5 Gifts of Sobriety – Celebrating Sober With Thoughts on How to Stop Drinking

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Today is my birthday and I am ready to celebrate.  🎉 There won’t be any champagne corks popping, and that is ok. There will be cake, there will be food, and most importantly there will be gifts. Now I know, it’s not supposed to be all about the gifts, except this year, IT IS. This year I am giving those gifts to myself. They are the dearest and most precious things I have given myself in over 10 years. And it all started when I stopped drinking just 4 months ago.

I stopped drinking on December 20, 2020. At the time I was well aware of the problem. I was aware that alcohol was ruining my life and my health. I was aware that I couldn’t continue on this treacherous path I was traveling. I was even aware of BOOM, the online community that finally helped me stop drinking. I was aware that there were people out there waiting and willing to help. And thank God for that. What I wasn’t aware of, was that if I just stopped drinking, and continued to not drink, my life would get better. Not perfect, but drastically improved! I also wasn’t aware that I would be rewarded for this with some of the most meaningful gifts of my life.

Since I stopped drinking I have been gifted with

Health

Sober I feel so much better. My stomach is not burning every day. My skin has lost its “fire truck” red hue.😱 That suspicious tenderness in my upper right side has disappeared. I don’t get tired going up stairs and I have lost 14 pounds.

Since I stopped drinking I have been gifted with

Self-esteem

This one has surprised me the most. My shame vanished practically overnight when I stopped drinking. I feel compassion for myself for the first time since I can remember. I’ve started to feel pride again. Pride about the way I handle things and slowly pride about the way I look.

Since I stopped drinking I have been gifted with

Resilience

Sober I feel strong again. Not always and not every day, but there is a deep underlying well of strength that I can access now which hasn’t been sucked dry by alcohol. I didn’t realize that that weakness I felt, both physically and emotionally, was a side effect of the alcohol. I just thought I had become a weak person. I thought it was about aging and life was just wearing me down. Turns out, no, I am a strong person who survived continuous poisoning.

Since I stopped drinking I have been gifted with

Stability

Sober I am a much better and more stable parent and partner. I am present for my family and my emotions are more even-keeled. At the same time, I am better at verbalizing my boundaries and needs with them. I am better at my job by not being crippled by hangovers or by being preoccupied the whole day with the thought of just holding on until work is over and I can finally drink.

Since I stopped drinking I have been gifted with

Freedom 

This one I have only really started to feel lately.  Sometimes I get into bed and it occurs to me that I didn’t think about alcohol all day. Alcohol is not ruling my life anymore and the obsession is fading. It lurks sometimes, but a couple of stern words or simply ignoring it, and it disappears again. It is a huge relief. I really want to know what it feels like to be completely free, and I hope I get there.

It seems so simple. Just don’t drink, no matter what. Making the decision WAS that simple. Standing by that decision and dedicating everything to that decision isn’t quite as simple, but is completely and utterly worth it. I just needed to stop drinking and continue to stop every single day.


This is where I started – Does this desperate internal diologue sound familiar?

I have to stop drinking –

Why do I keep doing this to myself?

Why can’t I be like everyone else?

I am so stupid, I am worried, I need help!

I am not that bad am I? I know lots of people worse than me.

I want these thoughts to stop. I can’t sleep, it’s so hot, I am so thirsty, I have to be up in another 4 hours.

I wonder if I am still over the legal limit to drive?

I want to stop drinking, I can’t keep living like this day after day, night after night. Making promises to myself in the night breaking them all by the following evening.

Broken promise after broken promise.

I am like a broken record.

The brain fog is awful, present in body but not in mind. Functioning on autopilot. 

What can I do to fix this?

How do I stop drinking ?

I can’t fix this in a public way. I can’t go to AA. I am too quiet, I would feel publicly shamed. I cannot face a room full of people and start to self berate, that would be humiliating. I have heard what happens in those meetings. I have seen the comedy clips and those scenes in the Movies

“My name is…”

I can’t bear to do that. I just can’t. But I need help. How did I let this happen to me? I refuse to be called an “Alcoholic” but I do need help to stop. 

I am smart. I know I can do this. I just need some guidance. My father stopped his smoking habit back in the day when no help was available. If he quit a habit so can I.

I wonder what google can come up with?

Okay, there seems to be a lot of advice out there. Lots of articles to read and sound advice. I keep coming across these articles that are suggesting they can provide the support I need. A community, I am not sure about this. There is probably some kind of catch. I am always very wary. Heck, what have I got to lose. I think I will join. 


Over a year ago I joined the Boom Rethink the Drink online community. Boom provides information and opinion from all walks of life and really helpful articles. But more importantly, the Boom community provides empathy and support. I was not alone. I had found a place that I could be honest without judgment. It is not a one size fits all attitude. People have tried many avenues to Sobriety.  Secrecy and shame kept my habit alive but writing it out and sharing it weakened the power my habit had over me. I began to trust others and to share some of my secrets. This has been liberating and healing and the process of writing my thoughts rather than drinking them down has set me free. If you have connection through a community, you are never alone. 

Today as I celebrate my alcohol-free birthday, what better way to celebrate than by sharing the gifts that my sobriety has brought to me, with you! For anyone hoping to stop drinking this post is a gift that I hope you will find handy for your sober tool kit. My wish is for everyone who wants to to discover an alcohol-free life. It can be done, nobody is a lost cause. It can take courage. But it is possible and many members in our BOOM Rethink the Drink Community are testament to that.

