Six months ago today, I decided to quit drinking for a while. I wanted to see what it felt like sober for a couple of weeks. It was mid-July 2020 during the covid-19 pandemic. That may not seem like the best time to make major life changes, but as it turns out, it was perfect timing. When I went into a 9-week lock-down with my 4 children, I will admit that I turned to alcohol to help me cope with the stress. Michael continued to go into our bankruptcy Law Firm, but he didn’t have clients come in; everything changed to virtual. Until that point, I did have a drink or two most evenings. I still don’t consider myself an “alcoholic” but I did turn to alcohol more and more to numb my emotional pain and stress as the global pandemic went on.
The pandemic added more stress because I was worried about people I love getting sick and dying. I wasn’t sure how we would cash flow at our office and how the kids would do in school since they were all switched to virtual classes. Plus, three teenagers telling me that their friends were all hanging out, and I am the “mean mom” for trying to protect them, was no fun. All while trying to keep my 3-year-old son entertained, and it was all very overwhelming!
My oldest daughter graduated from High School in May 2020 and had lots of emotions about it being different than she expected. No formal prom (they were able to get dressed up and take pictures), she attended a drive-thru graduation, summer senior trips were canceled, and she was so sad and disappointed. We spent as much time outside as possible. I Face-Timed more than ever before and met up with friends at the park to social distance as often as possible. I also participated in a book study called 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life by Tommy Newberry with friends via Zoom. This is Christian based, but I highly recommend it to every human on this planet. It helped change my perspective on many things and molded me into a more joyful and positive person. I’m actually reading it again now. It is on my list to read every new year.
As summer came, we were so happy to sleep in, get outside more, and spend more time with friends at a distance. Michael and I bought an elliptical machine and began working out at home to avoid the gym germs. We went camping and floated the Buffalo River, got the kids a trampoline, and we spent as much time at our friend’s pool as possible. We made the best of a tough situation.
I began waking up and looking forward to my first drink. That drink came earlier and earlier as the summer days (daze) were upon us. At one point I convinced myself that drinking at noon was okay because of the pandemic stress. In June I journaled about sobriety and wrote down information about being sober. I was telling my brain what I already knew in my heart and soul. Change is difficult, and it takes work to alter habits. It was easier to stay the same; I was in a routine of drinking daily and feeling buzzed.
On July 14th, 2020 I Googled sobriety apps and decided to download one called I Am Sober. I wanted to quit drinking for a week or two and see how I felt. I loved that it was a community of like-minded people who are all working to stop addiction (there are groups for quitting prescription drugs, carbohydrates/sugar, caffeine, illegal drugs, social media, and more). This app is great because it not only tracks your days sober and has an awesome anonymous community, but it also tracks time spent drinking and money saved. As of today, I am on Day 184 (6 months), I’ve saved $1,840 and 552 hours. Wow! That’s eye-opening and rather sobering (LOL). I bought a new Dell laptop I adore for Christmas, so I guess I paid for it with my sobriety.
Being in a like-minded community, anonymously, is empowering. Feeling alone in a battle is the worst feeling in the world. You are not alone, others are suffering in a similar way. Connecting with people who are also working to stay sober and who are understanding and compassionate, is extremely empowering. There is no judgment, just love, and kindness from people who know what you are going through. When someone drank and reset back to Day 0, it was motivating for me to keep going. Not one person logged on and said, “I’m so happy I drank last night, I feel amazing! Resetting is so fun!” Nope. Not one person. They were disappointed in themselves but each was met with kindness and grace. They may be resetting back to Day 0 for the 10th time but it didn’t matter. Often we beat ourselves up more than anyone who cares about us ever would.
When I stopped drinking, it was because I grew tired of unhealthily drowning myself in alcohol. Being exhausted, sad, dehydrated, hungover, groggy, and foggy was no fun. I wasn’t my best self for me, my kids, my husband, or my friends, so I gave my body time for recovery. I practiced self-love and self-care, so I could be a better version of myself.
