From Sober October to Not Sober November-A transition worth seeing through?
This past month was a huge success. I completed my annual sober October. Beyond just experiencing sobriety for 31 days, I was enlightened enough to take a new spiritual, physical, mental and psychological outlook on my life moving forward.
First, I know myself as impulsive. Taking a entire month off of vices is difficult. Not because the physical addiction, but because it highlights why you start imbibing in the first place. For me, it was clear that working day in and day out while going to school has taken a toll on my body and mind.
Before work, I would make a pot of coffee and drink half of pot. Often times I would come home and just want to relax, with a beer, smoke a bowl, and listen to music. I enjoy the taste of craft beer and also enjoy the taste and the creativity that pot helps me tap into. This was my ritual. It made me happy, because I knew the flow of winddown that it would create for me.
But who am I without those vices? Am I just looking to feel good? Is there more to imbibing then that?
I felt uncomfortable with myself. “Why am I doing this anyway?” and “I could drink this beer and no one would know” are all thoughts that went through my brain. The clarity I had on my life these first 3 days with out alcohol, pot and coffee put my mind into this mode where I felt irritable and grumpy. “How incredible!” people would tell me about my challenge that I was undertaking. Yet inside, I was ambivalent. October is such as great month to drink in.
Many months beforehand, I had non-chalantly put my name down to volunteer for the 2018 Tour de Fat festival. What is not to like? Beer, bikes, and people. I was chosen as the volunteer to assign best of show to the crusier bikes lined up along Mill avenue in downtown Tempe. It was not the volunteering that was not the hard part, it was the after volunteering beer tokens that had me struggling to stay true to my mission. I was in a sour mood. Everyone around me was having a fantastic time, drinking, talking in a relaxed space. How interesting that I found myself surrounded by good intentioned people, yet I was struggling to feel apart of the pack. There was no one saying “why aren’t you drinking?”. There was no one explaining how amazing their beer was and rubbing it in my face. No. I was isolating myself because I felt completely alone. I listened to the band briefly and watched on as 30 people played a enormous game of drunken twister. I then headed home.
Once I hopped on my bike everything changed, I quickly realized that just like the direction I steer my bike, I steer my life the same way. It was a huge amount of gratification injected into my glum mood that elevated the rest of my Saturday night. I came home and read, worked out and prayed to the universe.
In times when I have wanted to waiver and not complete what I started, I turn to faith. I am not a man of God, but I am a man of the cosmos. I find that being grateful for the simple things in life such as a roof over my head; clean running water, bicycles, my fingers and toes, a warm bed and a stocked fridge gives me a lot of satisfaction and pause.
I was feeling damn incredible coming into week 2. I was hitting my workouts hard, I was clear in my mind and on my objectives. I was getting good grades on school projects and was less anxious. What I did notice was that my social life had significantly decreased. I was not partaking on the Monday night Phoenix cruiser rides, my friends never gave me a call. It was not that I couldn’t. It was that I realized how central alcohol plays in my social interactions. I started thinking to myself, “how am I going to meet any females without “going out for a drink”. That line is now gone. I replaced it with, “would you want to go get some food sometime?”. It seemed to work. But how interesting, during this challenge, I went out on two dates and I did not drink at all!
In the big picture. It really does not matter at all. Why should I need any vice to be myself? Coming out of Sober October and into November, where I have had a cup of coffee, smoked pot and drank already, I certainly appreciate the feelings and the rituals behind each vice that make each independently desireable in someway. For coffee, it is the smell of a espresso and americanos. Making French press coffee is the highlight of my week! For pot, it is the smell. It is unique, still a little taboo, and helps me tap into a creative style that I might not otherwise realize sober. For alcohol, it is the social component which rings the strongest of why I continue to use alcohol. Mainly beer, it is the ultimate go to, to relax among new people. I found this realization hard to swallow because of how much I truly enjoy meeting and connecting with new people. Beer makes it easier. Does drinking beer count as social doping? Because it should, alcohol makes it much easier to talk to new people.
This week I was getting absolutely insane with my workouts. I rode South Mountain, by myself, 35 miles, and was putting on constant downforce on the pedals. It felt good, intense and satisfying. While many of my other friends are drinking, I not only have the energy to become a faster cyclist and train, but I am carving out the time to be better. Time that I used to spend drinking. In the gym my longest workout lasted 2 hours + a 10 mile bike ride. I was really settling into working as hard as I can, and being my own example of success. The hardest part about going to the gym was that they closed at the weirdest hours. I would have to quickly adapt my workout to not include the gym but retain the intensity that I needed to feel like my work out was actually worth something.
Week 3 changed how I see working out. I used to see working out as a simply something you do to get stronger. Certainly when I am not drinking, workingout makes it much easier to switch my mindset from craving an external sensation (coffee, pot, alcohol)to a internal sensation of working out your muscles, warming up, the pain of stretching that is unique to my body. It gave me a new appreciation for what it takes to truly kick your own ass in the gym, and have the will power to not stop at the first hour of the workout but continue on past the second hour.
I see the horizon line of sobriety. Why should I ever go back? I am doing so well. I have clarity, I feel strong, I am making good decisions and maybe even saving a bit of money. Yet, I cannot tell you how hard I was craving coffee this entire month. It was by far the hardest vice to quit. I told a girl about my challenge, part of which was abstaining from coffee, and told me point blank “yeah, I couldn’t do that”. Clear at this point was the fact that coffee is a drug. I see the line at Starbucks in the morning, it is real and I don’t think it is all about the caffiene. I think a lot of it is about the ritual of coffee, the mood it creates when you imbibe it.
Halloween night was my last day of sobriety and let me tell you I was not necessarily looking forward to moving back towards my vices. Should I? I am feeling amazing why do I need anything else to help me get through the day? AGAIN, the social component. When we get together for coffee, or a beer or take part in smoking pot, people come together, to feel good together. We like knowing that the little victories of the day are worth celebrating. Ofcourse the health outcomes are a different story, but anything in moderation is alright. This sober October was a chance for myself to gain insight into why I do what I do, excercise my will power and also manage how and when I use my vices.
After coming back into the world of A non sober November, I think it is so important to recognize the social connections in life. For me, I need to come out of my shell more and do it without alcohol. Sure I will continue to drink, but I want people to see me as someone who doesn’t need beer to feel comfortable.
For coffee, it is my angel in a cup. It makes me feel good, focus, and swim around in early morning gleanings that are not the same with tea.
For pot, I do enjoy it. It should be used as a tool and not used commonly. Common use wears down how special of a plant it really is. When I imbibe pot I feel more creative, and the little voice in my head that is constantly telling me to correct my work, goes away and leaves me with a free flow of uninnerupted ideas to build from. Pot is a vice because people over do it. I have. But this past month has shown me that clarity from sobriety and intense vigorus workouts brings its own high that cannot be replicated by any drug.