Three Years of Sobriety: Pandemics, Relapse, Self-Love, Misc.
So, it’s been three years since I last drank alcohol.
I wrote about my experiences with sobriety in my first year a couple of times – everything I said in those articles is true, for sure, but it’s also not the most positive view on what not drinking means. So, with three years under my belt, and probably what will be the strangest twelve months of my life behind me, I want to share a little more about what long-term sobriety has been like.
Look, I’ll be straight-up with you: this has been the hardest year to continue in my non-alcoholic state ever. I don’t think I’m the only one for whom the, you know, whole pandemic thing has offered a mild brutalization of the reasons that I wanted to get sober in the first place. I initially decided to quit drinking because I didn’t like the person that I became when I was drunk, the way I treated other people – with basically nobody around to piss off, why shouldn’t I just throw back an entire bottle of wine and turn into an obnoxious asshole? Not drinking was an awesome money-saver; what the fuck was I saving money for, anyway? I could drink again in secret and nobody would have to know about it and I could still pretend that I was the paragon of hashtag-sober-living, if I wanted to. I could just…start again.
And God, did I come close these last few months. Even on top of the pandemic, I made the decision to buy my first house last year, and it was honestly so phenomenally stressful that I am still having stress-dreams about it on the regular, even though I’ve been signed and sealed in this place for months now. I can’t tell you the number of times I was sitting in the rubble of an IKEA daybed half put together and thinking about taking shots just to make it a little more fun.
But I didn’t. Because, fundamentally, whether I care to remind myself of it or not when I am in a bad place, sobriety has made my life much, much better. Mostly because I came to realize that I actually wasn’t just doing it because of how shit I was when I was drunk, because of how much money I spent, because of the ways that it affected other people, but because of the way that it hit me. I’m not used to putting myself first when it comes to the reasons for doing stuff like this – I’ve been working on it a lot over the last year, and painting my new bedroom purple and black has been a big part of it – but I have to admit that my actual inner life is much better without alcohol.
Not just because of being able to divest myself of the post-drinking anxiety and shame, though that’s a part of it. And not just because of the time it gave me to work on my mental health without distraction, though that’s part of it, too. But because it’s a choice I’m making for myself, every day – there’s nothing stopping me from marching down to the local corner store (well, apart from lockdown, but you feel me) and buying three liquid pounds of vodka and drinking till I can’t see, except the fact that I know it would hurt me. For a long time, anything that would hurt me was distinctly attractive and seductive, no matter what form it came in; every day that I spend in sobriety, not wasting my time, money, sanity, and energy on drinking and being drunk, it’s a promise to myself that I am actually able to work on myself. That I deserve the space to do that.
Getting blitzed out of my tiny little pea-brain is always going to be something that’s on my mind. I just know that. If there was a switch I could flick to become blackout-mashed in a matter of seconds, I would be slamming on that thing harder than my…well, you know. But I’m not. I’m dedicated to actually caring for myself, and sobriety is a major part of that for me right now. I’m a flaky bitch, but this is a commitment I have made to myself, and it’s one that I want to stick to. Waking up every day hangover-free, resisting the urge to fill my trolley with fifteen pints of beer every time I’m at the store – that’s a promise to myself, that I’m worth not hurting, even worth nurturing.. And it’s one that I’m actually going to keep.
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