Reflections After Nearly a Year Sober
I’ve been sober for 350 days.
I wouldn’t have known that, had I not downloaded a sobriety app when I first let go of the sauce.
I knew on December 26th that I would never drink again.
The three-day bender and emotional upheaval were just about all I could stand, in addition to the onslaught of usual holiday anxiety, mourning the loss of my father, and all of the fun shit that creeps in during the last week of the calendar year.
I’d had enough. I was crying with the inability to stop, and I was mad at myself for not being able to “save myself.” My family members were their usual level of unsupportive, as they historically revoked compassion when someone was feeling at their lowest, most depressed state.
I had to be the hero in my story, and I couldn’t do it if I was drunk. I couldn’t advocate for myself in any capacity, in any relationship, or in any circumstance unless I let go of drinking.
So, I did.
At first, I lied to people about it.
Here’s the thing you have to understand about your friendships and drinking — your friends who drink have a preconceived notion in their minds about what a “sober person” is like, and about what you will be like when you get sober.
Their perception is inaccurate. You’ll be the same great person and great friend you always were, but they won’t see it that way at first. They won’t be able to conceptualize it.
The only exception to this rule is if you’re so deep into alcoholism that your life is in shambles, and then everyone will be able to conceptualize it… except you.
So, for those of us who opt for sobriety before we hit that point (recommended,) sometimes we have to be the ones who ease people into it. It’s kind of a controversial concept, but fellow drinkers are always eager to await your return to the barstool because it makes them feel better about themselves and their relationship with alcohol.
I operated under the guise of “I know this will make me better, so I’m just not going to talk about it. I will let them see on their own.”
I was correct. My friends did see this and were very supportive of me.
Inside, after the first initial weeks of positive reinforcement, reading literature, reaching out for support, and chunking time down into sometimes 15-minute intervals, I was feeling good about my decision. I was becoming alive and awake. Every morning, I enjoyed coffee and a run in the brisk air.
I lost ten pounds without trying because that happens, and it’s a very nice side effect.
I started really showing up in my own life, and every day, I was gifted with two things: an abundance of time I never had before, and a willingness to be present, and not hide.
Alcohol helps people hide… from themselves.
I hid from myself for years. I pushed myself so far out of reach from absolutely everybody. I was nervous and constantly felt like I didn’t belong, and that other people were judging me, and I had to somehow “prove myself” before I got to show up in real ways in my life.
There was always a reason “why not.”
Alcohol helped me to not look at the problems in my life that I didn’t want to face. It made everything “bearable,” until the next morning, when I had to wake up with myself, take myself outside and do work I hated, be in relationships that didn’t fulfill me, and let parts of my brain atrophy that were some of the strongest God-given gifts I had been afforded.
Getting sober was such a beautiful process.
It’ll be a year, the day after Christmas.
In April, I bought a bar of soap and wrote about it. I remember the feeling because previously, I never took the time to buy myself something just because I liked it. I bought things out of necessity only. In sobriety, there was a shift.
All of a sudden, bare walls didn’t suit me. I began hanging art.
I started writing publicly again, for the first time in years.
I started a blog as a pandemic pet project. I joined Medium.
I became more active in a wellness community I’d been a part of, and I made a lot of new friends.
I ran, as of today, 2,082 miles this year, which is more than double the number of miles I had run at the same time last year.
I set a 5k PR in a race I had to run masked, and despite the pandemic, I ran a marathon, completely on my own, finished it, and cried.
I became a certified running coach through Road Runners Club of America. On the first day of class, I entered the virtual room and the instructor was talking to a woman who had gone to the Olympic Trials.
Immediately, Imposter Syndrome crept in, and I thought “if I leave now, they’ll never know I was here.” Then, I remembered that the new me embraces connection. I stayed, and I was as qualified and knowledgeable as every other person in that Zoom.
I had made plans to start a wellness coaching business last February. I knew once the pandemic hit, that the time wasn’t right. I delayed my plans and really hit the books.
I read so many books, I can’t even count them. I never read when I was drinking- I was always too tired, too sick, or too disinterested.
I spent the whole year building the idea for “Get the FUCK Off,” and finally, once the dust of American politics and election drama had settled in November, I launched it.
I started a Podcast, which was important to me because I knew it was a way to carry my powerful voice further and reach more people who also might be drunk, too tired to read words.
Everything I do now utilizes all of my education, and all of my life experiences.
I am a complete human being, and I’ve been given a gift.
Sobriety is gold. If you don’t believe it, I will spend the rest of my days trying to prove it to you.
If you look at alcohol as the thing that’s bringing you the most value, you’re sorely naïve to how much potential your beautiful life has without it.
While so many years of my life were lost and forgotten in a drunken haze, I now wake up every day to the blessings of opportunity.
THAT is life in sobriety.
There is no memory I can pick from where alcohol had brought me that much joy.
Only the earliest drinking experiences even come close to mirroring it, and what I have learned is, that joy came not from alcohol, but rather from youthful discovery, and the people I was with.
In sobriety, I get to experience that joy time, and time again. My world expands daily, and with it, so does my heart.
I’m so fortunate and so grateful.
Sobriety is gold.