I’ve read that alcohol consumption in the United States, Australia, and the U.K has increased significantly during the Covid19 lockdown. They even say that the resulting problems from drinking during the pandemic could result in increased damage for a generation. With bars and restaurants closed, alcohol has been deemed an essential item: it can be delivered to your door, stores are selling out of alcohol in certain areas, and drinking games run rampant across various social media platforms. The increased consumption despite social isolation follows a pervasive logic in our society: we are told that when you are anxious, bored, and isolated, alcohol can be a reasonable go-to solution. A regular drinker myself, and someone who would habitually reach for the bottle to solve uncomfortable emotions, I could see that the stress and isolation of Covid19 would likely exacerbate my already problematic relationship with alcohol. So, as an attempt to regain control of my drinking habit, and to embrace the many benefits of a sober lifestyle, I decided to become sober during the lockdown.
Walking into uncertainty:
Three months ago we had no idea how extreme the upheaval from Covid19 was going to be. Aside from the virus itself, the current pandemic has caused waves of unemployment, furloughs, and housing precarity. Sudden and unprecedented damage to our economies has dismantled an already waning middle class and strained thread-bare health care systems. The foundation that we’ve relied on, for better or for worse, is cracking. But there have also been some really beautiful reactions to this uncertainty: a proliferation of local mutual aid groups, people starting to grow food in their yards, ingenuity on how to connect and support one another during a hard, isolating time, and an imagination around what de-linking from this ever-growing machine of global late capitalism could look like.
Our priorities are being questioned on every level, we are required to rethink the very fiber of our society. Our mutual aid, community action, and self care is growing like wildflowers in the cracked foundation of our pre-covid-society.
It is the perfect time to go sober.
There is a nice parallel to building life around sobriety in current reactions to the pandemic. The lovely narrative around self-care and allowing oneself to not be productive while we are asked to secure in place is perfect for my head space in early sobriety. We are reminded to resist imposing a capitalistic logic on ourselves during the pandemic. You don’t need to write a novel or learn 4 languages, you just need to breathe and hydrate. You don’t need to be a super mom making a 5 course organic meal every evening. You just need to rest, to enjoy some downtime with the kids. You don’t need to emerge from quarantine with 6-pack abs. You just need to take care of yourself. The concept that “there is no normal” to return to feels applicable in my own sobriety path.
I am trying to hold to these reminders this week, as I feel that I am in an awkward phase with sobriety where my cravings have been less physical and more psychological. I have noticed that as I gain a few more AF days, I am already starting to impulsively think
“Okay, now that you are into your second month AF, you should cut out the ice cream. Now you should start waking up at 5. Now you should replace your long baths with pilates”
This thinking comes from a pre-sober mindset that I am never enough, that I can always be pushing myself to be the version of myself that I should be.
The difference in this time of trying to be sober (the first time I’ve made it longer than a week or so) is that I am approaching my sobriety with that self compassionate mindset that we’re being encouraged to include in our Covid19 lockdown, survival attitude. I am not trying to push myself into a “should be”, but I am trying to heal and respond to my pain in a more self-loving way. Alcohol does nothing good for me, and I know this. It is the kindest thing I can do for myself to become sober. I don’t want to return to a “normal”, because there is nothing normal about working joylessly until I have to drink myself into a shallow sleep, wake up exhausted and hungover, and repeat.
I don’t want to return to normal, I want to grow my sobriety like wildflowers in the cracked cement of my past.
I have been sober for 6 weeks now and these are 40 things from my first 40 days alcohol free!
I have woken up to 40 hangover-free mornings
I eat oatmeal everyday for breakfast. At more or less the same time everyday. With healthy stuff like flax seed, chia, berries and nuts in it…This may seem like a silly detail, but breakfasts still feel like a really strong source of self-care; when drinking I would more often than not skip breakfast.
I’ve read books on sobriety/addiction: Namely, “How to Quit Like a Woman” Holly Whitaker; “We are the Luckiest”, Laura McKowen, “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” Gabor Mate; “Untamed” Glennon Doyle, and currently, “The Biology of Desire” Marc Lewis – more reading ideas here and here
I joined and participated daily in an online sobriety community (BOOM, here, hi) which has cultivated my empathy, resilience, and self-awareness around sobriety and really beyond. Forever grateful to this resource.
I’ve had 0 conversations that I don’t remember, weird texts that I regret, or generally any regrettable drunk behavior to process (I’m still plenty weird though)
I’ve received beautiful support from my humans..their belief in me has been reaffirmed by how much they support my decision to be sober.
I’ve started painting again (slowly). I don’t feel wildly creative, but I do feel maybe a bit more expressive lately.
I’ve written papers, presented my work, and continued to sludge through my professional duties despite the brain fog of early sobriety. Life goes on…
Ice cream has become a friend. I’ve never been big into ice cream, but now I find myself with ice cream bowls in the evenings, or walking to my local liquor store to get an ice cream. I appreciate the joy of a little treat, and the necessity of giving myself new treats to shift alcohol cravings. Filling the Empty Space in Early Sobriety
Tea has taken on a new significance. I have a big basket of herbal teas.
