500 days ago I stopped drinking alcohol. But, why?
It feels like I’ve turned my back on one of my best friends; we were inseparable. You’d almost never see me without the slightly blurry glow and unmistakeable smell of whiskey. My daughter was so familiar with the neon glow of the drive through bottle shop that she would ask if I was getting more of ‘Daddy’s water’ as we’d pull in. Drinking alcohol was more than just something I did; it was who I was. In my eyes, alcohol lit a fire within me, gave me the key to locked doors and helped build enough confidence to head out into the world. Being a ‘drinker’ turned me from quiet introvert into wild extrovert and seemed to give me acceptance for my ‘unique quirks’.
I talk about how late on December 31st back in 2019 I finished my last drink and instantly became a non-drinker but it’s not the full story. I’d been loosely setting this sobriety journey up for some time. Figuring out my why has been the biggest step towards getting this far and squashing the urges to have another drink. Finding my people is a close second and as you see in the photo below, keeping fit, healthy and active has also been instrumental in my journey’s success.
"keeping fit, healthy and active has also been instrumental in my journey’s success"
Why is sobriety so hard?
Alcohol was my off switch. My favourite whiskey would stop the thoughts raging through my head for a short while and I’d forget my troubles. Everyday, the crack of a can of beer or bourbon would signal the end of another day of work and I could switch off. It became the habit and it felt like I needed booze to settle the soul.
“Can sobriety cause depression?” I asked. My mental health has always been a battle I’ve had to fight. Like many of us, the past couple of years has really tested the work I’ve done with my depression & anxiety and staying sober has been crucial. When I thought the end-of-day whiskey was helping unwind and relax, it was really just pushing my anxieties under the rug. I don’t think I really understood this until I got myself sober.
I couldn’t say that staying sober has fixed or cured my anxiety – or made it worse; I’m still anxious and I certainly still get depressed. The biggest, clearest, most profound improvements however, are the thought processes when an attack presents itself. The clarity of living sober helps when you need it the most. With the sharpness of mind, I can see most of my mental health battles before they hit, giving me what seems like an unfair advantage. While the sobriety benefits are huge, they failed to rid me of all my ails as I’d hoped but they have afforded me some pretty neat tools to fight with.
"Alcohol was, for me, a mask."
Sobriety from alcohol in today’s world.
Alcohol was, for me, a mask. I am weird, say the wrong things, often have energy that doesn’t fit the scene and thus have never felt like I fit in. Drinking alcohol everyday seemed to solve that. Alcohol was my ‘in’ and I soon felt I got the acceptance and connection I deeply craved. Giving up alcohol, I feared I’d lose my friends. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Since starting my journey to sobriety and strengthened over the past 500 days, my friends have really shone through. I’m still weird, don’t say the right things & often don’t quite ‘fit’ the energy, but I can definitely say I’m closer to my friends & family as a result of being sober. Where people used to say, “there’s just something about you I can’t explain” is now just my quirks and differences that my friends seem to appreciate.
Living without alcohol; is sobriety boring?
Is sobriety boring? Far from it. My life has improved on levels far beyond any drink induced high. I still make it to parties, get amongst the jokes and am pushing my body further than ever before. I am fitter, stronger, healthier and have more confidence to be who I want and achieve any goal I set.
So there you have it. My brief insight into how sobriety changed my life. I hope you can draw some inspiration from my journey in dealing with sobriety.