It’s a bit surreal to me that I ended up sober. My whole life seemed to revolve around the next drink or party. Whoever heard of a sober musician who worked as a bartender and chef? I had more fun drinking than I should have ever been allowed. But it started going south at some point. I not only drank when I was happy but also when I was sad, lonely, and just plain bored. Then the cycle of hiding bottles, constant hangovers, and always spending the last few dollars of my paycheck at the liquor store became the norm.
All the stress that came from drinking for so many years accumulated in so many ways. The stress from the feelings of always wanting one more drink was compounded by the stress of checking my bank account to see what I could still afford at the end of every month. There were the night sweats and terrible sleep and the guilt from the night before due to not remembering what happened. There was falling asleep watching TV and planning my days off around drinking and knowing I would be hungover. Then of course there was the walk of shame to the recycling bins when no one was looking, the high blood pressure, and the bad feeling of knowing that the people closest to me were worried…
There is so much more I could add but if you are here you know all too well that it’s just really a sad way to live.
Drinking all the time took no effort. Anyone can do it. It’s crazy how much of my time was spent feeling like shit and getting nothing done. I would not be motivated to get anything done, go anywhere, or do anything different. Year after year. There was not much joy found there anymore and the hamster wheel never stopped. Until it finally did. I STOPPED it. I got free. It is all in the rearview mirror now.
I thought sobriety would be boring and I would really miss living the boozy way but 3 years ago the universe decided I needed to get my act together and take it on a new road…..but, what road…and without any sort of map. When you stop drinking you feel so lost without alcohol. And now what would people think? My old friends? Family? Would I be funny or kinda cool anymore? Who is this person now when you take away the alcohol? So much for my little ego to comprehend….
How do you change your normal after so many years? It’s not easy, that’s for sure.
When I first stopped drinking I could never figure out how anyone got up to a year alcohol-free. It seemed so daunting and impossible. Not drinking seemed to go against everything I ever believed in. Not drinking also meant saying no to the guilt, shame, blackouts, embarrassing moments, hangovers, stress, and all the other stuff that brought me down.
That’s all in the rearview mirror, like some strange dream. Another life that I once had. And now I’m over 3 years sober! It was MFing tough, just like everyone says. But, you know what else everyone says that has made it …it gets better. It gets better in ways you never thought possible.
Starting a new sober life is like growing a plant, it’s fragile at first but given time and a little nurturing it grows and blossoms.
When I first quit drinking it was May of 2020 and everything began to lockdown because of Covid. The lockdowns left me more or less on my own to sort out how to navigate this new way of life. It was good to be at home all the time and not have any outside influences to tempt me back. I found this website and read a lot here. It was by far the best resource I’d found and I felt comfortable not having to post, chat, or anything else if I just wanted to be quiet and read. Little by little I gained confidence and managed to post, ask questions, and even join in a Zoom or two. I have always been super shy and alcohol helped me feel at ease around people. When that crutch was gone it was time to double down and force myself to try something new, even if it was scary…and god forbid, join a Zoom! And I managed to survive. Who knew?
The first year was hard because it was all new and my brain did not know how to function in a sober life. Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, birthday celebrations, St. Patrick’s Day, vacations, weekends, days after work, and so on and so on. Navigating the curves and speedbumps of holidays, celebrations, and eventually being out and social again was tough, but I persevered. Day by day. I never gave in. After the first year, I felt like the emotional training wheels were off, and it got easier because I had done all the holidays and all the other days and made it through ok.
When you decide to stop drinking, each day that you make the choice not to drink is a small victory. Then it’s a week, a month, 100 days, half a year, and soon enough there ya are! You made it a year! Find something to reward yourself with for each little milestone. You made to another one and then another. It sounds cliche but it really does get better. I didn’t really think it was going to and that I would miss out on all I associated with good times and drinking.
