The first 9 months of 2015 was a total shit show.
I decided to regain control and that started with changing my lifestyle & who I associated with.
At the beginning of October 2015, I made the decision to “cut back” on my drinking and gave myself ONLY 5 days to drink that month. I remember traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina that month and being so proud of myself for not drinking a single drop of alcohol while there.
Getting fully sober was never on my radar, but I ended up kicking off 2016 sober AF and 1,458 days later, I am still 100% booze-free.
Like most people, I had used alcohol as a way to “cope”. Now I can see that it only served as a (temporary) bandaid & blindfold.
I was naive to think that eliminating alcohol from my life would solve “all my problems”. The problems that alcohol had been causing did start to disappear, but other things that I hadn’t even anticipated began to surface.
Life is DEFINITELY better without it and I don’t miss it one bit. No one ever regrets getting sober.
BUT….Without alcohol my soul felt naked.
I spent the first 15 years of my life being told how to feel, think and act. I spent the next 10 years trying to figure out who I was, often defaulting to becoming whoever others wanted me to be. It’s exhausting pretending to be something you are not and disheartening when you realize you have no idea who you are. So I spent the next decade ignoring my feelings. I didn’t like feeling of being exposed, so I numbed my them, shoved my true feelings down.
When I got rid of alcohol, I realized that I had decades of shit I needed to deal with and not only did I need to figure out how to process my feelings, recover from traumatic events, but I also had to get used to “feeling”. “Feeling” was a foreign thing for me.
The timeline of my sobriety
Year 1: October 2015-2016 I was driven by the challenge. My tactic was to completely avoid any temptation. I buried myself in my “work”. I tried to force my goals on Ryan & made tried to make him feel guilty for “not supporting me”.
Year 2: October 2016-2017 I realized that this was my journey & I was only responsible for myself. I re-evaluated my relationship with “work” & discovered that work was the only addiction I hadn’t yet addressed. I was using “work” to avoid the uncomfortable things that needed my attention. I isolated myself, avoiding every event, allowing (social) anxiety take over. I told myself that I wouldn’t be able to find people who didn’t drink. I didn’t know how to form friendships without alcohol as a buffer.
Year 3: October 2017-2018 I was no longer tempted by alcohol. In fact, I was in a pub surrounded by people who were drinking on the 1,000th day of my sobriety. I finally acknowledge the hurt that I hadn’t allowed myself to feel, grieving the loss of “friendships” that were severed when I made the decision to get out of party mode.
Year 4: October 2018-2019 I made it through literally the toughest season of my life without feeling tempted to turn to alcohol. I finally decided that I was ready to step back out into the social world and realize it’s not “that” scary after all. I am still working on learning to trust people again. I talk about my sobriety, but not as much because it’s become my “normal” now. I came to the realization that alcohol didn’t MAKE me fun BUT it prevented me from learning HOW to have fun because it had taken up so much space in my life and became my “hobby” and “identity”.
This past weekend I was able to sit at a bar with friends who were enjoying one drink and not feel like I was missing out while sipping on my mocktail and the next night hung out at the resort bar surrounded by people who were drinking and dancing and didn’t feel out of place.