Three Months Sober
Today marks three months since I’ve had a drink. It’s incredible how little I’ve missed it. I never thought I could enjoy being sober more than I enjoyed drinking, but it’s true.
I’ll be honest, I don’t seem to have quite the highs that I did with alcohol.
You might know them, the late-night raging barely remembered, the rambling and unenlightening conversations with strangers and friends at bars, the 15th game of pool that no one cares about winning, the hysterical laughter over something ridiculous (ok, I miss that a little), spilling a drink all over the dance floor, the fumbling out-of-tune guitar playing around the fire — you know, those highs.
But I also don’t have the lows.
That terrible hangover upon waking, desperately trying to squeeze in another 20 minutes of sleep, feeding my kids breakfast with shaking hands and a growing nausea, snapping at them or waving them off in my discomfort, the dread of trying to remember what obnoxious thing I might have said the night before, the craving that led me to the liquor cabinet or wine opener most nights around dinner time, the overall depletion of my body, my senses and my motivation.
My “Brand” of Alcoholism
Three months ago, I would not have said I was an alcoholic, just a thirsty drinker. I would joke that my “brand” of alcoholism was not drinking too often (I could easily say no if I wanted to) but that once started, I was all in. This past New Year’s Eve, I poured champagne and whiskey into my mouth at the same time. There is, unfortunately, a picture of this.
Maybe I’m not an alcoholic. I quit three months ago, without meetings or assistance and no serious physical withdrawals. I have been around my friends while they drank without feeling a lack and have gone to shows and had just as much fun dancing.
But looking back over the list of what I remember about drinking is eye-opening. I used to have so much fun, I thought. Alcohol eased my anxiety, helped my poetry performances, made me funnier, wittier, more relaxed. I thought.
My Lessons, so far
What I have realized after three months of sobriety is that drinking alcohol was like setting the auto-pilot.
I would come to the end of a long day and still have to make dinner and put kids to bed. A drink or two would give me patience.
At a variety of social gatherings like dinners, performances, and festivals, a drink or two (or three or four) would increase the fun to be had and help me relax around strangers.
There were nights my husband would want to go out, but I was uninspired, or vice versa. The solution was to have a drink to get the train rolling.
I am three months in (my husband is a week or so behind me), and we still marvel at how easy it is to not be drinking. Perhaps it is the pandemic and the need to be fully present at this moment for the safety of our family. Maybe it is the energy we have, the slimmer, healthier bodies, the absence of eruptive arguments, the money we have saved.
I do miss that moment of euphoria that comes with the first drink, the short-lived warmth that settles into your bones. My husband and I have discussed buying a bottle of expensive whiskey for a nip now and then. We realize that could be the beginning of our failure. So we wait for now.
I have taken to jogging most days, chasing the high that comes from exercising endorphins. I am more conscious of my hours of sleep and go to bed early enough to rise with the sun for a private morning of coffee and writing. When my girls wake, I am ready to greet them with a smile and the attention they deserve.
During the day, I have energy and focus. At the end of the day, I am still available and present for kid bedtime and any projects I may feel inspired to work on. Or I crawl into bed with a book and fall into a night of healthy, deep sleep.
I have enjoyed the moments that I used to think I needed alcohol for. I have been to see a great band and danced harder than I would have been able to with a drink in my hand. I have sat around a campfire with friends enjoying the guitar and hung by the river without the energy-draining beer or cider I used to require.
I have enjoyed every one of those moments, along with the mornings afterward as well.
Perhaps, during this pandemic, it is hard for people to give up drinking.
Believe me, I get it. Alcohol is a vice, and during this time, we need our vices. I have drastically increased my chocolate consumption and write feverishly most mornings while chugging coffee.
But maybe it could also be the perfect time to give up drinking. With no music shows to go to, no social gatherings that require your alcohol participation, no need to explain your bubbly water to drunk friends at parties.
Now could be the perfect time to try sobriety.