The transition from daily drinker to alcohol-free-zealot is full of daily discoveries, and they’re all part of finally waking up from a 2-decade-long drunken haze.

From tripping up over triggers to trying to master mind-over-matter from moment-to-moment, I give so much of my energy to exploring and trying to understand (and overcome) the challenges of becoming, and staying, sober.

Today, I want to focus on the successes, instead.

So, I present to you my list of 15 Awesome (and unexpected) Things That Happened When I Quit Drinking for 30 Days (in no particular order):

    1. I’m Way Less Bitchy
      Yep, I’m starting right out of the gate with the most unexpected one of them all. And yep, I’ll admit I was a demon pretty unloveable the first couple of days. But, as I tuck day after sober day under my belt, I’m finding I’m becoming exponentially more patient. It’s amazing how it’s so much easier to be pleasant when you aren’t fighting cravings, plotting your route so can swing by the liquor store, or stuck in a constant cycle of drunkenness / hangover / withdrawal.

    2. I’m Dressing Better
      This baby is two-fold. First, I’m actually leaving the house again, to go places other than the liquor store then straight back home to perfect my performance of “Anti-Social Alcoholic Introvert”. I’m actually putting myself together in something other than the clothes I blacked out in last night. Secondly, I can afford to buy myself new clothes with the money I’m saving every day. I was spending $40 Canadian or more a day on alcohol, which is $1200 a month. Oh, the shoes I could buy with that!

    3. I’m Wearing My Glasses Less
      It’s fair to say my vision is less than 20/20. When I was demolishing 4 litres of wine a day, on top of being blind, I usually looked like I’d been punched in both eyes and hadn’t slept in weeks. I’d try and disguise this behind whatever thick-rimmed eyewear I could, paired up with a hat to cast as much shadow on my face as possible. Now that I’m starting to look significantly less abused, I can now enjoy stumbling around bumping into things simply because I’m blind, instead of blind and drunk.

    4. I Realized I’m Not Depressed
      I spent a really, really, really long time believing I was depressed. I assumed it was my predisposition, and that melancholy was just my destiny. Turns out, I’m not depressed after all – but consuming 1,460 litres of liquid depressant a year can definitely make you think you are. Before the alcohol and all it’s supporting hormonal demons even left my bloodstream after my last drink, my mood improved – because I was excited for the possibilities. Now that all my chemistry is starting to level out, I’m as far from depressed as I used to be deeply rooted in it.

    5. I Have So Much More Time
      This perk of not drinking wasn’t as unexpected as some of the others – I knew how much time I wasted to support drinking like I did. From thinking about it, going to get it, hiding it, planning my day around it and creating make-work projects because of it, I spent wasted a good portion of every day (because really, how productive is starting to drink at noon, until you pass out later that evening?). I’ve traded in drunk and passed out at 8pm for coffee dates with myself and a book, or meditating in the hot tub with a glass of juice. I’m consciously reinvesting this new-found time on myself, and things that nurture my recovery.

    6. I’ve Realized Everything Isn’t Awful
      This one is close to #4, realizing I’m not actually depressed – but it’s different. Feeling depressed was basically never wanting to do anything, at all. Like, ever. Realizing that everything isn’t in fact awful, has reopened up the gates of Gratitude in my life. When I was drunk all the time, I was never present, and never truly appreciated anything. I took everything for granted. It’s hard to feel grateful when you’re numb. Hell, it’s hard to feel anything but flat and half dead. Each sober day, as the sensation of being alive returns, the more I’m finding that everything is in fact incredible and amazing.

    7. I’ve Become Way More Forgiving
      Mostly of myself. Drunk/hungover me was pretty hard on himself. For as much as I was the King of Procrastination, I was also the Fool of Perfection. I strived for it, demanded it from myself, and to be honest, I expected it from others, too. It’s ironic in hindsight, since I was stuck in the throws of imperfection all the time. Sober me is a much more forgiving guy – of myself, everyone, and everything. “Good enough” and sober is so much better than drunk and “never perfect”.

