Beginning January 1st, 2019 I made the decision to be Sober Curious (a term coined by Ruby Warrington in her book Sober Curious).
Essentially I wanted to be 100% sober for the year of 2019.
Would it help my anxiety or depression? Would I sleep better? How much money could I save? Would I miss it? How good would it feel to be hangover free? Did I have a problem already? The biggest question: Could I do it?
After reviewing my journal for 2018 I began to notice a trend. I indicated I wanted to stop drinking over 20 times, and failed over 20 times. I began to reflect on all the instances my gut said “don’t grab that bottle of wine” or “don’t pour another glass”, only to be followed up by an instinct that knew I would do it anyway. This was followed by guilt, headaches, disappointment, and fear. Addiction runs STRONG in my family on both sides. I am desperate to end the cycle for my daughter.
I went to a destination wedding about a week ago. Free alcohol – the whole time. Each opportunity to get a drink passed by and kept myself from reaching out. Moment after moment I found myself getting a little closer to wanting a drink. I thought to myself I can just drink for the toast. One glass of enjoyable red wine at dinner to cheers to all the love and magic. It turned into another glass, followed by champagne, followed by more wine (all heavy pours mind you).
During the evening I didn’t even stop to think about how much I’ve had. I danced, laughed, drank, repeat repeat repeat. I also stayed up until 3AM, I went to some guys’ air b&b (which I wouldn’t have done sober), lost my phone there (in another state mind you!), lyft-ed home and spent more money, finally to pass out at the hotel.
The next morning is where the reminder comes in. I woke up exhausted. No phone. Regretful that I broke a promise to myself. I walked to the bathroom to see chapped red wine stained lips and eyes that looked incredibly heavy. Meanwhile my family was getting ready to meet up for breakfast, the sun was shining high in the sky, and I had the opportunity to go to a Brewers Spring Training game in a few short hours! But here I was in a dark hotel room feeling like I had died and come back to life.
I beat myself up about it. But here’s the good part: This inner critic was interrupted rather quickly by another voice in my head. One filled with self-compassion and acceptance. “This is exactly why you needed to stop, it’s only a reminder you are on the right path. It is okay, I promise you it is okay.”
I went outside. I ate food and drank lots of water and orange juice. I got my phone back and went to sleep early that night. It took hours to fully recover physically, but much less to recover internally. Self compassion is necessary when trying to quit drinking, or any bad habit you have relied on a little too heavily.
If you’re struggling with your own drinking I recommend you read Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington. Find a tribe that might support this choice. But even more importantly, start practicing or learning about self-compassion. Because trust me, you are going to need it.
You are strong. It’s okay to make mistakes. And don’t forget to breathe.