I made it! Phew!
Thank you for all of the support and kind words over the past month. I attribute my success to the fact I had a fantastic support network of friends, followers, and even random strangers holding me accountable. All the little gestures like getting me diet cokes while you were at the bar, or sending me a twitter message encouraging me to keep going, made a huge difference whether you realized it or not, so thank you!
I’ve been sober for 31 days. Today is the last day.
I feel healthier, though I don’t necessarily feel “detoxed.” I’m not even quite sure what that would feel like.
So, what have I learned?
Apologies for the cheese, but it’s true I can accomplish anything I put my mind to and little willpower behind. To all of you who doubted me, boy I showed you, didn’t I?!
It is possible to have fun while sober, but it’s a different sort of fun. It’s not the crazy- stories-at-brunch type of fun.
When you are sober in a room full of drunk people, you see things you don’t normally notice when you are drunk as well. People fall, puke, cry. Friends throw passive aggressive barbs at each other in casual conversations. Earlier this month, I went to a going away party for a friend. The next day, I stopped by the house again, and she asked me if I’d seen anyone making out during the party.
“Oh yea. There was a guy and girl going at it in the hallway off the kitchen.”
“Really?! What did he look like?”
“Attractive, purple shirt, glasses.”
Her eyes turned toward her roommate sitting within earshot on the couch, and I saw her roommate’s face go from looking cheery to deflated. Turns out it was the guy she was seeing.
People do silly things while drinking, and half the time, nobody notices. If you have a voyeuristic side, being sober is fantastic.
Finally, my old habits were making me fat, stupid, and unattractive. Turns out my mom was right about the cellulite thing, as I’ve definitely seen a decrease in that.
I wonder what it will feel like to be able to drink again.
This past month, I had an excuse for my sobriety. It was a challenge. People would ask me about it, then follow the journey I posted here, offering words of encouragement along the way. I’ve said it here many times, but before I gave up drinking, I used to consume an incredible amount of alcohol. I don’t want to go back to that, and I’m planning to try to avoid it.
Well, unless I happen to be in a room with a keg again. Then you’ll definitely be holding my ankles.
I nearly gave it all away this weekend. I nearly ended the challenge.
I’ve been sober 29 days, visited plenty of bars, even stood on Bourbon Street, but not until this weekend has temptation hit me so strong.
Friday, one of my friends had tickets to see a musician, whom she also happened to be friends with. The show was sold out, and afterwards we were able to go backstage and hang out with him. It made me feel like I was some sort of VIP, and I was getting an experience even most ardent fans usually don’t. It also made me feel very awkward, given my sober state.
The greenroom was filled with half-eaten snacks, beers, other girls, and a bottle of Jameson he was swigging from liberally. At one point he started filling tumblers with shots of whiskey and passing them around for a toast. I stood there, tumbler in hand, wondering what to do. How could I tell a rockstar I can’t toast because I’m staying sober? Someday, I’d recite this story to my grandkids and they would think I’m super lame.
My friend turned to me and said the same statement I’ve heard from several other friends over the course of the past month.
“You can drink it. I won’t tell anyone. No one has to know.”
If I’d acted on that every time I’d heard it, a lot of you would be holding secrets right now. I looked at the ground and it was wet from spilled beers, and I decided to do a trick I’d seen in the movies. While everyone else was drinking their shot, I threw mine over my left shoulder. Temptation: 0, me: 1.
Later on in the evening, I told one of the other girls about my challenge, and she said she had once taken an entire year off from drinking due to a medical condition. I marveled at the idea of year, seeing that this has been the longest month of my life. I asked her to describe her experience, and her answer showed me she knew exactly what I was experiencing.
“It was comfortable. I felt so healthy. I felt like my body was working like it should be. I wrote some great songs. But I also got really sad sometimes.”
The next night, a group I volunteer with hosted an event at a bar. I was a bartender. How ironic is that!? At no point did I feel tempted to drink. I was far too busy shoveling ice into cups.
The end of the night, most of the party had left except for a handful who had gathered in the back where the kegs were. I was walking around gathering up cups and trash, when I heard people cheering. When I walked to the back, I saw people were doing keg stands. I immediately felt nostalgic for college. In college, I loved to show off by doing keg stands. It’s stupid, but people were always impressed at the amount I could drink while hanging upside down by my ankles.
