These are the questions I get asked the most by drinkers and non-drinkers so I thought I'd pen down some answers and share with you!
Q1. Do you ever miss alcohol?
A1. Simple answer is yes and no. Why? Well, because there are times that I miss being able to grab a drink and “relax”. However, I don’t necessarily want what alcohol really did to me. Alcohol promises to relax you and that’s how it gets most people. They think they are just relaxing, but what is really happening is a slow Alcohol take over of your mind and your emotions. The saying you are not always you when you drink is correct. I was a couple of years sober before I realized just how much alcohol had changed me without my ever knowing it. From opinions I held to what I thought I liked in terms of music and movies to what I even liked doing all changed once I had some sobriety under my belt. What’s interesting is that the person I was before alcohol began to re-emerge. I hadn’t evolved into someone else. I hadn’t grown up either. I had been drowned out by a liquid substance. Who and what I thought was me wasn’t me at all. It seemed like alcohol’s mission was to keep me stuck no matter how much it looked like I was moving forward on the outside. I now feel like it wanted to keep me unconscious of my true essence so that no matter what I did I could never really move forward. I don’t miss that and I don’t ever want that again. I guess you could say that I miss the habitual bad habit or coping mechanism because it was easier than facing my truth and my anxiety - but if you don’t face your truth and you don’t face your anxiety how do you ever rise about them? You don’t. And that is what Alcohol or any other drug desperately wants for you.
Q2. How do you cope with your anxiety in a sober state?
A2. Easy - I deal with it! I know not the answer you wanted to hear, but it is true. I have learned that just because something scares me or produces great anxiety, it does not mean that I should not do it. I have enough body awareness to tell the difference between a warning and just general anxiety and fear and for me it centers around a specific body part. If you’ve read my blog then you would know that I have crippling social anxiety and classify myself as an extroverted introvert. In sobriety I have learned to just push through my anxiety when it pops up in my life. Most of the time I do just that.. and there are some times where my fear gets the best of me and I don’t do something or go somewhere, but for the most part I enjoy my life while pushing through the discomfort. One thing I can say is that once you push through a few times, it becomes easier and easier to work through the anxiety. For me, it was like I was teaching myself that everything always works out and I always survive and do just fine - it just feels uncomfortable for a bit. I liken it to giving a speech. Most people get some level of anxiety before giving a speech, but they still give the speech. Most people do just fine and I don’t think anyone has ever died from it. And you know what? If you forced yourself to give a speech every week you would eventually be moving through the anxiety like the nothingness that it actually is. You would know that it is just nerves, that your mind is “worried” for you and that you don’t have to follow suit. You would know that once you step on stage you will be fine and so the perpetual nerves that show up would just become a dance you do with yourself on the day of the speech. It is the same for any other occurrence in life. I often get anxiety when in social settings, especially around people I don’t know or people my mind perceives as not liking me, but I don’t let it stop me from trying to have a good time. If I am somewhere new alone, I try to start conversations in hopes I can find someone I click with pretty quickly or at least someone with good energy and good conversation. Once I find my person or three I am usually fine for the night. If I don’t find my person, I hang in there especially if an activity is involved because activities usually par down the anxiety once my focus is on something outside of myself. Besides, I’ve done way more in sobriety than I ever did in addiction anxiety and all.
Q3. Do you regret your past?
A3. That’s a tricky question. On the one hand I do because I feel as though alcohol took so much from me, but on the other hand, sobriety gave me so much more. I don’t know that I have a definitive answer. I started drinking very young. As a result, I never really learned who I was or what I liked. I never planned for a future, never tried to find a career and never tried to find a man. I had only one plan - Alcohol - how to get it for every moment of every day and not get caught. So, I do regret that I never really tried to figure out a plan for my life, but who is to say I would be anywhere different right now? One of my favorite movies is a movie called Sliding Doors. The movie parallels two paths of the main character’s life. One in which she makes a train and one in which she does not. This small incident becomes the difference between important things being revealed, differing job opportunities, and even meeting someone new…. Until the end that is when the lives merge into one and you find that the great and fabulous life didn’t end up all that great because the timing was off and the one that sucked for a while became really awesome because the timing was right.
Q4. What did you gain from sobriety?
A4. Everything. When drinking was the focal point of my life, everything I did revolved around being able to be loaded or on the way to being loaded. As you can imagine, I went to a lot of bars and night clubs, I hung out on patios and attended parties where all I ever did was drink. Outside of dancing while getting drunk - I didn’t really do anything except sit somewhere and drink. In sobriety I do so much more. Who knew I loved hiking and rock climbing and kayaking and camping and backpacking and white water rafting and golfing and painting and doing crafts and going to museums and taking pictures and traveling and exploring new cities and learning about different cultures and reading and writing and learning and trying new things, going new places… I mean my world completely opened up once I put the bottle down. I also gained peace, reconciliation with my higher power, much needed healing from some really bad things that happened and a true sense of who I am. I know I like being more than doing and I am now embarking on a journey to try to learn to enjoy being while doing. Sobriety also gave me true friendships. It’s a funny thing that drinkers who stop drinking often find that they don’t have any friends because drinking buddies tend to only want other drinking buddies. It is a harsh reality for a lot of people who put down the bottle. The people I have met in sobriety are true friends who appreciate me for who I really am and that is pretty priceless.
Q5. Do you think all drinking is bad?
A5. For me - yes. For you? Well, I don’t know you. I will tell you this - I do have boundaries around other people’s drinking in my life. I can’t be around people who drink to get drunk or where drinking is the only activity. Those people won’t last long in my life. I do have friends that drink, but none of them are hard core drinkers. For me, it really becomes an issue when I can see a difference in your thinking, speaking or behavior - to me that signals that you are becoming another version of yourself, - a made up version that you probably think is still you - but it is not - it is alcohol. Once you reach that point - I am typically out. Sorry, but I’m only interested in the real real, ya know? It also depends on how I am feeling. Sometimes that “drinking energy” gets very claustrophobic for me, other times not so much. So no, not all drinking is bad, but I do think it can be a slippery slope since Alcohol aims to take over your operating system one sip at a time.