The lessons I have learned in sobriety - Year 1
Updated: Feb 14, 2022
Gosh its been a while. Life has truly taken over and so has adjusting to Covid.
I realised today that I have been sober for 472 days, a year and 3 months.... Wowsers, where did that go? The truth is I never really think about drinking anymore. I don’t think about it and I don’t think much about not drinking either, life just peacefully moves through each day.
On the odd occasion I do think about booze its usually reflecting on how lucky I feel and how grateful I am to have completely ditched it for good. I tend to embrace these moments of reflection when I pay attention to other people drinking, or see large groups of people drinking.
I’ve noticed some things in sobriety that I thought I would share now that I am a more respectable 15 months in. See if you can relate :)
People justify their own drinking ALL THE TIME
Theres nothing like a sober, or newly sober person in the room to attract the justification of how people manage their drinking 'relatively well these days'. It's really common, even though I never ask people how they are getting on with their relationship with booze. I don’t judge people for drinking and genuinely believe it is their choice, but for some reason drinkers obviously believe that I need to know that they have cut back recently or only drink on special occasions. Deep down I always feel slightly bewildered.
The truth I have learned is that sober people feel a bit uncomfortable by teetotallers, and this, in my experience, has been a running theme at socials, in my sobriety. Get used to it folks.
People assume you miss drinking
Linking with the above point, I have realised that I am on a different island to my fellow boozers and whether I like it or not, this divides us at times. I rarely, if ever miss drinking theses days but sometimes at social gatherings, drinkers will apologise for drinking. They might say sorry or believe you need a glass of sparkling water in a wine glass to ‘fit in’.
You’ll feel immense gratitude and pride
One feeling I feel almost every single day is pride. It takes courage to go against the grain, to be a non-drinker in a booze fuelled society. You become different, a bit of an outsider, not like the rest of ‘em, and at times you can be the only person in your peer group on this journey. None of my friends are sober.
Theres something that fires up and grows inside of you when you achieve something like sobriety and it completely fills you up. People say it’s the biggest gift you can give to yourself and they are 100% accurate. It is a gift, it's freedom, and the self love that is born out of achieving this thing called sobriety is immeasurable. I trust myself now in every situation and that is so powerful.
You look and feel younger
What an absolute winning side effect of not drinking. My skin glows [the sober glow is very real] and my insides sing. Ok, thats probably going a bit far, but I have never felt as healthy and as mentally happy as I do now.
I have more motivation
Theres nothing like being trapped in a vicious, frequent cycle of drinking to put a block on your hopes and dreams. The amount of times I wanted to do stuff, try things, keep exercise routines and start projects, but more often than not the drinking took over and the motivation slipped. Not anymore! I have gained so much time and I love filling up my days and weeks doing very meaningful things. I can even crochet now for goodness sakes!
Your relationships change
This one was a bit of a shocker to be honest. Some of my relationships got better, a few stayed the same and a couple disintegrated. You realise when you stop drinking if all the connections in your life are true or not. You also get more wise to whether you want all the connections you had. Some relationships are built on the foundation of getting wrecked on wine and these sometimes don’t succeed. On the flip side, some foster deeper respect and a stronger connection, and these are the ones I am most grateful for today.
One day you just stop counting
This is probably the biggest thing for me and the most shocking part of being sober, is that one day you genuinely just stop thinking about being sober. You stop counting the alcohol free days. You just are living life and it's such a surreal feeling if you have ever been a heavy drinker and really feared giving it up.
In the beginning I used to think ‘how on earth will I ever get over drinking’. If you would have told me in the first 30-60 days of sobriety that I would literally forget about drinking I wouldn’t have believed it. How can you spend 3 decades drinking as your number 1 priority for it to just completely disappear after 6-12 months of stopping? Not possible. No way Jose. But it happens. Its still weird for me but its like the connection to my massive drinking past has burned away.
However this is my experience and I am no expert. I just feel like I've invested so much into my early sobriety and this is my pay off. I spent such a long time unpicking the formed alcohol ties in my life, understanding and unravelling the social conditioning and learning the truth about alcohol and how addictive it is. I've disconnected from the shame of my drinking and all the regrettable things I did when I was drunk. I’ve taught myself how to apply self compassion and healed emotionally through reading, soul searching, watching documentaries and listening to hundreds of podcasts.
I just feel that I see it all clearly now. I see booze for what it is and now I cannot unsee it.
I understand why I drank, what I was escaping from and get why I couldn’t control it.
I have given myself some of life’s most valuable education and I am eternally grateful for it.