I’ve been taking time off from work for the last 10 days and I have about 2 weeks left. When I was drinking, this much time off would have made me a little crazy, but I’m really enjoying it this time. I’m relaxing, doing little odd things around the house, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself. And being away from the sometimes toxic politics of work is really refreshing.
When I was drinking, my time off would have been spent drinking daily, probably starting around 4pm. I don’t know if anyone relates to this, but when I’d have the first drink, I’d feel happy, relaxed. Then that would lead to a 2nd drink, and I’d start to feel the buzz. By the third, I’d be starting to think about regulating myself to maintain that buzz, but not drink so much that I’d feel bad the next day. Then I’d start to feel almost a sense of loss as I reached my “limit”…like my buzz is going to be over and I can’t drink any more. This pattern used to consume my evenings. Now that I don’t drink anymore, I think about that daily pattern of being up and then down, and I’m really glad I don’t do that anymore.
I’m also gearing up for our yearly trip home for Christmas and I’m thinking back to last year at this time. Last year, I was so anxious about this trip, but this year, I’m actually looking forward to it. Nothing has really changed that much between then and now, except I have an entire year of sobriety under my belt. I guess that would account for most of it. I feel much more comfortable in my sober skin now. The family all knows I don’t drink anymore, and it’s not a big deal. It was never a big deal to them, but it was to me. Last Christmas, I was at just over 100 days, and I thought I had come such a long way. But now a year later, I can see how much farther I’ve come since then.
I’ve had a few bumps in the road this year, and have been tempted to turn to alcohol for temporary relief on several occasions, but I have not given in. What I have gained from 1 year + 100 days of contiguous sobriety is far too valuable to throw away. I have learned that there are times when you feel shitty, and that’s just all there is to it. You feel shitty until you no longer feel shitty. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do except try to be compassionate with yourself and give yourself permission to feel shitty. Not to wallow, but just to accept and sit with it. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s part of life. I’ve also learned how to relax and enjoy myself when I have free time. That’s a huge one for me. I used to become so anxious when faced with a lot of down time. I think a lot of that was really from the effects of the booze, though. The thing I’d like to learn is how to let go of stress with work, but at least if I’m really relaxing and recharging during my off time, I should be able to come back ready to go.
This year, I got to know myself better. I was fully present for everything in my life, good and bad. I’m pretty proud of that.