When I'm Most Thankful to Have Banned the Booze

The early days after ditching alcohol were a bit tricky, but the benefits of ongoing sobriety are super sweet—often at the most unexpected times.

When I'm Most Thankful to Have Banned the Booze
Photo by Branimir Petakov / Unsplash

In 2017, I discovered that alcohol, including my beloved Sauvignon Blanc, wasn't exactly benefitting me. Sure, it could help me unwind a bit, maybe lighten my worries for a while, make me a tad more extroverted ... but the anxiety it brought me the next day was crushing. And when I type "next day," I mean 2 a.m. And it turned out that those worries hadn't gone away; they had been heightened.

Still, for a while, the promises I made to myself in the morning to skip the vino went out the window come evening. Alcohol is sneaky like that. Besides, alcohol is tied to all sorts of celebrations, and not just weekend football and bars revelry or after-work happy hours but even runs and bike rides that promote fitness and health.

Also, I was highly functioning, so people had so many questions about why I wasn't drinking. They had no idea that alcohol caused me any trouble. They assumed I was pregnant or on some kind of health kick when I stopped. After all, I was working out all the time, eating healthfully and never missed a deadline.

Fortunately, sober bloggers, now authors, like Laura McKowen, Holly Whitaker and Kate Bee made me see that choosing not to drink can be empowering, exciting and soul-soothing. I also finally realized that moderating was too much work for me. I could avoid drinking for a month or not drink on weekdays, but then that just made me think that I didn't really have an issue. Until I felt like I did again. Then, it was back on the hamster wheel. Rinse and repeat.

I'm so thankful for Kate Bee's Getting Unstuck Course because it finally made my sobriety stick.  On New Year's Eve 2017, my resolution was to avoid alcohol all year. Bee's course put me in a great position to do so. After going without alcohol for 100 days, there was no turning back for me.

On January 1, 2023, I will have been a teetotaler for five years. I can't believe that much time has passed.

Longterm sobriety is the good stuff. People stop asking why you don't drink. You start to realize that there are a lot of people who don't drink for various reasons. In other words, you stop thinking you stick out like a sore thumb. Also, eventually the people around you who drink alcohol start to realize that you're not judging their drinking; you're just glad that you no longer do. It's a very personal thing, and everyone is different. I'm thrilled to clink my insulated hot tea mug with friends' steins at the neighborhood Oktoberfest Celebration.

That's the thing. The good times are still the good times without alcohol. And the hard times are still the hard times, but with some reassurance.

The best thing about teetotaling in the long run: In times of major stress, I'm so grateful to be ready to deal with whatever comes and do whatever I need to do with a sound mind. In times when everything seems to be out of control, I am in the driver's seat in so many ways. It's like a big, reassuring hug I give myself. That, my friends, is priceless.