I usually write this blog on Saturdays, but I’m breaking that schedule to write this very special post. It’s very special because in nine minutes’ time, according my sobriety tracker app on my iPhone, I’ll be 200 days sober. It’s also “very special” because I want you to read on to the end.
When I first started writing this blog, I remember leaving my office two or three posts in and exclaiming to my girlfriend, “Wow, writing this shit’s really helping me stay on the wagon and forget about booze, but I don’t know how many posts I can write!” I figured max twenty, and then I’d be done. I’d have documented everything there was to document about my sobriety.
How wrong I was.
I’m almost sixty posts in and while I wouldn’t say I’ve just scratched the surface, I would say I’ve only put a tiny dent in it.
Before I got sober, I used to think of a hangover as dehydration, anxiety, and a headache that I had to ride out before I felt well enough to drink again. I’ve realized now that a hangover is starting the process of learning all the shit everyone else learned as an adult while I focussed on bringing my drinking A-game every day, and that the three symptoms mentioned above are trivial in comparison.
So what did you learn in those 200 days, Dan?
- Relaxing is an acquired skill
This one I’ve learned just recently, as I’ve been forced to spend four weeks free from work, as my dumb workplace is closed for the summer. I was in fifth gear all the time I was hungover, working my ass off, writing these books and going a million miles an hour at my day gig, and then at the end of the day I forced myself to relax by getting shitfaced. After taking away alcohol, I didn’t know how you don’t do anything and feel okay about it, aka relax. I’d sit by a picturesque lake and read a book, going for the occasional swim, and look around and be unsure if I was doing it right. I didn’t know if I was doing it right because it felt like I should be doing something else. I was on red alert. This feeling subsided and I now feel fine not doing anything. I’m now nailing relaxing, just like everyone else who didn’t spend every moment they weren’t working shitfaced.
2. Hanging out with people and speaking to them makes me feel good
At the end of my career as an active alcoholic, I’d gotten to the point where I refused to do anything apart from hang out in my apartment watching movies. If I got invited to someone’s birthday dinner, I’d go along, but I wouldn’t feel over the moon about it. How dare they request my presence on a random Sunday, when I could be doing the best thing in the world: drinking myself into oblivion. I’m still dealing with feeling resentful towards people who invite me to hang out with them, and my mood is at its lowest the couple hours before I leave my apartment to do just that. But I now notice, because I’m not drunk when I leave, that hanging out with them, talking to them, and making them laugh enriches my sense of wellbeing. I leave with a smile on face and warmth in my heart.
3. Time goes by way slower
I wasn’t a blackout drinker, so I never lost any consciousness time, apart from this one time I fell off the wagon and thought I could still drink eight super-strength craft ales. I came to to find out I’d started watching Muppet Christmas Carol, and that I needed to go “downstairs,” despite living in a one-floor apartment. But since getting sober, my perception of the passing of time is completely different. My summer holiday, consisting of four weeks, went past in the relative blink of an eye when I got drunk the entirety of it. Sitting here now, three and a half weeks into my first one sober, it feels like I’ve had four summer holidays in a row.
4. Other people now interest me
When I got shitfaced all the time, other people were just obstacles to navigate throughout the day, and the conversations I had with them necessary evils. Now I enjoy speaking to them, and as I smile at them, actually listening to what they say, I find myself interested in what makes them tick and why they are the way they are. After being sober for 200 days, I find other people and their complexities fascinating.
5. Alcohol is evil
I used to think that I was broken, that I was part of a small demographic of people who couldn’t control my drinking. And that’s true, in a way. But I now realize that alcohol’s a little like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. It’s tricksy, telling you shit all the time to trick you into consuming more of it and to fuck your shit up in general. If you drink enough of it, it’ll escalate itself to being the highest priority in your life, and even though you know it’s destroying your life, you can’t comprehend living without it. People aren’t the problem, the mass normalized consumption of a drug that fuck’s with your mind is. I learned this before I became a full-blown alcoholic, when I witnessed a guy act irrationally about being told off for drinking at lunch when I, alongside him, was completing my teaching qualification. That’s what alcoholism is, I thought, but I unlearned that shit when I started drinking enough. Alcohol didn’t want me to remember that story, because it would’ve broken the elaborate delusion it had created in my mind where it meant everything and everything else—the stuff that really matters: relationships with other human beings, success, happiness—meant nothing.
So there you have it. That went much better than I thought it was going to. If you’ve spent a decent amount of time sober, or even just a few days, feel free to write the shit you’ve learned in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober, and if this post made you laugh out loud at least three times or you found it informative, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post with your friends on social media.
My works of fiction can be checked out here.
Head on over to my Facebook page, say hi, and throw me a like.