What I have found out on BOOM is that no two of us have walked the same path. Some have overcome great personal adversities. Our past sometimes, is what led us to our alcohol habit in the first place. But our past does not define us. Our future is really in our control. It is not easy to give up a habit of a life time. Some people find it hard to find those sober feet in those early days.  Some slip and slide at first but take heart and courage for it can be done. It can stick.

A Goal Without a plan is just a Wish

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

In the beginning, even before I stopped drinking, I read some quit lit. This helped to reinforce the logic of why I should give up alcohol.  But once those sober wheels were in motion. I had to consider the long-term journey. What happens next?

This strategy may be of help to you to “Frame” your “New Life” and the exciting adventure you are setting out on.

WOOP 

Woop is a science based mental strategy that can help you change a habit.

Start with

Why? 

Really think about your why.

What is the core of this why? – related reading How do You Know You Have a Problem With Alcohol? Is It Time to Stop Drinking ?

Think of your strengths. What strengths do you have that can help you achieve your goal. This will be your push factor. 

Outcome? 

What outcome do you want to achieve as a result of stopping drinking ?

Is the outcome to help address anxiety, health issues, or stress? – related reading Anxiety, Alcohol and Sobriety

To have a better family life?

To sleep better? – related reading Learning to Fall Asleep Sober and Loving Life Alcohol-Free

Be a better decision maker? – related reading Drinking to Get to the Bottom of Things?

To improve your relationship with your children?

Obstacles? 

Let’s face it we will come across obstacles on the way to staying sober. Think about internal and external obstacles.

Will that obstacle be wanting that reward after work?  – related reading Sober Treats – Rewiring your Reward Pathways When You Go Alcohol-Free

Are you afraid of losing people in your life, now that you choose to be sober? – related reading Will the fun be over if you stop drinking alcohol?

Will the dynamics of your relationships with your partner change when you’re no longer drinking buddies? – related reading How do You Stop Drinking and Stay Sober with a Partner Who Drinks?

Think about what obstacles you may encounter. List these obstacles. How will you overcome them?

Plan? 

The most important part of this strategy is to plan. Don’t think that stopping drinking is about white-knuckling it. It’s about having a plan and being prepared.

Like that quote by Benjamin Franklin – If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!

If it’s that family party or the “Christmas Party” have a plan in place.

What are you going to have to drink? Do you need to bring your own car? Leave early if necessary. What will you tell people, if you are asked why you are not drinking? (At the end of the day most people will not really care why you don’t drink). They have their own agendas and will probably give their opinions regardless) don’t go to an event if it means protecting your quit. – related reading The Definitive Alcohol-Free Party Guide – Enjoy the Party and Stay Sober

And the best part of the plan is to come hang out with us in BOOM. Ask community members for advice on anything. This is a great platform for tips.

Finally fill up your sober tool kit.

My tool kit started with all kinds of books about alcohol use and abuse and recovery. 

I also fill my toolkit with journals. In the journals, I wrote why I drank and why I wanted to stop. I wrote my very personal experiences and regrets I experienced because of my drinking. One page of my journal is filled with names of the people I have let down or hurt and how I can rebuild the relationships. Another page is a very graphic description of what physical symptoms my drunkenness and hangovers were like including blackouts, fights, and bathroom grossness . . I don’t want to ever forget what alcohol did to me. The booze monster wants you to forget! I don’t live in the past but I sure want to learn from it and not repeat it.

I have a folder filled with quotes, pictures and sayings I have collected from different places that inspire me. I use my phone to take a picture then print it out. On a difficult day, I go through my folder and choose a quote or inspirational picture and hang it up for encouragement. One time I was having a super difficult day. I took a quote and folded it in my pocket so I could press it and feel the paper whenever I wanted. It kept me grounded in my sobriety and I didn’t drink 

I have essential oils, beautifully designed adult coloring books and bubble bath oils etc in my tool kit. 

In my tool kit, I keep these slow deep breathing instructions as well. It helps me remember that counting what I can feel, see, touch and taste will calm me down when I have anxiety. I listened to someone describe the following ground exercise to help when anxiety gets overwhelming.  She called it 5,4,3,2,1.

5:  What are 5 things that you SEE, around you, right now?

4:  What are 4 things you HEAR, right now? 

3:  What are 3 things you are TOUCHING, right now? 

2:  What are 2 things that you SMELL, right now? 

1:  What is 1 thing that you TASTE, right now?

Don’t leave one group until your brain answers each question…. wait until you acknowledge each thing.  It’s not a race, it’s a way to ground yourself.  Remind yourself that you ARE okay, there’s no need to fight, flight, or freeze.  

My tool kit reminds me that sobriety is about genuine self-care. Look after yourself. Take time out, do what is necessary to ensure you remain sober. Look after your health and well-being.

The benefits of being alcohol-free are numerous. They don’t happen overnight. Give yourself at least 30 days to see those initial changes.  It takes time to really appreciate the obvious and the subtle benefits.  But as Catherine Grays Book is titled, and it really is “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober

Set that date & start the journey. 

Sobriety offers everything that Alcohol Promised – Except the Hangover!

If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break…or if you have stopped drinking and are trying to stick to sober! Talk to Us. 

We are an independent, anonymous and private community who share resources, support and talk it through every day. It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using

You can read more about us Here And join  Here

community support 24-7 or sign up and sign in here

Don’t let the shame and stigma of addiction keep you from saying

“I think I have a problem with drinking”

 

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