Four Lies I used to Believe about Sobriety
It was a cold, rainy morning in November of 2015. I woke up with a pounding headache and strong feelings of dread and anxiety due to drinking an entire bottle of pinot noir the night before. I dragged myself out of bed and headed downstairs to drink my usual 20 ounces of water, a cup of hot lemon water, and start the coffee machine. I went back upstairs to lay on the carpet in the spare bedroom so I wouldn’t wake my husband and to ground myself because my head felt like it was spinning out of control. It was during these moments in the early morning when the self-sabotaging thoughts began. The monsters that came alive to criticize me for drinking way too much again, for not blogging last night like I intended to, for saying mean things to my husband in a drunken stupor, for not being able to moderate my wine intake, crying for no reason again, for drinking all those extra calories, and wasting my time. Why was this so hard for me? All I knew was that my inner critic regularly gave me a hard time about drinking too much, yet when I thought about stopping drinking for good, “she” frequently reminded me why I couldn’t do it. This was an internal battle that carried on in my head for about two years until I decided I had enough and wanted to start living a life of freedom.
Most of the people in my life know I took my last drink of alcohol on December 31, 2015. I was 29 going on 30 years old and I felt strongly in my heart that this was the time to decide. What many do not know is that I “dabbled” in sobriety for short spurts of time over the course of about two years. After getting married to my husband in the summer of 2013, I started to wonder how my life would be without alcohol. Since I had been drinking regularly for my entire adult life up until that point, the thought of not drinking scared the hell out of me. I would stop drinking for periods of a few weeks to a month and a half, I would feel amazing, then I would return to my old ways after having that first sip of wine. The reason I used to go back to drinking when I experimented with sobriety was that I was scared and believed there were too many benefits to drinking. Here are the four lies I used to believe about sobriety (that I honestly now laugh at because I was easily fooled):
1. Sobriety must be boring as hell
This used to be a BIG one for me and the major reason I did not become sober much sooner. I was convinced that sobriety was boring and I would run out of things to do with my free time. In all honesty, this was a legitimate fear since most of my activities with my friends and family revolved around drinking. Going on a date with my husband meant ordering at least two glasses of wine with dinner, hanging out with my friends usually meant drinking more wine (sometimes a trough of wine and flatbread–Lisa and Christina would GET this ;), going to a sports event meant mixed drinks or beer before and during the game, the holiday season meant lots of parties and delicious, sophisticated glasses (or bottles) of red, spicy rum cocktails, and creamy baileys martinis for dessert! Drinking was a huge part of my life and who WAS I without this huge social aspect of my life? Once I realized I could not moderate my alcohol intake by any means, I surrendered and quickly my desire to live a fuller, happier life with more freedom in my choices became greater than my fear of boredom I thought would come as a result of sobriety.
So what happened? Sobriety was ten times more fun than when I was a drinker! I swear to God I was amazed and never would believe in a million years I could have this experience. This bears repeating because I totally feel you if you believe I am full of shit right now. Sobriety IS way more fun. Of course this feeling does not happen overnight but I can assure you that each month that passed after I got sober got significantly more fun. You see, I began to take intense pleasure in the little things I used to take for granted such as buying myself beautiful flowers, getting up super early to journal, meditate, and workout WITH A CLEAR MIND, actually tasting and enjoying my meals, relaxing in a salt bath full of bubbles, treating myself to beautiful outfits, manicures and pedicures, massages and delicious lattes, having a real conversation with someone and actually remembering what we talked about, and just taking great care of myself and my body. If you drink, you may believe you already enjoy these things but I tell you, it is impossible for you to enjoy these things REALLY FULLY until you have tried sobriety for yourself as well.
2. I would lose my friends
When I removed the alcohol, I feared I would be removing the glue that held many of my friendships together. What would we do together now that I don’t drink? The reality was that I was still able to go out with friends and enjoy myself, even if I wasn’t drinking and they were drinking. I learned that most of my friends stuck around and supported my decision not to drink. Those that were not my real friends just slowly faded away, which was actually a blessing for me. Interestingly enough, I began having so much fun doing other things in my life, that going out with my drinking friends “just to drink” at the bar became less of a priority for me. Instead I would look forward to getting up the next morning at 6 a.m. to workout and meet my girlfriend for brunch (sans hangover!) Another important point I want to mention is most of my interpersonal relationships got deeper and more authentic because I was being authentic to me. When people know this and feel this from our vibes, we allow a space for other people to begin developing deeper relationships with us. So yes I did lose some friends but I gained plenty more friends so it did not seem like a big loss for me.
3. I would not be as fun and interesting anymore
When I was drinking and out with my friends, I was known as the fun and crazy drunk who danced on the tables and said crazy things to people that didn’t make much sense. I gained confidence and validation from people when I was drinking because they took delight in the “Amanda show.” Without drinking, what kind of fun would I be? What I actually discovered is that it was the drinking that magnified the intensity of who I already was as a person. I learned my soul is very wild naturally and likes to play and have fun and I was still this woman to the core. It was just very much exaggerated when I was drinking, much to my disadvantage. When I became sober, I realized I actually wanted to dance a lot more, have way more fun, and stay out later than when I was drinking. This was a surprise to me because I thought it was the drinking that made me this way when it was actually who I already was at the heart of my being.
4. I would be a hot mess because I am no longer numbing out my emotions
Completely false. While the first couple of months of sobriety I did release a lot of stored emotions held back from years of suppression, my emotions began to even out relatively quickly because I was choosing not to depress my body with alcohol any longer. I found that my anxiety was much lower than ever before and I started coming up with logical and simple solutions to my problems I used to make a big deal about when I was drinking. I uncovered that the real reason I was drinking so much was I had an innate fear of being to much for other people. I consider myself very creative, open-minded, and enjoy deep conversations with others. Not everyone in my social circle wanted to go deep so naturally I believed I would be perceived as a hot mess. I learned (and am still learning) it is much more valuable to live in authenticity and the rawness of our human emotions than it is to try and hide behind a “everything is good in my life” mask. I’ve discovered people are drawn to my authenticity and genuine personality and I no longer have anything to hide. Living in authenticity for me means not only opening myself to the truth, it also means I have less tolerance for unnecessary drama and more space to seek solutions for the challenges in my life. So I reframed the “hot mess” term in my mind to just living more fully and authentically.
I would LOVE to hear your stories and comments on this topic below!
Here is a picture of me doing a handstand (almost 15 months sober). I would never dream of doing something like this when I was drinking!