Three years sober. That’s 1,095 days without drinking. In the last three years I have completely transformed my life. I have become the person that I knew I was always capable of being. Sure, I still have my own struggles and my life is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I am so much happier than I have ever been before.
Looking at all I’ve accomplished in the last year alone, I know that none of it would have been possible if I hadn’t committed to my new way of living. When I first got sober I used to minimize the extent of my drinking problem. Now, I fully acknowledge that my drinking was an issue and I’m so glad it’s been addressed.
Do you struggle with alcohol? Here’s a quick test:
- Do you crave alcohol at scheduled times? If it’s Friday night and you’re used to drinking every Friday night, do you feel like it wouldn’t be a “real” Friday without booze?
- Do you black out often? Are there mornings when you wake up where you can’t remember details or even entire sections of the night before?
- Do you have trouble stopping once you start? Normal drinkers can take it easy after a couple of glasses of wine; problematic drinkers are just getting started when the buzz kicks in.
- Do you notice dramatic personality shifts when you drink? Do you wake up with an embarrassment hangover that’s worse than the actual headache?
I failed that test on all four counts because I was a problematic drinker. I didn’t drink all the time, but when I drank I certainly wasn’t putting my best foot forward. Want to learn more about how I used to drink? Click here.
So what have I discovered in my third year of sobriety?
Learning to be comfortable in your own awkwardness is key.
Everybody who drinks uses booze as an antidote for social anxiety. There’s a reason that most first dates start at a bar – or at least with a glass of wine at dinner. It loosens you up and it calms your inhibitions. For many people, especially those who started drinking young, this crutch has become a key component of their personality. The idea of quitting drinking seems unfathomable because they literally don’t know who they are without booze. In year three of sobriety, especially the past few months, I have forced myself to become more social and push past the comforts of staying in my own bubble. Signing up to do a group tour of Africa with 12 strangers isn’t something I would have considered in year one or two – but I finally have the confidence in myself to know that I bring something to the table.
Struggling with acne? It’s not your fault!
This was a huge breakthrough in year three. For so many years of my life I struggled with painful, inflamed acne all over my face and neck. I spent a lot of time blaming myself for it. I thought the acne was my fault because I ate too many doritos and doughnuts growing up. I thought it was my fault because I smoked cigarettes for too many years, I drank too much booze, I didn’t drink enough water, I spent too much time in the sun, I didn’t use organic face lotion, I put too much salt on my food, I enjoyed an occasional chocolate bar. It turns out that none of these issues were to blame. There was a chemical imbalance in my system and it took a strong dose of accutane to rid myself of acne. Eliminating the guilt of thinking that acne was my own fault has been incredibly freeing.
The gift of being present.
Not every problem in my life has been eliminated since I quit drinking, but every problem that I have is more manageable. If I’m having a rough day, I feel it fully. I don’t get the release of turning my brain off after a few cocktails. The result? I deal with my emotions immediately. When I used alcohol as a crutch to get through a hard time, it was just a temporary fix and it often led to compounded issues. Being fully present in my life is not always easy, but it has really helped me to navigate some challenges this past year.
There’s only one YOU, you better rock it.
I used to be obsessed with what everyone thought about me. I started this blog initially thinking I would remain anonymous, because I didn’t want anybody I knew to read it. I no longer suffer that anxiety because I am really comfortable with who I am. I have a good heart, I care deeply about my friends and family, I am passionate about experiencing the world and I will stop at nothing to help other people achieve their full potential. If someone doesn’t truly see me, appreciate my work, or value who I am, that has to do with their own insecurities, not mine.
Chase your dreams and create them as you go.
Forget making a bucket list. Once I got sober, I realized there is absolutely nothing that I can’t do right now! It’s hard to believe that I’m here in Africa – if you’d asked me two months ago where I’d be, I would have told you something completely different. Life is funny that way. I have been fortunate to be in a position to say “YES!” to such a wide variety of opportunities the past few years. I can’t help but think that my sobriety has a lot to do with that.
Here’s my promise to you:
If you’re struggling with alcohol and you want someone to talk to about it, please reach out to me by sending me an email. I have helped a lot of people over the years and I would be happy to chat with you about how sobriety might be the right choice for your life. I promise to keep all communication completely confidential.