4 months ago today I took my life back. By now most everyone knows that I am sober and for the most part it’s past the point of people congratulating me, trying to tell me “oh you didn’t have a problem” or privately asking me “don’t you miss drinking?” It almost seems like the buzz of it has died down some and everyone is moving on with their lives. My sobriety remains a powerful experience that I intend to continue with because my life has drastically changed since getting sober. So even though nobody is asking, I am answering and you’re welcome.
First and foremost, I am physically and mentally renewed with a new sense of normal, I have spent 122 mornings hangover free. I wake up most days 4:30 a.m. and I go to the gym before work. My mornings have gone from dreading opening my eyes and trying to hide the fact I’m throwing up to what I would assume is a normal morning, wake up, hit the gym, feed the dogs, get ready for work, grab my lift-off and head out the door. Night time varies as I work both jobs still, my nights off are spent reading and writing and enjoying time with friends and family. Nights I work, I’m calm and no longer sneaking drinks. I’m able to give myself what I truly need in my day to day life, more consistency.
Now that I am not constantly in a drunken stupor or a haze from my buzz. I am capable of distinguishing whether I’m hungry, tired, stressed or more importantly stir-crazy. Sitting in front of a computer all day, my body can get restless which sends my mind down that rabbit hole. Hell, even sitting at home with no plans, that stir-crazy feeling strikes when I least expect it. Now though, I’m never “too drunk” for a run, gym session or a random visit to my friends houses. Maybe I’m cranky and irritable (surprisingly that doesn’t go away, in fact – it tends to get a little worse in the beginning), but I am known to put myself to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. if things are going too hay-wire. Call me a “grandma”, I take it as a compliment!
It’s astonishing to me now how heavily I relied on alcohol to manage my feelings and every aspect of my life for the most part. For those people that knew me over the past couple of years, you’d know it was a cold day in Hell if I wasn’t drinking. I drank to get over my feelings, good, bad and indifferent. I drank to numb any hurt I felt, I drank to calm my nerves and take the edge off of my anger. I drank to get drunk and I drank because the truth was, I didn’t know how NOT to drink. I was extremely unhappy in my life, I hated my body, I hated people who didn’t deserve to be hated and I hated myself. Even if the day was terrible and I argued with my boss, I knew I had rum in my near future; if not right then and there. I knew no other coping mechanisms, I didn’t care to know any either. The thing is after four months of sobriety, I have so many other ways out of my moods, so many other tools in my belt. My mind is sharp now and I am more self-aware. I’m able to be rational, think before I speak and assess any issues before reacting. I am able to maintain my way of life in a successful way and focus on my own path, without straying from my lane. Obviously I have negative moments, stressful moments, worries and fear; just because I got sober doesn’t mean they backed off – in fact, it’s all more prevalent now that I face it all head on. That’s the thing though, I am ABLE to deal with it all and find resolutions, rather than sulking in it. I am getting much more skilled at guiding my thoughts out of the catastrophic and into positive and grateful thoughts. I find the good in bad when I can, not always immediately but I do. I address things differently now, I don’t leave room for things that make me feel shitty anymore.
Speaking of which, my relationships have changed too. I want to spend my social time engaging deeply and positively, setting goals and figuring out ways to make them reality. Helping each other feel powerful and loved. I want to be present and open to the miracles of life that are constantly presenting themselves to me. That almost never happened in the past. There’s plenty to complain about, especially living in South Florida. In fact, there’s a never-ending supply of things to complain about. I’ve come to learn that dwelling on misfortune or being critical of myself and others is a big part of some of my character defects but in sobriety, it has simply lost its appeal. I’m seeing opportunity everywhere, and I’d rather focus and spend my time talking about that. The possibilities are endless and I want all the world and myself can give.
I also find other people’s emotions are much more intense. I don’t have any alcohol insulation that allowed me to focus on myself. When I’m with you, I’m with you and that can be really uncomfortable, for both of us. It’s weird to be with people who are drinking to get drunk, or even people who are drinking and not realizing how drunk they’re getting. A glass or two with dinner is fine, but much more and my interest will drop like a phone call with bad signal. I’m not going to be anyone’s babysitter or deal with anybody’s hangovers anymore. There’s plenty to do outside of a bar or club scene.
The people who have remained in my life are solid. Those who remain are trustworthy and supporting. Several of my friendships have gotten deeper in the past four months than I have with some friends over years. I think that’s possibly the best thing about my sobriety. I am intentionally connected to people and what gives me life. As I strengthen those connections, it’s becoming clearer as to what’s important to me and I’m able to make room for those things in my life. I’m proud of myself to know I’m capable of making this change and sticking with it this time. I would not have said it was possible a year ago, I know for a fact because for the past year I thought about getting sober countless times; I just wasn’t ready yet.
Four months in to my sobriety, I feel like I’ve swam the seven seas and climbed to the top of Mount Everest but I’m reminded daily that it’s still early in this process. If I continue indefinitely on this journey, what will it feel like after a year, three years, seven years or ten years? My goals are so much more possible, I’m determined to continue thinking bigger. I feel fresh and powerful.
The truth is this is isn’t really about alcohol. They say in the rooms, “I came because of my drinking, I stayed for my thinking”. Sobriety has given me the space and support to make the necessary mindset shifts that would have taken years to do while drinking, if even at all.
If anyone I know is considering trying it, do it. There is this new “alcohol-free movement” and its astonishing people who are NOT alcoholics by definition are changing their lives even if just for 90 days. For those of you who are early in your journey, keep it up. For those of you with years ahead of me, tell me all of your secrets. For those of you who don’t want to try sobriety… Why did you read this far? (I am just kidding, thanks for reading!)