Spoiler Alert: Sobriety is Fabulous.
It's the biggest secret to my success quitting. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The skinny jeans at the end of the diet.
If you are thinking about leaving the drink behind, and are worried that you're also leaving behind a best friend, a social life and gaining a new stigma, here are 12 ways to help you reframe it into your fabulous adventure.
1. Sober is sexy. Believe me this - drinking is not sexy. Drinking slowly deadens your ability to control your muscles and movements, causes weight gain and water retention, broken capillaries and redness, lowers your inhibitions so you act outside of how you normally would were you in full control, and lowers your self-confidence. Sobriety is the choice against these things. I have yet to meet a man that is worth anything who looks at me as anything less than a gorgeous, courageous powerhouse for my choice.
2. You're like the Vegan of Liquor. Instead of viewing sobriety as a consequence, try seeing it as your choice, identifying not as an addict but rather, a non-drinker (or even better, not identifying as anything at all). You are CHOOSING not to drink. Vegans don't run around complaining that they can't have meat. They're proud and cheeky and superior. Be as proud as the vegans are about their restraint (maybe not cheeky or superior...).
3. You have more calories. Take all those calories that went to alcohol and re-gift them to yourself as your favorite food. I hadn't eaten ice cream in years. Oh the joy of eating ice-cream without the thought of rationing my drinking calories. Yes, please.
4. No more hangovers, ever again. Waking up feeling like crap, with a sandpaper throat, bloated, with a hankering for a cheeseburger, not remembering parts of your night, or worse, remembering regrettable things you did, and an entire day stretching before you…yuck. No more drinking means no more regrettable drinking behavior, no more painful hangover, no more days you wish would just end already to be out of misery.
5. You have more time. Alcohol consumes so much time - time we don't even realize! Because it's not just the time we spend drinking. No. It's so much more. It's the time we spend thinking about it, worrying about, strategizing for it, planning it, and recovering from it that robs us the most. Sobriety means so much more time to do the things you always wanted but never had the time to do. I've completed two yoga trainings, traveled to Italy twice, read over 100 books, learned EFT, started my own company, volunteered, started to write, developed and maintained a consistent yoga and meditation practice, among many other things. Bonus, you also have more money and energy to do these other things with. As of this writing, I've saved over $16,000 so far between the drinking, drugs, cigarettes, and associated costs.
6. You're not weak. You're STRONG. 2 out of 3 adults in the US drink alcohol. You're choosing to not consume something that everyone else is a slave to on some level. You're stronger than 67% of the US adult population. Anyone that tells you different is someone who has their own complicated relationship with what addiction is.
7. You're in control of your cravings. Alcohol isn't. If you consume alcohol, it controls you and your cravings. For sure. When you stop consuming alcohol, you have control over them. Yes, it takes time to re-pattern your brain and body, time for the non-drinking you to develop, time for it to all normalize. But it's all under your domain. When you stop tangling with alcohol, you regain control.
8. The world is still a playground. You just remember everything. One of the first things I did was test out my sobriety. I used any invitation to a bar, pub crawl, wedding, picnic, party, holidays, music show, trip, sporting event, etc. to test out my new found superpower - not drinking. And it was amazing. At drinking-centric events I took teabags with me, I ordered 20 diet cokes, I stayed alert and poised and wide-eyed as my brethren slowly became not those things. It proved to me immediately that with the right mindset, I could do it. (Please note, I recommend reading The Easy Way To Control Alcohol or This Naked Mind to understand why/how I did this). It also opened my eyes up very quickly to how gross and ridiculous and expensive drunk really is, and how boring it is to hang out at a bar for the sake of hanging out at a bar. The fact is this: Things were never fun because of alcohol. They were fun because you were there, the event was fun, and/or people you had fun with were there. Do it all and build your confidence in having fun without the need to get wasted to do it. And if it's not fun, see #9.
9. You get to stop doing boring. We all have boring people and events in our lives that become more interesting if alcohol is involved. You know these people, you know these events. You race to get a buzz on, and after a while they/it becomes tolerable, perhaps even enjoyable. Getting sober doesn't mean that you now have to subject yourselves to these people or situations without the crutch. Getting sober means you realize how unfulfilling these things are and you stop wasting your time doing them. Problem solved. Bonus: you get more time.
10. Alcohol doesn't equal real happiness. Society has conditioned us to believe that drinking is what causes happiness, and that sobriety means the loss of this happiness. The truth is, if alcohol truly was the cause for happiness, there wouldn't be such a thing as an unhappy drinker. Alcohol simply amplifies what was already there, or removes the pain for just long enough to forget. if you were happy when you were drunk, you will definitely be that happy when you're not. And if drinking was the only time you were happy, you will now get the opportunity to work on those underlying issues minus the numbing agent/depressant. Bonus, you'll be happier in the long run - because the more we consume and the longer we drink, the more difficult it is to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
11. You're free from drinking. Instead of focusing on the fact that you can never drink again, focus on the fact that you never HAVE TO drink again. Focusing on can't leads to a feeling of deprivation, which sets us up to want it - this has been proven in countless studies. If we replace "I can never" with "I don't have to ever!", and focus on the liberation from the groundhog day that was our drinking life, we instead promote a feeling of relief. If this sounds crazy and like you can't even, I urge you to try it anyway - your subconscious doesn't know the difference between the two thoughts, and after a while, this will be your reality. I have been forceful with myself in not romanticizing what is no longer, and focus intently on the amount of freedom I have gained.
12. You find out who you are. And you are awesome. Drinking perpetually keeps us from understanding Who. We. Are. It is culprit in developing a false sense of self and a divide between who we really are, and the person we think we have to be. Until we remove alcohol from our lives, we never get to experience the true capacity and depth of self. Removing alcohol allowed me to finally get to the bottom of who I was, and finally give her the fighting chance she deserved. We are all gems, all of us with gifts, all of us perfect little stories to unfold. Removing alcohol allows our real journey to finally begin.