    8. I Can Form Proper Sentences
      This one seems pretty obvious. Drunks aren’t really synonymous with eloquence. I’m pretty sure, when drunk out of my mind, that I believed whatever nonsense was spewing out of my mouth (usually on repeat) was profound. But the truth is, I could barely string together cohesive thoughts without distraction or forgetting what the hell I was talking about to begin with. Sober me is relishing in reclaiming the english language again, and better yet – remembering what I opened my mouth to talk about in the first place.

    9. Recycling Day Is Nothing To Be Afraid Of
      Okay. You’ve been there. That ear-shattering crash when you hear your recycling bin being dumped into the garbage truck. The type of crash that sounds like a mix of embarrassment, tragedy and shame, and is loud enough to wake up people in a coma three towns over. Listening to that once a week was surprisingly easier than dealing with the awkwardness of returning them in such overwhelming volume to the liquor store for a refund. It was like I was leaving bins full of my confessions at the curb, and the garbage men were priests who could haul away my sins and nobody would ever need to know. Now sober, recycling day sounds a lot more like the soft plink of plastic juice bottles and the snoring of all my neighbours who get to sleep through it.

    10. I’m Hella Confident
      I’ve always been a pretty confident guy, despite my downward spiral into alcoholism. I clumsily faked it as well as I could, for as long as possible, but relied heavily on that confidence arriving in liquid form. The idea of not drinking, however, could transport me to full-fledged anxiety in a split second – and I’d stay there until I knew a drink was on it’s way. Being sober allows me to pull my confidence from healthier places, like knowing I’m not only good enough, but I am better now than I ever have been. And I’ll never trade that feeling in for a drink – ever.

    11. I’ve Discovered That Feeling Good is Contagious
      No, I haven’t converted, or will try to convert, anyone to anything. But as part of my own transition from “struggling, sick drunkard” to “happy, patient, sober-dude”, I’m now wanting that feeling of recovery and strength to spread to every part of my life. Being sober is making me want to improve literally everything in my life, from my overall health and diet, to my marriage, career and to resurrect long dormant passions. Sobriety has given me the desire to enhance and nurture all the things that really mean something to me.

    12. I’m Way More Sensitive
      You’d think it’d be the other way around. Alcohol always made me cry. But that wasn’t being sensitive – that was being a hormonal mess and being overwhelmed by emotions I had no idea how to deal with or react to. Sobriety brings with it this wide open space of clarity where you can pause and actually be present with your feelings, and see them for what they really are, not for what alcohol has distorted them to feel like. I can actually feel and recognize my emotions now, instead of living in a constant state of feeling like an overwhelmed, drunken hot mess.

    13. I Look Forward To Things
      There was nothing worse than the dread that came with drunkeness. I would dread literally everything. Going to the store. Going to a photo shoot for work. Going out for dinner with friends. Friends coming over. Going to family events. Planning my life around drinking (and putting my life on hold for it) was a full-time job. Anything outside of that was terms for avoiding or cancelling. Being sober is helping me become more social, and truly valuing the variety of life I’m able to experience (and remember!).

    14. Mirrors Aren’t The Enemy Anymore
      I wouldn’t even dare look at myself in the mirror in the morning, and tried to avoid it all day if I could. If I looked half as bad as I felt, it was nothing I wanted staring back at me. Since all the booze has left the building (and my body) I’m already noticeably less Pillsbury-Dough-Boy-Level-Puffed-Up, the whites of my eyes actually are white for a change, and my skin has evened out, and is no longer a weird combination of pretty much every skin type imaginable.

    15. Movie Endings Are Pretty Cool
      I love me some Netflix. I love murder mysteries, scary movies, true crime and psychological thrillers. You know what I also love, now that I’m sober? Finally being able to make it to the ending. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched every movie ever made, and probably made it to the end of about 3 of them (and that’s only because we watched it early enough in the day). Drunk me always fell asleep blacked out about halfway through every movie. Luckily, the next day hungover-me couldn’t remember what movie we watched the night before, anyways. Sober-me, now able to stay awake, is discovering that the endings are usually the best part.

This list is just a very small drop in the figurative wine barrell of all the amazing things that are starting to happen in my first short month of sobriety.

So, let’s just call this Part 1, since every day I’m discovering new and unexpected benefits of being alcohol free.

Sobriety really does deliver everything that alcohol promises.

To be continued!

Written by SJ VanDee

Recovery Blogger. Sober AF. Photographer. Storyteller. Writer.


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