Challenges, finance, Health, Living, sober, Uncategorized

Three and a Half Weeks Sober: Strong yet Scared

Perhaps the pandemic has given me an unexpected gift: I have an excuse not to go out drinking with friends. At any other point in my life I was unable/lacked the willpower to say no to social situations. I think it stems from my insecurities in school, when I was painfully shy and never invited to anything even though I desperately wanted to be. In university and afterwards I blossomed into the obnoxiously extroverted social butterfly I am now, but there was always a caveat: I thought I needed to be drinking to have fun and be considering worthy of meeting up again with.

Treating myself with fancy water from now on!

Around my late 20s I started thinking that maybe my drinking was too much of a crutch I depended on to make and keep friends. Rationally I could look at all my groups of friends and see that they enjoyed my company with or without an inhibition-dropping beverage. We went on hikes, talked at work, had phone calls, played sports, etc. together without any need for booze to keep the conversation and laughter flowing. But there was still this niggling thought in the back of my mind that I should be using alcohol to be funnier, wittier and more outgoing (this is nonsense, I’m incredibly outgoing without it).

Now at the tender age of nearly 33, I’ve decided to make a change for good. I want to be a sober person, a teetotaller. And I want to realize that I am still an interesting, exciting and funny person to be around regardless of what I am choosing to put into my body. This mental block needs removing asap, because it’s honestly exhausting. I’m using this time where my province is under guidance to avoid social gatherings to build my strength and courage to tell people. Most of my friends will assume I’m pregnant at first – I’m sure it’s hard for them to imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t invite them out for a drink every week (and in reality I was drinking in a social setting at least three times a week, and by myself probably another two/three nights a week). That’s fine. Let them think I am with child – it may so happen that I will get pregnant in the coming months – but that is not why I am doing this. All of my friends and family are good people who will understand that I need to quit drinking. I’m sure most of them, hell even myself on some level, will think this is just a temporary solution, a “break” from alcohol, but that’s not what I want. I’ve seen the path I was walking on and the end result would not have been pretty. I don’t think I can responsibly drink any alcohol anymore, and that’s really scary.

The past three and a half weeks have been exhilarating because each day I get to tick off that I didn’t drink and can feel good about myself. With the extra morning energy I have without a sour belly and foggy head that even one drink was beginning to cause me I have begun to journal more. With this writing a scary thought has emerged: I don’t want to drink again, ever. That’s such an ultimatum, such a firm end, and it’s frightening. I have built my whole social life around alcohol, and with it my confidence. I’m always in the middle of conversations and exciting times at parties, always the one to push everyone else to have one more with me – who am I now? Of course, as I think about how awesome I am when I drink, I tend to gloss over the uglier parts: I slur my words, I often knock over my glass and spill on others, I get obnoxiously loud and probably annoy everyone who doesn’t know me, I get stupid ideas to text people I barely talk to, and I go to bed dreading what I will feel like in the morning, either from a hangover or from guilt and shame from whatever choices I made the night before (I have never done anything dangerous to myself or others whilst drunk, but I honestly think it was only a matter of time). I forget the fact that I was got on a train in Scotland to go home after a heavy drinking session and nearly cried at how horrible I looked in the reflection: my eyes were bloodshot, my face was puffy, my skin was dry – I looked and felt like a fucking mess. I forget that I’d taken to sneaking drinks in the past few months so that my husband wouldn’t realize; I went so far as to hide bottles and cans under other recycling items in the bin in case he saw them.

So yes, I’m scared, but I’m also relieved. I’m lucky to have truly wonderful people in my life who will support me, and on most levels I know that I am still great fun at social gatherings without the need to imbibe. These are still the honeymoon period days, where I feel I can do this forever. No doubt I will have a rocky road ahead of me, but I’ve started building up my support base, starting with my husband, to help me stay the course. I don’t want to even try doing this alone, because that will inevitably fail. Next up will be my family, and then my friends. Hopefully, on December 20, 2021, I will be able to look back and see that I’ve done a full year of sobriety and I’m on top of the world.

Yes please, you glorious-looking lemon water.

To help me stay motivated I wanted to write a list of all the positive changes I’ve noticed over the past three and a half weeks (Fuck me, I love a list!):

  • My face is much less puffy – I have clear skin, eyes, and now some prominent cheekbones
  • My head is very clear in the mornings (minus being groggy form waking up at 5am) and I feel like I want to start the day
  • My breath isn’t so horrible in the mornings
  • I am excited to go to bed and have no fear of the following day, plus I sleep way better and am having some very interesting and vivid dreams
  • I have saved so much money already – I estimated that I was spending at least $300 a month on alcohol, combining restaurants/breweries/liquor store purchases
  • My recycling box is way emptier, with no more tell tale clink as I sneak it to the curb on pick up day
  • I have energy in the evenings
  • I am way more aware of what I’m putting into my body, and thinking positively about the future and about how much happier my liver must be now
  • I am no longer ashamed of myself when I wake up
  • Sober sex is wayyyyy better – I’m actually feeling the sensations in a much better way (I guess alcohol desensitizes sex feelings?) – and therefore my husband and I are both more satisfied
  • I am happy to have more serious conversations without having booze cloud my thoughts and make me sound like an idiot
  • I have not sent an embarrassing message to anyone in nearly a month
  • My pants fit a little better; it’s not a huge weightless, but they are definitely less snug
  • I am not controlled by the need to stop at the liquor store on the way home, or to have a glass of something with dinner
  • I just smell less, whether it’s from not spilling on myself or from releasing those toxins through my pores, I do not stink
  • I’m just…happier

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