Dear Vino: Miss You, Wish You Were Here … Love, Molly

This is not the type of post I typically write. Why? Because it’s hard to be vulnerable, and I’d prefer everyone believe I’m a tower of strength and perfection. Alas, not true. But I’ll take a chance you can relate, and share my experience of the past few (alcohol-free) weeks. And since I’m not perfect, I will place blame: This is ALL Norma’s fault! If she hadn’t called to say she’d stopped drinking, I would still be cradling a wine glass and happy as a clam in my Merlot-tinted world.

I will NOT claim the word “drinker.” Not in the “heavy” sense, anyway. Let’s just say as my to-do list grew longer, I grew more attached to quaffing a glass or two at the end of the day. The truth is, I’d been considering my relationship to wine for months. I wondered if it was a source of relaxation, or an escape? Was I using it to numb, to avoid having to worry, think or make decisions? Was alcohol a way through, or a way out? Whatever. I thought it worked well.

That is, until my beloved life-long friend had to share she’d come to the conclusion a drink didn’t actually help. It just lulled her into the belief it smoothed things over. Over the years she’d become convinced all the people who annoyed her were at fault, and alcohol reinforced her certainty. She was right, they were wrong. Now, in her non-drinking state, she knew.

“It’s not them,” she said. “It’s me.”

Even she has to laugh about how her life has changed. Every nerve is raw without the buffer of wine. She wears earplugs at the dinner table so she can’t hear anyone smack their lips. But she can hear them when they speak to her now.

And she can feel.

We put a lot of pressure on the people in our world to be who we want them to be. We establish rules. We try to control others by insisting that they do, say and be what will make us happy. We are sure to let them know when they fall short. But they can’t make our worlds right for us, only we can. We forget that these expectations are ours, not theirs. “Do you have a pencil?” Norma asked me. “Write this down: Nobody cares.” I laughed. It’s true! Our loved ones are busy handling their own stuff. What does this have to do with alcohol? False friend, it always insists we’re right.

Norma didn’t ask me to join her in her non-drinking state, I just figured that conversation was a sign. So on March 5, 2012, I started my experiment and downed my last sip. (Except for that one shot of scotch, one evening after a particularly harrowing work day. Just the one slip. So far.) The first week was a snap. I was full of adrenaline, getting things done, cleaning the kitchen – wow! This was going to be so easy! But then life settled back in around me. I was tired at night. I wanted my glass of wine. I miss the comfort of my old friend Mondavi.

Full report: First, cons. I am not sleeping better, as I expected. I do not have boundless energy, as I hoped. (After all, if drinking is so bad for the body, shouldn’t one feel immediately better when one stops imbibing?) Now for the pros – this was a complete surprise: The drama has decreased by about 90%. Things still go wonky at the same rate as before, but when plans blow up, I don’t get quite so out of kilter. And – amazing! – my shoulders have dropped into place, and no longer hug my ears from constant tension. My posture is better, my stomach is flatter (yaaay!) and I’m more calm. I’m breathing. Really breathing! More oxygen to the brain!

I have the time and inclination to read in the evening. My grocery bill is lower. I no longer plan trips to the store around my bottle count. Do I miss the taste of good red wine? Damn skippy. I’m not saying I’ll never have a drink again. But I decided last December that 2012 would be my year to shake up the routine, to get out and have a bigger life. I suspect that my former companion 2-Buck Chuck may have misled me. Let’s see where this road leads.

I will leave you where I began, and with this unrelated-to-alcohol video. It’s about being vulnerable, and it might just change your life. If you don’t watch, I’ll just share an important concept from social worker/researcher Brene Brown: “Lean into the discomfort.” She teaches that vulnerability is one of the most accurate measurements of courage. Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change. And as a writer, you know how I feel about that. Cheers!

Link here to watch Brene Brown speak about the power of vulnerability.

30 Responses to Dear Vino: Miss You, Wish You Were Here … Love, Molly

  1. Fred Barnett April 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Lovely insight and character. I especially like “wonky.”

  2. Heal Now and Forever April 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    Molly, Good for you! It is amazing! For 21 days my friends and I stopped consuming alcohol, animal products, sugar, or wheat. The wine was the hardest and I only had one glass a week. I am still going on the rest of it, except eggs (since I raise chickens for eggs) but we all felt incredible. No PMS, no food swings, no sleepiness in the afternoon. It is amazing how what we put in our bodies effect us!

