What I’ve learned in 61 Days of Sobriety…

For many of you out there, the summer-by terms of vacation-has come to an end.

I know because I’ve seen all of your children’s back to school pictures on facebook.

For me, this time of year just means I have another month and a half of heat and I have to get used to my boyfriend watching football every Saturday.

It also seems to serve as a time of nostalgia and reflection.  It’s difficult to walk outside and see the school parking lot across the street filling up with teenagers without remembering what it was like to be young… what it was like to start a year full of expectations and plans.

Although it’s been years (and years) since I’ve packed a bag with crisp #2 pencils and empty notebooks, it still feels like a good time to start anew; to make new habits; to make new friends.

I feel like for the first time in years, I’m off to a really good start.

quit drinking

Yesterday marked my 60th day sans alcohol. 

It’s really nothing in terms of a lifetime. but for little ole me, it feels like a really big deal.

When I started this journey, I wasn’t sure what I wanted out of it. I knew I needed a big change. I knew that I was on a destructive path, and that all of my attempts at maneuvering around the road blocks weren’t working for me.

Now I feel like I’ve made it past the giant abyss in the road, and that- while it still won’t be easy-I now have a lot less standing in my way.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been really difficult at times, and not even necessarily the “not drinking” part of it, though that has been slightly annoying. That being said, the positives of staying sober definitely outweigh the negative, even when it’s hard for me to recognize.

More than anything, I’m so grateful for all that I have learned about myself the last two months. I haven’t been proud of all the new insight I’ve gained about myself, but I’m trying my best to take bad with the good, and use it as an opportunity to grow even more.

I’m not as outgoing as I’ve always thought. I’ve always prided myself in the fact that I was good in social situations. In fact, I might say that it was one of my best features. Put me in the middle of the crowd of strangers, and I’ll be your icebreaker. I was always the person making the first attempt at making other people around me feel comfortable.

Experiencing a sober social life has quickly taught me differently. I’m still outgoing and like to be the center of attention, but only in situations where I’m very comfortable. Put me in a crowd of strangers sober? I’ll turn into a frigid block of ice.

This is one of the most difficult realizations I’ve had so far. I’ve always had anxiety, and sometimes even in social situations-I’ve just never before had to experience it without a few drinks to bring down the tension level. Plus, I realized that before I was probably only making an ass out of myself anyway.

I’m trying my best to continue to challenge myself and not stray away from social situations. It’s actually been kind of interesting to take a back seat at events and really observe what’s going on. With every uncomfortable situation I put myself in, it really does get easier.

I really feel.  I never realized how much I used wine as way to numb myself. Even though I wasn’t waking up and drinking throughout the day, I was definitely using alcohol as a form of medication.

The last couple months have sent me on a roller coaster of emotion. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I cried even more. I’ve felt hurt and jealousy. I’ve felt enormous gratitude. I’ve loved. I’ve felt extreme discomfort.

It’s not that I didn’t have these feelings before, but I’ve never given myself the opportunity to really sit with my emotions, to try to understand why I was feeling a certain  way. You know, all of those things my therapists have been telling me to do for years.

Anytime I felt anything overwhelming, I would have a few drinks to take the edge off. Even if I was feeling excited, I would have a drink to attempt to magnify that high.

I’ve never really just let myself be. This has probably been the most difficult aspect of staying sober for me. Sometimes I just want to forget. I want to feel nothing. Which is precisely why I know I’m making the correct decision right now to continue with abstinence.

 

You can eat way more calories when you’re not saving up for wine. It’s no secret that I have had some major issues with food in my life.

Quitting alcohol has by no means solved my issues, but it has taken on major layer of pressure off of the situation. I used to count calories to ensure that I left enough room in my diet for a few glasses of wine at night. Often, those few glasses of wine would lead me to a few handfuls of cheese nips or a late night grilled cheese sandwich.

I’m no longer obsessing about what I’m putting into my body. I know that I’m not going to be drinking in the evening, and that lets me enjoy my food a little more during the day.

Also, food is just much more enjoyable when I’m not preoccupied by the alcohol accompanying it. I can spend a little more money on what I eat, and not feel guilty about it.

Laughter is WAY better sober. Drinking or not, I’ve never been a person who has led a life void of laughter. I love having fun.

When I made the decision to quit drinking, it was partly because I knew that the activities that I enjoyed most in life (improv, comedy, work, movies, hiking) didn’t involve alcohol at all. That hasn’t changed.

What I have realized is that there is nothing better than the pure hysterical laughter that you get when you’re stone cold sober. I’m talking the “piss your pants” variety. I’ve had more of those than I can count in the last few months. I’m not saying that I didn’t have a good time when I was drinking… but this just feels more pure.

 I’m actually a really good sleeper. For the last 15 years, I’ve held strong to the belief that I couldn’t sleep. Some nights, I actually couldn’t, but that was most likely due to adderall.

For the longest time, I thought I was using a few glasses of wine a night to help me wine down. I thought for sure that I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep without it.

Boy, was I wrong. The last 60 days have brought me some of the greatest sleep I’ve had in my life. I go to sleep easily. I dream wonderful, weird dreams. And shockingly, I wake up feeling refreshed.

I have to take responsibility.  When drinking alcohol, you always have an excuse for your behavior. It may not be an excuse that you’re especially proud of, but in certain crowds, it can certainly be valid.

You fell off a stage and nearly broke your arm? Oh, hahahaha…. I just drank a little too much.

You told your boyfriend you wished he pooped in his pants in public? Yeah, that was just the alcohol talking. 

You fell asleep in the cab and the driver had to use your cellphone to try to find where you live? Yeah… I was tired… and drank a bottle of wine.

Without alcohol, I can safely say that I won’t find myself in most of these situations.

What I’m learning is that I’m still acting in ways that I’m not proud of, and I have to learn to take responsibility for my behavior. I can still be a major brat, and I no longer have alcohol as an excuse. Now, I’m learning (slowly) that I have to make the choice to behave in a way that I want to live with. I won’t black anything out. I won’t be able to blow something off as alcohol driven.

I’ll still make mistakes, but now I also have to take full responsibility for them.

 

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  • bookbabe1960

    bravo Carissa!

  • yppah!

    Beautiful. You’re a champ.

  • hmontgomery

    I have been sober almost 7 years.. you are in for the best time of your life if you stick with it

  • tamera young

    Most excellent. I’m so very proud of you for doing this. ..and telling us about it.

  • SpeedyGonzo

    Super proud of you, woman.

  • asplenia

    Love your honesty, girl. I know some people who would appreciate this and I will share it with them. <3

  • Danielle

    Way to go! You are clearly bringing a huge amount of good into your life with this choice.