Dry July - The First Month

Updated: Jun 29

After I had decided to quit drinking, I had no idea what to expect. Obviously I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn't know how hard. The first thing that I gained during my first month sober was self awareness and seeing reality for what it really was. Without alcohol to distract myself from looking inward, I was forced to face my inner reality. I gained insight on my coping mechanisms, and had to accept the fact I was using alcohol to mask my negative emotions and deal with my fears and stress. But if I've learned one thing, it's this: using alcohol to cope with stress or emotions is like slapping a bandaid on a wound. It is a temporary solution for a long term problem - you need to clean the wound in order for it to heal properly, just like you need to get to the root of the problem in order to solve it. On top of my increased self awareness, there were a few other things I learned along the way. Here are the first things I noticed my first month alcohol-free:

1. I realized how much I actively thought about drinking

This one was a tough one. With intentions not to drink, I realized how much the thought of alcohol actually popped into my head. Some like to call this little voice in their head the wine witch, but my inner demon is called the vodka villain (that is, vodka being my alcoholic beverage of choice). I first noticed the vodka villain when I got home from work, was bored and lonely, and didn't know what to do. "Well, you could go down the road and grab a drink. That would give you something to do," the vodka villain suggested provocatively. Then, it was after a long shift. "You deserve a drink. You've earned it," she gleamed. She made most of her appearances at the end of the day, proposing "you could have just one to wind down before bed." In the first few days, she came by so frequently I wanted to curl up in a ball and stuff my ears with cotton balls. How hadn't I noticed her there before? The first couple days she was so freaking annoying, like a mosquito in my ear... but the more I ignored her, the less frequently she visited. I was taking back control of my thoughts, and I wasn't letting the vodka villain run the show anymore. Even though she sometimes still comes around, her voice comes in a whisper because she has lost her power over me.

2. You have copious amounts of free time!

Now that I wasn't spending my time bellied up at the bar, I had so much free time I didn't know what to do with myself! This was a blessing and a curse - at first it made me nervous because boredom was a trigger for me. But after my cravings went away, I was able to use that free time to my advantage! I had more free time at night and more free time in the mornings that used to be spent hungover. There's so much potential in those free hours... you can try new hobbies, catch up on some reading, get ahead on chores, find new series on Netflix, or relax in your pajamas. I had just started bartending at the time, so I used those first few weeks to memorize bar recipes (it's a tiki bar with over fifty cocktails so it was MUCH needed). I read some new books, and self reflected through journaling. It was the self care I didn't know that I was missing out on.

3. You save a LOT of money 

I never realized how much money I spent on booze until I quit drinking. The few drinks after work, couple of cocktails at dinner, and weekly bottles of wine really added up. Plus, when I would drink I tended to be careless with my money, and would sometimes wake up nervous to check my bank account. The classic "this rounds on me!" would really rack up the bill. Without spending substantial amount of my money on booze, I had more money to put towards student loans, save up for traveling, and invest in new books. To give myself a reward for all the hard work I was putting in, I would also allow myself to buy dessert with the money I would've used for ONE drink! And to think... it was never just one round for me!

4. There will be grieving over your old self

After the first month, I journaled on how everything was going. I remember feeling mixed emotions. I felt empowered and like I was starting over, but I also went through a grieving process. I was devastated I spent the last eight years of my life thinking that alcohol somehow made my life better. How it made me more fun, sociable, and relaxed. I felt as if drinking was a part of my identity, and the "party girl" in me was dead. But then I realized, alcohol made me less of who I am, not more. I grieved over how dependent and addicted I was and how it sometimes controlled my mood. But with that realization, I knew that without it, I am more clear minded and have MORE fun because I don't wake up in the morning regretting something I said or did. I ended my journal entry with:

I'm proud of myself for embarking on a journey that will better my life, for the rest of my life. You never see the reality for what it is until you step out of it.

For the sober curious, know this: the first month is challenging because you have to face the wine witch (or vodka villain) until you have enough courage to tell them to shut the f**k up, and take back control of your thoughts. But every time you do it, they become quieter and stop coming around. Then, you'll start to realize all the benefits of quitting drinking, like acquiring more time and money, and becoming more YOU. The raw, genuine, real you... not the one that is numb from a toxic substance. Ultimately, I have found that quitting is worth the hurdles because you are investing into yourself and your health. Don't be afraid, you are more than capable of anything that you put your mind to! I believe in you, until you'll believe in you, too! Until next time!

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