As I write this post, I am one day shy of my 365th day without a drink, and we have been home from our honeymoon for well over a month now. Although the feelings of temptation and insecurity are behind me – I must reminisce for you, in case I ever try to forget why I am here in the first place.
We chose to go to Italy. Our imaginations ran wild with “Under the Tuscan Sun” type of beauty, rolling hills, old architecture, art and history. In the back of my mind at times, I wondered “what if” about the alcohol? I researched blogs and information from people who had gone and successfully didn’t drink. I didn’t come across anything too dramatic; however, part of me worried, and then it was simply wiped away with excitement and the thrill of traveling to Europe for my very first time. If there was to be a challenge – it was fully accepted.
Our first stop was Venice for two nights. During the day we walked miles upon miles in a zombie-like fashion due to jet lag, but I was gratefully distracted with honeymoon bliss and adventure. I kindly said “No, Grazie” to lemoncello at the end of our first dinner. An amazing restaurant called “Benti Godi”, where I complimented the chef as best as I could – and then he poured us the shot. Their response?? “It’s just lemoncello!!”. This was the most common phrase I heard when someone understood that I was denying even the “mildest” form of alcoholic beverage. Smiling, knodding, and increasing my intake of acqua gassata (sparkling water) did the trick…most of the time.
During the course of the rest of our first week (Bologna, Florence, Tuscany), an overwhelming sadness and insecurity brewed inside me. I knew exactly what it was – FOMO. The Fear Of Missing Out. It seemed as if everyone here was a model for a wine commercial. Slow sips looking out over the grape vineyards, swirling their glasses in their hands – and I caught myself craving. Part of me felt guilty. I didn’t want to ruin the point of the trip! It was our honeymoon for goodness sake. All I wanted was to be with my wife while enjoying the views, food and experiences all around. We had gelato every single day (except one) to replace the calories spent while walking everywhere.
Then, during one meal, Jen and I discussed the pros and cons to me indulging in a glass of wine.
It got to that point.
I cried while walking through an alley, holding her hand. The whole time I knew that I didn’t actually want to drink, I just wanted to feel like I was doing things like normal people did. I was catching myself becoming resentful during our times of Apertivo (Italian happy hour with snacks, basically). I felt as if all of these people around explore, work hard, and then get what they deserve – delicious glasses of wine when they finally sit down to relax. It didn’t seem fair to me that I was an outcast, or so I told myself I might be. Our ultimate decision was going to be for me to hang on tight and enjoy this ride, the wine was not for me at this time in my life. I knew then, and I still know now that I am not the type to just indulge in one. The point to my drinking was never to just “taste” it, or get to know the process behind its creation. It would have turned into more. This was like a pop quiz I wasn’t quite prepared for, however – leading up to the trip, I knew it was a possibilty of coming my way.
I passed the test.
Things we enjoyed: Hiking the Cinque Terre. Eating. Doing the floss everywhere. Taking pictures. Watching fireworks over the bridges in Florence. Staying on an Organic Farm in Umbria (I milked a sheep!). Artists/performers all around. Talking with people who spoke English! Exploring a hot springs. Sleeping in a castle. The David. Amazing hilltop towns. Medieval time reenactments. Walking over 101 miles (that’s just what my phone documented)! Taking a bike tour through Lucca….and so many more things.
My brain will not long forget the beauty, as it truly looks just like, if not better than it does in the photos. I will also not forget the turmoil inside during some of the days when “Carol” stepped in, thinking she could slip back from retirement for a while.
No, thank you, Carol.
One of the most absolute truths today for me is, YOU do NOT need alcohol to enjoy your life. No matter where you are, what everyone else “appears” to be doing, or what you tell yourself otherwise. It actually will not in any aspect benefit or inspire me. Yes, social drinkers are able and kudos to them for doing what feels right. But I know for me this is the path I am gladly still on. I thank my wife for holding my hand during the recurrence of sorrow for the breakup between me and alcohol, for not taking offence or thinking I was not enjoying our trip, and for drinking the wine “for me” when I wanted to make sure I wasn’t holding her back (mind you, she isn’t much of a drinker anyway, and definitely not really into wine).
I find myself growing and learning about myself every day. I’ll continue on, stepping outside the comfort of that glass of red.
So much love