I’d started this sobriety adventure with the key point being that it would give me something to write about each week. Excuses galore and 6 months later, I’ve written a handful of posts and then abandoned the idea altogether. It hasn’t felt like a journey I’ve wanted to write about—even in my own journal. I’ll whine about it to friends often, and describe my experiences to those curious enough to get past the “I could never do that” statement. However, now just over half way and remembering back to what I had anticipated this point feeling like, has inspired some sharing.
I thought after 6 months of reinstating habits of not drinking I’d stop missing it. At this point willpower is not an issue, cravings are non-existent, and my social habits have changed significantly (night life? What’s that?. . . just kidding—I still work in a bar.) BUT, those expectations have been shattered. I miss it. More than I did 5 months, more than I did 2 weeks ago. In fact, I miss it so much, I sometimes forget why I started doing this to begin with* and resent myself for making this decision, despite the pride in my accomplishment.
The fact that I’m missing it so much is why I haven’t been writing about it. I’m scared that speaking negatively about my experience will discourage others from taking a hiatus from their vice to put their energy towards “real” life (more on that in a future blog.) There are so many benefits to staying sober. Overall, I feel better about myself and have so much more time and money to pursue things which makes my sense of autonomy and self-efficacy skyrocket, translating directly into more motivation than I know what to do with.
I’ve also had to realize I face high levels of anxiety that drinking helped me avoid wholly feeling; I’d still acknowledge and work on those thoughts, but a glass of wine would make it easier to forget about them come bedtime and sleep a little cozier until the next day when I could actually get up and face the troubles head on. Sans booze, I’m stuck circling those emotions and—in typical Miranda fashion—over-analyzing my worries to the point of spiraling anxiety attacks. On the positive side, a little help from some counselling sessions (and admittedly, the odd visit to Mary Jane), and I’m proud to say I can actually calm myself down and sleep just fine. . . usually.
You know what the biggest kicker is of this whole sober trek? Feeling left out. I know, I know, my friends still invite me out to big gatherings, and coffee hang outs, and walks along the seawall. That sounds great, right? And I do try to stay positive about it, but the truth is, I know its awkward being the only sober person amongst a group of tipsy-to-drunk individuals. No drunk person wants to talk to a sober person! It makes you feel self-conscious. I’m also regularly bailed-on for daytime hangouts because of other people’s hangovers, so I feel like I’m just missing out on both the social fun night and the social fun days. And meeting new girlfriends? It’s a like a not-so-secret code that bonding over a bottle of wine is a check-box to being considered more than just a Facebook Friend. Maybe I have the wrong friends? No. I love my friends and I don’t have a single person in my life that I call a friend who doesn’t enjoy alcohol regularly (some more often than others, but that’s beyond the point.)
So I was naïve. Beginning this journey, my fear used to be that I would never go back to drinking again; I now know that won’t be the case. Perhaps in some ways it taints my experience because I know one day I’ll be back on the train and therefore not fully immersing and adapting on this new path. What I’m only starting to understand is my new relationship with alcohol and how I view it (words for another blog.) Especially how culture, history and tradition have impacted my (our?) views on drinking and drug use.
In finally admitting this isn’t all I talked it up to be, to myself and to you, I think I’m ready to share again. It’s easier when it comes from truth.
*For those interested in why I started doing this, it was essentially to write more, save a ton of money, reset my social habits, and spend my time doing healthy activities and business building, rather than being hungover and staying out too late with acquaintances made friends under the influence of alcohol. You can read more about that by clicking here.