Two years ago today I decided to take small break from drinking. I needed to clear my head. A week into it, I felt good and decided to keep going. After a month, I felt even better. Once I got to two months sober I made a decision that I didn’t want alcohol to play a part in my life again.
I have been sober for two years straight today. It has been an amazing journey that has forced me to confront many things about myself that I didn’t like. I’ve learned that everybody drinks for a reason, and the people who drink the most have the most reasons. If you don’t understand the “why” then you will be doomed to repeat the cycle.
The memories of my previous lifestyle are still very fresh in my mind. Almost everything around me still reminds me of that time and, in that sense, I will never be able to forget the feeling and realities that prompted me to quit drinking. The memory of what I went through and who I used to be are still enough of a motivating factor to prevent me from going down that road again. I don’t think alcohol is inherently bad or that people are bad for drinking. I have plenty of friends who are able to drink and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, I was not one of them.
Outside of quitting my job to try my hand at being a full-time artist, quitting drinking was probably the best decision I have made in my adult life. I don’t want anybody to get the impression that it was an easy change; it was not. But I would encourage those that feel like alcohol is starting to play too much of a role in their lives to give it a try.
I would like to write about some of the biggest differences I have seen in the past two years.
Physical Activity – I have always been into riding my bike and playing basketball, but all of those activities came to an end during the height of my drinking. Nobody wants to work out when they’re hungover. I had no idea how the two were tied together when I was drinking, but now that I’m sober I have much more energy for working out and physical activity. Working out makes you feel really good and actually gives you a reason to not drink so much.
Inquisitiveness & Learning – One of the benefits of drinking is that it allows us to let our guard down and go with the flow. This is achieved by suppressing the minds natural inquisitiveness and activity. Over time, I saw that the I more I drank the less I had the patience to learn and process new information. I went through periods of my life where you couldn’t stop me from picking up a book or learning something new, yet during the time I was drinking heavily I could barely read one or two books a year. In comparison, I read ten books in a two week period last month alone. It really is a night and day difference.
Less Patience for Mindless Entertainment – I pretty much stopped watching television about four or five months into my sobriety. It wasn’t even a deliberate choice. I noticed that my mind would find everything about it to be boring. I later realize that this “bored” feeling is because my television doesn’t really challenge your mind, it supplies all the brain activity for you. There is nothing to interpret, contextualize, or figure out. There is no problem solving or critical thinking involved in watching television. As a result, it puts people’s minds to sleep, if that makes sense. Without alcohol my brain activity increased (i.e. my mind just wanted to be fed information), and besides sports like MMA and movies I can’t really watch television anymore. My television on comes on when my family visits me or when i’m playing a movie while creating music, but that’s really it. I can’t watch football, baseball, or basketball anymore. Nor can I watch sitcoms or anything else. Trust me, I have tried, it just doesn’t work. The sheer sound of television and it’s constant flickering and flashing commercials actually freaks me out nowadays.
Time – Time flies when you’re drunk, but when you’re sober you become acutely aware of time. This means that you become very aware of the instances where you’re wasting it. Life isn’t something you wish would fly by anymore. Life slows down and you feel more aware and in control of how you spend your time here on earth. I used to feel like I had plenty of time to do the things I wanted to do every day, but now i feel like I don’t have enough, and will never have enough. I don’t want time to fly anymore, i want to enjoy every second of it. I don’t want to forget any of my experiences. I had a lot of great times drinking, but it’s a shame that I’ve forgotten so many. Amazing conversations that I can only remember in spirit, not in specifics.
Less Emotional – I used to think that drinking is what I had to do to prevent myself from slapping people everyday, but now realize that drinking (and the emotional roller-coaster that came along with it), were actually the problem. I wanted to slap people a lot more when I was drinking heavily than I do now. Now I get into much less drama.
Productivity – Because I am so much more aware of time, I get a lot more work done. I still have my periods of inactivity but they last a lot shorter now. It’s a night and day difference. My increased productivity has done wonders for my self-esteem. I feel like I can do anything now as long as I put the time in. I didn’t have that level of confidence before.
I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface here and could probably list ten more things like this, but I don’t want this to be too long. Hell, I could probably write a book about the experience and have been considering it.
Overall, my life has changed tremendously since I stopped drinking, and today marks a very important milestone in my life. I’m still taking it one day at a time and I know that it will take even more discipline to keep going for another two years. I am encouraged by the positive effect it has had on my life thus far, and hope to continue on this path. For the sake of not making this a ten-page blog I have chosen to keep this shorter, but I hope that this may serve as inspiration to anybody out there that is drinking heavily or an alcoholic but considering sobriety. It is not an easy decision, but it does get easier, and I believe the experience and benefits are well worth it.
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