I struggled all day with writing about sobriety. Today marks one year of sobriety for me, which means abstaining from alcohol as my drug of choice. I decided to just do some kind of list about the pros and cons of this journey, where I am now, and how I foresee sobriety should I continue to remain sober.
My depression became more manageable, with fewer very low periods, low periods are easier to get out of, fewer self-harm episodes, most self-destructive acts are much less damaging and less permanent
I don’t have to worry about triggering my sober friends
I don’t have to deal with hearing from my friends and family that they are worried about me regarding my drinking
I am more dependable in case of emergency because I can help, drive, perform first aid, etc, any time of day
I don’t spend the entire first half of the day planning the inebriated second half of the day
It’s cheaper to be sober (until you take up backpacking)
I don’t post questionable things on social media or over text, or if I do, I can own that decision
I don’t wake up wishing I could freeze time before I remember dumb things I did or said the night before
I know my friendships are based in reality and real connections and camaraderie
No damage control, asking people what happened, making sure I didn’t do permanent harm to friendships
I’ve had to learn other coping skills that come in handy when I can’t drink, like at work or driving or whatever
I can move closer to closure on the things that triggered drinking in the first place by confronting them soberly
A lot more time for the things I enjoy
Feel better physically, eating better, probably looking better
Coping skills are hard and take time and energy to employ
There is nothing more effective for forgetting than alcohol
There is nothing more effective for immediate relief from anxiety than alcohol
I miss the feeling
I miss the anticipation of release
I miss the ritual
Negative stigma around addiction
Alcoholism having a reputation for being a more ‘male’ addiction
Hard to be proud of something that you don’t always feel like you had to give up in the first place
Miss casually drinking with friends and family
Can’t make my own alcohol like dandelion wine or honey mead
Future of sobriety stretches out before me, seems unfair
Fear of relapse
Overall, there are certainly more pros than cons, or at least the pros are weighted more heavily. I don’t regret this year of sobriety, that’s for sure. I needed to know if I could do it, because I was at the point where I was getting scared I couldn’t stop. I have always been one to challenge myself, to give myself limitations and goals to see what I am capable of. And I’m grateful that I gave myself the space of this year, if nothing else, to make sure I had that much control. My drinking was only heavy for a few years; I went most of my youth and young adulthood not drinking much at all. So I didn’t have the same attachment or physical addiction that many people have. Because of that, and what I felt was at stake, I did not struggle to quit all that much. It took me about a month after a really bad self-harm incident and a major mistake with a friend to decide I wasn’t going to drink anymore, and I didn’t. At first I tried to limit myself, but I have always been kind of an extreme type of person—all or nothing. So it didn’t surprise me to find that I struggled with moderation.
I like sobriety because I feel like I can trust myself. I didn’t always (or often) act in my own best interest when I was drinking, making decisions that hurt me and others. I barely had room for self-reflection because I was always trying to fix what I felt I’d broken. Now I know that my decisions and actions are based on my best-case mental processing. I do miss the relief, I miss being able to just have a glass of wine and give my brain a loving rest. But the problem is, will it be just a loving rest, or will it be a binge? Until I can count on myself to moderate my drinking or accept the responsibility of over-drinking, I can’t have any alcohol. I am not committed to a life of sobriety. I feel like there will come a time when I can access relief and release in more positive ways, in ways that are more effective even than alcohol. But that isn’t right now, so for right now I am confident in my sobriety.
Congratulations! And I loved the lists I could identify with So many points
Awesome Kathelen, congrats. There are sooooo many truths in this blog that so many people can identify with and learn from. Thanks for sharing and your honesty.
Congratulations, Kathleen. The first year is amazing. Then the gifts of sobriety keep popping up in the most unexpected places. Stay curious, keep the faith. It’s a great journey you’re on, one day at a time.
Love the honesty in your post. Sobriety is a hard pill to swallow at times. Congrats on your milestone.