I did it. One year sober. Holy shit. I can’t believe it. This has been a really hard year. And being sober has made it harder in some ways. I’ve had to actually face my problems instead of getting drunk and pretending that they don’t exist. But now, I can’t imagine being any other way.
Being sober is hard, but it’s totally worth it. Here’s a few things that I accomplished this year that I don’t think I could have without sobriety:
1. I’m Like, A Writer Now
I’ve been writing. A lot. And not just here on my blog. Over this past year, I’ve contributed to Huffington Post and XoJane.com, I have a sex column on SheSaid.com, and I interviewed Russel F*&$ing Simmons for NY Yoga & Life Magazine. All of this came into fruition because of this blog. Huffington Post republished When Being A Party Girl Stops Being Cute (originally published here). XoJane republished Naked Yoga (originally published here), and SheSaid.com hired me because of this blog. This goes to show that writing from the heart, even on my own little blog, can lead to huge opportunities.
2. I Coped with Death and Family Stress…Sober
Within a two week period this fall, I lost my Nana and some other family emergencies popped up. I ended up spending almost three weeks in Texas to be with my family during this time. I needed their support and they needed mine. I can honestly say that September was the only month that I truly missed drinking. My stress levels were through the roof and I was always either crying in private or holding back the tears because I felt like I had to be the rock in my family. It sucked. Bad. But I got through it. Drinking wouldn’t have changed any of the facts, I would have just woken up with a hangover on top of my heartache. Dealing with grief sober is tough, but it made me stronger.
3. I Ran a Half Marathon
I still can’t believe I did this. Like, wow. While fitness has been a big part of my life for the last 7 years, I never considered myself a runner. I’ve always loved cardio (I taught Zumba for over 5 years) and I’d do the occasional 5k, but the thought of running 13.1 miles at one time never appealed to me. Then I went through a break up and I needed to channel my energy into something. So I decided to try running. Every week for 4 months, I ran 3 times and did 2 cross training work outs like yoga or strength training to balance. It was grueling, but it got me through an incredibly difficult period. Signing up for this half marathon was a blessing; it provided an outlet to release stress (though it sometimes caused stress) during my treacherous month of September. When I crossed that finish line in October, I cried tears of joy. Then, I went home to ice my knees and eat insane amounts of carbs.
4. I Found Empathy
When I was drinking, I had no idea how to have empathy for others. My problems were all that mattered because I was all that mattered. A combination of the culture shock from moving to NYC, giving up booze, and meeting people that grew up differently than I did taught me that there’s a whole world out there and it’s both beautiful and heartbreaking. I got out of the narcissism of drinking and opened my eyes to the injustices of the world. Before sobriety, I didn’t understand how welfare worked, but people in my hometown bashed it… so I bashed it. I thought feminists had hairy arm pits who hated men. I thought PTSD was something only experienced by war veterans. I thought most rape cases were random attacks. I thought gender and sex were the same thing. The same lack of awareness was true for most things in my life. I documented my political evolution from an addict to a more informed and empathetic woman in this article for the Huffington Post. I never would have become “woke” if I hadn’t stopped waking up with hangovers.
5. I Started Therapy
I began seeing a weekly therapist nine months into my sobriety. Talking to friends and family are great, but nothing compares to the non-biased perspective of a therapist. She’s helping me understand a lot of the issues I’ve suppressed with alcohol and drugs. She diagnosed me with agitated depression and high functioning anxiety. Basically, this means that I stay busy AF to avoid feeling my mental illness. This is why I drank so much in the first place. Even when I quit drinking at first, I’d stay incredibly busy with work, working out, writing, personal development, attending events, and more. I’m finally in a place where I am learning how to slow down, be OK with doing nothing sometimes, and listen to my body. I’m not sure I would have gotten there without sobriety.
6. I Was in a Successful Relationship
I’m the queen of delusional relationships. I always got into ‘half relationships’, the kind where you’re not entirely sure if you’re together or not because you’re both afraid of commitment and of being hurt but you love spending time together and having sex and doing all of those relationship-y things? Yea, I love those. While I was kind of in one for a few months this year, it was healthier than any previous ‘half relationship’ I’d ever been in. We had an excellent line of communication. We had great sex. We loved trying new things together, like attending a blindfolded dinner, naked yoga, and orgasmic mediation. Everything was great… but there was just something missing. So we broke up, and decided to be friends. Then friends with benefits. Then friends again. I used to think that any relationship that ended was unsuccessful. This year I learned that I was wrong about that. If I was still drinking, I would have constantly tried to change him and make our relationship work. But sobriety allowed me to accept him for who he is, and we’re both happier for it. We may not have worked out as a couple, but we had a great time together. To me, that’s a success.
7. I Started This Blog
Last but not least….this blog. My baby. Where it all began. I started this blog on 12/23/15, a day after my 30th birthday and a few weeks after I decided to spend my 30th year sober. I’ve published 44 blog posts (45 including this one) on topics ranging from eating disorders to being single to the night I got roofied. In my first blog post, I discussed why giving up booze for a year was important to me:
“With this blog, I hope to figure out why I drink the way that I do. I also hope to help people understand that addictions are like fingerprints: They are different on everyone. I don’t drink daily; sometimes I’ll even go weeks without it. My problem is simply an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. When I’m in the mood to drink…it’s on. I can easily toss back a bottle of Jack Daniels and chase it with bad decisions.”
I’m often asked what I’ll do now that my year is up. Will I drink again? No. Will I smoke weed again? No. Over the years, I’ve consumed enough drugs and alcohol for several lifetimes. Of course, I miss it. I miss being able to mentally check out by having a drink (or five).
But I don’t miss the hangovers, the wasted money, or the morning regret. I’ve accepted that I’m just one of those people who can’t drink. I don’t know how to have “just one”. And that’s OK. This year without alcohol has been my most productive, most awake, and most alive I’ve ever been. So, to answer the question I keep getting, what’s next is year two of sobriety. Stay tuned…
Copy Editor: Alisson Wood
Photographer: Adam Houston