I made it. No, I crushed it. How’d I do it and what keeps me going?
MOCKTAILS. Lots and lots of mocktails. Kudos to the bars and restaurants that have a mocktail menu. I’m not a big soda drinker, and iced tea gets old real quick, so if your mocktail game is on point, here, take my money. I’ve delightfully imbibed a number of alcohol-free libations so tasty they give their toxic twins a run for their money. They taste good, they don’t make me sleepy, and I can binge drink these puppies until the cows come home. Shrubs and switchels are my go-tos as of late.
BOOKS & BLOGS. Thank you Amazon and Facebook. When I was still drinking, I started buying and reading every book about alcohol addiction and sobriety I could find. I was curious about sobriety, and how bad my problem really was, but not yet ready to label myself and commit to no alcohol. I was particularly drawn to (i.e., obsessed with) sober memoirs authored by women. My favorite so far? “The Sober Diaries” by Clare Pooley. This woman speaks my language (but with an accent because she’s British). I admire her humor and brutal honesty. Only a few chapters in and I was already telling myself I wanted to read this book again. I don’t read books twice. But she’s rad. I follow her (@SoberMummy) on Facebook too.
I LIKE MY NEW LIFE. I’ve said this before, I feel good! I have the energy, and desire, to explore other facets of my life. I’m trying new things. I’m revisiting old things. Arts and crafts are my jam and, yes, I’m (almost) 40 going on 60. You can find me at home on a Saturday night putzing around the house in my house pants, content as can be. You can also find me up early the next morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. When I was drinking, I’d have ripped you a new one if you woke me up before 8am. Only go-getters carpe diem-ing were up before 8am voluntarily. That lifestyle annoyed me for no reason other than it made me feel inadequate. And lazy. Now I wake up around 6:45am, every day. I’m one of those people. And I’m not sorry.
PROGRESS IS MOTIVATION. I made it to 100 days. And then some. (115 to be exact, but who’s counting?) I don’t want to throw that away. Or waste any more days on the couch, hungover. No thanks. My drive to stay sober gets stronger with every day that passes, one day at a time.
I’M SCARED. The thought of drinking again scares me. I’m afraid of liking it too much and falling back down that slippery slope, the one I just clawed my way up. I’m afraid my brain will try to trick me into thinking I’m seeing an old friend, really a monster in disguise. I got away once. Why go back? Why ever go back to something that brought me down and got in the way of me living my best life? It’d be like going back to an abusive boyfriend for another beating. It might not happen right away, but it’d only be a matter of time.
I’m tempted from time to time, for sure. But that beer, or that shot, never seems worth it. I’m better off without it. The last couple of months are proof of that.
So what now? Well, I don’t know exactly. I know I slaughtered my first goal of 30 days. I know I made it to 100 days, and with flying colors — no cheating whatsoever, not a drop. I know I feel great, and look great too — at least that’s what people keep telling me. I know I want to think I can moderate and be a “normal” drinker, whatever that is, but I also know moderation hasn’t worked for me in the past. For those of you who have it figured out, I applaud you. I might hate you just a little too.
Until I figure out what now, and what next, I’m getting to know the new me. I’m learning how to face my feelings and be okay with being uncomfortable. I’m learning how to deal with being more emotional now, too, because, man, waterworks over here! It used to take a lot for me to cry. I’d go years without shedding a tear. Now that I’m sober, I feel things. I cried just this morning, in fact. Those videos of foster animals finding their forever home get me every time.
That girl in the mirror? I don’t mind looking at her now, holding her gaze. She doesn’t disgust me like she once did. In fact, I’m excited to see who she becomes now that she’s free from the bonds of addiction.
Why am I sharing all of this? I’ve asked myself this a dozen times. This is all very personal, obviously. I’m putting myself under a microscope for all to see, for all to judge, for some to pity. But I feel no shame. I feel humbled because I am imperfect, and I feel proud because I achieved something I never thought possible. 100 days may sound insignificant in comparison to “Water for me, please” warriors with years of sobriety under their belts. But they were here once too.
I came really close to not sharing Part 1. And of course had that happened, subsequent parts never would have seen the light of your screen. But I did share it, not knowing what to expect the next morning when I woke up and checked Facebook. What would people say? What would people think but not say? Would I have to delete any comments? How were my parents going to react? Was I going to regret making this decision?
Turns out, everyone has my back. The response I received was overwhelming positive, intoxicatingly so. I heard from people I hadn’t spoken to since the 7th grade. Messages flooded my Inbox from friends and acquaintances sharing their own struggles with alcohol. More than I knew, unfortunately, and want to know. The struggle is real. But there is hope.
I’m sharing this because I’m tired of hiding. I’m sharing this because now I have more people holding me accountable, and rooting for me too. I’m sharing this in hopes that anyone going through something similar feels less alone. And, I’m sharing this because this milestone is significant to me and so I’m taking a moment to celebrate it.