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What I learned from one year of no alcohol

What I learned from one year of no alcohol

What happens when you quit drinking for a year? I've now passed the one year mark since I quit drinking alcohol. As of December 3, 2019, I've been one year sober. I'm super proud of this accomplishment! It wasn't easy, but so worth it. Here's what I learned from the experience:

  1. Drinking wine almost nightly was a way bigger time suck than I'd ever realized. From hangover weekends to sleepy week nights, I was cutting hours out of my life that could be more productive and enjoyable.
  2. I used to be one of those annoying people who pressures other people to drink when they don't want to. And, now I realize it's because their decision to not drink made me feel guilty about mine. 
  3. All my relationships improved when I stopped drinking because I was less impulsive, less emotional and more intentional in how I treated people all of the time.
  4. During the early months, it helped to take it one day at a time. I didn't look past the day ahead of me. If I focused on going through an entire year without wine, it was overwhelming and felt impossible. One day at a time is very manageable.
  5. The temptation to drink never completely goes away. It eventually weakens significantly, but on the really emotionally tough days (I still get those), I still picture myself grabbing a bottle of wine and downing it. 
  6. The desire to drink (as per above) is short-lived. After a couple of minutes, it's gone. I just have to acknowledge it, and move on.
  7. My social life has changed. I don't go out as much and I'm invited to fewer outings. And, I'm ok with that as I transition to a new life that is made up of daytime activities that fulfill me personally, rather than dinner parties and "drinks out" that were fun but, ultimately, not adding to my life much.
  8. Friends and acquaintances will question why you've quit drinking at almost every social occasion. From saying they prefer to "old drinking" version of you to being outright rude about it. I had to learn to take these in stride. Most people, thankfully, were simply curious about how I quit and admitted that they admired my strength. 
  9. There are lonely moments in this journey as I transition to a new way of living and socializing. I have to be patient with the process and trust that all is unfolding at the right pace.
  10. I can now speak with authenticity to my teen sons about drinking and how much better life is without it. I'm walking the walk, not just preaching from a place of hypocrisy.
  11. It helped a lot to have one champion in my life. My boyfriend was never a drinker, so we simply never drank on any occasion once I decided to quit drinking. It helps to have at least one person who cheers you on, and will not drink around you. Ever. I also found support on Instagram where there are a lot of people who share their sober journeys and inspired me to keep going. 
  12. My complexion has improved tremendously. As someone in her mid-40s, this is no small feat. I can attest to the fact that an alcohol-free lifestyle is way more effective than any spa treatment.
  13. My body feels healthier than it has in years. Partly due to not putting alcohol in it and partly due to having more time and energy to exercise. I do yoga, orange theory classes, run, walk and have signed up for my second marathon (I completed my first 7 years ago).
  14. I have gotten to know myself more intimately. Drinking wine enabled me to bury a lot of my struggles. It was easier to have a glass of wine after work than to work through my challenging emotions. With no wine, I had to face down every trigger one at a time.
  15. Eventually, the impulse to drink socially dies. But it takes months, not 21 days as I've heard some people think. Last week I went to a holiday party and there was wine and beer everywhere. I had no desire to drink. None. Even when the host looked a little sideways at me when I asked for sparkling water. I stayed for two hours, and left, perfectly content. 
  16. It's important to find ways to replace the empty spaces that were once filled with buzz. I fill them with spending time with my sons, cooking, fitness, writing and reading. I'm now looking for more ways to fill them.
  17. It took time, but I'm perfectly comfortable chatting at parties without the help of alcohol. In fact, now that I'm always sober, it's a bit weird to talk to people who are inebriated. I think, that used to be me? Yikes. 
  18. I'm less emotional. Period.
  19. I like myself a lot better now that I don't drink. I am way more accepting of who I am. 
  20. I have saved thousands of dollars by not buying alcohol at stores or at restaurants. Yessss...
  21. When I'm tempted (as per #4, due to emotional struggles), I remind myself of all the great changes in my life since I've quit, and I especially remember how awful hangovers felt.
  22. I remain cautious about having even one glass of wine because it's so easy to return to my old habits. And that is something I do not want ever again.
  23. I want to keep going! One year is not enough. I'm curious to find out how my life continues to unfold living authentically with a clear mind 100% of the time.

 

 

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