Benefits of Being Sober
Some of the benefits I experienced are as follows: more energy, weight loss, deep sleep, more compassion, more free time to write, increased self-awareness, setting better boundaries, more productivity, and stronger relationships. Most importantly it has given me power over my own story. Overall, I feel healthier and more clear-headed. I don’t feel sluggish and exhausted from my body fighting off the alcohol’s toxins daily.
My friend Ashley Chism’s blog titled, Welcome to my Revolution: 1 Year Sober is spot on. She says, “it’s a challenge to put into words the ways sobriety has affected my life. Everything feels different, but also native, like this was always inside of me, wanting to thrive. My anxiety has improved tenfold. I now know that my drinking was creating the anxiety that I would often drink to subdue. I still experience anxiety (hello 2020!) but I have the awareness and the tools to deal with it in a healthy way.”
Anxiety is something I too battle and once I quit drinking, I realized my alcohol use was only making it worse. Ashley said her sleep quality is better, and she feels more rested and restored upon waking. I agree 100% with this. I pass out after my 15-20 minute nightly meditation on the Ten Percent Happier app and wake up refreshed.
Ashley shared how her self-confidence has grown and she prioritizes her intuition over external factors. Again, I am right there with her on this. I feel more self-confident than I have in years. I don’t feel ashamed of my choices or like people are looking at me and judging me. If they are, I don’t mind because that’s not about me. I am constantly learning through personal development – reading/listening to books, being a part of my ShiftHer group, reading my First 5 app upon waking, and working with my Wellness Coach, Tharwat Lovett, all play a role. I practice more self-love and truly feel like my own best friend. As Tharwat told me recently, “this is what it feels like to be friends with your mind.” What an amazing feeling it is!
Ashley wrote about how she feels safe to lean into her vulnerability. It is terrifying for me to be vulnerable, especially in my writing, but I’m learning that the fear is from our natural tendency to stay “safe”. Change can bring about anxiety that we must push through. We must Do It Scared; another must-read. Ashley says, “I know in my soul that I can make the most impact in this world with my vulnerability. Combined with my self-confidence, I believe I can do anything.” I totally agree with her!! We are unstoppable when we set goals and take baby steps daily toward them. We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for!
She also talks about “enjoying being present in all the moments, big and small. Experiencing joy in the little things (especially the little things) has been a tremendous and unexpected surprise of sobriety.” It is my toddler’s giggles, a long hug from my husband, a phone conversation with my mom, listening to the girls tell me about their day, and time spent with sunshine on my face that matters most. I am more intentional, fully aware, and better able to enjoy them when I’m clear-headed.
I set big 2021 goals. I’m working to finish and publish my first fiction novel with my friend, George Jared. I am creating an online self-care course for teens with Tharwat Lovett. And I am starting a second fiction novel with my mom, Sheila Collins. All while momming hard, being a wife, taking care of the house, blogging, sharing Juice Plus, and working part-time at our bankruptcy law firm, Crawley Law Firm, PA.
Yes, they are HUGE goals, but I feel empowered and capable for multiple reasons, but the main one is that I’m sober. I know I can accomplish more when I’m not adding a toxic depressant into my system regularly. The first 30 days were the hardest, but with determination, the right support, and the willingness to literally take one day at a time, you can do anything. I highly recommend giving your body a break if you find yourself over-indulging in any substance. I’m not saying that I’ll never drink again, but I do know that I’m not drinking today! That’s all we have, anyway – this present moment. I choose to live this moment sober!
In closing, I share the same sentiment that Ashley posted on her blog. I do not intend to bring shame or judgment to anyone who drinks. I’m sharing this, hoping to be helpful and inspirational to anyone who is questioning their own relationship with alcohol. If you are sober curious, there are resources for you if you are struggling and want a change. Alcohol, like nicotine, is an addictive and legal drug. Sending you each LOVE and LIGHT!