Wow. The day is FINALLY here. One year ago, I decided that I would give up drinking for Lent, and then promptly fell down the rabbit hole of sober recovery on the internet, and here I am. I thought that if I could go 40 days without drinking, that would be enough to get my life “back on track” and moderation would be easy! But as I read sober blogs, and books about giving up alcohol, I realized that this was the thing I needed to change in my life for the foreseeable future, and 40 days just wasn’t going to cut it. After going through the death of my grandmother, something inside of me woke up and kept whispering that it was time, this was my chance. And so I quietly stopped drinking.
It was easy to tell people in the beginning that I gave it up for Lent, there were usually no questions after that, but as the months wore on, people started inquiring more about what I was doing. And I’ll say, that 99% of my friends and coworkers supported me 100%, most were just curious as to why I would make this decision to begin with. Questions like, “Oh, do you have a problem?”, or “Trying to get pregnant, huh?”, “Still not drinking?”, became the new normal. It’s interesting that my decision to take an extended drinking break led to people telling me about their own history with drinking, why they were ok, or why they knew they themselves had issues, but could never fathom living their life without it, even if they knew it was trouble. That New York City lifestyle I mentioned before is no joke!
I have observed over this past year how nearly anything and everything we do as New Yorkers can be attached with drinking. There are whole day festivals dedicated to wine for God sakes! (Pinknic festival anyone? The literal manifestation of “Rose’ all day”) There is a whole culture of drinking that a) I think most people don’t even realize they are a part of, and b) don’t realize that they don’t have to be a part of.
That was my radical step to my own personal freedom. Removing myself from the culture. I didn’t want to slowly sink lower and lower to the bottom until it was too late to pull myself back up. I realized that it wouldn’t be easy, heck, it’s still not easy, to be the one on the “outside” looking in. I mean, not one of my friends has quit drinking, although I suspect some are privately trying to cut back/make changes. My favorite thing is when I’m actually at a bar (which has happened less and less over this year), drinking my ginger beer or seltzer or mocktail and THAT’S when my drunk friends want to know all about my sobriety. I have to laugh!😂
But in all seriousness, removing alcohol completely from my life has allowed me to take leaps and bounds in my own personal growth. I don’t have to spend any mental energy trying to ‘moderate’. If I’m out with friends and everyone else is drinking, I don’t feel any pangs of longing anymore. I’m still socially awkward for those first 30 minutes or so, but eventually I warm up and I’m focused on connecting with my friends, either through conversation, or breaking it down on the dance floor. And the best thing about it all is that I can slip away when I start to see those drunk changes in people that let me know conversation is now useless. I go home, and wake up the next morning ready to face another day with a clear head.
Sobriety has given me my time back. I have been able to bring to the forefront so many things I had put on the back burner over the years. Rebooting my career, a renewed focus and commitment to my health and fitness, finding time for spirituality, meditation, church, and keeping the focus on my marriage and those friendships I hold close to me. Actually having fun, and remembering the fun I had! I did the big chop (chopping off my relaxed hair and choosing to grow out my natural texture) this year, something I almost did 10 years ago, but was too afraid to make a change. I feel like I’ve literally shed layers of myself that were holding me back, and I look in the mirror at a changed woman.
So, here’s to year one, journeying through so many firsts. And I think my focus over the next year is to keep finding joy in my life in as many ways as I can, find solace in the quiet moments, and to keep setting goals and pusuing my dreams, because I am the change I wish to see in my life.
For those of you out there just starting out, or thinking about it, here are a few things that have helped me maintain the routine and lifestyle of living the flourishing dry life over the past year:
- Belle over at http://www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com
I subscribed to Belle’s sober podcast which I listen to when I work out at the gym. In the beginning, I also joined her 100 day sober challenge, and then her 180 day challenge. I also read her blog from the first post right until I caught up. She has been a huge help in keeping me on this path!
- Holly Whitaker at Hip Sobriety http://www.hipsobriety.com/home/
-Stop over at her site and just read all the blog posts. She opened up a new world for me in that there were other ways to approach my recovery/sobriety. She has a plethora of resources for those who are just starting out. Check out her Instagram as well.
- http://mummywasasecretdrinker.blogspot.com/? I just read her blog from start to finish and really enjoyed her style, and she had a lot of advice for people throughout certain stages of recovery.
- https://soberistas.com is a great one because it is a community full of regular people sharing their stories throughout all stages of recovery
- Home podcast, which features Holly from Hip Sobriety and another amazing woman, Laura McKowan (http://www.lauramckowen.com) is a great resource. They just talk through so many things that spoke to me throughout this past year
- Instagram- I have turned my Instagram feed into a sober support network, following tons of people who are sober and proud and living out loud. @drybeclub is a great one to start with and you can find so many others from there.
- Books: These were all game changers for me!
The Easy Way for Women to Stop Drinking (Allen Carr)
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget (Sarah Hepola)
Integral Recovery (John Dupuy)
Kick the Drink…. Easily!(Jason Vale)
This Naked Mind (Annie Grace)