A few months after I quit drinking, I wrote this in reply to
a heavy drinker who asked the simple question:
"What does sobriety look like?"
For me, sobriety means....
Mornings are clear and beautiful. I can get up at sunrise
and appreciate the new day.
Evenings are productive. I've added several hours to my day
in which I can accomplish things that require mental clarity--play a musical
instrument, write, cook a nice meal, read a book or magazine.
It gives me time to set aside from the hassles of work and
family schedules that I can count on--time that just kind of disappeared when I
I'm more open to a different schedule. I don't have to rush
home to start 'relaxing'--I can plan to pick up a kid here or take one there,
or just walk around downtown in the evening and look at books, or go to a
My kids are happy to be with me. They don't have to watch
and wonder how the evening is going to go.
I have more money. Even if finances are tight, I can reward
myself a little bit with the money I don't spend on wine or beer. I buy the
fancy little ice creams or sorbets (Dreyers etc.) or surprise my kid with the
CD he wants.
Things taste better. I'm sure smokers have much the same
reaction when they quit. Perhaps it's because my taste buds are more sensitive,
or perhaps my brain is less foggy. In either case, I'm appreciating foods I had
I can appreciate really good coffee again, rather than just
seeing it as a way to jumpstart my brain in the morning.
When someone who cares about me asks if I'm drinking, I
don't have to dissemble. It's not 'yes, but...' It's just 'nope.'
I'm healthier. It's easier to lose weight when you're not
drinking. My blood pressure has dropped from High Normal to Optimal. I don't
get dizzy and I never get headaches.
I'm less irritable. My blood sugar is more even, and I'm
never hung over (see mornings, above). My emotions are less raw, and I'm less
It is much, much easier for me to deal with emotionally
upsetting situations than it would be if I were drinking. I can think things
through without getting angry, upset, or maudlin.
When I chose to become sober, I toasted the setting sun with
my last glass of wine, calculated the hour at which that last glass would be
out of my system entirely, and declared to myself that from that time on my
house and body would be alcohol free. Five days later I drank one beer. I liked
it. It really relaxed the 'nervous' part of my brain. I really liked it. I
wished I had
another to drink. So that told me that, at least in my case,
sobriety was a better choice than continuing to attempt moderation.
In the first 72 hours of not drinking my body went through
some readjustment. Sleep patterns changed, blood sugar fluctuated. I drank
fruit juice to even things out when I would normally have been drinking wine.
After a few days my body got used to the new cycles. I ate
earlier, stayed up later, and woke up earlier--and still do.
At this point I sometimes think about what the benefits of
drinking just a glass of wine would be. It's a pretty short list. Quitting
drinking was much, much easier than I expected it to be.
Think hard about what you like about drinking. Then try a
few days without it--it's really surprisingly simple.
If you're not drinking now, try to notice how things are
better--little things and big things. And be sure to let us know how it goes.