What 40 Days Sober Looks Like

I passed the 40 day mark the other day with little to no fanfare. I still track my daily progress on my trusty app, but if I mention it to my kids or husband it’s sort of lost it’s newness and they are like so that’s cool I guess, so number one to anyone doing this, you have to be your own advocate, YOU are doing AMAZING!

I broke it down into 4 main changes thus far, I’m still waiting for the gorgeous skin and trim waistline but I digress…

THE FEELS

This is super jarring to deal with (and I totally did not expect it) but when you are sober YOU FEEL EVERYTHING. 

Now, let me clarify. 

Imagine a Friday night, work was shit that week, kids are tired from their own playground woes, your husband shows up haggard from his week from hell…what do you do? You want to fucking escape, that’s what. Grab that bottle of red, head to the bunkie, have a few laughs, feel warm and fuzzy and then kick it to bed with your problems miraculously numbed over.

That isn’t the case with sobriety. There is no escape. There is no happy hour. There is no easy fix for your problems. You have to suck it up, find a new happy, figure out a way to de-stress that doesn’t involve selling your children. You have to feel those feels and figure your shit out.

This sounds awful doesn’t it? The first time I experienced it was indeed utterly awful. It was about 2 weeks in and Wren had a ballistic nightmare freakout on a Friday night that left me shaking. But I got through it, I didn’t rely on 2 bottles of cab sauv to solve my problems and it was ok. I felt almost euphoric in the aftermath and understood one of my greatest triggers to drink was family stress (AKA Wren freak outs).

HANGOVER FREE WEEKENDS (AND WEEKDAYS IF I’M HONEST) ARE DA BEST

There is no greater motivator for someone like me than knowing I will never feel that ‘shitty gross, laying in bed, tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth, nausea sweat soaked waves, dry skin, hunched over, unable to walk vertical, crawl to the couch, nibble on scraps of crackers for hours just so you can feel remotely normal’ HANGOVER AGAIN

I don’t have to plan my weekend around my miserable mornings. I don’t have to worry about the belly bloat and the way I would hate to parent my kids until I downed a lovely mimosa at 11am.

Sure, booze would get me hazy and feel better for the first drink, and then the second I was rolling along, but by then I was on the fast track to needing more. More booze, more laughs, more good times until my Saturday and Sunday was totally screwed and I hated myself in an anxiety ridden cloud. I have since learned that it takes DAYS to rid yourself from the alcohol you drink and thus no wonder I felt like shit until mid week when I would forget how much I felt like shit and look forward to the next happy hour. Endless cycle of yuck.

So the feelings, yes, they are intense and sometimes they suck but no anxiety hangovers – BONUS.

ISOLATION/LACK OF CAMARADERIE

Sharing a pint (or 12) with your friends brings you close, it forms a bond in your drunken haze that you continuously strive to upkeep. You feel a part of the group and it feels GOOD. This is the biggest bummer that sucks for me. I think about all the activities I used to do and how it’s probably not wise for me to partake anymore. I don’t want to say no to an activity but when you are in a group of heavy drinkers and the sole objective is to booze excessively which I so loved to do, then you find yourself quite lost. When you sit with your friends as they share a drink at a bar, and you are sipping an iced tea, you can’t help but feel left out, even if you are engaging with your friends and them with you.

I get mostly support from my friends but when you are feeling all those feels, it can be a very lonely place being the only one sober, that awful isolation even in a crowded room.

They say to get some sober friends, build a new tribe, but my whole life I viewed people who never drank as boring or dull which was a complete fabrication on my part because I didn’t want to be faced with my own issues with booze and seeing anyone sober only made me feel worse about my own choices so I surrounded myself with heavy drinkers. Now I see sobriety in a completely new light. I won’t get into the health side of things, although the things I have learned made my ability to stop drinking somewhat easy. 

But there’s the feeling of loss sitting around the dinner table unable to share a glass of vino, having a laugh while you get giddy with your mates and that sucks. I read somewhere that you almost have to mourn that person you once were. That part of your life is separate from the now and it’s ok to feel such sadness from that loss. I know what I am doing is right. I only have to ask the one question I posed to myself when I decided to quit and it was ‘Will I be happier sober?

MARRIAGE IS NEW & DIFFERENT

My relationship has been pretty great for over 2 decades or maybe more, I can’t do the math anymore, it makes me feel old, but it has never been sober. We LOVED to drink together. Many a Saturday would end up with us dancing in the kitchen having worked through a couple bottles of red. Now the dynamic has shifted and I struggle with what the future looks like when one of us still wants to get loaded and the other does not. I’ve read so much on this topic because it honestly scares me. I don’t think we aren’t strong enough to overcome it, but it shifts so much of how we live our life, what our weekends look like, so like a GIGANTIC adjustment.

