This week I celebrate my Three Month Soberversary. I’m 120 days Alcohol Free! Will I be sober forever? Time will tell. I never expected to stop drinking for more than a few days much less be celebrating this landmark. So I thought I would share some insights on what going sober has been like and meant for me.
1. Being stubborn helps.
In the first month sober, more or less, I needed to take it easy. I allowed myself an easy indulgent first couple of weeks and was doing ok. I ate a lot of Lucky Charms when I needed a sober treat and hid out in my bedroom quite a bit. Then around my 17th day alcohol free, I was hit by a craving so large I went into autopilot, pressed the fuck it switch and drank wine.
I drank modrately for 3 evenings. I even said to my husband –
surely I don’t want to be someone who never drinks?
Then I got back on the wagon. I know that I have to be someone who never drinks, or I’ll be someone who more often than not, drinks way too much. I faced the denial. I tossed the flirtation with maybe I can be a moderate drinker, and I haven’t slipped since. I learned that resetting my sober day count was annoying and I didn’t want to do that again. This lesson also taught me that I needed to be prepared for really big cravings.
In these first three months sober, I needed to be prepared for cravings that seemed to have a power all unto themselves. I needed to fight and be more stubborn than the craving. It helped to picture that ‘fuck it’ moment as a bucket in the corner of the room. Every craving was an opportunity. Every craving was a choice.
I pictured an old fishing bucket – one that was dirty and gross and full of fish heads and drunken vomit. Chosing to drink was kicking that bucket. Chosing not to drink meant choosing me. I dug my heels in. Tried to expect the unexpected. Ate supper early and had a sweet treat planned for about 9pm.
Simple solutions to a complicated problem. But it worked for me!
2. I make darn sure I have something to look forward to in the evenings.
In the first month sober it was 2 cigarettes and a glass or two of sparkling alcohol-free wine. I kept doing the thing I was used to (evening drinking and smoking) but used a placebo wine. I needed to trick my lizard brain. In my case it really helped. I don’t feel the need to do that so much anymore but for at least 6 weeks I did. Now it might be that I look forward to an epsom salt bath and a lemon tart. Or a shower, and a book in bed. I have read lots of quit lit! Anyway the drink/smoke routine has been broken now. I still sometimes have a smoke in the evening but it’s not with such need or ferocity.
3. I have found new and enriching ways to spend my time.
Before I stopped drinking I had already started to take some exercise classes, but doing yoga and ballet feels so much better without the hangover.
Today my ballet teacher said she couldn’t even recognize my body as the same as before I was sober. She exclaimed ‘look at your muscles!’.
I get so much more out of my exercise time now that I am thriving in sobriety and not just surviving, like I was in my drinking days. The same goes for everything else that I do. I can embrace life now and also let myself crash when I need to! related reading Sober Momentum- Enjoying the Journey Alcohol Free by Learning to Tone Your Vagus Nerve
3. The more time I spend looking inward, the less selfish I become.
Now that I am alcohol free, I have become more self-aware. I’m not entirely sure how this works, but it does. I found my sober journey to be much like lifting up a carpet that was covering my true self. I began by looking under a little corner, until eventually I said, “Oh hell, let’s pull it all back, shall we…let’s take a big old look!” Pulling up the carpet and calling myself out on my own BS has really allowed me to become more selfless.
Taking an honest, sober look at myself has allowed my confidence to grow. I read something that defined true confidence as realizing you don’t need to compare yourself to others anymore. Every day that I choose to stay alcohol-free, my self-confidence grows. This feels great! I’m becoming a little more authentic each day opens up my heart more to others.
4. It’s more than okay to be sober!
Sober, I am awake, my world is more vivid, and my memory is sharper than it’s been in years.
5. I still need to plan and prep for ‘firsts’ and certain social events
As I grow more aware of my triggers and temptations in sobriety, it is important to prepare for some experiences in order to ensure that I don’t turn to alcohol. Attending social events sober, such as a friend’s birthday dinner, requires some role play in my head beforehand. In the (not so distant) old days, I would have enjoyed a glass of wine or two while getting ready, thrown on an outfit and off I’d go, a wild creature who believed she was in her element.
Now, without alcohol as a crutch, I have old rickety training wheels on that I worry people will laugh at. I still worry that I’ll fall on my face somehow, or that I won’t be as funny or charming as I was before. However, I am learning that it is totally possible to have a good time and connect to others without alcohol. I am still Human without alcohol. I am still fun without alcohol. I still speak the same language as those around me. Phew! But I’m not totally there yet. The only way to improve these skills is to practice more.
6. Life isn’t all roses, but it IS a hell of a lot better.
I have problems – everyone does – but I am realizing that I definitely had a decent set up in front of me that I was not fully appreciating. In fact, my nice life had even become something I told myself I didn’t deserve. It gave me anxiety and made me feel guilty.
But now that I am sober, I’m not scared anymore. I have a healthier relationship with my life and a newfound gratitude for my privilege. I’m glad to be able to appreciate the good things in my alcohol free life.
7. The things that are a struggle are now clear.
Even without the added problems of alcohol, I can accept that certain parts of my life aren’t always going to go well. But I can also be grateful for those that are.
Becoming sober didn’t magically fix my problems, but now that I am alcohol free I’m not doubting myself or wondering what kind of additional negative contribution ‘drinking me’ might have made.
I can say, “Okay, I need to work on that. What would be a good first step?” Now that I am alcohol free, I have a sense of clarity.
8. Stopping numbing means that we feel everything, the good and the bad.
If you are like me, you turned to alcohol for its numbing effect, so when you embrace an alcohol free life, the rawness of early sobriety can be a lot to manage.
Meditation has really helped with this aspect of sobriety; I can not recommend it highly enough. And don’t worry if you feel you can’t meditate yet, there is a reason why it’s called a practice. Short guided meditations on apps work great. Most of us meditate in the bath without even realizing it! So start by having a bath, try watching the water move while you breathe; it just may help you stay alcohol free. Who knows, maybe you’ll be sober forever!
9. I have found a great town called BOOM that I visit often.
In this online community, I have made loads of new friends and can share (or over share!) and celebrate becoming sober in a way that I can’t with others. I can’t imagine announcing to my husband when he gets home from work, “hunny I am a sober badass warrior hero!!! So there!!”
On BOOM, I can embrace encouragement – both about myself and about others. It is also a space where I can be vulnerable and open about feeling shitty, and in turn, I can help others when they feel that way. We are all at different stages in our sober journeys, and with different lives, but we all share the knowledge of what it’s like to be ‘drinking too much too often’. 😉 And we come here to find our feet and our voices. Really, we find ourselves again through connection and community. Yay! read more An Invitation to Rethink the Drink with Us
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