I knew when I first decided to quit drinking, there would be a variety of questions…
“Did something happen?”
“Are you okay?”
“How are you going to have fun anymore?”
“But you love your wine?”
The main one that kept sticking out to me was always some variation of, “Why would you ‘give up’ drinking?”
I always found that to be an interesting question to ask someone who is struggling with addiction – mostly because of the words ‘give up.’
How could I be giving something up that never gave me anything in the first place?
If I really sit and think about what my many years of heavy drinking could have possibly given me…
Unbearable hangover anxiety, mornings on the bathroom floor, fuzzy memories of the night before, and my favorite – a long list of regrets.
My biggest regret of all is not seeing what my relationship with alcohol was doing to my life.
Throughout my college years, I always assumed that my constant partying and binge drinking was just par for the course for every normal college student. And maybe to a certain extent, it was.
Until it wasn’t.
There was no way to plan for a global pandemic one year into my post-grad life. No way to plan for getting laid off from my first adult job. And definitely no way to plan for the dark depression that followed all of the above.
It’s hard for me to put into words exactly where my mind was at during that time without feeling overwhelmed with emotions.
Thinking back to that time in my life makes me feel ashamed for how much I was struggling, and even more ashamed of all the lies I told myself in an attempt to enable my drinking.
I was convinced that this is what everyone was going through at the moment. That everyone was drinking half a Bota Box a night just to be able to sleep. That everyone woke up in the morning with no job and no prospects and decided it was OK to start drinking at 11 a.m. That everyone continued to drink every night just to escape from all the harsh realities we were facing.
I was wrong.
I was in a spiral that haunted me even when things started to look up. When businesses started opening again, when I found a new job, when I moved to a nicer apartment outside the city.
My addiction followed me.
I was now in a constant loop that I couldn’t break out of.
I heavily drank myself to sleep, wake up and barely function throughout the day, and repeat just to avoid the crippling idea of having to face my lingering depression with a clear head.
This was the cycle I was in for months and no matter how hard I “tried”, I couldn’t find my way out of it.
I tried just drinking on the weekends: failed
Drinking only on special occasions: failed
Only having one or two: also failed
My only way out was getting completely sober – and that idea seemed impossible.
How would I be able to go through life without drinking?
The better question to ask should have been – how have I gone this long letting alcohol control my life?
April 21, 2021. The day I got sober – also known to me as the day I finally got myself back.
It took time to feel like sobriety was something I was capable of doing. I wanted to believe in myself just as much as the people who love and support me did. But I was still haunted by how much my addiction had changed me. How much it had turned me into a shell of who I used to be.
The first couple months of my sobriety I felt out of place – like I didn’t know where I was going to fit in as a sober 25 year old.
There isn’t exactly a large pool of people in their 20s that are sober or even want to look too closely at their own drinking habits.
For a while I felt alone in my journey, but after time I realized only I could define what sobriety meant to me.
Everyone’s journey to sobriety looks completely different – just like everyone’s addiction does.
I joined an online women’s recovery program, I read books and articles on sobriety, I downloaded an app that notified me every day how long it had been since I stopped drinking.
All things that made me feel empowered – something my struggles with addiction had stripped from me one too many times.
The hardest part wasn’t actually quitting drinking – it was having to deal with my depression head on, no more crutch, no more hiding.
After getting over the initial lifestyle change, things started to get easier. I had an easier time identifying as a non-drinker.
And it felt really good.
I started to feel like myself again – strong, empowered, alive. Present in my life for the first time in far too long.
Coming up on my one year sober anniversary has given me the opportunity to reflect on how much my life has changed over the past year. I’ve been able to truly soak in the magnitude of my accomplishment, because for a long time I didn’t think it would be possible.
But I’m here now.
And this is just the beginning for me.
Since deciding to get sober, I’ve been able to look at myself and feel proud of who I am.
I’ve discovered all the things I never realized brought me so much joy – different hobbies, good books, endless amounts of Marvel and Star Wars marathons.
My life was completely dulled by my addiction – and it took me getting sober to realize all that I was missing out on.
Sobriety gave me back so many things that alcohol stole from me.
Productive weekends: Time spent exploring the city, checking out farmer’s markets and spending time with the people I loved, instead of hungover in bed.
Healthy eating habits: Not only was alcohol detrimental to my overall health, so were the diet choices I was making when I was over-drinking. Giving up alcohol allowed me to re-focus on making healthy meals and smart choices.
A good night’s sleep: It’s amazing how much better my overall health is now that I am sleeping soundly and without the restless influence of alcohol.
A clear mind: Anxiety and depression, among most mental health struggles, are worsened by alcohol. This was the case for me too. Sobriety had such a positive impact on my mental health, freeing me from the rollercoaster of emotions that alcohol induces, and giving me the power to take control of my mental wellness.
Meaningful connections: You really do find out who supports you unconditionally when you give up drinking. And honestly? That’s a good thing. It certainly has been for me. I’ve been able to focus on real, meaningful connections with those people, and cultivate those relationships.
True feelings of self-love: Sobriety gave me the strength to become someone I was genuinely proud of again. Someone powerful. Someone brave. Someone capable of anything.
Because above all, sobriety gave me my life back.
It gave me, me back.
To those who are currently struggling – you are not alone.
Addiction is very real, but the lies you tell yourself aren’t.
There is a way out.
You can live a life without alcohol.
It won’t be easy, it won’t be comfortable, but it will always be worth it.
Sobriety can give you so much more than alcohol ever could.
That I can tell you for certain.