The plus of it all is that I am not depressed. I’m not anxious. I am 100% present and loving our Netflix binges, the nighttime chats and morning giggles that I have missed so much of because of my lingering depressive state and anxiety fuelled arduous low periods. For years our main communication line was sitting up with a bottle once a week, catching up, yes, but Thursday hangovers…yuck. Now it seems so much easier, more frequent and fun and I think it is going to be a-ok but you will have to ask Troy how he feels :)

So after all this you are thinking holy shit Kelly, good on you for quitting, you are obviously an alcoholic who needed to quit. The kicker is that I’m actually not an alcoholic. I didn’t hit rock bottom. I didn’t quit boozing because I was re-morgaging myself into a broke hole. There was no absolute ultimatum. I was functioning as an adult most days but I just wasn’t happy, and when I think about my life 40 days ago and that statement, will I be happier sober? So far the answer is 1 million times over YES.

Now if I could only find a decent restaurant in town that makes fancy mocktails, then life would be that much sweeter :)

Sobriety Is The New Black

Alright so this topic is a bit overdone right now, but I wanted to weigh in for a titch on this whole Dry January thing. The holidays are a shit show, I get it, everyone needs a little detox and that’s cool too, but for some of you who might be like me, it’s not so much a 30 days and done deal, it’s a life style choice that I’ve been forced to adopt because my brain and body have decided I can’t sustain the level of party animal shit show Kelly of the past.

The dreaded hangxiety (which is actually a real medical thing!) after big night out, used to last one day, I would stay in bed and then go back to normal. This last year it has gotten so much worse. It lasts forever, stewing in my brain, and then spirals into a depressive state for days after the ‘Saturday Night’ good times.

Cue panic mode.

I’ve gone through the gamut of emotions around sobriety to the nth degree over the last 12 months and I’m not here to preach for anyone to do it one way or another. I’ve gone weeks without, then fell off the wagon. I’ve tried to moderate, but in the end I know I am way better off without it. I feel sadness to let that party boat sail off without me and maybe I will fall off again and again or maybe I won’t, as of today I’m writing with clarity that today I am not going to drink, and that is good enough for me. Will that change in a month? Maybe, but regardless this post isn’t about my choices. I just wanted to share some sobriety goodies with you if you are so inclined to need them :)

I enjoyed this article about the Sober Curious Movement which appeals to me if only I could be a more ‘occasional drinker’ but in the end moderate was never in my vocabulary. I do love the bit at the end about having a non alcoholic drink to start the night which more times then not ends the evening with you sober. I always have found the hardest part for me was the first 1-2 hours of the night, once I got past it, abstaining seemed a fuck of a lot easier. 

I read Sober Stick Figure a few years ago and I LOVED it. It was written by comedian Amber Tozer, who I could relate to 100%. The book is a memoir of her life as a comic, her alcoholism and recovery. As per the name, her little stick figure drawings of her being loaded are reason enough to buy this book :)

I follow a couple of people on instagram which are great for a daily dose of inspiration, although if I happen to have had a few drinks the night before, reading about all the amazing things the sober have accomplished on a Sunday can be tough on the psyche. Maybe that statement is more telling than I think… Regardless, Millie Gooch was just a regular girl who quit the booze in 2018 but felt there were no resources for fellow young sober girls so she launched this great collective of ladies who support each other through their sobriety call the Sober Girl Society. Her insta is fun and colourful and I enjoy listening to her podcasts because she reminds me SO MUCH of myself.

Sober Girl Society has a great design aesthetic as well as a fun vibe which most sober curious people struggle with – can I still be fun while sober? Fuck yes!

The Sober Glow account is not as cheeky as the above, but her posts are lovely and I have enjoyed her 30 days of movement initiative for January. Her instagram board is very calming, I just want to sit on the beach with her in a flowy dress and have a chat.

I grabbed this from her insta. It really spoke to me as I didn’t consider myself an alcoholic but I was indeed living inside that large grey area.

I’m also reading The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray. Her stories and the way she tells them in her charming British way are incredible. I can relate to a lot of what she is saying, her recovery factoids are the most ‘A HA!’ moments I’ve read thus far and have helped shape my brain to think about it all differently. Even if you don’t want to stop the boozing, she is a great storyteller. I began it yesterday and am almost finished.

If podcasts are more your thing, I have not listened to a ton of these episodes but have heard great things about them :)

Love Sober (episode 58 had guest Millie Gooch on from the Sober Girl Society). Half of my love for these ladies is listening to them retell the horror stories of Holiday time loaded on Buck’s Fizz (mimosas to us Canadians :)

Seltzer Squad is also on my list to have a listen.

Recovery Rocks is a mix of sobriety and rock and roll chat.

A whole list can be found on The Temper.

So whatever your reasons, they are yours and for no one else to judge. Enjoy the sober month, year, life, or even if it’s just today, good on you!