Today is day 60. Two months. I am so happy to be here.
8 things I love about not drinking:
Sleep. Most nights I fall asleep early with a clear head, have long, full dreams, and wake up glad to be alive. In grad school I ran into sleep disturbances and learned, the hard way, the deep value of sleep. Since then I have guarded it jealously — or at least I thought I did. I let alcohol mess with my sleep for far too long. It’s a major example of how easily I let alcohol damage something I cared deeply about. I drew the line for lots of other things, but alcohol I gave a free pass.
My mornings. I’ve always loved the early morning. My ideal is to get up at 5:00 every morning wide awake and rested. Abusing alcohol makes that impossible. For me, it was getting to where two measley beers wrecked the next day’s chance at a calm, bright morning. (Thank you again, dear physiology, for yelling “stop!”) Now, I have my hour or two of quiet time before the sun comes up. Me and my coffee and my notebook, as I sit in my IKEA chair by my south, third-story window, looking out into the treetops. Clear-headed.
Money. I have more money now that I don’t buy beer or wine daily than when I did.
Not being so dried out. Alcohol dehydrates a person. Winter dehydrates a person. According to some systems of health, different foods are drying, too (often not the ones you’d expect). Potato chips dehydrate a person (don’t ask me how I know that). I’m a dry person (and I grew up in dry, windy Wyoming), and quitting alcohol is a godsend from that perspective alone. Now I don’t dehydrate from the inside, and those oil massages help me not to dehydrate from the outside. (I’m also looking forward to a rainy spring!)
Not worrying that my partner will smell alcohol on my breath.
The knowledge that I’m not inundating all of the cells in my body with a toxin. For a long time I’ve been aware that the health reasons to quit alcohol had no effect on me. I’m actually a person willing to make lifestyle changes based on indirect information (say, data or somebody else’s analysis), and yet when it came to the well-known risks associated with drinking alcohol, no contest. That was an easy one for my addict to knock right down. That fact really bothered me.
Simplicity. I don’t expend energy arguing with myself, reasoning with myself, making deals with myself, hiding bottles, deciding which liquor store to go to, or judging the appropriate alcohol content of a given drink at a given time.
Longer days. And I simply have more time. The funny thing is, I have so much energy and so many ideas tripping over themselves to get out of the brain that my days feel more full than before. I struggle sometimes to get my paid/client work done. (Though not too badly — I’m pretty devoted to my clients because they pay my bills.) I’m doing pretty well at calling it all good, and just holding on to my sleep, oil, writing, eating well. I like these bulging days and feel fortunate to have the freedom to set my schedule.
If you’re struggling with the pain of the first few days of not drinking, let me add my voice to the chorus that says that it gets better. Put the glass down, back away, go find other things to do and locate the people and activities and objects that nourish you. It’s not an easy path (otherwise we would’ve started on it sooner, right?) but it’s rich, rich, rich.