Say “Yes” to Sobriety and Watch the New You Emerge

Ah, the Greeks knew it all, didn’t they? This concept is an ancient idea, but why is it only now when I am sober that it comes to me like a brand new idea? Without health, is it possible to

  • Make the connection between mind, body, and spirit while draining a bottle of crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc every night, cruising through inane and embarrassing posts on my Facebook feed?
  • Listen to what my body is telling me while my subconscious brain swims in a fog controlled by the defeating patterns of addiction?
  • Look squarely in the mirror each morning after drinking and see the reflection for what it is, instead of fooling myself that “I don’t really look like that?”
  • Go to the gym and walk on a treadmill at a steady pace three times a week, make a stop to the liquor store immediately afterwards, and call that a workout regimen?

The answer to all of these, of course, is one big emphatic no.

For years my modus operandi centered on my ability to drink wine every day. After work, chores, my daughter’s activities, obligatory family events, or anything where alcohol was not present, my number one priority was to get back to it as fast as I could. I had a mental image of what wine was at home. Maybe a bit left in the bottle from the night before, already cold and waiting (rare). Maybe most of a bottle cold and waiting, the second one I opened from the night before (common). A warm one still in the wine rack? No problem. There was a special place carved out in the freezer just for such emergencies. I had a favorite (large) wine glass. I even knew if it was in the dishwasher, or in the cupboard ready to pulled and used for that first, lovely crisp swig.

Between doing obligatory things and drinking, I avoided mirrors and eye contact, I scoffed at slim joggers and yoga mat-carrying thirtysomethings, and often ate huge bowls of macaroni and cheese or plates of Pizza Rolls at 11:30 p.m., somehow with the idea that it all seemed perfectly reasonable to have a second dinner before crashing.

Denying my drinking problem and ignoring my health went on for years. Years. When I look back now I realize it could have been much worse, but everyone’s experience is relevant and real, no matter how you define “rock bottom.”

I am guilty of having had confirmation bias. I don’t drink as much as so and so… to At least I’m not homeless. Little insidious mantras that upheld the force of my own version of addiction.

I am still very new at sobriety. I have started to work with a personal trainer and I don’t eat mac and cheese or other bad food only eaten when drunk. I have lost ten pounds. I am learning to meditate. I cannot get my hands on enough “Quit Lit” and Peanut M&Ms. Green tea is my new drink of choice. I have eye contact with people at work. I am writing more, painting more, and often seeing trees and the grass as though for the first time.

Tomorrow, however, could look very different. Every day I wake up sober with clear eyes and a fresh mind, I am learning to respect both the strength and fragility of this new way of being.