Sober and Freedom, are not two words that I have often put together. Did I expect to feel free sober? No!
Freedom was one of my biggest mental blocks to quitting drinking because for so long I framed alcohol as providing freedom. Freedom to be myself, freedom to shirk responsibility, freedom to be an adult, and make my own decisions for better or for worse. This became especially true after I left my marriage, which roughly correlated with the time I made my super deep dive into AUD( alcohol use disorder). I was all about feeling independent, being accountable to no one, and living for whatever felt good in the moment. And it worked! For awhile.
But pretty soon, the freedom of doing whatever you want in the moment turns into a whole lot of dissatisfaction with the big picture.
Despite the pseudo freedom I tried to convince myself I had while drinking, I felt trapped in the same routine day after day. I didn’t get it at all, but people on the other side of this going sober thing seemed to really feel like they were free.. ?! So I kept reading, listening to podcasts, and lurking on Boom , the online community I found while searching … how to stop drinking… or control your drinking… or am I an alcoholic, or some such thing.
And eventually, it clicked!
I don’t expect anything of tomorrow, but today I am most certainly feeling free.
Sober I have Freedom from battling with whether or not to buy alcohol after work each day.
Sober I have Freedom from deciding whether or not to take a drink in the AM when I wake up with feelings I don’t like.
I have Freedom from having to figure out if it had been long enough since I was in that particular liquor store, or if I needed to go to a different one today.
Freedom from the regret of making the same decision over, and over, and over.
Freedom from hiding bottles and always ensuring the recycling is empty when company comes over.
Sober I have Freedom from needing to replace my fridge stock so company doesn’t notice there were 12 cans in there yesterday, and only 2 left today.
Sober I have Freedom from all of the ways I exhaustively planned how to keep my habit up without letting others catch on.
Freedom from the shame of needing to drink alone in a group of people where no one else is drinking.. or wanting to drink at times my “drinking buddies” didn’t even want to.
Freedom from wondering how much alcohol is contributing to my health problems.
Freedom from dry mouthed, anxious, 3AM wakeups.
Sober I have Freedom from the exhaustion of managing addiction. Of the endless cycle of successfully, then unsuccessfully — trying to moderate.
Freedom from wondering how long it will take to get really, really bad. Lose a job you care about, lose your loved ones, have a DUI on your professional license and potentially not be hirable bad. Or worse.
Freedom from living ambivalently — from thinking I don’t really care how long this life lasts.
Freedom from thinking that the AV ( alcohol voice, wine witch, Snidely, etc) is anything but the deceitful, sadistic, opportunistic bastard it is.
I am starting to feel consistently different, in a good way. Like I’m growing (back) into a new level of energy for life. Even though I’ve been busier than I have been in a long time — and feeling exhausted at times — there’s an underlying ability to push myself, a person motivated for change and for the future — that I haven’t really been in sync with for a long time. Even when I felt pretty good the last few months sober, it felt like it was just matching the level I felt sometimes even when I was drinking. This new feeling is almost like a return to an old person, one that is vaguely familiar but that I haven’t known in many years. I don’t know if it’s coincidence, or time away from drinking, and if it will stay or go. But I’m enjoying it while its here!
That doesn’t mean my brain still doesn’t on the regular try to convince that it’s okay to drink.
There was a period a few weeks ago where my brain had me completely convinced that at some point, I was going to need to prove that I was on this sober path by CHOICE by enjoying a beer once or twice a year — maybe after a race, maybe at a special occasion. Because I wasn’t going to do this the same exact way as everyone else. It wasn’t anything immediate, just something I pictured happening in the future. Something that made me feel like I would really be free like this was truly my choice and not something I had to do. So when I was at gatherings with people drinking, and I turned down drinks — it wasn’t out of fear, or need — but because I really didn’t have the desire to consume it.
Re: things my brain does when it’s left alone with itself.
F you alcohol!
I eventually worked my way out of this one, because
1) Any small, potential benefit to this approach — no matter if it has or hasn’t worked for some, and whether or not it would end up okay for me — is absolutely, gigantically outweighed by the potential detriment. I mean, what are the potential outcomes even?
You either A) Enjoy it a LOT and want more (no good), or B) You hate how it makes you feel and you feel gross after doing it (no good), or the one you’re ideally shooting for – C) It’s enjoyable and you’re completely satisfied with one drink. Which… LOL guys.
And 2) I already feel free. I’m not scared of the power alcohol holds, but I respect it. I know that I have a choice, and making this choice makes me feel strong. And proud.
There is no new level of “enhanced” freedom waiting somewhere out there for me.. which is the lie that the AV is trying to creep in and get me to believe.
Shortly after my brain jumped back out of that rabbit hole, I went through a few days of good cries… again.
I think I started truly gaining compassion for the me that was stuck in the cycle.
The younger me who had no idea what she was doing when she started drinking more and more.
The slightly older me who started feeling really lost but continued to drown everything in alcohol.
And the more recent me, who felt wholly consumed by managing her drinking but couldn’t imagine wanting to be alive without it.
The tears felt cathartic.
Feelings are hard. Freely feeling is not something I’m used to. Once I got solidly sober, when I started thinking more about why I drank, it was always with the intention of changing how I felt — making the highs higher, running away from the lows, or simply trying to fill the empty space of boredom. When I started drinking, I’m pretty confident I had “enhancing” the highs as my goal the vast majority of the time. But as the years went on, there were fewer highs to enhance, and more and more lows to try and hide from.
I’m still a little bit amazed that I had ZERO clue I was ignoring my feelings when I was drinking. No clue! I thought that I was “unemotional,” and that this was something to be proud of. Not that I didn’t have waves of strong emotion at times, but they would come out in short, unexplainable bursts. And then I’d go right back to being “even keel.” When I think about it, this is even more ironic because when I was growing up, I remember feeling overcome by my emotions. My childhood was largely uneventful and certainly not traumatic, but man, I could feel — sometimes for myself, often for others. I didn’t pray for a lot, but I vividly remember at one point praying to ask that I would FEEL things less deeply. Take away my feelings God, I can’t handle them. Lol! I was so distraught by the discomfort of some emotions that I was wishing them away before I’d graduated high school (I was a “late starter,” I somehow didn’t start drinking until I was 21.)
Well, I got my wish! But not as intended. I did start becoming less aware of my feelings, but only because I was avoiding them by turning to alcohol more and more to change how I was feeling in the moment. I saw a therapist for the first time a year or two ago who gradually got me to see that I wasn’t quiet as unemotional as I thought, I had just been repressing my feels for years.
It was HARD to learn to start to sit with those emotions again. Really, freaking hard. I’m still new to all this, but I’m learning to allow myself to sit with the range of emotions. Every day isn’t easy. But it’s a heck of a lot easier to live all the parts of life outside of drinking when you’re not hiding every unpleasant or unfamiliar feeling in a bottle.
And now, here I am! No expectations for the future, but I’m happy and grateful to be riding this wave. And so amazingly grateful for this community, as always.
We are a Private, Anonymous, Online Forum, open to anyone hoping to stop drinking or take a break from the booze. An international group tucked away from the busy commercial noise of social media but there for you at the touch of a finger when you need us most Sign up and sign in via our Web Site here or download the free Mighty Networks app and find us at BOOM Community Rethink the Drink.
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In a world where you’ll be questioned for not drinking with the crowd, we’ll encourage you to find your own path.