“I want to do one,” I whispered to my one of my friends.
“That would be such an awesome way to end your challenge if you did! Do it!” she said.
Then I said it louder, “I want to do one.”
People heard me that time, and suddenly a room of strangers were chanting my name.
Alcohol doesn’t cause you to make poor decisions. Peer pressure does.
It was happening. I was going to do a keg stand just like the good ole days. I started to move towards the keg with a roomful of eyes staring at me encouragingly.
“No! No! She’s sober! She’s sober!” Two arms wrapped around me and I was dragged out of the room.
I stood outside for a few minutes. I still wanted to do it, especially since I don’t typically get the opportunity to drink directly from a tap while people are chanting my name. Then I started thinking about what I’d almost done, and imagining how I would have explained myself in a blog post. Would you all have forgiven me for giving up on this marathon in the 26th mile? If this month were February, I would have made it by now.
But it’s not. It’s July.
Over the past month, I’ve had several people reach out to me and say they want to try this challenge, if only for a week. I encourage it wholeheartedly.
You can do it. I did it. I know it’s cliche, but if I can do it, anyone can. Anyone who knew me before July 1 can tell you I used to drink like a fish. Sometimes, I’d go to brunch on the weekend, have several mimosas, go home to nap, wake up, shower and fix up, and head out the door for several more drinks that evening. Nothing wrong with that, as sometimes it’s the lifestyle we lead, but that behavior can’t be healthy. And now look at me - 8 pounds lighter. Go figure.
Build a support network. If it wasn’t for this blog and random strangers holding me accountable, I would have never made it. Tell everyone you know what you are doing. All your friends, your twitter followers, everyone, even your mom (because we all know moms will remember everything you ever do and ask you how it’s going).
BYOB. Anytime I was invited to visit, have drinks, or party, I would bring my own beverage. Whatever your favorite non-alcoholic drink is, bring it. It will help discourage you from giving in if you have a drink you enjoy.
Have patience. The rest of the world drinks, and when you are the only one sober, it will seem like every drunk person in the room will want to come talk to you. Your friends will be drunk and doing all those things you used to find hilarious, and saying things like, “See, we can still have fun when I’m drunk and you’re sober!” Don’t be annoyed, just laugh at it and sip your diet coke. Alcohol makes people so silly, and you are getting an eye opening view of it.
Reward yourself. Want a candy bar? Go for it. New dress? All yours. Focus on crossing out one vice at a time. Too many restrictions will lead to failure.
You might get depressed. I got super depressed. You’ll live. Set yourself a deadline, such as the next morning or two days later, and commit to waking up anew and fresh as a daisy. Listen to really ridiculous music, like 90’s dance. You might have to force yourself to do it, but it’s impossible to be depressed while listening to Haddaway’s “What is Love?”
Day 25 sober. I didn’t think I’d make it this far, so cheers to that!
One of my favorite things besides alcohol is art, and I saw this poster the other day that made me pause for a moment. The longer I stared at it, the more meaning it had for me.
Here’s a small part of it:
It’s a man reading a book on a faraway planet. He’s alone.
This design really spoke to me, as it served as a reflection of the last month of my life. The man in that image represents me. Being sober is comfortable, but it can also alienate you. In this picture, the man looks comfortable, but he is also isolated, which can be perceived as equal parts good and bad. Really you can use this picture as a metaphor for anything in your life - living alone, being single, unemployment, or any other type of freedom you enjoy (or try to enjoy, like sobriety).
You could also imagine the man is on this planet waiting to be discovered. In our lives, we spend a great deal of time waiting, whether it be for a new opportunity to arise, or a new idea to change our frame of thinking, or maybe even a date like August 1. We try to find comfort in things like routines while we wait for these things to happen. In the end, the opportunity, idea, or date finally lands on our planet, and the change and discovery that comes from it, often makes it worthwhile.
I’m hoping this month will have been worthwhile, and I will enter August with a new frame of mind.
I keep wondering how this will end. What will happen on August 1? I talk a big game and say I’ll live a life of moderation, but will I truly be able to do it?
People have already started asking if I’ll plan a happy hour or bar crawl to celebrate the end of the challenge, and I’m not sure yet. Though it’s been difficult, I think I’ll miss it when it ends. It gave me an excuse to live a healthier lifestyle, and an interesting story to tell when people asked why I was teetotaling.