    • Molly Greene April 10, 2012 at 6:57 am #

      Jodi, it’s taken weeks but I’m feeling better now … and I sure am getting lots more done than before!

  3. Wendy Reid April 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Great post Molly. Congrats on the learning experience and for allowing yourself to be vulnerable. 🙂

    • Molly Greene April 10, 2012 at 6:57 am #

      Wendy, thank you for your support!

  4. Pamela Beason April 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Ah, Molly, we are twins separated at birth! Two-buck-Chuck is definitely a frequent visitor in my house (especially with Nouveau in the summer). But this is one vice I am keeping (except when I’m dieting). I rarely have wine with dinner because that would end any productive behavior for the evening, but right before I go to bed, I curl up with cat in lap, book open, and wineglass in hand. I find that one glass of red wine makes me more relaxed, thoughtful, and creative. I often have breakthroughs in my own writing while sipping that wine and reading that book.
    The hard part, I admit, is not refilling the glass, because I do hear the siren call of that open bottle. Instead of having a second glass, most nights I go out on my deck for a few minutes (either covered front or uncovered back, depending on weather) and gaze at the stars, moon, snow, rain, the deer eating my flowers, or even the neighbors taking their dogs for that last walk of the day. I take a deep breath and savor being right here, right now for a moment before I go to bed. I’m often barefoot and occasionally I’m in my PJs–the neighbors probably think I’m nuts. We all need to do whatever it takes for us to appreciate each day.

    • Molly Greene April 10, 2012 at 6:56 am #

      My issue is that I want it at 5:00 – by 8:00 the siren call has passed. Right now my goal is to go 8 weeks without, but then I may try buying one bottle at a time and keeping it for Friday and Saturday nights, LOL! Love your end of the day moment, by the way … we are sisters!

  5. Diane Hughes April 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    A very insightful post, Molly. I have to admit, I sometimes question whether I allow that relaxing glass of wine to become a crutch. And whether I rely on it too often. I’m not ready to give it up completely, but you’ve definitely given me something to think about. Maybe it’s time to cut back just a little. 🙂 Thanks for putting it out there!

    • Molly Greene April 10, 2012 at 6:54 am #

      We’ll figure out what works, Diane! xoxo

  6. Ginger April 9, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    Molly, you have such a wonderful sense of humor! I always love reading your posts! I can hear you in every word! I admire you for your strength! BTW, my kitchen needs cleaning if you want to come to Portland. I will hide the wine!

    • Molly Greene April 10, 2012 at 6:53 am #

      Ha! And I know you understand the reference to “a particularly harrowing work day” :-O Thanks so much for the lovely comment!

  7. Laura Zera (@laurazera) April 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Molly, it’s cool that you’re evaluating what is and isn’t effective for you as a means of stress release and relaxation. Something tells me that you’ll find a good balance for yourself, and maybe pick up a new tool or two along the way. And I love the way that you’ve written this post. Strong/vulnerable aside, it shows you’re human, and you’re wonderful. xo

    • Molly Greene April 10, 2012 at 6:52 am #

      I hope so Laura. Right now I’m just happy that I am flexible enough to “try” new things! Love you, my sister.

  8. Carolyn Solares April 10, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Molly ~ I thought of Brene Brown’s talk immediately when I began reading your article–having just watched it this past weekend. And I laughed out loud when I saw the link at the end of your post.

    THANK YOU for having the courage–and vulnerability–to write about your experience. In my opinion, this post points the way to you already living a bigger life. I’m eagerly awaiting your future posts.

    • Molly Greene April 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

      Hi Carolyn! I adore Brene Brown and am so happy you found my blog!

  9. Jolyse Barnett April 10, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    Good for you, Molly. I experimented in similar fashion about ten years ago, when my one glass a night had blossomed into 2-3 (My son had been diagnosed with autism and my life was chaotic.) Since then, I generally will have a small glass (2-3 oz. vs. 4-6 oz) a few nights a week. Red wine is said to be good for a woman’s health in that small dose, not more.

    My favorite part of your post is where you say, “…2012 would be my year to shake up the routine, to get out and have a bigger life.” Great start!!

