When I woke up this morning the second set of words I heard were… “Nothing tastes better than sober…”
I had an odd experience on Saturday night. Out at a club after a pretty stressful chain of events, an acquaintance turned to me and said “Man today has been full on. Seriously. I need a drink.” Then as if realizing she had made an assumption she said “Oh do you drink?”
I can honestly say I can’t ever recall anyone asking if I drink rather than assuming I do like everyone else. I mean come on, who doesn’t drink right???? I stared at her for a minute (mostly because my brain was doing a double take) and then said
‘Actually I don’t drink.’
It was quite a surreal experience. My past life was meeting my current one and it made me think about how normal being AF feels for me. Yes I have my moments but for the most part alcohol free is my new normal.
One of the things I think everyone struggles with the first time they try to go sober is fears around how they will live a ‘normal’ life.
How will I not drink when I usually drink? What will I drink instead? What will I do instead? How will I de-stress and relax? How will I go to parties? What will I say to people? How will I be able to keep seeing my boozing friends? Am I going to lose all my friends? How will I find new AF friends? Do my friends have to be sober?
What’s fascinating about these questions, is that people world wide carry out normal every day lives without booze alongside people who drink. They are not bored stupid every night. They have friends. They go out. They drink liquids.
Yes. I know. This came as a shock to me also in the beginning.
The reality is that addictive substances lie. They convince you, you can’t live without them. The media and advertising are on their team and tell you the same. But the reality is that while it can feel weird, stressful, uncomfortable, lonely and a bunch of other emotions at once, after a time sober, you find your ‘new normal’.
And…. brace yourself for the next shocking revelation… you CAN enjoy this lifestyle.
Don’t worry. I was once the biggest skeptic on Earth, and every time I have fallen off the wagon the skeptic in me leaps on the band wagon and starts banging the drum for alcoholic normalcy.
Now I am not saying here that life without alcohol is a bed of roses. In fact in the beginning it can be fucking hard. And not just because you are fighting an addiction. Well beyond those first days, weeks or months (depending on addiction level) when you are literally fighting a war against your addictive brain, the aftermath of alcohol is still there for you to face up to.
There are sometimes relationships to repair, debts to resolve and a life to rebuild. But even if your addiction didn’t drag you that far, there are always issues to face.
One thing I have observed is that everyone who claims being AF is the worst, impossible, too hard, not what it’s cracked up to be etc, all have something in common – they have bigger problems than alcohol. Depression. Unresolved grief or anger. Chronic loneliness. Isolation. Lack of employment. Lack of a partner. Marriage breakdown. Lack of family. Lack of friends. Lack of support. Financial peril. Pick your poison. Any of these things can make being AF seem like hell. And none of them are magically solved by being AF.
The reality of going AF is facing up to your life and all the things alcohol did, or got framed for (ie the things that were all you but you conveniently blamed on alcohol). Living an authentic life – living legit – can be hard. It requires a lot more strength to live a life with your eyes wide open and the problems spread at your feet (or up to your neck) than it does to hide in a bottle. It also requires strength and maturity to stop crying foul and claiming the world “done you wrong” and alcohol is your compensation damn it. If that’s you… don’t worry… you’re not alone. I have claimed this more times than I can count.
But the reality is, at least in my experience, that life can be hard… immeasurably hard… for everyone. As a school friend’s Mum used to say “We all have our cross to bear.” But no matter how much you think alcohol is helping you deal with that life, it isn’t. Alcohol never made anything better… ever. And the times you thought it did, well… you were lying to yourself.
Back to life and normalcy. For anyone who hasn’t experienced it yet let me paint you a picture of your future.
You may not be able to imagine it yet but if you stick to an AF goal there will come a day when the desire or need to drink isn’t there. You will get up in the morning without a hangover. You will go about your day purposefully and not in a haze.You might go out to lunch with people from work. There might be people drinking. You may even be in a pub. But it won’t bother you.
You will laugh. You will have fun. That chic who sits in the corner desk doing her nails all day will piss you off. And the guy who thinks he is a regular laugh riot will make a dick of himself as usual. You will go back to work and finish your day. Go home, play with your kids if you have them, talk to your partner if you have one, talk to your pet if you have one, call a friend, your mum, a sibling, your nana.You may make dinner, make tea, make coffee, make love, make a fetching crotchet tea cosy, or any number of other possibilities. You, like millions of other people, will live through the day without alcohol and without feeling like your throat has been slit without it.
In short, AF will become your new normal. I am here to tell you that there is nothing that feels better than that – problems or no.
So those words in my head this morning ..
“Nothing tastes better than sober”
Someone said them to me recently and there have never been truer words spoken.
You will find your AF life no matter how hard it is to see now.
If you fight for it, you will find it, and when you do, you will wonder why the hell you stayed so long in that other bastard place. There will be challenges and problems to struggle with but you can’t fix a problem by hiding from it. All you are doing is helping it to grow teeth. You will face up to your problems, and deal with them. You will solve what you can and accept what you can’t. And you will go to bed at night knowing you did your best. And for a long long time, when you wake up in the morning you will hear in your mind one of the best realizations you have ever experienced (yep here comes the first words I heard this morning).
“I didn’t drink yesterday.”
Nothing tastes better than sober…
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