Last week, I celebrated 365 days since I quit drinking- one entire year of being alcohol free! Yay me! I also started my new job that same day of my first “soberthday” so very distracted with new yoga job, I made little fanfare the actual day of. Got a cake. Lit a candle. Applauded myself. Ate said cake. It was glorious.
It is important to note I did not eat the entire cake, I cut it into 4 pieces and delivered a slice to each family member. When I told them what the cake was for they responded, “Aw, that’s awesome! Good job!” and went right back to doing what their previously cake-less selves were doing. And all that was perfectly okay with me.
This one year of not drinking, in the grand scheme of things, is truly no big deal to anyone but me and that’s just the way I like it. I am happy that this date was just that, a date, and only important insofar that I crossed a calendar finish line that means… nothing. I did it and I will keep on doing it and that one year mark was a typical day-in-the-life, only made special with a slice of chocolate cake and not some random date on the calendar.
Just as it should be. My sobriety is now the norm and it feels fantastic.
This is not to say making the decision to quit drinking and then to quit drinking and then to hold strong for 365 days was an easy feat- in fact, it was downright hard. Evidenced by the fact that once I made the decision to quit, I didn’t actually quit until about a month later. I also had a handful of moments this past year where life overwhelmed me so much so that every fiber of my being wanted to give up and drown it all out with red wine. When I was fired, I wanted to drink. When I was in constant pain, I wanted to drink. When I got in arguments with my husband, I wanted to drink. When I felt sad and lonely, without a sober friend to talk to about these hurdles of life and sobriety- in those moments above all the rest- I really wanted to drink.
In this way as well, one year means nothing because I am sure those moments- the ones where the Drinking Laura part of my brain is screaming, “Just have a drink! It doesn’t matter and no one cares! Go ahead and drink!” will arise again on the road to year two. I don’t know when and I don’t know where and I don’t know if I will continue to hold strong or if I will finally give into that bastard Drinking Laura.
Even after a year, she’s still here. Drinking Laura did not go away, she’s been here this entire rotation around the sun. Sober Laura did a fantastic job keeping Drinking Laura at bay, many pats on the back for that, but I realize I cannot fully embrace this new self if I live to ignore the old self. Even after a year, I still look directly at Drinking Laura and the decisions she made not only to measure my personal growth but to continue learning from the lessons my past choices taught.
While I am proud of this accomplishment, I know I am far from done with the journey of sobriety. I am amazed at how much my life shifted once I removed alcohol from my list of priorities and found other ways to fill my time. Many things opened up to me, many opportunities to change and grow, many people to learn from and guide me to the answers of my ultimate, “Why?”
In this year I have learned that I am strong enough to ride the waves of life without that ethanol laden crutch. I am capable enough to set a goal and achieve it. I am smart enough to understand the abundant potential this life has to offer and to seek it out. I am open enough to admit my faults and acknowledge my mistakes without judgement but with the compassion that only the person I love the most in this world- me- can give.
Beyond the benefits of quitting drinking lay the benefits of simply being. Love now fills the void that alcohol left behind and now, a year later, rather than counting the days that pass, I take a deep breath and relish in today.
Bring it on, Year Two. I got this.