My Sober Life: What I’ve Learned in One Year Without Alcohol
posted by: Mile High Mamas
One year ago. September 16, 2019, I decided to go alcohol-free. As I’m reading my very first blog post about being alcohol-free, Day 1 – Sober, I am crying. Not because I am upset, or sad, or ashamed… but because I remember the space my head was in.
I remember the shame, guilt, anger I felt with my past self. The anxiety and fear of choosing to be alcohol-free in a world that glamorizes alcohol. That is scary. It was heavy.
The questions I asked myself on my “cons” list of being sober are all valid questions and feelings. Sometimes I still feel like people don’t like me, or think I am annoying, or I get offended if I don’t get invited out to gatherings.
The woman that wrote that 2019 post is a completely different woman than the one writing this one.
Being alcohol-free is hard work. It takes effort, thick skin, the ability to feel your feelings and let the tears flow when they need to. I had to unlearn a lot (and I’m still unlearning) but I also learned so much more on the way.
Slip-Ups – Welcome them with Grace
I remember back in December I chose to drink with my girlfriends. After the first sip, I knew it wasn’t right for me but chose to keep drinking because I felt like I fit in again. I woke up the next morning with a hangover, lots of emotions, and the grit to move forward without it.
Slip-ups are all about how you deal with the after moments. You have a choice: A. You can continue to drink; or B. You can stop. When I get the itch to drink again, I just “play the tape forward” (thanks @thesoberginger).
Playing the tape forward is my favorite reminder that drinking isn’t for me. What will tomorrow be like if I drink this glass (or bottle) of wine:
- I’ll have a wicked hangover
- My toddler won’t care that I’m hungover
- I’ll likely call to the porcelain Gods
- I will blackout (because I always do)
- There will be a good chance I’ll have to apologize to someone for something
So while I was angry with myself back in December, I chose not to continue drinking. I knew I had something better to go back to. Which brings me to another point.
Your Sobriety Date is for You, No One Else
Before I slipped up, a well-intentioned friend said “If you drink tonight, you have to start over at day 1.” At that point, I thought he was right. But coming up on a year later, I actually know he is wrong.
I was a guest on The Dry Life podcast a few weeks back and we talked about how sobriety dates are personal.
Someone else’s opinion about your slip up is not your business.
It is all about how you deal with your present situation. One night of drinking does not erase the months (possibly years) of knowledge you have consumed about this drug. It doesn’t erase all the tears or time you have spent working your booty off to not be consumed by it.
A few questions I asked myself after the podcast:
- Did I let the slip up define me?
- Did I say screw it and continue drinking or
- Did I reevaluate my choice and realize alcohol didn’t serve me like I thought it would?
The answers were no, no, and yes.
I could have started my counter over and chosen a different sobriety date… But instead I was kind to myself, welcomed that slip up with grace, and moved on.
Also, do not let a date define you. You are You. You are not your sobriety date.
Grace – Not Perfection
In the past year, I have had to figure out how to deal with my emotions, arguments, stressors, anxiety, and depression without picking up the wine glass. I have had to give myself so much grace and patience.
A year ago, I didn’t realize I was dealing with my anxiety in a way that actually fed it. Alcohol is a depressant. It will hype your anxiety or depression up and make it bigger than it was before you took a sip. In turn, making it harder to treat.
No two people do sobriety the same way. Welcome the feelings, tears, regret, sadness, be open to new possibilities, people, places. You are the creator of your new life – give yourself grace as you navigate through this blank piece of paper.
Find your Community and Hold on to Them Tight
I am a person with very little friends. I used to think it was because I was choosing certain people to be close with, but the longer I stay sober the more I realize I was wrong. But I’m a person with little friends because of who I was when I drank alcohol.
As I navigate how to make friends in real life, I have many people I’d call friends on the old ‘gram. People that live in Canada, Ohio, California, New York, and Chicago to name a few. People I would have never met if I hadn’t put alcohol in my past.
Without people like Sammi, Kevin, Hayley, Shea, and Heather (to name a few) always hyping me up, I would probably be drinking somewhere again. This community is the connection I have been longing for since I took my first drink (and all of the drinks I took after).
Protect Your Energy
Even after a year, people have their opinion about MY sobriety. It likely will never go away.
Protect your energy!
People will let you know that they do not support your sobriety in many ways:
- Snarky comments about your sobriety
- Always talking about “Needing a Drink” in front of you
- Prying when you say you aren’t drinking
- Or saying “Come on its just one”
- Maybe they don’t talk about it with you at all
Protect your energy!
If this bothers you, talk to them about it, remove them from your life for a while, unfollow them on social media… whatever it may be, just protect your energy.
As fragile as sobriety is, do not let other people’s opinion shape your choices or bring you down. You don’t have time for that, you are busy making yourself into a better person.
I Don’t Know Who I Am but I’m Working On It
When I was drinking, I was not living up to my worth. My hobbies consisted of drinking and working out.
Since quitting alcohol, I’ve figured out that I love to write, enjoy reading, taking walks, watching baseball, and working out. I am finding my path in creating art, mindfulness, practicing my Oracle Cards, and I am working on figuring out how I can help other people live their best alcohol-free life.
Living alcohol-free is quite literally freeing. Freeing of anxiety, depression, questionable decisions, toxic people, and hangovers.
It has only been 365 days. I have a long road ahead of me but I have an idea of what is ahead of me.
I’ll take a bad day alcohol-free over a good day drunk.
Cheers to the next 365!
Amber Hansen is a toddler mama fueled by coffee and yoga all while staying alcohol-free in a Mommy Wine Culture world. She’s located in Denver with her husband, toddler and mini golden doodle. Follow her on Instagram @thehansenlife.