Today is my 80th day. Eighty days! Even 81 days ago I never would have expected to be here. I would have seen it as undertaking a long ocean swim (shades of Diana Nyad) without proper training. I would have said I either flat-out couldn’t do it, or that I could do it but it would be abject misery all the way. When really it’s been just sort of like life. Sometimes easy, sometimes hard, sometimes outright awful. But with movies and dogs and lunch with friends and work deadlines and sex and dry cleaning to pick up and tomatoes to harvest along the way, too. It’s just that the context shifts.
A few things I’ve learned in 80 days:
- None of my fears about sobriety have come true. Not a single one. I’m not bristling with anxiety every night, or unable to sleep. I don’t feel left out or upset when others are having drinks. I’m not completely devoid of other skills for calming myself down. Waiters don’t give me the side-eye. I had so many negative predictions about sober life, and so far they’re all wrong.
- Restaurants have a long way to go with the mocktail thing. You can’t walk a block in my city without hitting a foodie restaurant or craft cocktail bar–so why is it so rare to find creative non-alcoholic drinks? Get with it, restaurant people! You are missing a prime opportunity to upsell. And nothing that could just as easily be served to a toddler or my grandmother, please. I haven’t joined an old-timey religious sect where grown women wear pinafores. I’m just sober.
- The variety and quality of ice cream in this world is staggering. I didn’t really understand this before because I went to great lengths to ‘eat healthy’ during the years I was drinking a bottle of wine or two every night.
- If you’re wondering why you’ve been sober for sixty days and haven’t really dropped much weight, it’s a good idea to reflect on why you now know so much about the staggering variety and quality of ice cream in this world. The post-sober sugar thing is real, at least for me, and takes conscious effort to address. No, it’s not fair. Yes, it’s still a good idea to suck it up and not let sugar take over your life the way booze did.
- I drank wine every day for 20-ish years (and LOTS of wine every day for the last three) and Manhattans only a handful of times per year. Yet when I do crave a drink, it’s a rye Manhattan I want.
- Even when a situation is awkward or boring or painful, it’s SO much better to confront it knowing you’re fully in control of yourself. Life becomes less suspenseful when you’re not worrying about what you might say, or did say.
- Unless there’s a body in your trunk or something, when you’re sober there is basically no need to feel squirrely when a cop is driving behind you
- Alcohol is everywhere. ‘You deserve a glass of wine!’ well-meaning friends (who don’t know you’re sober) say after a long day. Happy hours, dinners, lakeside sidewalk cafes, congratulatory work gifts–wine, wine, wine. Everybody is taking a hot bath with a glass of wine, or enjoying the sunset from their deck with a glass of wine, or doing something else awesome with wine. This is just the way it is. The world doesn’t reshape itself around you.
- I haven’t become a spectacular human being simply by virtue of not drinking. I still procrastinate, forget to call back, let the water bottles collect in my car, don’t like to speak in the mornings. And yet in my own eyes I’m pretty much a badass now.
- The view is worth the climb. It’s just so, so worth it.
And now to climb the next leg.