One year ago today I woke up feeling like a household rag refashioned from old underpants, which had been used to clean out an ashtray. Yep, I felt that good. I couldn’t get out of bed, and anywhere not reachable within an arm length was simply too far. This was my last hangover. The hangover to kick all other previous hangovers to the curb. The hangover that left me crawling with a gut gnawing anxiety. The one that finally made me see the light. Metaphorically, not literally. I’m not writing this from the grave.
Fast forward 365 days booze free, and I woke up today feeling fine. Not amazing, but perfectly adequate enough to tackle the day. Nothing like a year ago anyway. I’m not a morning person, and not boozing hasn’t changed that. I’m not going to get all reality tv on you, and say I woke up feeling energised for life, climbed a mountain before breakfast and then drafted a dissertation on bringing down the patriarchy. Life tends to be more subtle than that, for me anyway.
However, throughout the year I have learnt some very important lessons, which I’m going to share with you here:
1. There is a lot of goddamn time in a day when you don’t spend a few days of your week hungover, including more time for genuine, delicious sleep.
2. Travelling is possible without booze. It’s amazing how much time you can spend catering your travels to maximise time inside the bars, and activities to help minimise a hangover. On my last holiday I even went to Vegas. Beforehand I had worried about all the temptation but there’s so many other things to do in Vegas I barely thought about drinking.
3. We all are capable of infinite potential – this is not the point for me to start horn tooting, it’s just become more apparent to me in sobriety. All I’m saying is, if I wanted to stop watching the intriguing mystery series Sharp Objects on my 10-day free cable tv trial (Sorry cable guys, I’m one of those people), and instead go for a run or make an art installation out of coat hangers I could. But to be honest, I’ll probably wait until I finish the series.
4. Some days are shit. Certain days you will feel gritty and anxious. Other times you are guaranteed to feel lacking in self-confidence, and most definitely you will have days that make you feel depressed. BUT, the BUT here is: these emotions are not terminal unless you let them be. You just gotta let them scoot right passed, and hopefully the door hits them on their way out.
5. People who care you don’t drink are jerks, but in general I have never really encountered friends, even associates who have made me feel self-conscious about it. Weirdly, the most ‘tude I have received is from ignorant bar staff when I’ve asked about non-alcoholic beverages.
6. Whenever I feel a bit down about the fact I don’t drink I remember what my mum told to me when I said to her ‘sometimes I just wish I could be normal and drink like everyone else’, and my mum replied ‘you’re better than everyone else’. Bless your cotton socks mum. Shout out to my mum for being awesome! Now I like to see it as my superpower. Drinking is my kryptonite but my power to stop it ruling my life anymore is my superpower, you know?
7. It takes time for sobriety to become your natural state, longer than a year and I’m guessing longer than a few more, but it gets dimmer in the mind with each day. One day I know I will go a whole fortnight without it crossing my mind, and then a month, and then hopefully forever.
8. Your friends are going to like you whether you drink or not. If they don’t when you quit drinking they sucked as friends anyway, and good riddance. Relationships will change but you shouldn’t need a third-party to make them work regardless. Big thanks to all my fabulous and supportive friends and family, as well as my wonderful partner, the BFG, for making the journey that little bit easier.
9. Sobriety is a cheap night out, which means more money for travel and sneakers. I would often throw away an easy hundred on a night out but I’ll stop there, I can’t think about all that wasted money. It’s too depressing.
10. It’s refreshing remembering everything you’ve said the night before. Waking up and not needing to go back through the previous night’s conversations with a fine tooth comb, trying to pinpoint why you feel cringy is a gift from the gods (obviously not Dionysus however).
11. You don’t need to be drunk to dance. I had this epiphany about 8 months in when Whitney’s I wanna Dance with Somebody came on, and I was like ‘hell yeah, I do’.
12. You can’t conquer everything all at once – my chocolate addiction is still a work in progress, but I’m not too worried. As I’ve said before, I’ve never forgotten large chunks of conversation after too much Dairy Milk.
13. It is possible to clean your house/apartment without wine. I use to crack a bottle to make the task seem more appealing but now I might reward myself with a chocolatey snack (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. See above), or even a refreshing kombucha. I’m not going to lie, I still find the whole task unpleasant but it’s a necessary evil and sometimes you just gotta suck it up.
14. I wouldn’t want my life any other way now.
So there you have it, one year on and going strong. Has it been an easy journey? No, not all the time but I guess that’s why it’s even more satisfying to be where I am today. Baby steps to start, and soon enough you’re running. Well, jogging at a moderate pace, to be more accurate, and I’m happy with that.
Here’s to another year folks!
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