What I've Learned From Being Sober For 3 Months
Getting a buzz from life, not from booze.
Ohhh, alcohol. My white wine and I would be spotted together on those warm summer nights more often than I would like to admit. It was just so easy to relax after one or two glasses of the white magic. (Fortunately white magic here isn’t cocaine, so I guess that’s something, right?) But after one night of maybe one glass too many I realized that I should probably take a break.
Since I like to challenge myself every now and then I decided to stop drinking for 30 days. To find a starting day seemed a challenge due to the fact that in two days I had a party invite where I had to drink. Right? So after scheduling back and forth and figuring that in the next 2 weeks there was no right day to start I decided to start immediately. So here is what I’ve learned from staying sober for 3 months – and why I didn’t return to my past drinking habits on day 31:
Subsequently, feelings hit me way more often. The countless nights of falling asleep quilted in the haze of wine induced dizziness were a thing of the past. Now sober, there they were, unfiltered emotions and nothing I could do about it but to face them.
In the beginning, I felt out of balance, sometimes randomly sad or confused in the strangest moments. I couldn’t drink a glass of wine anymore to relax – no. I decided to let the feelings pass by, discover their origin, which gave me a better understanding of myself. I learned what my heart might have to say to me. I became more aware, because the connection to my soul got stronger and stronger. I got excited about things I used to barely notice at all: The fresh, crisp air in the morning for example – I got up earlier and walked a couple of stations before getting on the bus to work. It’s nice to wake up with a clear mind every morning, making it easier to focus at work. After a few weeks my mood enhanced and I got told several times how contagious my positive energy was.
I’d struggled with an eating disorder for the last few years. Never would I have expected that not drinking would have an impact on my eating habits. When I was tipsy I used to binge on unhealthy snacks, because it was the only state of mind to let go of the controled obsession when it came to food. Before I decided to stay sober for a month I was scared to eat proper portions, which allowed me to look skinny but my relationship to food was terribly out of balance.
After two weeks of being sober, I bought myself a package of gummy bears. For myself. I'd literally never done that before. I watched a movie and indulged in a few, appreciating every bite of the sweet treat – and I didn’t feel regret. Instead I felt proud to finally enjoy something like this. With every week passing by, I felt like finally getting in a healthy place with my body, mind and soul – with ease instead of guilt and pressure.
Now, after 3 months, I've re-discovered my passion for baking and cooking. (And with that I mean cooking real food instead of trying to make stewed veggies taste satisfying.) In the beginning, I baked 3 cakes a week, I even allowed myself to indulge in a little of the raw dough every now and then. The only feeling I had was the happiness of finally being able to do so. I realized how hungry my soul was for life and how much more you can archive, when you have enough energy to do so. I did gain some weight. But instead of freaking out like I would have done before I knew how proud I could be of myself. Being called skinny isn’t a character trait – being called mindful, empathic and energetic surely are.
The Social Life
When you are in a bar, you will most likely order your favorite drink – and after a while you will forget how dark, loud and uncomfortable most of those places are. Drunk people are so exhausting when you yourself are sober. I dare you to go into a bar on a Friday or Saturday night and order a water instead of a gin tonic. I dare you to watch those people without getting
a) bothered by the darkness,
b) the loud music or
c) people getting too close to you, because they lose their ability to see private space.
Drunk people behave like little kids with a sexual drive of a teenager which is obviously not the best combination when you are looking for a good night out. So instead I met up with friends: We cooked together, watched movies or had good conversations over a cup of tea. There is nothing as refreshing as waking up on a Sunday morning without being hungover.
You know that you still have a whole day ahead of you which you can fill with quality time instead of hanging on the couch, trying not to throw up. (And checking your bank account, wondering where those 50 bucks went last night.)
I never thought that I would come to a point where I didn’t want to drink anymore. After starting the challenge, which was only meant to last for 30 days, I thought on day 31 I would be back on having my obligatory glass of wine.
Looking back, I mostly drank spirits in situations where i found myself feeling uncomfortable and anxious and using the buzz to master them instead of wondering why that situation would make me feel a certain way.
I like the mindful and happier version of me way more than expected. So I guess I'm going to stick around with her for as long as possible.
Next up, 10 steps for making the most of a boring Sunday.