On sobriety

Confession time: I’ve been sober for a year today. My last drink was a half a beer at a beachside shack in Thailand. Before that, it’d been a few weeks. Here’s a photo from the day and place.

I didn’t really feel like drinking at the time. I was starting the overseas part of my sabbatical (which I’m sure I’ll write a post on at some future point) and I didn’t want to bring booze into the picture.

I didn’t think I was addicted to alcohol, and I still don’t. But I did rely on the drink to help me through bad days, to start weekends, to endure quiet nights on the couch, to provide an excuse to eat two pizzas in one sitting, and avoid dealing with the mental health issues that I’ve had for most of my life.

So I chose to stop cold turkey, and really look at what I was covering up whenever I drank. It was confronting, as all of these things are, and working through it takes time and energy. But I’m in a better place than I was a year ago.

I’m writing this post as a snapshot for a moment in time: 365 days. I don’t want to pathologise not drinking, but I do want a marker for the time it’s been and the value I’ve found.

I haven’t broken the habit of reaching for a drink. I enjoy having something special to drink at quiet moments, or when I’m out to dinner. But I’ve replaced reaching for alcohol with reaching for lightly sparkling mineral water. 90 cents at Woolies for a 1.25L bottle is infinitely better than even the cheapest bottle of wine. And side effect: I’m always hydrated!

Will I bring alcohol back? Maybe. I don’t need it like I used to, and I’m now conscious of the reasons why I was drinking, and the triggers for my behaviour. I love a great bottle of wine, and I don’t want to picture a world where an amazing bottle is offered to me and I can’t enjoy it with friends and family because I’m trying to keep an arbitrary streak going.  As long as I drink alcohol for what I believe are the right reasons, then I think moderation is fine. 

But for now: I’m just going to let that counter tick to 366 days, and see what each day brings.