Thoughts on Sober September

Image via the NYT

Last month, I decided to challenge myself to 30 days of not drinking. I have to admit, I did not think it would be possible for me to do. It's not that I am a heavy drinker per se, but I am definitely very social and find myself meeting up with friends multiple times a week to hang out and catch up. And what do we do when we get together? We enjoy wine, beer and the occasional cocktail. All of this is pretty normal, right? Yes, perhaps. But after a very fun summer and with the approach of fall and winter holiday parties, I knew I wanted to take a step back from the busy pace of my life and have a solid month to cleanse and reflect.

So because I knew it would be challenging, I prepared myself by sending an email to the friends I hang out with often. I asked them for support. And obviously, being the most amazing friends that they are, they wrote back heartfelt emails offering just that. I felt that the more open I was about it, the more people wanted to help.

The first week was hard. It was Labor Day weekend, a friend was in town, and there was a lot going on. But despite not drinking, I still went out and enjoyed myself. I ordered seltzer, sometimes with lime.  When I was tempted to break my rule, my friends wouldn't let me. Talking about it helped. In fact, I had to catch myself from talking about it too much. It was all I could think about, so sometimes when I was out at a bar or party, I found myself telling complete strangers that I was sober. I probably talked about it so much, that people probably thought I was inebriated. But honestly, talking about it was helping me deal. Like if I said it aloud, I was being held accountable.

Then in week two, things got a bit easier. I started doing yoga. I was going to bed earlier and I was sleeping better. By week three, I was feeling great. I found myself being more engaged and focused. I was enjoying real conversations with people and remembering them the next day. I didn't feel foggy or scatterbrained, the way I sometimes feel on Saturday and Sunday mornings. And in addition, I was being more productive and efficient. Faster and quicker. I felt like there was more room in my head.

I do not think this all has to do with not drinking. However, the combination of doing yoga and with that, focusing on my breath and movement, all allowed me to find my center and feel reenergized and invigorated. Maybe it is all psychosomatic, but I suddenly felt strong, like my muscles had strengthened overnight.

By week four, I was feeling really proud of myself. It's been a long time since I've felt challenged and it was great to have achieved my goal. Now that the month is over, I have started drinking again, but I think my little experiment has given me a new perspective and my priorities have shifted. I don't need to stay out the latest or order the coolest drinks (my old faves? Manhattans made with rye whisky or Jameson and soda. Talk about showing off.) I am okay with ordering light beer! I go home at a decent hour! I say no when I want to. And more than anything, I've stopped being so hard on myself.

How about you guys? Have you ever done anything similar? Perhaps a cleanse, diet, marathon training? I'd love to hear about your experience!




11 comments:

Sandy :

This post means a lot to me. I just started dating a boy who is a recovering alcoholic. He has been in the program for over a year now, and sobriety is something that he takes incredibly seriously. To better understand him, and to get closer with him, I decided to stop drinking as well.

I have been sober 36 days, and feel the same exact way you do. Invigorated, energized, well-rested, happy, and clear headed. I have accomplished so many things in the past month, and I am convinced that the key to my success and victories lies in sobriety. I have done so much self reflection, and am feeling much happier about the person I am, and the person I am becoming.

I'm happy to be able to share this with you.

with love and admiration,

Sandy

Miss Amy :

GOOD FOR YOU! I was sober for about 4 YEARS actually.... ;) It was a commitment I made to health. Your experiences with sleeping, strength, vitality, clarity... I experienced it too! It's so nice to step back and realize that you don't NEED drinking to have a good time. Your body recovers quickly, I think almost to remind you how healthy you could be feeling if you didn't stop drowning it with alcohol. I do partake in drinks once and a while, but definitely not like I used to.... Cheers to you, whether it's seltzer or a beer. Stay healthy and focused on what makes YOU feel best. You have great friends to have supported you so well. I think it's a real test of friendship when one person changes their lifestyle "drastically". How the other people in your circle react is telling of how true they are to you. Glad they 'passed' the test. ;)

nadia :

Good on you for taking the initiative to do something so great! It can be so difficult to do, just the social aspect of it (as you've written). The only time I've given up alcohol has been recently while I was pregnant (having life grow inside you makes it so much easier to give up though ; )

Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

xo Nadia

Karina Cifuentes :

I'm so proud of you, seester! Way to go. :)

fashionhogger :

I just had a glass of wine the other night. Didn't think about it; it would be hard to do. Good for you. I was just gonna say not to be hard on yourself!

Noodles and Waffles :

It's amazing how eliminating one thing can have such a huge impact on our lives. I gave up coffee about two years ago for health reasons and after the first week I felt such a physical and mental change. It was a very similar experience to yours.

I think the hardest thing to get over was the ritual of it all.

Congratulations on meeting your goal and learning something about yourself along the way.

Eliza Jane :

This post is amazing, and I so admire what you're doing. And I agree with what you say about yoga! Good for you!!

Lisa Michelle Cifuentes :

Thank you all for your kind words and support! Means a lot to me. xo.

Chapstick Fanatic :

good for you! i did a cleanse at the beginning of this year for two weeks and gave up alcohol for two weeks. i felt so great afterwards.

http://lachapstickfanatique.blogspot.com

Noe @ ADELLA AVENUE :

It's interesting to see how such a seemingly subtle change made such a strong change on your perspective and outlook. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Victoria :

This is truly impressive and inspiring. As a social bee, I find not drinking (in moderation) to be very difficult.

p.s. I love manhattans! Yum!

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