I am approaching my first sober anniversary.
I have learned a lot from living sober this time around.
I had no idea when I gave up drinking last time; it was so easy, and I found it challenging this time.
I think the challenge came from the knowledge I gained, from being more self-aware of my thoughts, cravings and when I used alcohol.
I realized that I was abusing alcohol in all the wrong ways, and just like an addict, I was numbing parts of me. I was numbing my life away on weekends and how I felt in my body.
A sober life is not for everyone, even though I think it should be.
However, I chose this path, or maybe it chose me. I wanted to get deeper into my spirituality and be a better Muslim, and alcohol was not going to fit in; it was also ruining parts of me, making me feel guilty after abusing it; I felt shame and all the other not-so-good feelings that come with too many drinks too fast.
Here I am, sober AF. I do not love it all the time, but sticking with it. Why? Because I deserve it.
I am not sure if there is such thing as a sober high; if there isn’t, there should be what I felt in the first few months of being sober felt like a high on life. I felt liberated, and I felt empowered.
As each day and week passed, I was proud of myself, enlightened to a certain extent, my sleep improved, and I was planning out my days and eating better. Talk about serious adulting.
But just with any High, it came crashing down until I was in a state of SOBER LOW VIBING.
After deciding to become sober, I looked for sober women to follow on Instagram, and I quickly joined Twitter.
I got cool quotes on Instagram that encouraged me, and I saw visually what sober life could be like. (Be careful Instagram is meant to fuck with your mind)
Twitter is what I was most impressed with. The number of people on Twitter suffering to stay clean for more than a day was mind-boggling; what was even more impressive was the support you got if you said anything along the line of “I am having a hard time.” People you don’t know will reach out to offer support; some have dedicated their accounts to documenting their sober journey, as with Instagram.
What I liked about Twitter vs Instagram as a sober community is that Twitter was not so visual. I didn’t have anyone to compare my house, family, clothing or job with. It was just primarily words.
If you have been on my blog, you will know that I bought the book “Quit like a woman,” I used that book as a stepping stone to quitting, like coaching backing me to get it done.
With the book and following a few accounts online, I could see, give and get support myself.
BEFORE vs AFTER
Oh lord, how I hate those before and after sober pics. I see them daily on Instagram and Twitter.
I would see photos of people who looked terrific after quitting drinking in just eight months; it looked like they lost 15lbs and were glowing.
When I see these pics, I wonder to myself; I wonder what smoothie they drink in the morning because I need some of that ASAP.
I still look like shit, and I am still struggling to lose weight.
“Where is my sober glow already…. like I am waiting, and I have paid my time. It is coming any day now?.”
I am unsure what was more upsetting, the sober glow or the sober weight loss.
Sobriety is not a one size fits all, is what I have learned.
When I gave up drinking, I replaced my weekends with binge eating. Talk about a swap I didn’t think through.
We can sometimes find other ways to numb out if we try to avoid feeling anything.
After the scale went up and up, I wanted to drink, but I didn’t. I was already committed, and if giving up drinking taught me anything, I could do it, but I would have to face the things I was avoiding once I had put my mind to it.
OH GOD, I WANT A DRINK
About nine months into my sobriety, I found a calling, and I wish it were one from god telling me I would be rich, but nope again.
I felt like I had hit the jackpot when I was six months in, and I was okay with giving up drinking, and during the six months, I didn’t crave drinking.
But then, all of a sudden, these feelings like “I just want to drink and get drunk” were coming on me.
I fantasize about going into the store, getting the vodka, taking a few shots and being done with it; I can start over again.
I would dread the weekend cause that is when the craving was coming on the most, and I was like, “Gosh, I want to drink.”
Around that time, I got deeper into my relationship with God, and I kept praying every time I had an intense craving.
I understood what it meant to take it One Day at a Time or #ODAAT in the Twitter world.
I got to the point with my cravings that I had to pray.
“Dear God, embrace me today with strength, give me the courage to stay away from this craving, Dear Lord, just let me get through today.”
I would take a deep breath when I finally got to bed at night. “I made it today, and I didn’t cave in.”
Look, I gave up sleeping pills about six months before I gave up drinking, so being with myself at times was hard; it was exhausting, and it for sure came with its challenges.
Dealing with depression and being sober came with its own set of challenges. While some might report that giving up drinking improved the anxiety and their depression, in my case, it got a bit worse, or maybe it felt a lot worse because I was finally allowing my body to feel instead of numb.
HEALING IN LAYERS
Deciding to stop drinking was part of my healing journey, as I was aware that healing comes in layers; there were parts of my story I was not ready to face, some I avoided, some I blocked out of memory, and some layers I took head-on.
I realized that it didn’t matter how many books I read or podcasts I listened to. I was not going to heal overnight, and I would have to face some childhood trauma and limiting beliefs; the ones I would have usually drank away.
I held on to a relationship during this time that triggered all the deepest unhealed parts of me; I supported my partner on his sober journey while I stayed silent in my own suffering.
He drank at the beginning of mine, which was also a hard time because not only was I tempted, but it also made him a safe person to drink with if I wanted to because I knew he wouldn’t judge, and he might also want a drinking buddy.
I know now that I can’t be with a person who drinks alcohol, but I will still not condemn another person for choosing to have a drink. It is clear to me know that it’s something I don’t want in my life.
I learned that my father’s addiction to alcohol affects me significantly, and I am happy I didn’t end up like that; I feel sorry for him all while seeing past all the bullshit lies he creates to support his drinking.
I came face to face with my body and still struggled to accept it.
SOBER MIND vs DRINKING MIND
One of the things I had to get used to was a sober mind. I wasn’t thinking like a sober person for most of the year. My brain would automatically think I can’t do anything on weekends until one day I caught myself and realized I was thinking from a drinking mind.
In the past, I would make sure I never had to leave the house for food or anything so that I could nurse my hangover.
I would never make plans for the weekend.
The other day, it came to me that I am sober and no longer have hangovers to deal with.
This was just another indicator of how I did have a drinking problem.
SHOULD I STOP DRINKING
If you have ever asked yourself if you are drinking too much, the most obvious answer might be “yes” because you had to ask the question.
What if you just wanted to know how it feels like not to drink?
Try it for a month and see how you feel.
What if you want to know more about drinking and its effect?
Find a book, read blogs, just read.
What if you don’t like AAA?
Try online groups
Try social media
Try a religious support group
What if I don’t have FUN?
It won’t always be fun, but you must learn how to create a new way of living, which can sometimes be tricky. There is no way to sugarcoat this for you.
What if I slip up ?
I have a ton of compassion for yourself; slipping up is not the end; giving up on yourself is.
WHAT IF DRINKING IS HARD FOR ME TO GIVE UP, AND I FEEL LIKE I AM SUFFERING?
Get help, find a therapist specializing in addiction, find local support, and reach out to family and loved ones. But please get help.
I WON’T GIVE UP
So here it is, one year of living sober was much more challenging than I thought.
It is also worth it.
I have no idea what the next year would look like, but I thank GOD that I made it to a year. I thank God that I am still fighting the fight.
What has your year been like so far?
Did you give up anything this past year?