Approaching almost a year of sobriety, I’ve started to reflect on the benefits of living sober.
I read a meditation in Melody Beattie’s book Journey to the Heart earlier today and it struck a chord with me as to how I feel about my sober life, versus how I felt when I spent mornings with a terrible headache and evenings on a hamster-wheel of just one more drink.
“Set yourself free from limitations, limitations you have placed on yourself. Sometimes in life we may begin thinking the best part is over. I’ve done my best work, had my best times. What could be left? That kind of thinking limits us. We don’t have to limit ourselves, life or the universe.”
“All endings are inexorably tied to new beginnings. That’s the nature of the journey. It continues to unfold. It builds on itself. It can’t help itself from doing that. Cherish the moments, all of them. You have seen and felt much in life so far. But still, the best is yet to come.”
These are just two paragraphs of Beattie’s (if you want to read more you should get the book!), yet they surmise perfectly how I felt about being sober before stopping drinking and how I feel about sobriety now.
When I decided to quit drinking, I had some vague notions of the benefits of living sober but if I’m being honest with myself I thought my days of having loads of fun were numbered. How wrong I was.
I listed alcohol as one of my vices in my journal in August 2016, I wrote:
Alcohol – it calms my anxiety in social situations and helps me feel involved, part of the group and confident. It also helps me feel socially accepted.
But, reader, I was wrong. So wrong. 326 sober days later as I write this, I know now that the benefits of living sober are exactly what I was searching for when drinking alcohol.
I manage my anxiety now (read more about alcohol and anxiety here). I understand that I will naturally feel anxious at the beginning of a big party, or before a date, or a big speech but with time that anxiety fades. It wasn’t the alcohol that helped ease my social anxiety, it was the time that passed.
And once you’ve (I’ve) attended one party/wedding/speech/date sober, the next one becomes a little easier, and the one after that easier still and then these events become … enjoyable! And you (I) remember every moment!
I recently went to a wedding (my third sober wedding of the year) and I had a blast. I did exactly what I wanted to do; I enjoyed the ceremony, drove home for a disco nap (5.30-7.30) and then went back to the wedding and sober danced the night away! At the end of the night I drove the grooms mum home, my mum home and then I got up at 8am the next day to teach my Sunday morning yoga class. And I loved it.
Back to that August 2016 journal entry, I followed the note on alcohol as my vice with the following goal:
I want to no longer drink alcohol, to remember every moment of my precious life & to do what I can to remove myself from harms way.
At this point, that statement was still five months away from reality. It wasn’t until December 2016 that I managed to put together extended sober time. The alcohol free time I’m still continuing now.
But I began to see that my life was worth living. It wasn’t a “rock bottom” for me; more many little nudges that began to crack my rose tinted alcohol glasses to show that wine wasn’t the rescuer and social lubricant I assumed it should be.
Since stopping drinking, the benefits of living sober have piled on top of each other to build such a strong case for my own sobriety that I am happy to now say I don’t miss drinking at all:
My skin is better
I’ve lost weight
I haven’t had a hangover in 326 days
I’ve saved money, almost £5k
I’ve completed my yoga teacher training
I’m a yoga teacher (there is no way I could have done the early mornings and late nights when drinking/hungover)
I’ve strengthened my relationship with friends
I really know my family now and they really know me
I’ve met new friends who have my best interests at heart
I remember every moment that I live
There are loads more but the above are at the top of my benefits of living sober pile as I write this today.
Sobriety has stripped away the limitations I put on myself when drinking.
I (you) can stop drinking, I (you) went against the social grain – and if I (you) can do that, then anything is possible.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, comment below or chat to me over on instagram.
All my love, as always, L xx