What did I think I’d get from being sober?

When I drank:

During the years when booze was a constant in my life, I very rarely considered not consuming it. Yes, it was always at the root of all the disasters that kept on springing up, hitting me repeatedly, trying to drive the message home – “Coming back for more…? OK, here’s another drunken, messed up relationship with someone who does nothing for you; here’s an entire weekend spent lying in bed crying, not daring to face the world; take this massive blast of shame, can you believe you REALLY did that??” And yes, I was fully aware of all the health harms I was subjecting myself to, but really, I didn’t care all that much. I wasn’t in a place where I held myself in especially high esteem and so it was easy to keep on knocking back the wine. Plus, in the name of denial, I think I had a fairly strong hold on the notion that I was somehow not like everyone else, that my liver would be able to withstand the regular battering, and maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to outrun the immense self-abuse and live well into my eighties.

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When I first quit:

I stopped drinking because I was scared to death that if I picked up one more glass of the stuff, it could kill me. I wasn’t being melodramatic – as soon as I had managed to gain some clarity on the situation I found it utterly remarkable that I hadn’t lost my life in and amongst all of my boozing adventures. The nights I had walked home in the early hours – staggered would be more apt – in ill-boding areas of town and as vulnerable as they come, like a baby bird fallen from the nest; the many, many dramatic falls down staircases and steep driveways, on the ice and in the middle of roads; countless nights in seedy pubs with seedy people who were capable of dangerous things.

So when I first quit, it was with the hope that in doing so I would save my life. I didn’t expect a lot else, other than gritting my teeth, gazing lustfully towards drinkers who appeared so happy and carefree with their alcoholic beverages to hand, and I suppose a feeling of ‘doing the right thing’ – like I was being a good girl now that I was all grown-up and dealing with my little problem.

Beneath all of that, however, I was dreading this new life I’d committed myself to. It stretched out before me like an endless parched landscape of drabness. I expected at that point to be left wanting for the rest of my days.

Now, five years on:

I’m really quite shocked at all of the goodness that’s emerged from the single act of stopping drinking. I never imagined any of it, couldn’t have seen it coming. I frequently sit back to take stock and ask myself, “Really? Is this my life? When did it change so massively?” It’s as though aliens whipped me away one night, did a major overhaul with what I was and then dumped me back down, all new and fixed.

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The things that have happened are direct consequences of me no longer drinking – mostly they’ve arisen because I got my confidence and self-esteem back, which led me to making better choices. I found the nerve to say no sometimes, without being terrified that the person I was saying it to would hate me for it. I challenged myself with new experiences, things that resulted in me meeting new people and making friends, because instead of only ever wanting to drink, and drink and drink, I needed – and chose – to seek out more from life. I found the courage required to take risks, but calculated ones that didn’t wind up in disaster as they always had in the past. I began to believe that people might actually like me, and so I stopped being so defensive and paranoid, and I opened up to the world in return. I got to know who I am deep down and what I need in order to be happy, and then I had the self-belief to go out and get it.

I never foresaw any of this when I decided to stop drinking, because all I thought I was doing in making that choice was reducing the risk of dying before my time. It was a knee-jerk reaction, born entirely out of fear and one that I felt was going to be a hardship and something that would drag me down and make me miserable forever.

How wrong I was, how unbelievably naïve – and how grateful I am that I did it anyway.

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14 thoughts on “What did I think I’d get from being sober?

  1. Andrea says:

    Love your posts. This has helped me today. I’m almost 3 months of it. Today i handed in a dissertation and of course my first thought is wine. So today is a bit of a struggle.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Andrea, good for you girl! Three months is amazing and something I long for… I’m in the middle of a horrible, anxiety filled morning hangover and wish I wasn’t starting again at day one. I hope I can be like you and get sober so keep up the great work!! 😊

  2. Patti says:

    Exactly! That was my reason too, and lo & behold it must’ve been the answer because it’ll be 5 years this summer for me too Lucy. It’s ever- changing and I’m up for it. 🙂

  3. I’m am one year and 4 months in and I can relate to a lot of what you’ve said…my life has calmed down and I’ve stopped the proverbial bleeding (I am clear headed, pay my bills, not driving drunk, etc), my moods are stable and I’m learning to fit into my sober skin and I take care of myself now…but I’m still kind of in between lives…I feel like I’m still cleaning up my life (paying off bills, repairing relationships, figuring out what I do and dont like and want) and preparing for what’s next…whatever that is. Your post gives me so much hope…thank you.
    Jenn

  4. Vicki says:

    Hello all. My first post having read all of yours above and feeling inspired by the scale of change that is possible, and that, hopefully, I can also achieve…thank you!

    Just a few days now alcohol free ..this time. Because I have managed six months plus before I am not counting chickens etc., but I do feel the change in me. I even ordered and have now received, a Merci Maman bangle with the inscription AF and the date and time of my decision to stop the destruction that is alcohol – a socially encouraged destruction at that. My plan is to wear it when I feel I may be going into situations where this social encouragement to drink may be high. The bangle will provide a tangible reminder of my choice, and the consequent freedom.

    I send my best wishes to you all

    Vicki

  5. Jayne says:

    Thank you. Back from a bad bender after having been six months sober. Day 1 in. Inspired by your insight. I want it more than ever. Thank you again.

  6. gay stanley says:

    i think we just have to keep on keeping on , each day ,, and then it comes together , inspiration from all of you

  7. Wow. Congratulations to you on your sobriety. I’ve also been totally shocked at how much I enjoy the simple things sober. I call it the Miracle of the Mundane. I write about it at http://www.markgoodson.com
    Just connected with twitter and FB. I hope to stay in touch. I am adding you to the blog roll on my site so new posts will appear there. I hope that’s OK

  8. Congratulations on your sobriety. I know it must be a tough way from getting sober. Glad that you are having a great life with your daughter 🙂 However, in nowadays society, lots of young adults are still depending on boozes in getting rid of stresses, Therefore there is an immediate need for them to understand the concept of responsible drinking , preventing in making horrible mistake such as drink driving. I am currently doing the campaign about raising teenagers’ awareness about the danger of drunk drive and its remain intoxication in the next morning to convey the idea about responsive drinking. I will update constantly to provide useful insights and advice about the issue of drunk drive and even Australian drinking culture. Please check this out and here is the link:ruoverit.wordpress.com.

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