The Sober Diaries – Entry 4
Six months ago, my little sister came to visit me in Milwaukee for a weekend. Milwaukee is a very boozy city, so we ended up going to a brewery and chugging beers at Pridefest. But that wasn’t enough. I bought us cheap wine, and even when my sister got sick from her hangover, I kept drinking. I drank all day, I drank all night. She flew back home (liver a little worse for the wear), and I — say it with me — kept drinking.
This wasn’t rock bottom. It wasn’t even close. I’ve hit rock bottom so many times it’s not even useful to count anymore. But what happened next was the straw that broke the camel’s back: My partner went to work and I finished the wine alone, went out, bought a replacement bottle, and essentially lied about how much I had drunk that day. Alone.
Now, drinking alone wasn’t unusual for me. I did it a lot, and it was actually one of my favorite ways to drink, because I could be away from judgmental eyes and hole up with my best friends, TV and Pizza. But lying to my partner was new. It was the first time I had done that in our relationship, and when I woke up the next day, extremely sick and hungover, I despised myself for not being honest.
And THAT, more than anything else, was what finally prompted me to get sober for real. No more moderation failures, no more pretending I was okay when I wasn’t, no more binge-drinking and blackouts. I’ve lied to so many people about so many aspects of my drinking. In fact, some people were surprised when I announced I was getting sober because I was so good at hiding how bad my problem was. But for some reason, lying to my new partner about it was unacceptable in my mind.
It was time to embrace sobriety. I quit cold turkey. In true Toga fashion, I quit at the worst possible time, 4 days before my cousin’s bachelorette party. If you’re going to jump off a waterfall, might as well pick the scariest, tallest one and make it your bitch.
6 months have passed since then. Half a fucking year. My life without alcohol is, quite frankly, unbelievably transformative. I never knew what I was missing all those years bent over a toilet, or hiding in the recesses of my mind after my 7th whiskey shot.
Here are the things I have accomplished over the past 6 months because I have been sober from drugs and alcohol:
- Lost weight/Got in shape – I struggle with body image, but even I can see that quitting alcohol has positively impacted my body. I lost about 14 lbs, found the motivation and energy to work out multiple times a day, and spotted muscles peeking out from areas previously covered in beer fat.
- Became a better climber – Rock climbing when I was hungover or drunk was a no-go. It was impossible. After I quit booze, I noticed that I was getting stronger. I had more endurance, I was able to level up to 5.11s and start bouldering successfully. Now, 6 months later, I just signed up for my first rock climbing competition! I wouldn’t have the strength, courage, or enthusiasm to do that if I was still drinking.
- Wrote another book – I am working on getting my fourth novel, a YA mystery, ready for submissions in the new year. A lot of writers say that drinking helps smooth their words and inspire their stories; I was the opposite. Drinking made my stories sluggish and my prose bumbling. I am so much more motivated and BETTER at writing now.
- Strengthened my relationships – My personal relationships are so much more important to me now that I’m sober. I’ve realized the pain I put certain people through, I’ve apologized, I’ve mended things that needed to be mended, and I’ve promised to do better. I get along much better with my family now. I feel like I’m finally making them proud, not ashamed. The friends who’ve stuck by me have shown me true kindness, and I realized that they still like me (and probably like me more) even when I’m not the “fun” drunk girl. And my relationship with my partner has blossomed as well. We still argue, but our fights are normal, not vicious and toxic like when I was drunk and picking fights.
- Excelled at my job – When I was drinking, I used so many sick days over the years because I was so hungover (or still drunk) that I was physically incapable of dragging my ass to work. But without alcohol suffocating me in vapors of uselessness, I am finding that I am actually good at my new job. I am learning more every day, and for the first time I find myself somewhere where I sense longevity and growth, instead of just a stop on the road.
- Learned to manage my emotions in a healthy way – Okay I’ll admit, this is still one I’m actively working on, but the strides I’ve made are so amazing that I’m counting it. When I was upset, or sad, or even super excited back when I was drinking, alcohol would be my go-to. Without it, my emotions are like children who have been handed packets of sugar and unleashed in a McDonald’s playhouse. It’s hard, especially because I have an emotion regulation disorder, but I’m learning how to handle my feelings without immediately drowning them in alcohol. I’m figuring out how to be mindful and just listen to my body, instead of trying to control how I feel all the time.
And finally, and most importantly:
- I’ve become a better person – This is the BEST thing that has happened in my sobriety. I am unquestionably, no doubt about it, 100% a better human being than I was 6 months ago. I am kinder, less selfish, and more appreciative of what I have and the love I am ~*hashtag*~ blessed with. After over a decade of not understanding who I was, I am finally figuring out the person I truly am, unfiltered by alcohol. And guess fucking what? I like me. I am really okay! It’s been a pleasure getting to know myself without basing my worth on how many parties I go to, or what others think of me. Getting sober was worth it for this alone.
So, if you are sober curious, a fellow teetotaler, or a problem-drinker looking for inspiration or options, let me tell you: getting sober is HARD. It’s rough. It is one of the biggest upheavals of your life you can do. But the payoff is incredible. I never want to go back to drinking. I do not miss it. I get cravings, I get triggered, but I know that the best night I had drinking will never even come close to my life as a sober person. I am so much happier now. There’s no comparison.
Life is beautiful. Only sobriety convinced me of that.