So Friday was my Day 100. I had been focusing on reaching that milestone for a long time – probably after the first 2 weeks or so of sobriety when it occurred to me that 100 days was possible. It felt a lot longer than that – 30 March 2016 when I had my last drink feels like a different lifetime, a different me.
When it finally arrived, 8 July 2016 was not as I anticipated. In short, it was an anti-climax. Nothing changed. It was just another day. There were no fireworks, no rounds of applause, no popping of champagne corks. I told five people in real life who know I have stopped drinking, that I had made 100 days. Four obliged with congratulatory texts and one gave me some flowers. I got some lovely messages on the sober board I post on and Mr So said he was pleased (it bugged me that he didn’t say “proud”). But somehow it wasn’t enough. To be honest, I hardly read the texts. I didn’t appreciate the flowers properly. I just felt flat and lonely and fed up. I waited all day for a special “100 days feeling” but it didn’t come.
I think perhaps I have been too focused on reaching 100 days. I don’t really know what I thought would be different. It’s not as if I was planning to go back to drinking on reaching my century. I just thought I would feel different somehow.
Stopping drinking is not a cure-all panacea. The day to day drudgery continues. Bad things happen. Sobriety has left me feeling raw and exposed.
BUT despite all of that, I am so glad I no longer drink. The ups and downs of my day to day life would be much harder to deal with if I was still drinking a minimum of a bottle of wine a day. By now, I know my drinking would have got worse, probably closer to two bottles a day. By now, I might have been caught driving over the limit and I am certain the facade of calm professionalism I somehow managed to maintain at work, would be slipping. I might have fallen over and injured myself and would almost certainly have said and done things which would have hurt the people I love. Most of all I would have been scared, really terrified of what was happening to me. What I was doing to myself.
Sobriety has brought so many benefits. I sleep better, much better. I have so much more time which I fill with reading, writing, spinning classes, naps (I LOVE naps) and time with Mr So and my girls. My anxiety is better – not gone but manageable. I no longer have to worry about whether or not to drink, how much to drink, will there be enough, how to get rid of the evidence and whether or not I meet the definition of “alcoholic” – I lost count of the number of quizzes I did to confirm one way or another. I didn’t need to do those quizzes – I knew I had a big problem with alcohol. Personally, I am OK with the term alcoholic but whatever words I use, the bottom line is the same.
My concentration is much better. I’ve realised that I’m cleverer than I thought. I’m better at my job and the ambition I had forgotten I ever had, has come back with a vengeance. I look better – no puffy face, no unexplained cuts and bruises. Still the same weight but definitely fitter and more toned. No more crippling guilt and shame. No ever-present sense of impending disaster which made me feel constantly on edge and uneasy but not knowing why. I am a better wife, mother and friend.
When I stand back and think about all those things I can see that what I have achieved is pretty impressive. Over the past 100 days I have rediscovered my sense of self respect. I have my dignity and self esteem back. Although I still seek approval and reassurance from others, I am learning that ultimately it is how I feel about myself and how I choose to live my life which matters. Although I am not there yet, I am beginning to feel more at ease with myself than I have for a very long time. That sense of ease is something I am going to work hard to nurture and grow some more.