One of my friends sent me the following sage advice for when the challenge ends, and I’m face with going back to my old habits:
Some ideas for when you start up again: Drink a water after each alcoholic one. Or order a mocktail or O’Dhouls in the middle of the night. Decline the waiter or waitress the first time they offer you another one. (As in, order another when you want to, not when they want you to.) Only drink on 3 or 4 days a week. Have a one-drink night now and then.
What advice do you have for me?
23 days sober.
One of the great things about sobriety is that you save a ton of money. In fact, this month, I’ve saved an incredible amount. Guess how much.
$400+. That’s like a car payment. A luxury car payment at that. On the average weekend night, I might spend $50 on drinks, possibly more when you include the Uber home. If you multiply that by 2 weekend nights, you’re at $400. I usually do happy hours during the week as well, which can add up to around $30 each if I get food too. Then there’s always the boozy brunches…
My drinking isn’t only making me fat and stupid, it’s breaking my bank as well. Seeing a number like that certainly discourages me from going back to my old ways in August.
Now that I only have 9 days remaining, I’ve been making a mental list of all of the bars I’d like to visit and what to order when I get there. (Who am I kidding, I’ve been thinking about this all month…)
The last drink I had before going sober was a PBR at Rock n’ Roll Hotel. Classy.
Here’s a list of places I plan to visit when I’m able to drink again.
Happy hour at Poste for prosecco (31 days sober will be a reason to celebrate)
Masa 14 Brunch (best bottomless brunch in the city)
Margaritas at Lauriol Plaza
Brixton (still haven’t been there!)
Black Jack (most meticulously made cocktails in the city)
Churchkey (best place to meet fellas)
Where is your favorite place to drink in the city, and do you have a favorite cocktail that you order?
20 days, going strong.
Yesterday I was trying to remember how it felt to be drunk. I know all too well since I used to experience it 3+ days a week, but it’s hard to put into words. Seems like it’s a mixture of sleepy and happy. Kind of like your head isn’t screwed on tightly enough.
I asked a few friends, and here are their varying responses:
Brother: Getting emotional and irrational. Easy to get mad, sad, in love, often for no reason. Drinking can just as easily lead to an argument and fight as it can to kissing some random person. It really is amazing.
Roommate: Drunk is like the feeling of falling. Like the high feeling you get right when you tip over, everything separates, and it’s fun for a second.
Bossman: Being drunk, or at least consuming alcohol, is uniquely human. The ironic thing about this is that it decreases our ability to reason, something that also sets us apart. So imbibing can simultaneously confirm your humanity and remove it, in one delightful gulp.
The Bride-to-be: There was this character, a mole in the Wind in the Willows, and he made this warm blackberry drink and would invite friends over on a cold night, into his cozy home under this tree. They would sit and laugh and drink and be warm and cozy. It can be kinda like that feeling.
How would you describe it to someone who has never experienced it (or forgotten what it feels like)?
The other day someone made the comment to me that she had been inspired that someone of her level of drinking had been able to go sober. I was flattered. I also knew what she meant. She meant someone who was a binge drinker.
Binge drinking is a term I throw around pretty loosely, though I’m certain it applies to me, and it’s a practice I’ve been thinking about a lot since going sober.
My roommate used to have this fabulous boss. She was hilarious, successful, and best of all, a fantastic drinking buddy. From time to time we’d do happy hour, and 7+ drinks later, I’d find my way home. One time, she was discussing the different types of alcoholics that exist. There’s the type who need a beer just to get out of bed in the morning. There’s the type who drink all day and can’t keep a job. “And then there’s the binge drinkers, like us,” and she motioned toward me. We laughed and cheers-ed to our shared drinking habits, but somewhere in my brain, a seed was planted that I am a binge drinker, and people had noticed.
Every time people marvel at my intake, I attribute it to my Irish heritage, rather than my regular binge drinking habits that have afforded me an incredible tolerance. But the real question is why? Why do I drink 6 rum and cokes in a night? Why do I go to Recessions for the King Kong beer? And most importantly, after breaking the binge drinking habit this month, will I go back to my old ways?
I hope not. It was making me fat and stupid. But of course, no promises. So here’s a question for you - what is your definition of binge drinking?