I was on business travel the day I spent 24 hours sober and stopped looking back. That was 365 days ago, August 3, 2016. This day wasn’t any different for everyone around me, but inside of me I had a tingling. I also had more genuine joy than I can remember having before. This wasn’t the same joy I have when I look at my son or when I recall a happy moment with friends or family. This was a definitive feeling of profound love for myself. This is the love and respect I gave back to myself.
This feeling of self-love is different. I thought I loved myself and was happy when I drank. Reality was, I couldn’t see ME. I couldn’t see ANYONE or ANYTHING. All I saw was a drink and it being 100% part of my life. I couldn’t imagine a day without it. So many empty handed promises and wasteful breaths.
How did I make it to a year? A lot of the blog posts in the archives tell the story. You can go back to 30-days, 90-days, 6 months. Things that I thought would be gone still remain. So, in tradition of the blog and reflection – where am I today?
- Physically, I shudder a lot still. Sometimes when people talk about alcohol or I think about it, the ghost goes through me. I literally shudder. It reminds me how physically addicted I was. I actually embrace the shudder. It is kind of like my angel that likes to sit over my right shoulder. I can feel it, acknowledge it and live with it in peace.
However, the better side effects of not drinking are that I have better physical stamina, no more ailments, hangovers of course and the shakes and sweats have long disappeared.
- Mentally, I am really coming to terms with the presence of boredom and how it affects me. I still play a lot of phone games to keep me busy, but I am starting to pick up old things that I love like bicycling and cooking.
However, my social anxiety is back where it was before I drank but I am working through it. It can be hard but through years of practice and support from the people around me as well as being open about my anxiety, I am able to work through it. It kind of haunts me a bit and sits inside me but I can be logical about it rather than irrational, escapist and drunken. Do I still get “the blues?” All the time. It is these feelings that have to be felt. They can be intense but they just have to be.
- Obsession, it is lifted. Finally, I can be anywhere at anytime and not notice alcohol. In the beginning, alcohol was everywhere. Now, it is just there. I am not saying that the craving or romanticism doesn’t pop up from time to time. That is a given but I can see it declining over time that it is waning more and more.
- People are assholes. Now, this is the part of the blog where I say everyone who can drink normally or think they can are ignorant assholes. This is semi-true and not true all at the same time. There are people who will always judge, look down on you or just not understand WHY you don’t drink. Stereotypes will appear from every corner. What I have learned is, if you are up front and direct; you can break some of them down. Some people will be afraid to be around you as if “quitting alcohol” is contagious. It is true. Some people won’t want to look their own problems in the eye. That is OK. It is not our business to be “better than” or preachy. We can only be ourselves and true to ourselves. We say “I don’t drink alcohol” when confronted. If pressed, I find honesty to be cathartic but in some situations whether it be workplace or sensitive arenas; I just say I don’t like to drink or just doesn’t meet my health goals. It’s that easy!
- My friendships have changed. I love the new friends I have. Sober friends are awesome. Yes, some relationships won’t click and some people will never be friendly associations but the reality is if you share a common bond with someone as deep as alcoholism – friendships are inevitable. I need that bond. Somedays I don’t feel good unless I am around other alcoholics. I have to see, speak to and touch another alcoholic. It is that simple. Whether it is going to AA or just meeting someone for coffee. I need that connection. My oldest friendships are changing too. I am able to focus and speak to others without my head being somewhere else. I am no longer thinking of how long I have to hang around for my visit to be legitimate and run home to drink. Human to human conversation is so different without alcohol. It becomes meaningful.
- Family looks weird. My family looks weird. I am starting to have different views on my family. As I make amends to them, things improve and though I haven’t finished them I still think that my family has some heartbreaking angles to it. The past cannot be fixed and I pray to not repeat some of the history. My grandfather died of cirrhosis. As I learn more of his life, the sadder and more reflective I became. Why didn’t he get saved? What would have been different if he did? It can get morbid. Overall, the years to come will tell how my relationship with my family will end up. It isn’t overcomplicated, just different how I view them; before tolerance was disguised in my buzz and now it is just that much more sensitive. Small doses and boundaries!
So, how did I do it once I said ENOUGH? Here is the list:
- Went to AA meetings 3-4 times a week (1-2 speaker meetings, 2 Big Book meetings)
- Got a sponsor (90 days in)
- Wrote this blog. Anytime I had a subject I wanted to analyze, I did it. It was almost a blog a week. I am NO writer and that is OK. I didn’t need to be. It is like a journal. I wanted it to also help others. If I had to go through this journey, I wanted it in writing.
- I spent and still spend time on the BFB Facebook page. It is a private page for alcoholics to chat. We practice gratitude and reach out. It is part of service.
- I do service. I bring people to meetings who cannot drive.
- I did commitments and told my story; I chaired commitments.
- I donated bookmarks to my women’s group. They didn’t have the prayers we say available so I thought – book marks! It helped me be creative. It helped me to give.
- I worked the 12-steps and finished them just last month! I was VIGOROUS about them. They are really, really helpful to recovery. I say don’t wait-just do. By the way, I will be doing them the rest of my life. Now I can sponsor others just like me.
- I rested when I needed to rest.
- I cried and yelled when I needed to.
- I played a lot of Candy Crush.
- I read lots of books.
- I watched a lot of movies.
- I listened to SO MANY podcasts.
- AND I watched and listened to all of you.