The Rewards and Discomforts of Staying Sober

I did it. I lasted the long weekend without letting drink interfere with my sobriety goals. And, I socialized. I went to a baseball game and a barbecue. I walked through the neighborhood filled with the sounds of little kids playing, adults laughing (and drinking), and teenagers driving fast with music blaring from their car windows (don’t tell me they were sober).

Was it hard to not drink my usual glass of crisp white wine so I could feel a part of all the other people celebrating the start of summer? Did I find myself looking longingly at my friend’s glass as she took sip after sip of her drink? Did the smell of the spilled beer on the patio make me think of days past when my summers were spent at kegs and outdoor festivals? Yes, yes, and yes. Did I miss being hungover and unproductive this morning as I watched the neighborhood slowly come to life, sat and wrote, sketched out a story idea, and threw in a load of laundry? No, no, and no.

The discomfort of being sober while everyone around me is drinking cannot be ignored. I walked through it by accepting the feeling. Yes, it was hard. I wanted to drink along with everyone else. What guided me through the cravings were these incentives:

  • Sleeping continuously through the night, waking refreshed
  • Getting up and feeling ready for the day, which now seems filled with possibility…there are not enough hours to do what I want to accomplish!
  • Having more honest conversations with people – at home, at work, socially
  • Anxiety, restlessness, and depression are not gone entirely, but they are mere shadows compared to when I drank every day
  • Slimmer figure, better skin, clearer eyes, more energy!
  • Improved endurance, whether mentally (writing, painting) or physically (at the gym, house chores)

Keeping these incentives top of mind is one critical component of my sobriety toolkit. What are your incentives to stay away from drink when the discomfort and cravings kick in?