People don’t like to talk about their struggles with alcohol. It makes them uncomfortable. People get uneasy when speaking about mistakes they have made or bad decisions they have done while drinking. They especially don’t like admitting that they have a problem with alcohol. It makes them feel weak.
I can relate. I used to have a real problem. It took years for me to get comfortable admitting that I was an alcoholic. By age 24, my life had come crashing down and I had two choices:
I could get help or I was going to die. I’m grateful that I found people to help me. It saved my life.
Over the years, I have come to realize that everyone struggles with addiction in one form or another. Every single person has either had their own struggles or knows someone who has. The problem is in everyone but we like to pretend like it isn’t. Eventually, alcoholism always shows its ugly head.
I’ve been sober for 7 years. I find that this way of life is much better than the alternative. Of course, there are days when it would be nice to have a cold beer or a glass of wine with dinner, but I would not go back if I could.
My life is better now that I am sober.
My intention is not to convert anyone into a sober man or woman or try to paint a negative image around alcohol. If you drink, then I hope you find enjoyment from it. What I will do is share my experience and explain why I find life to be better without alcohol.
Here it goes.
- Cash Money in the Bank
I used to spend so much money on booze.
It’s difficult to buy liquor and not spend a lot of money. Cocktails, buying rounds for your friends, buying a bottle of wine at dinner… it really adds up.
When I got out of rehab, I had exactly zero dollars to my name. I would work so hard to earn my money and come Monday morning, it was all gone. I am so thankful I don’t have to live with that anxiety anymore.
Since then, I have not spent one single penny on alcohol. I wish there was a way for me to quantify exactly how much money I have saved. I can tell you that the money saved has translated into tens of thousands of dollars and also more money to travel, go to concerts and do the things I love.
You know that feeling when you go out partying and you wake up the next morning and all your money is gone and you don’t even remember why? Well, that never happens to me.
My finances are tight. I know where my money is going and I know where it isn’t going. Because of this, I have freedom to do whatever I want. This last year alone I have gone to Scotland, New Orleans, Bonnaroo, Philadelphia to see my family and more. Next month I am going to Utah for a snowboarding trip.
I would never have been able to afford this if I still drank. Chances are that I would be stuck in the same town sitting at the same bar stool.
Giving up alcohol gave me the opportunity to do everything else.
- No Need for a Social Lubricant
Like I said, I am not an “anti-alcohol” kind of guy. I can see many areas in which alcohol has benefits.
The most obvious is alcohol’s ability to bring people together. As human beings, we need social interaction. We crave it! Before I got sober, a few drinks was the only way I could muster up the courage to speak with people. Many people feel this way. Social anxiety is a real thing and most people experience it.
But with a few shots, all of that tension falls by the wayside. Everyone is free to be themselves, unafraid of what others think about them.
It took me some time, but with some practice and stretching way out of my comfort zone, I am finally comfortable being the way I am. This means…
- I can go up to strangers
- I can dance
- I can crack a joke and not get embarrassed if it bombs
- I can ask a girl out
- I can go to networking events and weddings without being afraid of the pictures on Facebook the next morning
It is very liberating to be comfortable with yourself to the point where you don’t need alcohol. It does not happen overnight, but I have always felt that being comfortable with yourself is a challenge.
Life is essentially a journey of self-discovery. If you really want to get to know yourself, the best way to do that is to get sober.
This last reason may not apply to everyone.
Most people can have a few drinks and go about their merry way. For myself and millions of people like me, that is not the case.
It’s difficult to really explain to someone what alcoholism is like. It’s easy to think “why don’t you just stop?” If you ask an alcoholic why they can’t stop they will not know the answer. It’s addiction. It’s chemical. It would be like me telling you to stop eating. Eventually, you need to go back.
Now that I am sober, I have no shackles around my wrists. I have no boulders weighing on my shoulders. I wake up every morning a free man.
I hope that everyone gets to understand this level of freedom. Too many people are buried under the drink or under their jobs or under a relationship. Sobriety has taught me that until I am free to be myself, no outside influence will ever make me feel better about who I am or the situation I am in.
I can’t drink myself into feeling better. I can’t work myself into an identity or sense of purpose and I can’t turn a relationship into my reason for existence. None of that works; it only tricks us into thinking we are feeling good.
Sobriety gave me the opportunity to feel the emotions I buried for so long, and through that pain and hardship, I learned who I was.
My identity was carved out of suffering.
Do What Makes You Feel Good
As I said before, I’m not in a position to tell people how they should live their lives. All I can share is my experience.
My experience tells me that addiction is part of the human condition. Everyone has some kind of obsession that keeps them up at night and fills the hole within themselves. I hope that in reading this, someone who may be struggling gets the courage to ask for help. I hope that someone out there knows that they are not alone and that there is always a way out.
My life completely changed when I got sober. Maybe it could for you too.
Photo credit: Tim Stoddart via timstodz.com