I was 27 years old when I quit drinking and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
For anyone reading this who doesn’t know me well, I wouldn’t classify myself as an alcoholic, but definitely someone who abused alcohol when I drank. I used booze as a crutch to deal with my shyness, anxieties, and insecurities in social situations. I didn’t drink every day or even every weekend, but when I did, I drank too much. There was no ‘off’ switch for me. Once I started, I just kept on going. And going. And going.
I hated the way I felt after a night out of drinking. I got the “booze blues” BAD, and my hangovers were EPIC. I almost always threw up and sometimes blacked out. The days after a night out were usually filled with regret, shame, headaches, puke, KFC, and tears.
Quitting drinking was absolutely one of the hardest things I have ever done, but also one of the things I’m most proud of. Below are 10 things I never knew would happen from quitting booze – the good and the bad.
1. Loss of friends
The most difficult thing I found about quitting drinking was that some of my friends faded out of my life. People that had been friends of mine for years, but couldn’t understand why I was quitting drinking. They didn’t believe I had a problem and would say things like, “okay, so you’re not drinking tonight, but it’s temporary right?” or “yeah, but you can have, like, one drink, right?”. It was incredibly difficult to have the realization that these people didn’t really support me when I was trying to improve my health and my life.
2. Realizing who my true, supportive friends were
It was also during this time that I realized who those true, blue, die-hard, forever friends were. The pals that celebrated every milestone with me, and encouraged me to stay strong in moments of weakness. I already knew in my heart that these friends were my ‘lifers’ before I quit drinking, but their support during one of the most challenging times in my life solidified that belief.
Not that long ago, I was going through some major life changes and I told one of my pals that I was thinking about drinking again. I told her that I felt I was mature enough and strong enough to be able to have a drink or two without going overboard. Without hesitation, she told me she thought it was a bad idea. She reminded me of how far I had come and how disappointed I would be if I started again. She was right. I can’t express how lucky I am to have friends like this. I love you guys and I hope you know how grateful I am to have you in my life.
3. New friends
Since quitting drinking, I have made a ton of new friends. People who are more aligned with the same lifestyle and life choices. The new friends I’ve made, I have more meaningful relationships with and deeper connections with. Our relationships are not built on partying, but on common interests, good conversation, and sharing new experiences. Most of the newer friends I’ve made also don’t drink, or don’t drink very much.
4. Better choices
I was the Queen of making bad choices when I was drinking. 10am brunch on a Sunday with mimosas? Hope you don’t have plans for the day because it would for sure be a “day drunk” for me and whoever I was with. Tuesday evening? Okay, let’s party all night, no worries that I’m supposed to work tomorrow at 8am. I would call in sick to work because I was too hungover to go in, cancel plans, and miss important events because of my hangovers. I know I disappointed a lot of people over the years; family, friends, employers, and co-workers to name a few.
I am so much healthier now, physically and mentally. Fitness is part of my life and I have been consistently working out and moving my body for 10 years. (You can work out with me here). No more 2-day hangovers, which also meant poor food choices (aka fast food), or skipping gym days. My diet has significantly improved, but ya’ll know I still love a burger and fries every now and then!
While physical health is incredibly important, my mental health was where I really noticed the positive changes. Eliminating alcohol (for me) immediately helped me with my mental health. It was the first step in a lot of positive changes for me; in the way that I thought and felt about myself, different situations, and other people. It was a stepping stone in the right direction for self-reflection and personal growth. No more booze blues baby, what a blessing.
6. Goals & Dreams
I had always dreamed of owning a business, but the consistency of my bad habits and poor choices prevented me from being able to turn that dream into a reality. Three years after I quit drinking, I opened Stride Fitness & Yoga. I no longer have the business (read this post if you want to read about that), but I never would have opened Stride in the first place if I was still drinking. I wouldn’t have had the drive, energy, or confidence to do it. When I stopped abusing alcohol, I was able to develop the confidence and skills, and I gained the energy, drive, and the belief that I could do anything I set my mind to. I quit drinking after all, and it was hard as f*ck, so opening a business couldn’t be that hard.