    PS – Hey, and who wouldn’t want a flatter stomach. You go, girl!!

    • Molly Greene April 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      That’s what happened to me, a steady increase. I do like that I’m willing to make changes, although sometimes I must be dragged kicking and screaming. Kudos to you for being able to stick to a couple ounces, impressive!

  10. Jane Steen April 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Well done Molly! I too began giving up wine for a month every so often once my one glass slipped into two or three a night. I started to worry that I was forming a habit I wasn’t able to break. But of course once I slipped off the wagon I was back to wine every night…

    I finally found the solution, I don’t know how long ago – 3 or 4 years? Nowadays I only drink on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Monday through Thursday I’m clear-headed, drinking only water with dinner and tea afterwards. It’s really helped me focus more during my most productive days.

    The only drawback is that I’ve had to mandate the same pattern for my husband. I simply couldn’t sit with him and smell the bouquet of his glass of red… He tries to get round the veto as often as possible, and is delighted when a holiday falls on a weekday.

    And before you ask, yes I really look forward to 6 pm on Friday when the weekend begins 🙂

    • Molly Greene April 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      Jane, I’m hoping to get to this point, as well. I’d like to try a couple months wine-free, then as a treat a glass on weekend nights. But I’m not sure I’m quite as self-siciplined as you, and I may have to buy a single bottle at a time – just to be sure I don’t cheat. Your husband sounds like a good sport! Thanks so much for the read and your lovely, supportive comment.

  11. Dannie Hill April 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Great post, Molly. Most changes in one’s own life usually turn out for the best. And we can certainly tell most of the changes that don’t– friends will be sure to let us know,lol.

    Best of luck on your quest!

  12. Jim April 11, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Excellent. The decision to make a change, and the the sharing of that decision. Hope you continue to do well with a fresher lifestyle.

  13. Belinda Pollard April 11, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    Hi Molly, goodonya (as we say Down Under 😉 )

    I’m a non-drinker as it happens, but my problem is snacking on junk when I’m at my desk. A very unhelpful habit. You’ve challenged me to really think about doing a Cost/Benefit Analysis on that little obsession!

    That was a very thought-provoking video. I ended up watching the whole 20 minutes of it. I’d never heard Brene Brown before, but she has a lovely manner of speaking, and it’s wonderful the way she reveals herself. The key to happiness isn’t absence of bad things, but the courage to be vulnerable in connecting to others. Deep.


    • Molly Greene April 12, 2012 at 7:22 am #

      I love that you watched the whole video! My friend Norma shared Ms. Brown with me, and I had never heard of her before, either – she is wonderful and revealing. We all have behaviors we use to “cope,” and you’re right, what we do that doesn’t work isn’t what matters. It’s what we do that connects us to others, that’s what’s important. Thanks, Belinda, as always!

  14. Jane Myers Perrine April 14, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    I don’t even know you–but I’m so proud of you. Congratulations on figuring this out and carrying through on something that must be difficult. Blessings and best wishes.

    • Molly Greene April 14, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

      Thank you so much, Jane!

  15. Jane Myers Perrine April 21, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    How are you doing today?

  16. Julia Indigo May 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Molly, I especially appreciate your vulnerability here… I did the same thing in January, though more for health reasons than any other. I wish I could say that quitting drinking flattened MY stomach – it definitely did not! Ah well…

    This past week I “fell off the wagon” and drank a six pack of great beer in 4 days… and my sleep went ‘wonky’. I just recycled the bottles, and that’s the end of that experiment!

    Also, if you’re interested in reading blogs from the perspective of the addict, I recommend Guinvere Gets Sober for a good starting place. She’s an awesome (professional, I think) writer, as well. I know that alcoholism runs in families, and it’s definitely an issue in mine, so I try to look at things from a 12 Step perspective fairly frequently.

    As always, your mileage may vary. And as they say in Al-Anon, “Take what you like and leave the rest!”

  17. Greta Boris January 17, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    My solution to the Vino issue is to stop with the two buck Chuck and buy nicer stuff. That way I drink less, usually only on weekends, or only half a glass to savor and save:)

    • Molly Greene January 18, 2013 at 8:50 am #

      I tried that Greta and my wine bill just went up! Yummmm …