and I love her).

I let that manuscript sit (it's still simmering), and a few months later I visited my brother and he told me he had cancer. It was terminal. There was nothing they could do. He had about a year.

The Last Last Time

Following a work assignment shortly after that visit, I went to a restaurant and had three large and very strong cosmopolitans (within, like, an hour and a half). And honestly? I don't know how I got myself home. I had no business driving, I was well past the legal limit. It was irresponsible and selfish of me to put myself and others in danger.

Thankfully, I had enough sense to wait; I wandered T.J. Maxx for a while and left with a bag of popcorn and some framed art. I called my husband and, between fistfuls of salt and vinegar popcorn, sobbed over my brother's diagnosis. He offered to pick me up, but I said no because I hate feeling like I'm inconveniencing him. Then I got behind the wheel. Stupid. So, so stupid. I'm lucky nothing happened. Sadly, it wasn't the first time I'd done that, but it was definitely my last.

My Blame Hose

I think our society should answer for glorifying the drink so much. I mean, yes, we make our own choices and live with the consequences, but shouldn’t we also recognize that the drink is seen as a liquid god? Had a hard week? Reward yourself with a drink. Have something to celebrate? Celebrate with a drink. Then, go ahead, get hooked on it and any other addictions that might tag along—gambling, sleeping around, whatever. Then, keep drinking until the cancer comes.

I didn't connect cancer and alcohol at first, but the correlation is blinding when one starts to do even a little bit of research. I'm not gonna preach. Do what you want. But from my viewpoint, our society has done a stand-up job of putting alcohol on a pedestal, while hushing its dangers. In New Hampshire, Covid tests were first sold at the state liquor stores and if the governor decides to legalize weed here, he'll sell it at the state liquor stores. See a theme? I don't think Covid tests or legal weed and alcohol mix but all he sees are dollar signs.

Alcohol=good time=keep drinking=money. Money for the alcohol companies and the health insurance companies. When hard-earned money is spent on a legal drug, and our piggy banks are slimmer than they were at the start of the weekend, what's left goes to doctor's bills when things start to happen in our bodies that we don't understand. I think that's how it was for my brother. He drank most of his life. Heavily. Then got colon cancer. Do the math.

This is starting to feel soapbox-y, so I'll stop. I'm alcohol-free for another year and I've slept better, have been more self-aware, have slowed the wrinkles that will come naturally due to age (I don't need alcohol's help there), I've saved money, I've written more, and I've gotten closer to myself. That last one is the best reason—closer to me=closer to source and some type of divinity.

Isn't that the point of all this life-living? A journey in self discovery? I didn't discover much while inebriated. Just sayin'.

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Rebekah Mallory
Rebekah Mallory
Mar 31

Chuck! Wonderful to be in touch! Thank you for reading and subscribing. And it certainly is a long, strange trip, my friend. I’m happy for you and your journey, glad your best friend is doing much better. Sometimes it takes a vigorous shake in life to change things for the better. I hope to see you again! 🖤


Mar 30

Great to see your Journey Rebekah ! Congrats on a Great Decision. To stay as Healthy as possible, as long as possible ! It's a Long Strange Trip we are all on. Thats for sure. Things are good here in Reno. I divorced my best friend and wife of 35 years because she wouldnt /couldnt stop drinkinking and I refused to watch her die from it. She went for double hip surgery, had to quit drinking, and smoking and lost 70 lbs. She is healthy and sober today. We are friends. However, the marriage is over. Too much pain amd disconnect for too many years at the end. Life goes on. I am happy and loving myself. Cheers, Chuck

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