5 Things That Happened When I Stopped Drinking
I'm shaking as I write this post.
This topic has been something that I've wanted to talk about publicly for a while now and I feel as though the time is right to do just that: I'm sober.
I feel really compelled to talk about this today because I honestly believe that we don't talk about it enough. While I never really thought that I "had a problem" with alcohol, looking back, it was definitely something that I struggled with.
This decision to live a life of sobriety didn't come easily or lightly. In fact, this shit is HARD, especially considering how normalized and socially acceptable alcohol is. But I know, without a doubt in my mind, that a life without alcohol is the life that I'm supposed to live and it makes me really happy to share that with you today.
Over the past couple of years, I've been really aware of alcohol, it's presence in my life and its effect on me. The last few times that I've consumed alcohol, these patterns of changes in myself became really apparent, the majority of which I really didn't like.
Alcohol made me a different person:
it changed my personality
it magnified my insecurities
it made me say or do things that "weren't me"
it made me jealous
it made me high
it made me sad
it made me angry
it made me lazy
it made me care-free
it made me care too much
it stirred up drama
it made me depressed
it made me embarrassed
it tested my relationships
it made me uncomfortable
it caused me heartbreak
it made me feel inferior
it made me hate being me
I've known in my heart that I've wanted to remove alcohol from my life completely and on June 2, 2018, I did just that. Today, I'm sharing five impactful things that have happened to me since that date.
I FELT MORE COMFORTABLE IN MY OWN SKIN
If you know me, you know that I consider myself to be an "extroverted introvert" in that I love being social and hanging out with people but at the same time, it takes a lot energy for me to do so. It doesn't matter if I'm with friends, family or meeting new people for the first time - I always need alone time afterwards to "recharge." Being an extroverted introvert in social situations, I used to think that alcohol helped me "loosen up" and feel more relaxed talking to people. Whenever there was a social situation I had to be in, my first thought was always, "I can have a glass of wine there, right? I'll feel better about having to go to this if I can." But it didn't help me relax or make me feel better. In fact, without fail, I always experienced a heighten sense of any and all insecurities / doubts / fears that I had and wound up being even more uncomfortable than I was to begin with.
Since just simply deciding to remove alcohol from my life and no longer relying on it as a security blanket, I feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin. This has allowed me to be more present with the person / people that I'm with and experience a new side of being social that I hadn't had before. My insecurities still pop up here and there; it's only natural. But I'm finding that I'm able to manage them more effectively and lovingly.
MY SLEEP AND ENERGY IMPROVED...DRAMATICALLY.
The beauty of technology is that we can be online all the time, virtually anywhere. The downfall of technology is that there is an expectation for us to be online all of the time, no matter where we are. At my last job, I had the opportunity to work for a popular social media platform, which was really cool. I got to work with clients all across the country but meant that I never felt like I could log offline or shut down when I got home from work. I would answer emails as I raced around my kitchen cooking dinner and to help me relax, I'd pour myself a glass of wine. If work was really bad, I'd keep my laptop open while I ate dinner, and, you guessed it, with another glass of wine by my side. Because I didn't let myself have much of a work/life balance, I always felt high strung / on edge and my solution to that was drinking.
After a couple glasses of wine, I'd find myself becoming tired and would eventually fall asleep on the couch with the sounds of Big Bang Theory lulling me to "sleep." I'd wake up a few hours later to my husband telling me it was time to go to bed. In a sleepy haze, I'd either fall back asleep on the couch or go up to bed, both of which resulted in me tossing and turning the rest of the night. My lack of restful sleep made me so tired the next day that all the caffeine in the world couldn't recharge my battery. I was incredibly fatigued from constant stress + not sleeping, that I found myself with "brain fog" during the day which made it hard to focus and be on my game at work.
Since removing alcohol, my sleep has changed dramatically. I go to bed at a very reasonable hour (what's up, 9PM?), no longer fall asleep on the couch and I sleep very deeply. I wake up the next morning refreshed and energized, and my energy levels are sustained throughout the day. I'm able to focus, I have extreme clarity (bye bye brain fog) and honestly, just feel really good. Plus, no more hangovers!
I CARED MORE ABOUT BEING HEALTHY
I've always considered myself to be a morning person, but when my sleep was suffering from wine-induced "rest", I was instantly tired as soon as I woke up and could never really get out of that funk the rest of the day. Ditching alcohol has made getting up early in the morning a lot easier. I'm the kind of person who likes to workout first thing in the AM and getting up extremely early to do so has been painless.
And, because my energy is constant throughout my day, I find myself craving more and more rich, nutrient-dense foods over packaged or processed carbs. Whenever I was tired from drinking, my body would crave crap. I would want simple carbs to help me "wake up" and give me little bursts of energy. Now, I make much more mindful decisions about what I'm putting into my body vs. trying to find a quick fix for how horrible I was feeling, which brings me to my next topic...
I LOST WEIGHT WITHOUT TRYING
Yep, seriously. When it comes to weight loss, it breaks my heart that people are more willing to take a pill, jump on some fad diet or worse, starve themselves to lose weight if that means that they don't have to give up their favorite adult beverage. Not only does alcohol contain hundreds of empty calories (empty meaning these calories contain little to no nutrients), we're more likely to consume more food while drinking than not. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions, and with our guard down a little, it's easier for us to cave to poor-decisions with food or catering to unhealthy cravings. Plus, these empty calories are stored as fat in the body and while we can't choose where or how fat is distributed, a lot of it ends up around our bellies. Major weight gain was something that I struggled with during my bout with binge eating disorder (which is another topic for another day). My binges were always so much worse if I was drinking or hungover.
Removing alcohol has been an enormous game-changer in my recovery from BED, which is so important to me. While I've recovered in other ways, I no longer feel the need binge and the only times that I have in the last couple of years were when I had been drinking. And just as I mentioned above, I'm much more likely to make healthy choices when I'm not drinking or feeling the negative effects of alcohol, which, in turn, has caused me to lose weight without having to spend more time working out or taking drastic measure with my lifestyle.
I HAVE THE BEST RELATIONSHIP WITH MYSELF
The current environment of our social culture is incredibly interesting to me. We do so much for the validation or approval of other people (especially online) that we don't bother to listen to what our own hearts are trying to tell us to do in order to #LiveOurBestLife. I knew down to my very core that alcohol was no longer serving me but it took me at least a year to truly not care what other people would think if I stopped drinking. Now, I've never felt more grounded in myself and the person that I am, including the new me that has embraced sobriety.
While there may be people in my life who judge, criticize and talk about this decision of mine, there will also be people who support, love and embrace it. I love and respect both groups for where they stand, but to be honest, both groups don't matter to me. While I am of course so incredibly grateful to those who love and support me with this decision, the only person that I need any kind fo validation from is myself. My relationship with myself is the most important relationship that I have. I know some will scoff at that statement, asking about my family, my husband, my friends. Trust me, I love them with all of my heart. But if you really think about it, you're with yourself 24/7...everything that you do in your life impacts YOU every minute of every day. For me, I'd rather be living a life that I'm happy in, that I'm proud of and that makes me feel good than trying to live a life based on other people's expectations, decisions or their own unique life experience.
I'm MB and I think sobriety is pretty f*cking awesome.