Though I have not begun to meditate as regularly as I’d like, I have felt more centered and I can visualize what a regular meditation practice will look like.
The concept of discipline has shifted in my mind. Now I see discipline as working towards a desired outcome with unwavering confidence rather than whipping myself with “shoulds” and shame. Change feels more possible.
I bought a bike and have started to customize it for future touring adventures, planning for some big far-off adventures has been helpful to maintain perspective on the day-to-day shifts in decisions
I bike or walk or jog everyday; I make sure to be outside and move my body at least once a day
I’ve started fasting intermittently to help with detox/to regulate my metabolism (not eating from 8pm to 8am to give my gut a rest and allow my body to use its energy for other things). The effectiveness of this, TBD.
my skin got worse and then better. My eczema is nearly non-existent and complexion has a nice little glow to it.
I’ve also noticed that I do not binge eat as regularly as I used to. Moderation feels more possible. I used to eat a bag of gummies in one sitting. Or other things that I wouldn’t care to admit to people. Now, I have pretty regular snacks.
My sleep absolutely sucks. I wake up with the most oppressive anxiety at 3 am. I’ve given up entirely on a regular sleep schedule. I started out with a strict early rise, but I need to sleep when I can get it, so this has pretty much gone to hell in the past few weeks. Maybe I’ll revisit this in a while. For now, rest, whenever I can get it, is the first priority. Sleep Solutions
My intuition has been sharpened. I trust my gut more lately. I read tarot for fun and to help deepen conversations, and I find that my readings are more interesting and engaged lately. That’s really a nice perk!
My communication has been more intentional. I offend people less often. I am more supportive. I am more aware of how I present myself to others.
My humor seems to be changing as well. Self-deprecating humor is less funny. Mean humor is less funny. Drunk humor isn’t funny at all.
I’ve watched a LOT of TV. I am not SO very proud of this, but I also appreciate that I am giving myself a break.
Boundaries…as I grow more centered and aware of my energy flow, I feel more protective of my inner world. Putting the phone on airplane mode, not returning calls immediately, not going on instagram as often, etc.
I have been writing a LOT. I think that through writing I’ve forgiven myself for some things, I’ve forgiven others, I’ve let go of some grudges, I’ve moved through so many emotions that felt permanent..introspection has been a HUGE part of my daily living
I’ve reached out to women in the area through uni and friends, I’m trying to meet sober friends, or at least friendships that exist around more than drinking together at the pub
I’m trying to improve my negative self-talk and overall self esteem. Through new agey mantras/conscious breathing exercises, saying encouraging things out loud to myself, posting nice quotes on the mirror….stuff I would have dismissed as lame before now feels realistic and totally rational.
I’ve “ghosted” a few toxic people without a second thought
I’ve white knuckled my way through cravings and “emotional hangovers”: shame of behavior from the past, painful memories, things that I would usually try to drink away.
In sitting through these feelings, I’ve learned that I won’t die from feeling them. I am less afraid of these dark clouds and feel more capable to observe them with compassion and patience as they pass through.
My time management isn’t its best…I do a lot of sitting blankly…probably I’m just exhausted. This feels acceptable.
I’ve felt SO GRATEFUL! I am so grateful for my health, my job, my clean criminal record, that I didn’t let my friend give me a stick-and-poke tattoo that said “beer” in mandarin when I was living in Taipei (I nearly did)
I’ve really grown a bit obsessed with sobriety; I can’t seem to read enough about it, talk about it enough, or just in general think of my life in a before/after sort of way. I can see how this is naive and likely I’ll eventually look back and see how sobriety isn’t an “easy fix”, but it has definitely been a catalyst to so many things!
I’ve felt really excited about knowing myself better. I want to try new things and push myself in new ways. Sobriety feels like a new dimension to my life. If this is possible, I can do so many things!
I enjoy a clearer mind and a freer conscience
I’ve felt hopelessly lonely and afraid at times and had to just face those feelings without a vice. Deep breathing has become a solid tool.
I feel a little more “grown up” these days. My hygiene is improving and I feel like I am treating myself with more regard, which I think does manifest itself in my physical presence.
Sometimes I just feel outright BORING, but I love the serenity of that
I’ve said “I don’t drink”: to my neighbor, on a survey online, to a friend at the park…and each time feels like a tiny adrenaline rush
I feel more in love with myself than ever, genuinely. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I always LIKE myself, but I do feel sort of a self-trust? Like an inner me is beginning to rely on the decisions and behaviors of an outer me with less skepticism.
I feel totally committed to stay the course and see how this adventure unfolds!
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Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying
“I think I have a problem with drinking”
How do you go Sober? ( more reading in blue titles)
B Be accountable Talk to Us We Understand
A Avoid alcohol like the plague Ideas Here
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats Ideas Here
A Allow yourself to cry when needed Ideas Here
N Nourish your body with good food Ideas Here
C Create happy & fun memories Ideas Here
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day Ideas Here
W Work hard to get what you want Ideas Here
O Organise things for less stress Ideas Here
R Realise you can’t control it all Ideas Here
K Keep going & prepare for success Ideas Here
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest Sleep Solutions