To kick off my 2018 I decided to do a dry January. This seems to be increasingly popular as I quickly learned that two of my close and heavy drinking friends decided to partake as well. I have gone dry before so not drinking for one month was a breeze.
Now I could just stop there and let you speculate why it was so easy, or I could offer you some insight on the why and how behind my success.
For starters, I have never been a good drinker. I drank in college surrounded by "friends" who were looking to get drunk fast while counting calories and go out to have rage-worthy fun. This required taking shots on empty stomachs at a very rapid pace. I blacked out countless times. It was all fun and games until the next morning rolled in. Hungover or not, the fact that chunks of my memory were missing was the most disturbing aspect of my drinking habits. But that didn't concern me when I was at school.
I thought it was normal in fact, I saw it as being celebrated! "Wow, that girl can drink," or, "you were so funny last night!" These things fed my ego in a very distorted way. And I didn't realize it until I carried these drinking habits to my post-college social events.
I'm not saying that after college graduation you're supposed to know which white wine to pair with salmon, but it was certainly not the best idea for me to continue drinking like I did and finding friends that promoted this behavior. By doing this I ended up gravely hurting the people I loved. It was through this pain that I caused that I was finally forced to look at the ugly side of me.
Coming to terms with the fact that I harbored such unattractive attributes was not easy. It led me to question why I held myself to such low standards. I really looked at my friendships and had to honestly analyze if anyone had my best interest in mind. Finally, I had to face my insecurities and flaws in total, uncomfortable, sobriety. This was, and still is, the hardest part of this journey. Pointing out your flaws is one thing. Sitting with them while you mull over the why and how behind the flaws is another. It can cause you pain, heartache, and anxiety. But I can assure you that once you've gotten through these stages and you have a better understanding of yourself, you will walk away stronger.
I have been staring down my ugly side for close to a year now. I feel more confident in myself and what I bring to the table while sober. I'm significantly less worried about what people think of me, if they don't like me then I guess we just won't be friends (which isn't going to kill me). I feel lighter and carefree. Finally, I really fell in love not just with my boyfriend, family, and friends but most importantly with myself.
Going dry can be hard when you're surrounded by people who are drinking. These are the tricks that I have found work best: first off, make sure whoever you're drinking with is completely aware that a) you're not drinking and b) under no circumstances will you drink. I've gone out with friends in the past and they understood that I would not be drinking. As the night went on they would attempt to sway my attitude and efforts at staying sober. Not only did I not appreciate this, but it was extremely disheartening.
You may have heard this tip before but I have found it to be very useful. While your friends are pregaming or while you're out at the bar, have a drink to sip on. This is where I take the opportunity to treat myself. So I'll get a fun kombucha or aloe vera juice, maybe even a soda at the bar! Having a drink in your hand helps you fit into the crowd so you won't feel as awkward. It also helps you feel more included as everyone now has a drink to sip on.
Finally, after a night out and being sober I always try to remind myself how great it is to wake up the next morning and not feel terrible. I'll go to a farmers' market or a flea market. I'll go to the park and read. Or I'll go to a great workout class. Doing this sets a positive reminder of the benefits of not drinking the night before. It also makes me want to continue to be sober to capitalize on my days.
Going dry means a lot to me. It has opened the door to a better version of myself that I never thought I would meet. It has impacted me in such a positive manner I am inspired to continue on my path of sobriety.