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Why I decided to stop drinking

Hey, there.

So I figured you might want to know the why behind my decision to live a sober lifestyle.

Even that phrase, above, “living a sober lifestyle,” still seems a bit foreign, and was definitely never something that I ever thought, nor wanted, to say about myself…

I’m actually 1 year, 4 months, and 4 days sober as I write this, and I still feel kinda “lame” saying that I am sober.

I want to be clear that I in no, way, shape or form think choosing to eliminate an addictive carcinogen out of your lifestyle is a lame thing to do at all. In fact, I think it’s pretty badass.

But one thing I struggled with around sobriety, before I made the choice, and even still now, after over a year of sobriety, is this idea that people think of me differently because I don’t drink. It’s definitely a subconscious thing, and I hope if you are reading this and are sober or considering sobriety, you can feel validated if you are feeling the same way too. The fact is, the choice of sobriety is the choice of happiness, freedom, joy…life. It’s anything but lame. But in a culture that has alcohol at the crutch of any event, it can seem like you are the #1 party pooper when you choose to abstain.

So let’s go back…back to the reason why I chose sobriety:

To say it was one specific reason that made me choose sobriety is simply not accurate.

It was a culmination of things. A build up. And ultimately what turned into an inevitable truth I had to face.

Let’s start with the basics:

Alcoholism runs in my family. It runs deep in my family. I won’t name specifics, but I will tell you that there is PLENTY of family history there.

I always had this lingering feeling about my drinking, knowing that there was so much addiction in my family tree, but also having this egotistical belief of “I am so above that. I would never let myself get to that point!”

But the more time went on, the more I wondered if I was really “above all of that,” or if I had a one-way ticket to the same exact fate.

I started noticing behaviors around my drinking that I thought actually proved I was not an alcoholic, but as I put two and two together, made me realize how much I was following in the footsteps of my loved-ones who struggle with the disease as well.

See, I’m not your typical young party girl alcoholic type. This was an archetype I saw all over the internet, and I didn’t relate at all, which made it difficult for me to come to terms with “having a problem.” I didn’t match the description.

Nah, I didn’t go out, party until I blackout, and sleep with random dudes.

I stayed at home, night after night, with my BFF, my bottle of wine.

So I’m good, right?

No reckless behavior, no drinking and driving.

Just a girl and her vino, what’s wrong with that?

…but deep inside, I knew something was wrong with what I was doing.

I was popping open that bottle seeking that fuzzy feeling ASAP almost every single night.

It was my way to forget the demons of my life I didn’t want to face. It was my escape. And I loved it.

But I slowly started to realize that what was happening was I a) was using alcohol to cope b) was attempting to escape my problems and c) was isolating myself.

I knew something was wrong with my drinking habits, but I just didn’t want to face it. After all, who would I be without my glass of wine? Shit, even the branding of my business had wine involved in it.

At the beginning of June 2018, my boyfriend Ronnie and I decided to hit the road and live full-time traveling. I was still drinking at this point, and was thoroughly enjoying our new-found freedom and all the boozy nights.

What I was not loving so much were the boozy mornings. The anxiety. The anger. The depression.

The more times I woke up hungover, the more times I would silently ask myself, “How much more can I do this?”

Every hangover felt wrong. Felt bad. Felt shameful. Why was I doing this to myself? Then I’d crack the first beer or wine later that day, sometime around 4-5 to take the edge off…

I want to put a side note in here: I never blacked out. I honestly didn’t even drink an amount that I think an average person would label as concerning. I never did anything more than maybe get a little weepy, start a mild fight with Ronnie, and then fall asleep. But I knew that something was wrong, and that nudge of something not being right just got louder and louder.

The day it all changed:

Only about a month or two into our trip, Ronnie and I had been spending a few weeks in Austin, TX visiting family, and we went out with his cousin and his cousin’s girlfriend.

I honestly was not a big goer-outer, even though I loved to drink. What I realize now is that even though I have an extroverted personality, I am truly introverted, and drinking made me want to hide. Alcohol took the lovable parts of who I am as a person, and sucked them away. I know alcohol does this to people, because I have seen this happen to others, as well. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn’t make you funnier and more enjoyable to be around. Well, maybe if you just drink once a year at the Christmas party. But those of us who drink everyday, it kills your soul, slowly, without you even being able to notice.

