I stumbled into sobriety. That’s meant to be funny. About a year into Townie Tourist I found myself going to art events and bars and restaurants and influencer events and foodie meet ups almost every night. Everywhere I turned there was a cocktail and a drink and an alcohol sponsor of an event that focused on or featured a spirit of some kind. I was drinking. A lot. Every night. And finally, I realized that alcohol was stealing my time, my energy, and my potential. I was able to drink a bottle of wine a night and wake up and function just fine in the morning. I told myself that my job was stressful and a cocktail would take the edge off. It seemed perfectly normal that the most addictive drug on the market was the one in my hand most nights.
Look, I’m not going to tell you I hit rock bottom. I didn’t. Not what you’d think of as rock bottom. It was just a normal weekend when I realized that things needed to change. I had driven to an event in the morning to do my live Facebook show and by eleven I had had two and a half cocktails calling it brunch and justifying it because everyone else was drinking too. It’s just what we do, right? I don’t remember much else from that afternoon except running into my ex and being really loud. Friends put me in a car and took me home to cool off.
The next day, in a state that I called functionally hungover, I watched the video I had done the day before and I decided to cut it out. I decided to stop drinking for a year. Take a year off. See what would happen. 2018 would be a dry year. I could do that. If I couldn’t do that then I had real problems. I didn’t realize what was about to happen.
Anger. Impatience. Clarity. Calm. Decision-making. Life-changing. Commitment.
One month in I felt great.
Two months in I started to notice everyone else’s drinking.
Three months in I started to notice what we’re being sold about drinking. I say “sold” because I had bought it. Hook, line, and sinker.
Four months in I started to break up with my job, my career, friends who didn’t get it, and an industry that swears by alcohol to make deals with clients.
Five months in I got angry. Angry at the lack of options, consideration, manners, and sensitivity toward anyone who wasn’t drinking or who didn’t want to. Angry at the beer and wine table that told me to go to the water fountain. Angry at friends who kept questioning my choices and complaining about my new lifestyle without booze…and without them.
Six months in I got tired. Drained. Exhausted. And really tired of explaining. But then something happened.
Seven months in I felt renewed. I was sleeping better than I had in years. I was waking up energized and I felt good about life. My anxiety was gone. I was able to go to events and come home and keep working or be creative or be inventive or be funny or do whatever I wanted to do with the seemingly endless energy that appeared.
Eight months in I saw that I wasn’t alone. There are actually a lot of people who don’t drink for a lot of different reasons. And no one deserves the a-label. So you don’t drink. So what. Who cares? Whatever you stick a (glass or metal) straw in doesn’t matter to me as long as we can hang out and have a great conversation. The thing is, I have way better conversations (and a lot more fun) with people who aren’t drinking.
Nine months in I knew I couldn’t go back. This decision was one of the best I’d ever made in my life. I’ve never been one to do what everyone else is doing and drinking just seemed so boring…so basic. I want to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing! Not drinking is badass. It’s punk rock. It’s rejecting the norm. It’s not listening to manipulating messages telling me what I need to do for self-care and choosing for myself how to live my life.
Ten months in I started researching the facts. One bottle of wine equals ten cigarettes. Alcohol is inflammatory to our system (no duh, it’s ethanol y’all) and can actually cause cancer and heart disease. And I started seeing new patterns emerging of others rejecting our drink-centric culture and embracing the sober-curious lifestyle in other cities like London, Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York.
Eleven months in I started stirring up conversations and actively asked for more creative non-alcoholic options at hang out spots around town. Why couldn’t I have something celebratory and fun to drink that was zero-proof? I asked bartenders to get creative, and some did. Others didn’t. Because Orlando picks up trends way later than other progressive cities, it will be booming with “dry” bars and zero-proof drink options by the year 2021.
Twelve months in I decided to keep going, probably for the rest of my life. Choosing this life feels right for me. The holiday was spent with a zero-proof cocktail in hand and a renewed outlook. A lot less anger, a lot more energy, and zero wasted time on people that aren’t willing to understand.
Look, everyone can choose for themselves. I’m just the kind of person that can’t do a one-drink thing anymore. And really, I don’t ever need to. I don’t need to drink anything but water. Where is that billion dollar campaign btw? So if you find yourself spending more time or money on the sauce than you’d like or you’re just interested in how to not do what everyone else is doing, consider going sober. It’s not easy. It’s not for everyone. It’s pretty much unacceptable behavior. Which I think is pretty rad.
You’re more than welcome to come be unacceptable with me.
You don’t need to take quizzes or calculate how much you’re drinking each day or week. You don’t need to worry about the a-label because it’s a load of bologna. Not to minimize things but labels don’t help anyone. You can change. You can choose. Even when it’s really hard. Just ask yourself, “is drinking alcohol getting in the way of my dreams”, and “how much longer am I willing to settle for that”.
Looking for a resource that isn’t AA? Check out Hip Sobriety School. It’s an alternative that will pretty much change the way you think about drinking forever. So click at your own risk.