What made you decide to get sober?
I didn’t like who I was when I was drinking. I became a belligerent, bad attitude type of person. I found that I was fighting with my partner only when we drank.
I also hated losing memories. I hated waking up the next day and being like, “What did I say or do? How many relationships did I damage?”
Then there was the part that I’m getting older; a hangover was no longer a morning thing where I laid around in bed groaning for a couple hours. If I drank on Friday night, Monday I still felt like sh*t.
There was one night where I spent way too much money, drank way too much, and woke up feeling awful. I was like, “f*ck it, never again,” and haven’t drank since.
It’s only been seven months [at the time of interview]—which feels like an accomplishment—but then I hear people say they’re five or 12 years sober and I’m like, “Man, I have a long way to go.” But I think I can get there.
What was it like doing it during the pandemic?
I think it might have been easier. The last time I drank was August 7th (2020). My partner at the time was not slowing down. He never pressured me to drink, but he just wasn’t down with it. We ended up breaking up about two weeks later. It was not related to the drinking, but not having someone around who was drinking—and not going out or having opportunities to socialize—made it easier. My drinking was almost entirely social; it was very rare that I drank alone at home.
I think it’ll be another learning curve once we go back to in-person stuff. But I think I’ll have the tools and boundaries that I need to stand my ground. I think I’ll be able to tell people who ask if this is forever, “Yes, it’s permanent. You may not have thought I have a problem, but you don’t have to end up in jail to know you have a problem. You don’t have to lose your home or job to know it’s a problem.” Sometimes you’re lucky enough to realize it’s a problem before stuff gets taken away, and I’m fortunate to say that’s what happened with me.
Yeah, and it’s not always linear. Some people who knew me early in my drinking were like, “You have a severe problem; it’s either the alcohol or me.” Other people who knew me later and found out I quit said, “Oh that’s cool—I didn’t know you had a problem.” You hear about it as a progressive disease, but I guess I figured out a way to make it look functional, even when my life was falling apart.
Yeah, you can make it functional. People always said, “I thought you had your sh*t together.” You can have your sh*t together and still have an alcohol problem. You can have your sh*t together and still have demons.
You don’t get to be an adult and not have demons. Some people’s demons are more obvious than others. I kept mine pretty well-hidden. I was able to go out, binge drink, and duck out early in the night. Nobody ever knew, but I didn’t remember getting home. It’s important to realize that it looks like all different kinds of things for different people.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed in yourself since you stopped drinking?
Motivation. I have so much motivation now. Even when I’m sad, I’m like, “I feel sh*tty and I don’t want to see anyone, but I’m still going to wake up and work out for an hour and a half.” I had a January goal of biking every day, and I stuck to that. I started learning how to play ukulele; that never would have happened when I was drinking.
Also, I sleep so much better.
Is there anything you do for your sobriety, like therapy, meditation—you said exercise.
Riding my bike is mainly what I do for it. Since I quit in August, I’ve only had one day where I thought I was going to drink. It was Thanksgiving and I was sad because I missed my family. I hadn’t spent a Thanksgiving without my family ever in my life. Since then, if I ever have a day where it’s like, “I would have resolved this with drinking in a past life,” I get on my bike. Or I do hobbies. I crochet; I practice ukelele; I’ve been reading a lot. Therapy helps too. The Sober in Baltimore [Facebook] group also helps, because I feel like I can post in there and be earnest. People aren’t going to judge.
Is there anything you want to add?
I think to a lot of people, sobriety feels like this impossible thing. It felt like that to me. It was one little straw that broke the camel’s back, and now I’m happy to say that I’m seven months sober. I see this being a permanent change for me.