I thought I was on the top of the world at this time. Sitting alone, drinking champagne on my porch. But I was lonely, sad, and lost. You can see it in my eyes. I honestly hate looking at this picture.

But back to the story…

So we all went out in Austin, and had a good time.

We eventually went back to the apartment, ate God-knows-what, and passed out.

I woke up the next day, like I did most times from a big evening of drinking, with a hangover from HELL.

I felt absolutely horrible.

I reeked of alcohol, didn’t have a change of clothes, didn’t have a toothbrush, and everyone wanted to go out to eat away our hangover (gah, even typing this makes me want to puke!)

I remember feeling so ashamed of myself that day. I was embarrassed. Here I am, this late-20’s girl with so much ambition and potential for her life, I want to change the world, I want to have such a big impact…and I’m walking around like a zombie on a beautiful Sunday, smelling like metabolized alcohol. I didn’t want to be this person anymore.

After we finished eating, Ronnie and I drove back to where we were staying, and I sat in silence, and misery, from how horrible I felt.

I finally said to him, “I think I need to stop. I think I need to be sober, or something.”

I honestly forgot how he replied at that time, because I just knew I had to change. I couldn’t keep doing this.

I had dreams of inspiring people, talking to students about their dreams and potential, speaking on stages, writing a book… (ps. I am doing ALL of this now.)

I knew I couldn’t be one thing on stage, then walk off and turn into someone else, someone who couldn’t deal with their life, so they drank themselves sick.

So we got back home, and I was too sick to meet his family for dinner. I felt so silly for not being able to go be with family because I WAS TOO HUNGOVER. And yes…this means I have a problem.

That night, while Ronnie was at dinner, I sat on my phone and researched everything I could about sobriety.

Is it fun? Will I still be cool if I stop? What if I can’t stop? I’m gonna miss it so much, this is part of my everyday life, how do I do this?

I found something online that gave me the idea to just give it 30 days.

See how it goes, 30 days.

And so I did. I got myself a sobriety tracker and I started on my sober journey that day.

It was hard. It was sooooooo hard, in fact. I remember wondering how in the hell I was going to make it another day. I was so mad. I missed alcohol so much. I had every reason to go back to it.

But something inside of me just wouldn’t let me go back. To this day, I’m not sure how or why that inner knowing was so powerful, but I am so glad it was, and that it kept me going day after day.

We headed to Colorado, where I stayed sober, then New Mexico, and my 30 days were coming up.

There was a cool brewery in town, and craft beer was my thing (along with wine,) and so I figured, “well, let’s see how it feels to just have A beer!” (Side note: it was never just a beer.)

So, I ordered the beer–it was a smokey Scottish Ale. Something I would typically love. I can still remember the taste of it.

I had about 3/4 of it, and I knew: It’s over.

My body revolting every time I drank it. I knew it was wrong. Back came the feelings of shame and guilt and embarrassment.

In that moment, I knew me and alcohol were over.

So I reset my tracker (because I didn’t want to cheat!) and have been sober ever since.

The months after that last sip were a grieving process.

I remember feeling that I had completely lost who I was.

I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t know who I was outside of alcohol.

In fact, the more and more time went on, I realized how much I truly didn’t know myself.

Sobriety bloggers would tell me to do other things I loved to do and found relaxing, and I didn’t have a dang clue what that was.

And there started my journey. My journey back to me–who I am at my core (which is why I have an entire section in this blog called “The journey back.”)

As I write this to you, almost a year and a half sober, I am just now realizing how much I have gone through to get where I am today.

I broke free of a something that had such a hold on me.

While I was drinking, I was never truly feeling, or thinking, or growing, because I relied on alcohol to soothe me.

And now I am real, raw, exposed…and I couldn’t love it anymore.

But it didn’t always feel great.

So know a few things:

  1. If you are new on your sober journey, hang in there. And keep listening to that inner wisdom that wants you to keep going.
  2. I will have MANY more posts on what got me through the first few months of sobriety, challenges that came up, challenges that still come up, and heck, even the JOYS of sobriety, because there are so dang many.
  3. I’m always here to listen to you. Send me an email via my about page, or comment below. I want to talk about this freely and loudly. More people are suffering than we realize, and it’s time to break the silence.
  4. I love you.

xoxo

Sarah

PS. I love the radiance my sober life has created for me now.

  1. Linda says:

    Thank you for this article. Just what I needed to read.

  2. Linda says:

    Thank you for this article. Just what I needed to read.

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