Yes, it’s tough sometimes and you have to do the work. Remember when you decide to live alcohol-free that you are learning something new and as with learning anything else new it is going to take a bit of time. Somedays you feel like a salmon fighting to get upstream from the tide of a drunken society. But soon enough you too will feel better…. And then you are really living again, not counting the days anymore.
My life as a musician and chef was perfect for a never-ending drinking lifestyle. I mastered drinking in a big way. And now here I am sober! It just seems so unreal. I feel like my entire life has done a 180-degree turn for the better since I stopped drinking. I am having a new burst of creativity and have had nothing but good things happen since I quit. That feeling is so much better and more lasting than any drink could make me feel. My life has a new richness that is hard for me to put into words. Everything seems so much better now.
I was defuckingtermined to not slip. No matter what. My brain has always been scattered, but when I get down and really apply myself to something I know I can do it well.
I read a lot of stuff online, a couple of books that resonated were This Naked Mind and Alcohol Explained. I read lots of stories from sober musicians I admired. And I used Boom. Boom is good. Period. I can be anonymous and contribute or not with no pressure. Good advice and resources, it is just what I needed.
Learning something new and worthwhile takes time. It took a long time for my brain to adjust to a new reality. Weird emotions took over a lot. Everyone kept saying it gets better. There were a lot of times I wasn’t sure because it seemed like forever….but low and behold…..I now feel comfortable with it all.
It finally got better. Way better.
Since quitting drinking I fill my time with lots of new things. Meditation. Drawing. Yoga. Learning Swedish in school. Finally learning music theory and getting back into playing again. I can’t say I excel at these things, but I’m working on them and getting better all the time. There are never enough hours in my day to do them all. If there is such a thing, I guess that’s a bit of good stress. Not enough time to do all the creative things I want…..
So, it’s the same with getting sober for most. It takes time. Everyone has a different story and circumstances, so there is no one size fits all solution to our problems. But the one thing that is the same for everyone is that just stopping sets out a whole new path for you.
I have this calm about things now which I didn’t have before. I meditate and try to apply mindfulness to help keep my brain on an even keel. Things have always worked out for me, even when all seems futile. I’m super lucky to have my health, my family, my life. All these feelings became so much more real and deeper since I quit. All that drinking stress is now gone. And it was SO much stress. Always something associated with drinking was tweaking me out one way or another, my brain never seemed at ease when alcohol was around. I’m now living life with all that in the past. It’s such a great feeling knowing I have come so far in many ways, and at this stage in the game, I am feeling super motivated and creative again.
One of my favorite quotes is “Don’t sweat the small shit…it’s all small shit”. I have applied all that wasted time and energy into being a musician again and writing music. I never was motivated to write my own stuff, but low and behold something clicked and I am now recording and looking to put a band together. My music! This is the biggest win I could have ever hoped for. It would have never happened with the old me. I met a guy who lives here who owns a music store and has a recording studio, so he’s helping me out. And he’s 13 years sober. Another sober musician. What a stroke of good luck! It’s quite amazing that these really great things which have unfolded for me since I quit drinking.
It is quite an accomplishment to live an alcohol-free life. There are temptations all along your new path and you can so easily get sidetracked into losing your focus. The alcohol factor is promoted everywhere, it’s like society can’t seem to function without it. But at some point, I couldn’t function with it. It just seems so strange now of how much it was always on my mind. You can do it, and become a badass in the process! Because you are doing what a lot of people think about but never act on. I have yet to hear from anyone that their life did not get better after stopping.
In these 3 years sober my life has gotten so much richer and better. I am finally doing things I always thought about but never quite had the energy or freed-up mental space to pursue. And that is why I keep going. Our mortal lives spin by fast here and I want to make every day count in a good way. I wake up inspired by life now, rather than trudging through it like I used to. So, that is why I am done with booze. I have come so far and am not letting it back in. And why would I?
There is never a better time to take control of your life and make it the best you can right now. Life spins by so fast in our little lives. If I can do it, you can also. Your choice, your future, your life. No one’s gonna do it for you. It’s never too late to change.
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