In an earlier post, I waxed poetic about how fabulous things were since waving bye-bye to booze over 100 days ago.
While I’m still over the moon about how fulfilling daily life has become, I think it is also important to discuss some of the hardships that come with early sobriety.
Sometimes sobriety sucks.
That said, here are 6 challenges that may be typical when you first banish the booze.
And how you can do it too!
Why Sobriety Sucks #1: Major FOMO (Fear of missing out)
While I survived a 10-day vacation without a single sip of alcohol, I found myself feeling a bit jealous of others who could drink. To be fair, I was with my toddler the whole time, which did make it easier. Even if I wanted to get wasted, I totally couldn’t have because I was on mommy duty. But I was on a cruise with hordes of spring breakers and they looked like they were having so. much. fun! I was reminded of the carefree, liberated feeling alcohol provides. I wished for the lowered inhibition and heightened confidence they exhibited.
Some small comfort did come to me, however. I’d awaken early in the morning, watch the sunrise, sip coffee, grab an early meal and hit the empty fitness center. Those same party-goers would groggily emerge from their cabins, exhausted, disheveled, reeking of booze amid discussion of nausea and lethargy. That was all too familiar, too.
I’d be lying if I said it helped much.
It was still a little hard to take, and I imagine it will be for some time. Though I’m ecstatic at the outcome of vacationing sober and have no regrets, some part of me thinks I’ll always be a bit jealous of those who can have “just a few” and enjoy a small buzz the way I wish I ever could have.
Why Sobriety Sucks #2: Skipping Social Events
In early sobriety, I’m not yet comfortable throwing myself into situations that are alcohol-related. I also am not “out” as a non-drinker. Nobody really knows other than my husband and one cousin. Therefore, loose acquaintances and associates still invite me to events that I feel like an ass for declining.
For example, a couple months ago an old coworker randomly invited me to a wine tasting with some of the other girls from work in celebration of her birthday. I would have loved to attend. While my former job was extremely stressful, I really grew fond of all the girls and genuinely miss seeing them regularly. This would have been perfect! But I declined because I knew I wasn’t yet ready. This was absolutely the right decision, but it still sucks to feel like an automatic outcast. Like something is really wrong with me because I have to make these types of choices, unlike everybody else.
Perhaps one day I’ll be so far out of the woods that I can go to such events just for the social aspect. Or maybe I’ll grow stronger in sobriety to where I’m more vocal and shout from the rooftops that “I DON’T PARTICIPATE IN ALCOHOL EVENTS” (I think not)! But for now, I just politely decline, and it kinda sucks to have to.
Why Sobriety Sucks #3: Coping With Bad Days
On some level, we all know that self-medicating with substances is totally unhealthy. Drinking alcohol at the end of a bad day is never the answer, and rarely helps. However, I’d be lying if I said that I don’t miss liquor as a quick solution, no matter how fleeting.
My son, though only 19 months old, has apparently reached his terrible-twos a tad early. He has been a complete mess lately. On top of that, he was ill for a week or so, then we found out my father needed surgery that fell right as I was headed for vacation. Other daily struggles compounded and I found myself desiring “just one” drink to escape it all. But I couldn’t.
Again, I know that’s not the answer. “Just one” is never that for me, and never has been. At this point, I can play the tape to the end. I know this song very well. Committing to sobriety even when the alternative seems preferable is challenging, and I don’t expect that to change.
Though I’ve since learned to relax without alcohol, the reality is that even though life is ten times better off the juice, sometimes I still want a taste.
Why Sobriety Sucks #4: Constantly Comparing To Drinking Days
I become annoyed with just how much I compare every little thing now that I’m sober to how it felt when I was drinking.
This probably isn’t really a bad thing, but I dislike how obsessed I feel. For example, though I thoroughly enjoyed vacationing sober, on the way home I marveled at how much more relaxed and rejuvenated I felt coming home from this trip versus drinking trips. I wished I could just… be. I’d like to enjoy where I’m at currently in life without having the backdrop of how unpleasant things were before. It’s like the fact that I had drinking issues in the past is constantly on my mind and it makes me feel less free than I prefer.
I wonder if this will ever go away.
Why Sobriety Sucks #5: Embarrassing Flashbacks
In sobriety, I am plagued by flashbacks of embarrassing things I’ve said or done during my stint with alcohol. It is not fun. From what I’ve seen and heard from others, this is pretty common, but that doesn’t make it okay.
In fact, it’s bizarre to me how widely accepted and anticipated it is that people get drunk, say and do stupid things that they may or may not remember, then laugh (or cringe) over it later. Like, how?
How is it just okay that this thing alters so many peoples’ personalities and actions to a point where they become total assholes, and it’s regularly excused away by “oh, she was just drunk”?
Why do we need an excuse for not drinking, when drinking brings out the worst in many of us?
I despise that that was ever me. I wish I could turn back the hands of time and erase those actions. And if not, at least erase the memories.
Why Sobriety Sucks #6: Judging Others
This one is really challenging to admit, but just as much as I sometimes envy others for being able to partake in festivities that are now off-limits, I also find myself silently judging their aftermath.
For example, since I’ve cut booze from my life, my husband has also significantly reduced his alcohol intake. This is absolutely wonderful on multiple levels.
However, just as much as I desire a cocktail for every bottle of beer he enjoys, when he wakes up the next morning complaining of headaches, shaky stomach, lethargy or fuzzy memory, I think “so glad I never have to go through that again… sucks to be him…”.
This is not something that makes me happy. I think it’s an indicator of my drinking problem. Because if it wasn’t an issue for me, I simply wouldn’t care.
When friends spend themselves into financial holes, I don’t have a “suck to be you” attitude. I’m supportive and try to help. Because shopping isn’t my pain point. Drinking is.
We all have our battles, after all.
Sobriety Sucks Sometimes, But It’s Okay
I want to be clear here.In spite of it being difficult at times, the choice to be alcohol-free is absolutely empowering. Click To Tweet
I try to make choices that lead me to freedom. For a time, I believed alcohol was an escape from some of the less pleasant aspects of life. But really, alcohol kept me in chains. I didn’t control alcohol — alcohol controlled me.
Even though in some moments I wish things were different, there is so much power in being able to choose. To choose mental clarity and peace of mind over cloudy thoughts and questionable judgment. To choose long-term joy and wellness over temporary release.
I say all of this not to vilify alcohol or those who choose to imbibe. I think under the right circumstances, drinking in moderation is cool. But all too often I think many of us find ourselves experiencing more negative effects of alcohol than positive.
When that merry-go-round starts spinning out of control, there is strength and happiness in deciding it’s time to get off. Sometimes you just don’t need to ride that ride anymore.
Cheers to that.