What Happens After Two Years Without Alcohol
Today, I celebrate two full years without allowing a single drop of wine or other alcohol touch my lips.
Considering at one point it was very easy for me to drink a bottle — sometimes two — in a single night (every night), I’d say this is an accomplishment worthy of some reflection and celebration.
Last November, I took some time on this platform to explain my views on why I would never label myself an alcoholic and why I don’t believe there is such a thing as alcoholism. Almost 10K people have read that post, and thanks to all of you who went out of your way to comment on your own struggles with alcohol use.
In that same article, I also explained my personal experience in the fragile early days, weeks and months of being alcohol-free before I could finally feel confident in my sobriety.
That was year one: The time of learning how to sit with your feelings no matter how comfortable they are. The time to pull old traumas out of the closet so you can purge them for good. The time to consider what is it you truly want out of your life and what you need to do to get there.
Most importantly, year one is a time to build your arsenal of coping strategies and tools that will get you in that sweet zone where you grow an aversion to the drink and see alcohol for what it is: a carcinogenic neurotoxin so indoctrinated in our culture that abstaining becomes a bold expression of social resistance.
Bad shit still happens, but now the last think you want to do is slam a liquid neurotoxin down your throat for temporary relief, followed by a hangover and code-red anxiety the next day.
COVID-19 hit and my little content agency took a hit as a result (like so many others).
I questioned my 15-year relationship with my partner to the point that I almost started looking for an apartment to rent.
I agonized (and still do) over this huge Alzheimer’s project I’m about to unveil, wondering if anyone will notice, resonate, or even care.
Fortunately, in year one I was able to build my arsenal, which for me includes:
Regular sleep. This is a game-changer. I aim for 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night — no exceptions. Waking well-rested and recharged usually sets me up for a lower-stress, higher-energy day when I can be more positive.
Reading. I read sober lit, but mostly fiction. Some sober lit recommendations:
Walking and jogging. Early in the pandemic, my yoga studio closed, as did the YMCA, so I was “forced” to go out in nature and walk for fitness. At first, I hated it. It was still really cold here in March when shit went down, but I committed to getting five miles in four days a week.
Since enlisting this general rule, I’ve learned to love my long walks, which are evolving more and more into jogs and runs — a bonus for my cardio fitness and also stress levels.
Talking. I found likeminded people in virtual meetings hosted by The Tempest, called Bridge Club. I remember in my first year of being alcohol-free, I had tried so hard to hold onto the friendships I had during my drinking life. One of my biggest learns in year two is best expressed in a quote from Laura McKowen she posted on her IG:
Overall, year two is just about making your own deep impression into a seat you spent so much time adjusting in year one. An impression in the fabric that fits you and only you. It’s a beautiful experience!
A lot of people expect miracles to happen at the beginning.
The truth is that you should expect a lot of WORK to happen in the beginning. But I promise, the good parts come next. The key is to be patient with yourself, other people, circumstances out of your control (and even some that are in your control), and always forgive yourself first.
Always put yourself at the front of your line.