But, it's helpful as well to remember exactly why I decided to cut alcohol out of my life.
I wouldn't say that I was the type of drinker who got drunk and fucked everything up. I never lost a job due to drinking, I had a nice apartment, I had (still have!) a dog that I took care of. I really loved my friends and family and didn't actively push anyone away (although now, I have a different view on how my drinking was damaging to some important relationships, in it's own way...more on that later). Overall, I was a highly functioning, intelligent and capable young lady with a penchant for drinking too many bottles of wine. Or beer. Or cider. Or anything.
Despite seeming to have it all together, there were so many things that I did while drinking that left me feeling like a big bag of dicks. I felt ashamed and embarrassed on a regular basis, and especially the morning after when drunken flashbacks would crawl back to me.
I was ashamed that I was not able to go out for a night with friends without literally giving up the next day to feeling like shit, being sick, eating like crap and wasting my day watching shitty TV.
We're just around the corner from a New Year, and I am so excited to continue this sobriety journey well after my second babe is born.
But to do so, I need to remain accountable.
I need to remember the why's.
Some of this stuff I can laugh at now, but some is actually still very depressing to remember.
I can still feel/remember/experience emotionally the way I felt back then, when I think of these things.
So, without further ado, here are some of the (very personal) and not so great things that came along with being drunk/hungover for the entirety of my 20's and (luckily) only a smidge of my 30's.
*Being overly friendly/chatty with people at bars who I didn't really have any reason to like, other than the fact that they were "also drinking". I woke up so many mornings with that "uggghhh, whyyyyyy" feeling after talking to weirdos, sometimes flirting with them and often exchanging numbers. Even worse was when I would go back to the same bar, see them again, and not even remember that we had met and chatted before. Bla.
* I also did this with friends/acquaintances/people who lived in my apartment complex. There were times when I was so bored of drinking alone, but most people were not off getting loaded on a Tuesday night, so I had to go looking in the shadows for company. This made me feel super desperate and lonely. I spent so many nights at this creepy neighbour's house, drinking and talking, while he hit on me and tried to get me to want to hook up with him. These are really bad memories, and thankfully, happened towards the end of my drinking days.
*Called in sick waaaay too many times to work. OK, so I was admittedly in the midst of a big life change. Thomas was in Montreal, we were trying to sort out immigration, and the stresses of that led me to drinking so much more than normal. Which, led to even more debilitating hangovers. I called in sick to work almost on a weekly basis that winter. I just didn't have the drive/energy to get myself to work, and being hungover and sick would literally cripple me. It was a really bad example to set for the people working under me in my department. Even though I wanted to exit the corporate world, I shouldn't have abused the system while I was still being supported by it.
*Was not "present" for friends/family the way I should've been. This one is also tricky to deal with, emotionally, at times. When I scan back on all of my hangouts with good friends and family members over the last decade or so, I realize that while I was physically present, and often "engaged" with them, my mind was always at least partially checked out. Because I always had drinking on the brain, every get-together was tainted with my inner dialogue running on a hamster wheel. Do we have enough wine/beer? Should I go get more? Do they notice that I'm drinking too much/too fast/too furiously? Why am I the only one drinking?
I know now that a lot of people were aware of this, but didn't address it, probably because they feared that it would cause an altercation/hurt feelings/situation. And they were totally right. When I was actively drinking, I wasn't very receptive to interventional conversations about my habits. So, my friends and family didn't really say anything, probably had their own opinions about my drinking, and we left it at that. (Side comment: this is the area that I am most proud to have bettered myself in. I know that my friends and family love me and support me 100%, and it feels really good to know that I am now really "showing up" the way I should've before. I value my relationships much more than ever before, and am so lucky to have a core friend base that has been around for years and years, seen me through every phase, and loved me unconditionally throughout. Same for fam. Same for hubs. I got it good. Hashtag blessed for real.)
*Overdid it at almost every special event. This is my second sober Christmas, and I have to say, it keeps getting better. Three years ago, I hosted Christmas at my apartment in Montreal while family was visiting from the U.K. Although it was a *lovely* celebration, with good food, company and presents, I drank too much (much more than everyone else, that's for sure) and that kind of makes my memories...sad. I remember that when everyone left, I was left home alone, and I kept drinking, even though I was already wasted and should've just gone to bed. Those lonely moments of "after-partying" alone on nights that were never meant to be spent wasted...happened just too frequently at the end. I am not happy to report that a lot of significant moments in my life are hazy because of drinking. Even the night I met my husband, I was really drunk. So, yes, I have good memories of how romantic the night was, but I also know that a lot of the details just seeped into the Earth, never to be found again. I'm really glad that now I can remember everything that we do together. All conversations. All the little sweet moments. Everything is just so much more meaningful now that I am present, alert and engaged.
*Just felt crappy overall. It's sad, because there was always, always a part of me that was the positive/rainbows and unicorns/glass is always half-full girl. I always sought to feel better/be better/love more/fear less etc; which makes the realities of alcohol abuse even more horrific to me. The truth is, no matter how much soul searching I did, no matter how many Deepak Chopra books I swallowed down, the cycle of feeling like crap-o was not about to just go away without some major lifestyle adjustments. I had to literally stop/drop and roll away from the booze in order to get closer to the light. And it's not a 135-day fix, either. I am still working. I will continue to work. Because the deep, down issues are not just "I drank too much". That was the learnt behaviour to deal with false and deeply rooted core beliefs about who I am and what my worth is.
*Self-love matters. This I will repeat over and over until I'm blue in the face. We really need to give ourselves a break. We are so hard on ourselves. We repeat negative things in our heads over and over and over, all day, all week, all year. We seem to think we are flawed, or unworthy, or just not good enough. This is such an epidemic of the ages, and a really sad one, because it's so far from the truth. We need to shift after from the "I suck" mentality to the "I am a miracle" one. To celebrate that we are human and sometimes that means things can be tough. That sometimes we don't feel good, and sometimes we do. But, we are all in this together. Love, vulnerability and empathy are the glue that hold us together, and we really need to focus on those things if we want to live meaningful and loving lives.
I feel like, as this years comes to an end, I am saying goodbye to an old part of myself. A part of myself that I don't need to carry with me for the onward journey.
It's bittersweet, because I've known her for a long time, and I know her very well.
I know I'm healing.
A few months ago I would've snapped and been so offended if anyone made a comment about my sobriety. I took criticism really hard in the early days. Now, I realize that being sober is not only a choice, but it's a blessing. I could've continued on this dark path of self-destruction and abuse.
Instead, I chose to abandon ship before it got too difficult to walk away.
Before I had to be dragged away.
I'm super proud of how far I've come, and by continuing to be vulnerable and share my story, I really hope to reach other people who have struggled (or are struggling) with similar things.
2018 will be THE year where I really jump out of my shell and go deep.
I want to help, I want to heal, I want to love.
Bring it on.
(another personal challenge is going to be working on speaking my truth more. I have historically struggled with addressing situations that I find stressful/points of conflict etc; until it all snowballs and I either erupt or react over-emotionally. From now on, I'm going to work on having and using my voice, and not being afraid to disagree with others. We don't all need to have the same visions/opinions/truths to co-exist peacefully. Agree to disagree, but don't let your voice get snuffed out if you have something to say!)