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…
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 :)