Six Sober Months

The things I’ve learned in opting to give up drinking

About six months ago I started to feel all aspects of my life crashing — work, relationships, and health. And while all of these things were happening to me and out of my control there was one thing I could control, my response. Instead of putting up a fight against the change that was happening or feeling negatively about the changes I choose to create. I mean, when life hands you lemons, you better make lemonade! You can resist, complain and try to run away from things that are uncomfortable; but don’t you see? These things are your lemons. And life will hand you a lot of lemons, such is life. However, with three major things in my life spiraling all at once surely the Universe was grabbing my attention. Testing to see if I could make lemonade.

I chose to see each crashing event as an opportunity and in hopes to ease some of my health issues [one large and expensive lemon being thrown at me] I chose to clean up my diet. I opted to cut out toxic foods/drinks in hopes to feel better. Alcohol was one of them. I have done cleanses before, taking away alcohol for a month but this time was different. In past times, I have had a countdown until I could indulge in something I’ve gone 30 days without and celebrated going that long without said indulgance. This time I wanted a different result. I wanted to listen to my body instead of my anxious mind taking me to that margarita before I even completed 30 days without one!

When the month was over I noticed my body didn’t want alcohol. Repulsed by it actually. So I continued to listen to my body, and just chose not to drink based on how I felt when and if the opportunity arose. Suddenly, here I am, six months later, not repulsed by it anymore, but I can still feel my body doesn’t want it. After the first 30 days I never put a timeline on how much longer I would go, I just kept going by feel. Doing a sober year has been something I’ve thought about in the past but have always doubted myself out of it — what about the holidays, weddings, concerts, birthdays, brunch, mexican restaurants, FOMO social events? (also, this list could go on….alcohol is soooo embedded into our society) And if I’ve gone 30 days without it in the past and thought it was a struggle it could only get harder if I went any longer than that. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. The longer I’ver gone without it, the less I want it. The first 30 days without it I found myself in situations saying things of the such “I just need a drink!” “X number of days left until I can have a margarita!” but after that…

Here are some benefits I have noticed after giving up alcohol for 6 months… but I don’t feel like I gave anything up really, it just feels like I have gained so much. When you take toxic things out of your life you create space. Space to change, space to grow, space for better things!

  1. Better sleep. I noticed this probably right away after cutting it out for a month. Sleeping longer, through the night, and waking up feeling rested and ready for the day.
  2. Productive. My evenings and weekends are more productive and in ways like what do I want to do right now, what does my body want to do right now; not just what’s on my ‘on my to-do list.’
  3. I just look better. Ha, I mean that in the most self-centered-less way. Maybe I should say, I’ve gained some self confidence. I just see myself differently, and I don’t mean how pretty I think I am. I see a happy body and I feel my body is happy with the choices I’m making.
  4. Hair, skin, and nails. Glowing! My hair is shiny and strong; my skin is so clear and radiant; and my nails are strong and long. Not to mention, dark circles under my eyes? Gone.
  5. Happy. I guess I’ve already touched on this, I want to emphasize it more. I feel really happy. [This leads into my next point a little, too.] Not only is my body thanking me by feeling so pure, my emotions are pure. Taking toxic things out of your body allows you to cleanse — not just your body but your mind too.
  6. Dealing with sh*t. This is probably my most favorite transformative aspect of opting to go sober. I found myself in more situations than not where I was using alcohol as a crutch — I need a drink because x; alcohol will make this more x. Well, whatever x is alcohol isn’t going to solve it. It is just going to cover it up and burry it so you don’t have to deal with it, and that just creates a much bigger problem. But that is always the easier route. Easier to hide than to feel. Easier to ‘let loose,’ ‘have fun,’ ‘kill time’ (etc, etc) with a little extra [a.k.a. the crutch] than without. Easier to fill a void with a temporary fix than to look inside and see what you’re really needing.

By wanting alcohol in order to have more fun or get over an issue is saying you are not enough — you cannot do either of those things without a crutch. You at your best still needs a crutch to be better. You at your worst should be ignored. And that’s just bad self-talk [conscious of it or not.] Not only is it bad self-talk, look at the relationship that has been created. Not to discount any addiction or disorder, [person first language, right?] I am a woman with hearing loss; he is a boy with autism; we are all people with something. And I feel we are all a little bit of something and everything. To some extent. ADHD, sure. Hard of hearing, what? Selective hearing, you betchya. Depressed, hm. Bi-Polar, yes. I mean no. Alcoholic, I guess… We all possess tendencies to be anything. And we can be everything. So we all run the risk of alcoholism. It is equally as toxic to me, as it is to you, as it is to Frank Gallagher.

The past six months have been uncomfortable. Going to intimate parties, not knowing people and feeling social anxiety. Having a hard day and coming home to just sit with it. Being without my family for Christmas and feeling sad. As uncomfortable as all those [and many other] times were, those times didn’t define me infinitely or cause me to lose joy permanently. Those times actually made me find the joy, anxiety sweats and all. It’s all about perspective and sure you might have a moment, or a day that is uncomfortable but it is way more rewarding to find joy in those times than to let anything cloud and hide your ability to do that.

And what about all those doubts I had in ever completing a long period of time without alcohol? They were silly. Concerts — I still go and they are theraputic. Brunch, also still go. Holidays, I passed with flying colors and even though I wasn’t with my family I still felt the joy of the season and found being away so peaceful [sorry mom.] Basically, all my FOMO was silly. And all those things in my life that were ‘crashing,’ well everything has been falling into place and amidst all the chaos of life there is a peaceful pattern. There is so much change going on around me and within me — and I can feel it all.

Yes alcohol is fun, having a buzz is fun. But there is also a lot of risk — physical and emotional, even if you drink responsibly. To me I’ve learned the benefits of not drinking outweigh the risks tenfold. I am not saying I will never drink again, I might feel like I want a glass of celebratory champaign, or a glass of fine wine with dinner one day but for now I don’t feel the want for it. So I am celebrating this milestone of six months by continuing not to drink. Maybe I continue for another six months. I am going by feels and right now the feels are loving being sober. So, tonight I am sending out a celebratory ‘toast’ to everyone… As we wave goodbye to the past 12 months, we welcome the next 12. I hope you can feel every little bubble of champaign on your tongue, and continue into this year with every ounce of you feeling as much as you can — the good and the bad. It’s ok to be uncomfortable, it’s ok to have bad days, things we just wish we could forget or ignore, moments of doubt. We are not those things, but at the same time oddly we are. We have a dark and a light and each serve a purpose. Let’s learn how to be with the dark, the fear, the insecurity, the anger— how to acknowledge it, understand it and most of all respond to it [make that lemonade!] Here’s to being YOU, all of you! Happy fricken New Year!