I had my last drink on October 9, 2016. I’ve been sober for 13 months, and let me tell you — that is something that I never thought possible for myself. I never imagined I would or could give up alcohol entirely, and I never would have had I stayed in denial and kept refusing to see how much it was damaging me.
For me, drinking had become a pretty big problem in my life, and as much as I was a conscious, aware person and very focused on health, I had this other side to me that was abusing alcohol, and it was only getting worse. I felt tremendous amounts guilt and shame after I drank, which would leave me in a very low vibrational state, full of anxiety. Because I felt so down, I turned to the only way I knew I could escape those feelings, which was to drink more, yet again. I was stuck in a repetitive cycle, and really the main thing that was keeping me down in the first place was the alcohol.
Now, you may be reading this and thinking you don’t have a problem with alcohol and can’t learn from my story, or maybe you relate to it more than you’d like to admit. Whatever your story with alcohol is, if you would like to change something about it, then this is for you. Often when I tell people I don’t drink they are shocked. I don’t always explain why I’ve stopped, but nevertheless people often say they wish they could stop, too It seems many people, regardless of if they like alcohol or have a problem with it, feel they can’t live without it, particularly in social settings where they’re expected to meet new people.
Here are six things I learned after going one year without alcohol.
1. My Friend Circle Changed
At first, I felt like my friend circle had drastically decreased. A lot of the people I had considered friends basically disappeared from my life after I stopped drinking, and I realized the only thing I really had in common with them was alcohol, so once that was gone, there was nothing left. I found myself content with the small group of close friends that I did have, and never expected how many more doors and opportunities would open up for me and how many people I would meet once I stopped. I have more close friendships now than I ever have before. You know what they say — your vibe attracts your tribe — and I couldn’t agree more. Nowadays, the people in my life are people that inspire me every day to be a better person, and it feels great!
2. I Became Genuinely Confident
When I first started drinking, it gave me this sense of fearlessness, a feeling that I could do or say anything I wanted. I was totally confident, and as a shy person, this really appealed to me. But over time, it got to the point where I was relying on alcohol to feel confident, and when I didn’t have it, I was quite reserved and felt totally awkward and uncomfortable, which ultimately made me feel even more alone and broken. After putting myself in social situations where I was meeting new people who were drinking and I wasn’t, it was like I really had to step up,. I could either I put myself out there, speak up, and join conversations, or I could stay in this little shy bubble and limit myself. When you don’t have alcohol as a crutch, you are kind of forced to put yourself out there. And so I’ve found that the connections I’ve made while sober have been much more meaningful than any of the “best friends” I made while drinking. I’ve met people where there’s actually been followthrough with getting together, collaborating, and supporting each other, and the connections I’ve made have been much deeper than they ever were while under the influence.
3. I Am Much More Capable of Processing My Emotions
This is a BIG one. I relied on alcohol to face and “deal with” my emotions, but it simply wasn’t working, because escaping with alcohol just prolonged the whole ordeal, offering a temporary escape from the issues rather than a solution. This ultimately made everything worse, because then instead of just having the negative emotion to face, I now had added layers of shame and guilt, and it was just too much. So then came the anxiety, and thus the vicious cycle continued.
4. I Have Saved Way More Money
This is an obvious thing that happens if you decide to cut back or cut out alcohol. There is no denying alcohol is expensive. I can’t count the number of times I spent or lost $200 in one night. When I was drinking, nothing else mattered. I realized I was paying to keep myself miserable, and I now have more money saved in order to create the type of future I want for myself. More importantly, I actually believe that I have a future.
5. I Realized Alcohol Wasn’t Actually Fun Anymore and Learned What Was
I don’t remember exactly when alcohol stopped being fun and started being an escape, but it was still years before I quit. I feel there is a fine line between these two states and this is important for anyone to recognize. The majority of the time I drank I would black out, and let me tell you, there is nothing fun about that, because I wouldn’t remember anything the next day. Now I realize that going into bars, with music so loud you can’t even have a conversation, is not my idea of fun. I still enjoy live music and dancing, but I have found so many other ways to enjoy these activities that don’t involve a typical bar scene, and I have actual, legitimate fun. I do what I truly enjoy, instead of what is expected of me.
6. I Believe in Myself and Recognize My Strength
For many years I truly felt broken. I didn’t believe I had the strength to stop drinking, I had no idea how to process my emotions, and the only way I knew how to escape my feelings was to drink. After overcoming this issue, a battle I never thought I’d win, I am now left feeling incredibly empowered! I think to myself, if I can do that, what else am I capable of? And sometimes when I’m feeling down or facing some challenges, I think back to the past and how far I’ve come since then, and it always makes me feel better and helps me recognize how strong I really am. It’s a great reminder.
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We are all have this type of strength; we just have to find it. Sometimes, until you need it, you don’t realize it’s there! If I had never stopped drinking, I never would have found it.
This is just my story! Have you taken a break from alcohol? Do you feel like you need to? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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