7. Save money
Guess what? Booze is expensive. Even more so if you’re drinking at bars; booze, cabs, tips, cover, not to mention the new outfit I’d have to buy to wear out, and the Chinese food afterwards. I was easily spending $100-$200 a night. It’s a frikkin wonder how I could ever afford to go out and par-tay.
8. Still can go out and have fun
Just because I don’t drink, doesn’t mean that I don’t go out, party or have fun. I literally just got back from a music festival. It took me awhile to get over my shyness and insecurities though. I remember I was at a friend’s Bachelorette party when I first quit drinking – everyone was wasted (true Islander Bach), I went along, danced all night and had a great time. The next morning as we were waking up, one of my friends said, “how are you not dying!? I’m so hungover!” and I thought to myself, “holy f*cking shit, she doesn’t even know I wasn’t drinking.” Gamechanger.
Knowing that no one realized I wasn’t drinking made it a little bit easier to be in social situations. When I quit drinking though, there were not a lot of non-alcoholic drink options, so I was drinking a lot of coffee. However, it’s 2022 now and there are so many non-alcoholic options to choose from - like Libra for example. Bless the invention of this non-alcoholic craft beer. They have a few different flavors; Pale Ale, Hazy IPA, Stout, Pilsner, Cherry Sour. I’ve had them all. They’re all good. My favorites are the Pale Ale and the Stout. Highly recommend.
9. Better Relationships
I know I was unreliable when I was drinking. My fear of missing out resulted in consistent poor choices which made people unable to trust me. This obviously affected my relationships with them.
Now I’m in a place where the people in my life can trust me. They can trust me to show up, to do what I say I’m going to do, to be where I’m supposed to be, when I’m supposed to be there. I am reliable and it feels good.
I’ve talked about the connections I’ve made with new friends since quitting drinking, but how about in the ol’ romantic area? I absolutely believe quitting drinking has made me a better “romantic” partner.
Drinking was my blanket to hide all the things I didn’t like about myself; my insecurities, which often led to jealousy (which often led to fights), but instead of being an actual blanket and hiding those personality traits I didn’t like about myself, drinking amplified them. All the things I didn’t like about myself were heightened when I was drinking; I felt more insecure, more jealous, and more ready to get into a little tiff with my partner.
Since then, I have put a ton of time into working on those insecurities. I’ve become a better communicator, and I’m much more empathetic and understanding to other people’s needs.
After years of working on myself, I feel like I have become the partner I always wanted to be; trusting, confident, secure – the partner I really always was, deep down inside, but that was buried beneath layers of insecurities, anxieties, doubts, and fears. And all this hard work was unbelievably uncomfortable, but worth it because I’m currently in the most amazing, loving, and supportive relationship I’ve ever been in, and when I say I couldn't be happier I really mean it.
10. I actually love myself now
I can say with complete honesty that I feel like I truly know who I am now. I feel confident with who I am. I love myself. It took me a long ass time to get here, but quitting drinking was the first step in my journey to self love and being confident with who I am. When I decided to stop drinking it was the first time I had to sit down and admit to myself that I had qualities that I did not like about myself. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and angry. And it sucked. A lot.
To sum it all up – when I sat down with myself and admitted that I had a drinking problem, it was probably one of the most horrible feelings I’ve ever had. To admit to yourself that you have a real problem that you can’t control is humiliating. After I was able to truly admit that to myself though, I was able to identify other traits about myself that I didn’t like. Which maybe sounds bad, but trust me, once you can identify what your problem(s) is/are, you can work on them. The work is hard. The work is usually filled with awful feelings (shame, guilt, anger, and lots of tears), but I also can’t express how wonderful it is to step across that line and say you no longer have that problem anymore. You’re in control. You conquered it and you’re a better person because of it. The same person, but an improved version. A confident, happy, healthier version, in both body & mind.
I love you guys and thanks for reading!
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