9 Months Alcohol Free

Woke up this morning, checked my phone and smiled at the notification from my I Am Sober app: I’m nine months alcohol free today! Yay me! I’ve hit the 3/4 of a year milestone and I can barely believe it- feels like these nine months have flown by but also like its taken forever to get here.

So much has changed during this time, I’ve endured some difficult situations along the way and while some still remain, just about every other aspect of my life has improved. My skin is brighter, my face and belly aren’t bloated anymore, I’ve lost weight, sleep is The Best (have never slept this good in my life! ever!!), my blood pressure has dropped, the relationships with my kids and husband have improved, and I feel like a freaking Sober Super Hero- hands on hips, chest puffed out, cape flapping fashionably behind me, villain triumphantly defeated.

From the start, I inhaled as much writing as I could about alcohol addiction and its effects on the brain, body, relationships and how much our American society applauds/ supports/ encourages our consumption from all of our day ones. I’m just at the tip of the Quit Lit iceberg, yet I have a much clearer understanding about why I drank the way I drank, the influences (direct and indirect) that kept me drinking for nearly 30 years, and how all that impacted my sense of identity.

I’ve also learned some hard, fast, and universal truths about alcohol that when one chooses to drink, one chooses to ignore…

  1. Alcohol is a poison.
  2. When you ingest poison, your body responds by trying to kick it out (blackouts and puking FTW).
  3. Alcohol, by design, is an addictive drug.
  4. Alcohol is proven to cause 8 different cancers.
  5. Drinking alcohol is also linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems, weakening of the immune system, memory problems, depression and anxiety.
  6. Our American culture is historically so embroiled with alcohol that everywhere we look and even when we are not looking, alcohol is there- from the shows and movies we watch to the places we go to the icons we revere to the rites of passage we celebrate. Alcohol is everywhere.

Understanding all the information about alcohol is one thing, shifting your entire lifestyle as a result is a whole ‘nother. I can- only now, after 9 months of practice- proudly and loudly state, “I do not drink.” but that was sure hard won! Sobriety is the minority way of life here in the U.S., so to choose to not imbibe is beyond brave. I whole heartedly applaud myself and anyone reading this who has made the same courageous choice be it 9 hours, 9 days or 9 years into sobriety. We’ve more than earned the honor.

There is, however, one thing that has changed for the worse these past 9 months: my social life. I read once that alcoholics don’t have drug dealers, they have drinking buddies. So true. The people I drank with the most I now hear from the least. My best drinking buddies I also considered my best friends, they were my dearest partners in drunk crime for decades combined. Sober Laura is so much more fun, patient, kind, and calmer than Drinking Laura ever was but no one wants to hang out with Sober Laura no matter how fricking awesome she is (and she really, truly is- take it from me).

I understand why. They still drink. It’s that simple. Sobriety threatens the drinking way of life and my sobriety reminds these friends of their issues with alcohol. They don’t know how to relate to me as Sober Laura and I can accept that truth. But you only lose the friendships you were never meant to keep. There is no substance to relationships based solely on abusing a substance. Remove the substance, remove the relationship. Makes sense but ouch. I never thought I would lose friends over self-improvement, and I certainly never knew it would sting quite like this.

On the other hand, the people I drank with the least I now hang out with more! Those friendships weren’t born of alcohol (whereas the drinking buddies were), therefore the substance is true. There’s more positive interactions with each other, no chasing a high together, no baggage from a bad binge, no drama to work through that resulted from “an epic day” wherein we drank for 12 hours straight then got in a fight with each other complete with unexplained injuries and a hangover from the depths of hell the following day. (This exact scenario occurred with my former drinking buddies more often than I can count!)

In these 9 months I’ve learned to be more present and much more forgiving of myself and others. I’m more at ease with the waves of life than I have ever been in these 47 years alive. I don’t judge myself for the person I was before, Drinking Laura was only doing what society said was necessary to connect and have a good time. Drinking Laura hadn’t yet learned how to have fun and build healthy relationships without alcohol. Drinking Laura didn’t know that the true beauty of life lay in this one courageous choice.

On one level, I will miss Drinking Laura but Sober Laura is in charge now, and every day that goes by the more she understands, the stronger she gets. 273 days, 3/4 of a year, 9 months. All mine. All sober. And the best is still yet to come…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s