Not drinking has many perks—here are five of them
I have almost seven years of sobriety and I’m like, “What the fuck?” I mean, where’s my stuff? The nice apartment, the relationships, the career, the everything? I am completely obsessed with what I don’t have and it’s turning me into a person I don’t want to be: a whiny victim. It’s like I have forgotten everything I was grateful for in early sobriety, and am completely blanking on the stuff that I have gotten since I quit drinking including a nice apartment, relationships, and a career. I’m not grateful for it, so I forget about it!
I want to feel better during the times in my life when I’m not getting exactly what I want; I think this means I’m going to have dig a hole of gratitude and bathe in it. Gross. I don’t want to! I want to be edgy and fucked up and hate everything and act real cool and pretend to not care about how fucked up things are.
Sometimes, I can trick myself into thinking that if I’m grateful for little things, it means I’m content and won’t work hard on other goals. If I’m grateful that I have some clothes and a toilet that means that’s all I’ll ever have—a cute top and a bowl to crap in!
All the self-help blah, blah, blah you read is true. Gratitude changes you. It makes you a nicer person; it makes you appreciate things you would normally ignore; it frees up your creativity because you’re not wasting your brain energy hating things. There was a magical time in early sobriety where I had more wisdom than I do now, maybe it’s because I had JUST stepped out of the darkness and was just grateful to not be drinking. I forgot what it was like and I want to remember
1. Not Being Hungover
Waking up with a clear mind and no regrets instead of “coming to” in a terrified panicked state is glorious. I love waking up and knowing where I am and making a plan for the day, as opposed to having to figure out what I did the night before. I have forgotten about the panicked way I’d check my phone. Who did I call? Who did I text? Oh great, looks like I called the person who brings me the most pain 20 times. I texted them that I loved them. Then I texted them that I hated them. It’s cool, I’m just crazy and fucked up and eccentric and special. Yeah, justify it, romanticize it and then maybe start drinking again because I can’t handle anything.
My mornings went like this: “No fucking way! I can’t believe I said that.” Or, “I did what with who in a public restroom? Is that even physically possible?” It’s like waking up and having an argument with another person, and that person is you. A different version of you that you can’t get rid of, like a mild form of schizophrenia. The voice in my head would only produce the meanest most hopeless words, sort of like that voice inBirdman, but with a more nasally tone. My hangovers turned into living nightmares. Sometimes, I’d spend two days in bed before I was ready to leave the house again, and I’m just remembering this now.
My behavior after a night of drinking was sometimes worse than when I was drunk. Grumpy, distant, resentful, scared, paranoid, empty and completely self obsessed. I want to remember how bad hangovers are so I can be grateful for the person I am when I’m not hungover: aware, willing to change, and genuinely wanting to help others.
The old hungover me would want to stab the sober me in the face.
2. Looking Good
Why not add a little vanity to a gratitude list? I’m grateful my face is no longer bloated, I used to look like I had a blind trigger-happy botox doctor. My face was huge and my skin was stretched to maximum capacity trying to contain the bloat and excess fluid from exploding out of my skin. I no longer have mystery bruises all over my body. I used to wake up wondering if I got in a fight but then a friend informed me that I threw myself down the stairs because I was pretending to be a stuntwoman. I’m sure it was hilarious and worth it. The bags under my eyes have decreased by at least 75% and the red blotches I used to get all over my neck and chest are no longer there. I don’t sweat like a pig when I walk down the street and the color of my skin has returned to normal. My eye makeup is on my eyes and not on my forehead, and my hair only sometimes has crumbs in it.
3. Relationships With Other Sober People
It has taken me a long time to want to be friends with other sober people, not that I ever thought anything was wrong with it, I just didn’t think I needed them as real friends. I knew they could help me, but I didn’t want to build a relationship with them. I already had friends, mostly normal people and active alcoholics. I work in an industry where you can create an image out of being a drunk and get paid lots of money for it! I like that idea! And honestly, alcoholics are very interesting people who keep other people in their lives on their toes.
But, after a few years of drunks doing to me what I did to others when I was drunk, I was like, “Oh, right. I know this game. I used to play it and it’s never going to end.” The highs, the lows, the drama, the fun, the nightmare, the delusional thinking and the confusion. Are they crazy, or am I crazy?
I started hanging out with sober people and it’s really fucking incredible. To be able to say your horrible truths to someone and they laugh and then tell you theirs is beautiful—it feels like you’re putting all the inspiration you need to stay sober in your heart. Sitting and talking with another sober person sometimes reminds me what it was like when I connected with someone at a bar after a few drinks. The jokes flow, maybe a little oversharing happens, and this cheesy feeling of “you get me” washes over you. Except you don’t blackout and have sex with that person then never talk to them again.
Before I quit drinking, and even in early sobriety—I used to think of sober people as squares, self-righteous and judgmental—but it’s the furthest thing from the truth. Most of them have done really disgusting things and have the most insane stories so they won’t judge you for all the bad stuff you’ve done. And they have a pretty good idea of how alcoholism works, so they’re more understanding of someone else’s drinking because they’ve experienced the insidiousness of the disease themselves. I’m grateful I’ve opened up to having closer relationships with them. Read more “the fix”…