In the last year, I couldn’t make it one week without drinking. I would say “okay, one week (or two, or 5 days, or name your time frame) – no booze. If I can’t do that, then I must have a problem…” I can’t be the only person that has said this – made “deals” with myself in order to try and “test” whether I was an alcoholic or not. I have gone A/F for a week and longer in years past – but in these past 8-9 months it has been a real struggle to even get to 7 days. By day two I would drink again or day three.. But I couldn’t make it to seven. I would always have an excuse. Stress at work, celebrate with friends, I’m and adult goddammit and I will have a drink if I want… Name the excuse, I used it. My most recent attempt at 28 days A/F was out of sheer desperation. I thought something has to change or everything I’ve work for is going to fall apart. I felt like my life was starting to unravel and I was the idiot who wouldn’t quit pulling at the loose thread. Now no time is good for a life to unravel, but I felt at this point in my life it was the most inopportune time. So, I dug in and tried to reset my mind about drinking – read some books, bought some journals (that I never used), and did some online research. I had moderate success, but as previously noted, I did cheat.
A sober friend said to me today “it’s easier to be sober when life is easier.” And I am sure that is true. My main reason for wanting to quit drinking was precisely because my life is difficult right now. I was counselled that I will need to be in the best shape of my life mentally, physically, and emotionally in order to face what is coming my way. Divorce is ugly and gets uglier before it gets better. I have many “heavy lifts” emotionally, financially, and logistically with regard to my upcoming “un-nuptials” so need to be focused and clear-headed to face that challenge. In addition, a promotion at work has created more responsibility for me (sometimes good changes are also stressful). By drinking to excess and being hungover multiple days per week, I was not at my best and made my challenges even more challenging. My choosing sobriety is an effort to respond to the need to face those challenges head on, as my best self.
But this is not the only reason I chose to be sober. I also chose to be sober to try and reclaim my life. I have been sober-curious for years. I have questioned myself. Do I have a problem? Do I drink too much? Am I an alcoholic? All the questions every sober-curious, alcohol-soaked person has asked themselves after a night of one-too-many or a day of I-just-wanna-lay-here-and-die.
I choose to be sober now because I absolutely love the way this feels. The benefits of sobriety for me, right now, far outweigh the benefit of being mentally absent and temporarily escaping my reality.
I would think in order to stay sober you need a reason (or reasons) to continue to be sober, even when you don’t really want to be sober. Currently, I have six. I am making this list because I know one day I will want to drink. Time will make me forget how today feels and the juxtaposition of sober life to the alternative. This list serves as my reminder.
So, through cataloging, self-reflection, and taking inventory, I have come up with a few good reasons to stay sober. Here are the short term results of sobriety as I have experienced them over the past two weeks.
- No Hangovers – I can try to describe how it feels to not be tired, head achy, sluggish, brain foggy, sick to my stomach, and bleary eyed, but I think I will do this feeling a misjustice. Remarkable is the word that comes to mind. Fantastic. Amazing. This benefit alone is almost worth the price of admission (not booze).
- I can drink four non-alcoholic beers and still drive to the bank (or anywhere).
- This recently happened to me. I was working on my chicken coop in the backyard – I fancy myself a suburban farmer – and drinking a couple N/A beers while I worked. Drinking beer while wood-working or doing outdoor chores has always been a go-to for me. My tenant came with his rent and I had to go deposit this money in the bank. If I had been drinking, I would have had to wait until the next day (a work day) and make that deposit around my work schedule. I surely would have forgotten to do it, and that money would have set in my purse for a week before I got it into the bank. I was able to get the task done in real time and save myself the job of trying to fit it into my weekly schedule. I could do this without worry of being pulled over, or if my BAC was too high, or if I was a danger to anyone on the road. No anxiety. No buzz. No hangover the next day.
- Increased energy – This has been a surprise. I thought I had high energy before. I love doing projects around the house. I am always dreaming up and thinking about potential and new projects for my little “homestead” in the burbs. What I only now realized is that I had lost that energy. I thought of myself as someone that did these things (because I was before) but I had allowed drinking to replace a lot of that *(see earlier posts). I hate to say I allowed drinking to “rob me” of anything, because in all honestly, I gave it away freely, even if I didn’t realize I was doing it. I can’t blame the drink itself for my inability to see what I was allowing the drink to do to me.
- Increased productivity / focus – This has also been wonderful. I have tackled some projects at work that I was putting off. I have more focus and am able to get more done in less time. I feel like my old self again. I received a promotion at work, but was pretty ambivalent about it. I have been questioning everything. I felt stagnant. I realize now that I was in a fog. I was unable to concentrate and everything seemed more difficult. Now I am very excited about my career path and where it is heading.
- Physical changes – aside from feeling more enthusiastic about life, I have more physical energy. I feel more in tune with my body. I check my “form” daily – and although I am not losing weight yet, I am seeing definite changes to the shape of my body. Belly bloat is way down, face bloat too. I feel leaner and less “puffy” all over. With physical energy through the roof, I am ready to take on my life and feel physically capable to complete tasks and goals, big or small.
- Emotional changes – I am so much more even keeled. I feel calm and centered. I feel like I am less reactive emotionally. More importantly, I feel more motivated to tackle the things I have been putting off. More willing to face the ugly things that are a little (or very) painful. More willing to shine a light in the dark places and address what I find there. I am much more prepared to face the uncomfortable tasks ahead of me. Being more present, I have more gratitude and appreciation for the lovely things in my life.
These are my six take-aways from this two-week experience and how it has changed me so far. It definitely hasn’t been easy, but it is getting easier. I know that there will be dark days ahead of me, as well as some beautiful ones. I hope to face those sober and fully present. Feel all the things that I must feel, change what can be changed, let go of what must be let go, and accept what must be accepted. I will spend the time doing the work that needs to be done. Building a better me.
Make it a beautiful day, y’all. I intend to.