Today, I woke up without an hangover. Granted, I am a bit tired, having seen in the New Year…albeit in my PJ’s, binge watching Stranger Things on Netflix (my life is all very rock n roll), but I am refreshed, feeling optimistic, and ready to write this (epic) blog post for all of you guys, who may be feeling…..well, a bit worse for wear this morning.
I’m not writing this to gloat.
I have been exactly where you are now.
I have also been determined to “mend my ways” and have a ‘fresh start” , and all those other promises that we make to ourselves on New Year’s Day.
I am a veteran of “fresh starts”.
And here’s what i have learned about them – they tend not to last very long, UNLESS you put in some ‘heavy lifting”.
Throughout this month, I’ll be writing a lot about the ‘heavy lifting”, sober strategies, mindset, motivation, and all those good things.
For this week, however, I thought I would post about my “WHY”.
Not WHY I stopped drinking – (you can read my book, Sober Ever After) if you are interested – no, far more important to me now, is not beating myself up about all the stupid stuff I did when I was drinking, but focusing on WHY I continue to not drink.
WHY I love my sober life.
Right now, you may be feeling a bit low, worried about whether you can quit, maybe you think you SHOULD quit, but don’t really want to, maybe you are afraid of what your life will look like without a glass in your hand.
I get all that.
So I want to share with you, all the POSITIVE stuff that happens when you quit.
Because focusing on the POSITIVE, is so much more POWERFUL than all those “shoulds” that you are feeling right now.
101 may sound like a lot. But as i was drafting this post, I actually had to pick and choose which positive improvements I included – there are so many, and I keep adding to my list everyday.
- These improvements are in no particular order, some happened right away, some I didn’t even notice until much later in my sober journey.
- Some won’t resonate with you. Some will. I suggest, that you start keeping your own list. Today.
So here goes:
#1 No Hangovers.
Duh. Obvious right? But I never really had many of those “three day, lying on the couch, vomiting” kind of hangovers. Nope, I gradually, over time, got used to a daily, low-level hangover. A fuzziness, some nausea, an inability to drink coffee until i had drunk a few glasses of water. I used to just put my lethargy down to the fact that I was not a “morning person”.
I wasn’t until I woke up regularly feeling energetic, often before the alarm, that I realized how crappy those “hungover” mornings had been.
#2. No Re-watching TV Shows.
There are still movies that I have, by all accounts, watched, but have no recollection of. Over time, I had got used to drinking enough to not remember anything, or just passing out on the couch.
These days, I remember every TV show, and better than that, don’t have to PRETEND that I do.
#3 No “Secrets”
I used to hide empty bottles of wine. I used to drink wine and then replace the bottle. I used to panic and worry about being “found out”.
The only secrets I have now, are about surprise birthday parties, and Christmas presents.
#4. A Decrease in Risk of Stroke.
It’s hard to quantify this of course, but I used to lie in bed and worry about having a stroke ( runs in my family). There’s no guarantees, but I don’t lie awake worrying about this any more.
#5 Better Sleep.
Oh, sleep, glorious sleep. Passing out doesn’t count. Alcohol doesn’t help you sleep, it disrupts your sleep patterns. i didn’t realize until i quit drinking, how sleep deprived I had been for the last decade or so. A good night’s sleep is like dropping a positive pebble into a pond…the ripples of benefits keep coming.
#6 Better Teeth.
Passing out on the couch, and not remembering falling into bed most nights meant that my dental hygiene suffered. No to mention the red wine stains.
#7 Clean (er) kitchen.
Slumping on the couch with wine every night meant unwashed dishes and dirty counter tops in the morning. Which i then had to deal with while feeling shitty. I never knew the joy of a clean sink until I stopped drinking.
#8 No more “Pity Parties”
the longer I drank, the less happy alcohol made me. One glass of wine lifted my spirits for a moment, but mostly booze brought out my “inner victim”. Hysterical crying (over nothing) is now a thing of the past.
#9 Better Skin.
Gone is the flushed, sweaty appearance of my skin. No more blotchy outbreaks. My skin is my least favourite part of me, given a horrible bout of teenage acne, followed by adult eczema, but even I am happy with the clearer appearance of my skin, and the money saved on useless “miracle’ creams
#10. I am no longer embarrassed about my recycling.
I am no longer feeling ashamed at the clinking of wine bottles in garbage cans, or one horrific afternoon, when kids came by to collect cans and bottles to raise money for the hockey team, I never have to endure the whoops of excitement as one kid said “DAD! Look how many this lady has!”.
#11. I listen more.
Drinking made me inward looking. It was all about “me me me”. I find myself listening to other people far more than I ever did.
#12. Coffee tastes better. As does most food.
I am not sure if this one is all in my mind. Maybe it’s the lack of nausea and almost constant queasiness that stopped me from enjoying coffee in the morning, or food in general, but now I am REVELING in new tastes.
#13. More Reading.
The return of my reading “mojo” is a delight. I stopped reading when I was drinking – I was always re-reading the same few pages, because i always forgot them – now, delving into a novel and curling up on a rainy Saturday afternoon, is one of my favourite things to do.
#14 I don’t ‘do” Drama.
I used to instigate drama when I was drinking. It fit in with my ‘victim mode”. Somehow a ‘crisis’ rationalized my drinking, so i would engineer them, often. Now, I don’t need Drama. My life is a Drama-Free Zone.
#15 No More Gossip.
Related to the lack of drama, is the lack of gossip. Gossip comes to my house to die.
#16. Decreased Risk of Cancer.
Hard to quantify, of course, but drinking alcohol is linked (a CAUSAL link) to seven types of cancer. Now I don’t drink, I have reduced this risk. All on my own.
#17. No more FOMO.
It always felt like everyone else was having more FUN than me. I was always worried that if I didn’t turn up to every party and then proceed to be the “life of the party” that I would never get another invitation, and therefore lose all my friends. Turns out that none of this was necessary or true. So I’m happy to skip invitations and stay home.
#18. I Say “NO” more often.
I was a people pleaser. i would say YES so that people would like me, then I would feel all resentful, and then I would drink my face off. Now, I regularly say NO. Some people don’t like it, but I’ve worked hard on being OK with that.
#19. I Garden now.
I love my garden. It started as a sober strategy, now it’s my happy place and best of all, it produces large quantity of veg every year. It’s my pride and joy.
#20. Less Negative Self Talk.
All those stories i told myself about not being ‘good’ enough, “clever” enough, “creative” enough? they haven’t altogether stopped, but I can stop myself spiraling down and turning these stories into “self fulfilling prophecies”.
Did you find anything in the first twenty benefits that resonated with you? I’ll have twenty more tomorrow, so stay tuned.
love Jackie xx
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