This new year, I reflected on how good it felt to be sober and how I felt when I wasn’t sober. I did not go wild and drink a lot of alcohol and hang out with friends. Instead, I stayed home and had some wine while watching a movie. Some of my best New Year’s have been staying home with my cat because I didn’t go out in the cold, and I didn’t get sick or hungover the next day.
However, after the holidays this year, I did get sick with multiple illnesses, a cold, and a stomach bug. I reflected that I had drunk wine, I had eaten a lot of cookies, and when was the last time I drank enough water and ate a vegetable? My body needs more water, vegetables, and sleep than I think it does. It craves warm, brothy soups with leafy greens and lemon water, especially this time of year.
In the past, I have been sober for a month at a time because I felt it was necessary to get out of the habit of drinking a lot and using alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress. One year I did “sobtober,” which is being sober the whole of October. It has a silly name, but it felt seriously necessary. It was difficult to resist the temptation to drink after work, relax with a beer on the weekend, and say no when someone offered me an alcoholic beverage. But, with a bit of practice, it becomes easier.
This year, I decided not to go completely sober because that would be an unrealistic goal. I enjoy having a light beer on taco night and a few glasses of wine on the weekend to celebrate the end of the week. Interestingly, our society (and many others) use alcohol to celebrate and cope with difficulties. So, I decided to be more mindful of my alcohol intake. How much was I spending on alcohol? How much was I drinking, and why? How did it make me feel afterward?
I realized I was spending a lot more money on alcohol than I wanted to be, and often, drinking during the week made me sleepless. Then I was actually more tired and stressed the next day. So I decided I could cut down on my spending by only drinking on the weekend when it didn’t matter if I slept in a little later.
Also, I started to see that when I felt like having a drink, it was often to cope with unwanted emotions, which made those emotions stick around longer. The feeling of drinking alcohol is a farce. It made me believe I felt better, for a short time, until later when I would still feel those emotions AND be dehydrated. It is like using duck tape to fix a plane. It may work for a few flights, but pretty soon, the duck tape will need to be replaced, and the process starts all over again. A quick fix is not going to help me on my healing journey.
When I look for the opportunities, they seem to just pop up. For example, instead of meeting a friend for a beer, choose to meet them at a cafe and have tea or hot cocoa. There are so many different ways to express emotions, and while they may not be a quick fix like alcohol, they are better habits to build for the long run. There are times and situations I will be glad to have a glass or two, to celebrate with friends and family, to relax on a patio on a warm evening, or enjoy an evening in.
Recently, I have been seeking out the opportunity to make sober choices. I am not limiting myself to only one thing but considering all the possibilities out there when it comes to enjoying a drink. I will save the wonders of caffeine for another post. I have a lot of thoughts on using caffeine as a mood booster as well.
Since I started cutting down on my alcohol intake, I see myself being more productive and a better writer. To me, alcohol is a liar. It told me I would be a better writer after a glass of wine, or I’d be having more fun, and relationships would be easier if I drank more. But that is not true. Alcohol makes me a less productive writer, and it does not make difficult situations more manageable. It seems that way because emotions are masked by the good feeling effects.
I have also started to see how my community and we relate to alcohol, make jokes about it, and treat it lightly, though it is a powerful drug. For example, I have often observed people mention they would like a drink before dealing with something difficult or during working hours. It is good to be aware of these moments when these feelings arise because there is a healthier alternative and our words have power.
When we say we “just need a drink,” it sends a message to ourselves, the universe, and the ones around us. The message is that it is OK to use alcohol to cope with stress and difficult emotions. This is actually an unhealthy dependence on a drug that is legal and easily attainable in our society. The same behavior could be replaced with anything like coffee, cigarettes, weed, or other drugs because it quickly gives the brain what it desires. Other methods of serotonin and dopamine are more challenging to attain and take longer to make a habit, like meditation, exercise, journaling, and crafting.
I look forward to trying new things this year and drinking more different kinds of tea, making myself comforting cups of cocoa, and being the healthiest version of myself. I encourage you to be mindful of your alcohol intake, what emotions alcohol brings up, and how to get the most enjoyment of your relaxing hours.
5 thoughts on “Choosing Sober in 2022”
Sometimes I wish my addiction was other than what I have, but I guess we have our struggles, good post, and if the pic is you .., your a beautiful woman
Thank you, I am sorry to hear you struggle with addiction. I hope you find ways to heal. I am not the woman in the photo 🙂
Its so important to figure out if the things we are doing are good for our heart and soul and body, and its hard when the answer changes a lot! Thanks for putting this out there – its a good reminder to reassess what things are me joy and what things are not. Wishing you luck on this journey in 2022!
Thank you! I am glad this was a positive reminder for you.
It’s funny, I see all the “signs” if I persist and I tell myself I won’t cross that line again…but the heart wants what the heart wants I guess…
Even with out the pic your kindness tells me your beauty is from the inside 😃