tastes pink by molly soda
It’s been a year since I quit drinking. Previously, every time I reflected on what I was doing a year ago I would laugh and think about how drunk or “fucked up” I was at any given event or experience. Now that a year has officially passed I feel like I’ve washed my hands clean of those moments. I feel less attached to them. Maybe people will finally stop commenting on “how much” I’ve “changed.” I’m all for evolving and reinventing yourself but constantly comparing “old me” and “new me” at times feels toxic.
I get a lot of questions about my decision to quit alcohol, as well as questions on how to quit drinking. Usually, I ignore questions like these. I get overwhelmed. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what has happened to me over the past year and I by no means have any real “tips” or “tricks” that are guaranteed to work for anyone. This piece will act as my attempt to figure out and put into words exactly what has happened since I quit alcohol a year ago: what I’ve learned, what knowledge I can share. I can only speak for myself and my experiences.
It was November 1st, 2014, or the day after Halloween, and I woke up feeling TERRIBLE, like so terrible I wanted to call my parents and ask them if I could come home. Like when you would be at a slumber party and you got homesick and made your parents pick you up? I don’t know if I ever actually did that as a kid but I definitely wanted to do it now, after not having lived with my parents for almost a decade.
I grabbed my phone and saw that my friend Travis had texted me and at some point, while we were both complaining about how hungover we felt, he mentioned that he wanted to quit drinking for the month of November. Maybe if I hadn’t felt so so so horrible I would have never agreed to it, but something about it sounded so appealing: just the idea of alcohol in that moment repulsed me. I jumped at the chance to text back “I’ll quit drinking too, solidarity.”
I had tried to “cut back” and drink less in the past, but found that when I would go out with the intention of only having two drinks, it would equal a bottle of wine split up into two glasses. It was impossible for me to stop drinking once I started and blacking out was a constant for me. Honestly, I wonder how much of my past life experiences were completely clouded or forgotten just by being too drunk. It’s sort of scary to think about now.
my month of sobriety by molly soda
Quitting itself wasn’t that hard. Maybe it’s because I told myself it would only be for a month. I originally hoped that quitting for a month would help me re-think the way I approached and consumed alcohol, this was by no means going to be a permanent thing. During the first month, I never really got a physical or strong mental urge to drink. I was surprised by how natural it felt, and by the end of the month, I didn’t want to start drinking again. And although, it was easier than I thought, I noticed a lot of things were changing with the loss of alcohol in my life. I had to account for all of these new good and bad feelings.
Socially, things started to feel different. I felt less connected to my friends who I used to drink with. It’s not like I can’t hang out with people who drink or feel “above” them in any way — it was more that I had made all of these seemingly meaningful connections with people when I was drunk but realized I didn’t actually know them or know how to act around them when I was sober. Was alcohol the only thing bonding us together? Were all of those good times just a wash? I began to question everything. Every past interaction felt fake. It felt like all people did when they weren’t drinking was talk about how “fucked up” they were the night before. I was guilty of it too, but it just became so obvious to me because I was no longer partaking.
I had slowly distanced myself from what I once thought was a large group of friends. Going out didn’t seem fun, and still doesn’t seem fun, if there isn’t a purpose (i.e. going dancing, karaoke, a show, a birthday party). I no longer can just sit at the bar and drink like I used to. I actually can’t even sit anywhere doing nothing for that long, as quitting drinking has sort of killed my ability to “chill.” If it doesn’t seem productive or purposeful in any way, then I can no longer partake. This is partially due to the fact that I can’t really seem to turn my mind off without a substance. So while everyone else is drinking, laughing, sitting around me, having a good time, I’m thinking about a thousand things I SHOULD be doing. It sucks. I don’t like being that person. I’ve learned to try and only go out when I know I’ll be able to fully enjoy myself and immerse myself in whatever is happening but I still find myself sitting at the end of the bar staring at my phone, checking my email.
yes, no, IDK by molly soda
Control plays a big part in being sober. It was great having the self-control not to text a guy I didn’t even care that much about just because I wanted attention. There’s a special breed of humiliation that only happens when you grab your phone and look at it the next morning after a night of drinking. I never had to deal with that again. It felt awesome. Although, I do not regret texting that guy I had a crush on the lyrics to “just what I needed” by The Cars years ago (he didn’t respond). Most embarrassing, drunk text interactions always end up being a good story.
I felt more in control of my life simply because I could no longer blame any “mistakes” I made on being drunk. It was easier to decipher between my drunk and my real desires: now everything was a real desire. You learn to trust yourself more and you really get to know yourself, which is equal parts exciting and terrifying. There were definitely a lot of things that I didn’t want to find out about myself this past year, but I’m trying not be to be ashamed.
I also learned that I have a lot of anxiety and problems with anxiety that weren’t super present when I was drinking. This again has something to do with not being able to turn my mind off. Everything feels more intense and more stressful: especially in situations where I don’t feel in control. Once I stopped drinking I started getting panic attacks, and my first panic attack was months after I had already quit. I’ve only had a handful of them, and I’ve learned what triggers them and how to deal with them better. Valerian root is my best friend. You can see me at the club literally “popping” supplements.
My anxiety, control issues and inability to relax have also made it nearly impossible for me to have casual sex. I honestly don’t miss it. “Hookup culture” seems whatever to me. Relationships in general seem whatever to me but maybe I should save that for another article ;). It is no longer possible for me to get drunk and go home with someone, and I would never go home with someone who was drunk and I wasn’t. I realized that all of my “first time” sexual encounters with men were completely fueled and lubricated by alcohol. I had never had sex with a person for the first time without being drunk – with the exception of losing my virginity. When I did finally have sex with someone for the first time after being sober (around 8 months into my newfound sobriety) I realized that the initial awkward part of getting undressed and you know, seeing each other’s butts for the first time was actually not as painful as I’d imagined. It was more funny than anything. Sex is funny.
Experiences don’t feel as new or hard to deal with as they once did. I’ve gotten past a lot of those initial “first time” sober moments – holidays – new year’s eve was a doozy, weddings, meeting new people, doing karaoke — they’ve all been conquered.
I’ve also realized that a lot of people don’t drink. I just never took the time to look around before. So many artists, musicians, people I look up to, and friends are sober. That’s so cool! I’ve even had friends quit drinking after I did, which makes me feel really warm inside. I don’t want to convince anyone to do anything and I really hope that none of this came off as preach-y — alcohol is fun — but my life feels more fun now, even if sometimes things seem harder than before.
Also, my sugar addiction is out of control now. I could honestly eat cake and gummy bears after every meal. That’s a thing right?
sweet tooth by molly soda