My thoughts of alcohol are very selective. I still put it on a pedestal. Daydreaming about the warmth in my stomach from those first few sips. The fuzziness in my head so I don’t have to CARE so much about things. The layers of shyness being stripped away and replaced with a new skin of confidence.
What I should be remembering is the pain. The spinning and the slurring and the throwing up. The anger and the screaming and the crying. The disorientation, the broken bones, the mental blackouts.
What I should be remembering is waking up at 5am with my heart beating out of my chest and my anxiety so high I start to believe I’m dying.
I need to remember the shame. The endless apologies for words I don’t remember saying. The way my loved ones looked at me as they realized I’d let them down again. The multiple dangerous situations I put myself in that could so easily have ended up much, much worse.
I need to remember because my brain still tries to tell me I can have one drink. “Just have one! You’ll feel good, and then you can stop.” When everything in my history proves otherwise, that small part of my brain is always whispering “this time will be different…”
In celebration of my anniversary, I wanted to write out some of the things I’ve learned over the past two years.
At first, you don’t know how to live your life without alcohol, and it seems impossible. One day without it seems like a crazy idea.
The first day sober feels like a giant victory, and you can’t remember the last time you woke up without a hangover.
You don’t know what to do with yourself when you have an urge to drink. I would constantly have a water bottle with me to sip out of instead.
Your sense of taste and smell greatly increases.
You notice every alcohol bottle, beer can, wine glass, liquor store, open drink, stocked fridge, new brewery, and spirits menu.
Your emotions are all over the place because alcohol was your stress-reliever.
You may not yet consider yourself an alcoholic, but just simply “taking a break.”
Not everyone will understand why you stopped drinking, and they may judge you for it.
The first 30 days feels like an eternity.
You might be scared to go to AA meetings.
You might go to meetings and hide in the back, hoping no one will notice you.
You might leave the meetings ASAP so you can avoid talking with anyone.
You constantly battle the idea of whether you’re an alcoholic or not.
You read self-help books and gain insight that lasts about 10 minutes.
You go to therapy and minimize your problems.
In therapy you also realize that you’re having to start your life over. You have to change people, places, and things to keep you sober.
Your family will be your biggest fans in your sobriety. Look to them when you feel afraid.
Parties will be very difficult if alcohol is around. It’s okay to walk out if you have to.
Some AA meetings will be very inspiring, others will be boring, but none of them are a waste of time.
Waiting to get a sponsor will only make staying sober 10x harder. They are your best ally, confidant, and support system.
After a few months of feeling sober, you realize how “foggy” your brain really was when you first began. Clarity sets in.
Meeting with a psychiatrist is nothing to be afraid of. Taking medication can help your brain function better while you’re rebuilding a healthy mind.
You will want SO MUCH SUGAR. If you didn’t have a sweet tooth before, you definitely will.
You might over-indulge in caffeine, exercise, shopping, and other activities.
Praying is always a good idea.
People may tell you how you should feel, but you’re allowed to feel the things you do.
Some people may not understand why it is difficult for you to quit drinking, when it’s “no big deal” for them. They probably don’t have an addiction.
The hardest thing is to deal with life on life’s terms. Learning how to cope with uncomfortable or painful situations without alcohol is the biggest hurdle.
Your friends, or people you thought were your friends, will change when you stop drinking. True friends, the ones that you should cherish, will not abandon you. They will love you and support you in becoming a healthy person again.
If you’re like me, you may have quit alcohol to lose weight. Later on you realized it was a real problem that you had, even if you were functioning.
There are many functioning alcoholics in the world. This means they still go to work & pay the bills, but are still excessively drinking.
You don’t have to hit rock bottom to want your life to be better.
If you have anxiety or depression, it will likely get worse when you stop self-medicating.
You will start to evaluate all your relationships and ask yourself if they are healthy and supportive.
You may feel like an outcast if you’re publicly shamed for not drinking.
You’ll realize that people who judge you for not drinking usually have some sort of problem they are avoiding themselves.
The more AA meetings you go to, the more you start to feel like a Veteran. It’s no longer scary and you feel safer than ever in those rooms.
You will start to care more about your appearance and take better care of yourself.
You will find things to keep you occupied, like coloring, crafting, music, the internet, to help ease your restlessness.
People will start to ask you for advice about quitting drinking. You might find out that the last person you thought would come to you, will.
You start to enjoy the simple things in life again; sunshine, walking the dogs, photography, spending time with family, etc.
You wonder if people who are constantly talking about alcohol are as sick as you were.
Your sleep will improve immensely.
You are more productive and may want to work towards future goals.
The smell of alcohol on someone’s breath will become repulsive.
You will have bad days that you fight to stay sober. Sometimes it’s taking it minute by minute.
You will realize how much you missed out on while you were drinking. It might make you sad, but you now have the opportunity to enjoy every moment in a day.
You will want to help other people who are suffering, but sometimes you have to walk away from a cancerous situation.
If you ever have a craving, or are thinking about taking a drink, remember why you started this sober journey in the first place.
The problem for us was not alcohol. Alcohol was our solution. Eventually that solution stopped working and lead us to insanity. From insanity, we had to rebuild and relearn how to cope with life.
Welcome everyone to tonight's Alcoholic Anonymous meeting. We have a new member joining us this evening. Everyone please welcome Qrow.
I have a question.
Go ahead Qrow.
Why is it called Alcoholic Anonymous when I know pretty much half of the people in here? Honestly Professor Oobleck, I thought it was coffee you were drinking this entire time, you surprised me. And Glynda! Boy howdy! Does Ozpin know about this? Also I'm pretty sure that's Roman Torchwick wearing that fake wig, the eyeliner gave it away. I know this this guy next to me runs a bar and let me tell you he is not sticking with his step-by-step program! This woman I don't know but I would like to get to know over drinks! How about it, love?
Now wait a minute!
*Qrow and the woman leave arm in arm leaving the group staring after them in stunned silence.*