I am currently grappling with the reality of what it’s like to live, like really live, “sober,” and that it isn’t all puppies and rainbows and having a perfect 6 pack. Getting rid of alcohol initially feels like a cure-all, like the biggest “if I knew then what I knew now” moment I’ve ever had. You look better, feel better, sleep better, confidence soars, relationships improve, opportunities seem to present themselves almost aggressively (like karma for real, chill brah), food is more enjoyable, you are having real meaningful conversations, your work performance is out of control, everything goes your way. Imagine – this is just after a week or month of being sober – so what will my life be like in 6 months, a year, 10 years!? I’m going back for my Doctorate, I’m going to start writing more, learn German, train my dog, workout every single day and keep my car clean!
I look around my life today and, after nearly 12 months of being 98.2% alcohol-free…I have the same soft, Kermit-shaped body, the same familiar procrastination, I have forgotten what tiny bit of German I started learning months ago, and my dog is still a little shithead. I pick fights with my boyfriend, I cry at stop lights, I eat too much and I often tell myself I am undeserving. I have days where I don’t want to work out, open the curtains, or even get out of bed (my car stays pretty clean though.).
Here are a few surprising things I’ve realized are just “me” and “mine,” and don’t belong solely to drinking Danielle:
My wit and charm.
My temper and irritability, emotional lability and tendency to scream-fight.
My longing for human connection and deep, almost irrational fear of abandonment.
Skipping the gym because I’d rather snuggle and have coffee in bed.
Laziness/procrastination, at work and at home.
Body image issues and self-deprecation.
My innate desire and ability to dance poorly.
My tendency to overeat, graze mindlessly, snack, inhale sugar and fried things.
Leaving my debit/credit card behind.
Intermittent bouts of crying, mostly thanks to empathy, joy, frustration, fear of change/the unknown.
Feeling too overwhelmed by the world and life sometimes.
Cringe-worthy moments when remembering things I’ve done or said.
Struggling with self-love, self-care, empathy and forgiveness.
Productivity FOMO, feelings of scarcity/never enough.
Wishing I’d gone to bed earlier the night before, or woken up earlier today.
And then, things that have been buried with the bottle:
Complete disregard for other people’s emotions or well-being.
Self-hate so bad I all but took a literal sledgehammer to my own life, over and over.
Staying awake til the wee hours of the morning or operating on less than 4 hours sleep.
Frequent bouts of crying, mostly thanks to regret, shame, disgust, disbelief, exhaustion, hopelessness.
Refusal to even look at myself in a mirror because of my terrible skin, bloated face and body after a night of drinking.
Mysterious scrapes and twisted joints.
Eating food while it’s still way too hot to actually enjoy.
Losing my shoes.
Not knowing when to stop or “call it a night.”
Journalling that “this will be THE time, the chance to learn your lesson,” atleast once a year.
Crippling anxiety surrounding things I have done or said, or around the fact that I can’t remember.
Skipping the gym because I physically can’t, or going and performing at like 20% while obsessing over the fact that I am only burning off about 10% of the calories I ate/drank the night before..and eventually, not going at all because I don’t see the purpose anymore.
Worrying over wasted calories, money, time, or burned bridges.