Breaking Up with Alcohol in Middle Age by Lisa May Bennett
Nine years ago, I completed my first Whole30. In case you’re not familiar, Whole30 is a food elimination program in which you don’t eat grains, dairy, added sugar, legumes, or alcohol for thirty days. I was looking for something to make me feel healthier, and I was very pleased with the results. To this day, I eat much less of the foods in some of those groups, and I can see exactly how eating them affects my body.
But my biggest discovery that month was how much better I felt without alcohol. I had been drinking regularly since I was 16—for more than three decades! I didn’t think I had a serious problem, but something didn’t feel quite right about the persistent nature of my habit.
Sadly, even with positive evidence in hand, I celebrated the first day after my Whole30 with a glass of wine. It would take me nearly three more years to finally break up with alcohol for good.
By that time, I had reached my fifties. Drinking was still a given—an automatic part of my life in so many ways. Dinners out, celebrations, getting together with friends, relaxing after a rough week, and so many other activities both big and small were accompanied by multiple adult beverages.
Not only had I started questioning whether all that alcohol was good for my health, but I was also wondering if it was affecting me emotionally and holding me back from my dream of becoming a published writer.
Alcohol is a toxic substance, and as I reached middle age, my body was having a harder time processing it. Several bad experiences with getting intoxicated much quicker than usual convinced me that something was up. Maybe hormonal changes were contributing to my decreased tolerance.
But feeling stuck in life was what finally convinced me to quit. I was in a rut, and I needed to climb out, but alcohol kept washing over me, pushing me back down again and again.
I’ve now been sober for six and a half years. In that time, my health has improved; issues that I thought were “just me” are mostly gone—like my gastrointestinal and sleep issues.
Removing alcohol wasn’t a magic fix, of course. It was more like unlocking a door. I still had to walk through that door and explore what was on the other side. I had to figure out why I had been okay with living behind that locked door for so long. And I found other doors to open, other areas of my life and mind to examine.
I finally wrote a memoir and self-published it, and now I’m finishing up my second book. I’ve been exercising and meditating and trying new things. I’ve even been helping others with self-publishing their own books. None of this would have happened if I had not quit drinking.
Sometimes I wish I made this change sooner. Why did I wait until I was in my fifties? Perhaps because I was waiting for a rock bottom that might never have occurred. But here I am, living proof that you can make a change in middle age, even if your life isn’t falling apart, and still see amazing results.
About My Unfurling
Wicked hangovers. Scary blackouts. Ugly fights with friends. The results of binge drinking weigh heavily on Lisa May Bennett. She tries repeatedly to savor “just a few” glasses of wine—only to find herself passed out on the couch again.
Lisa has a bucket list full of exciting adventures with zero check marks next to them. Her anxiety and self-doubt are crying out for real solutions, not more booze. And her dream of becoming a published writer is fading away. She worries that her love of a good buzz will keep her stuck in this rut. Can she take charge of her life, or is she headed for a disastrous rock bottom?
This touching and funny memoir explores the childhood experiences that paved the way for Lisa’s drinking habit. She examines her complicated relationship with her mother, her experiences as a late bloomer, and her ongoing search for validation. In an engaging and relatable voice, the author shares how she began to “unfurl” without alcohol holding her back. But will she stay sober and discover how to truly thrive?
Anyone wondering if they'll ever burst out and follow their dreams will find My Unfurling compelling and hopeful.