Ruby Warrington describes the first few months of being alcohol-free as the “Evangelical Phase.” You feel sooo amazing and you seriously feel like you’ve discovered the fountain of youth and how to make time in a bottle. I am not kidding, since I quit drinking I swear I have an entire extra day in my week. It’s like I found the secret formula for creating time. It’s easier to wake up early. The hours after work are actually filled with productive things. Those workouts I didn’t have time for magically become an easy part of the week. Cooking breakfast, writing a blog, going back to school – it all fits!
The waterfall effect of drinking so much – time spent drinking, time thinking about drinking, time spent recovering from drinking, time agonizing over why I was drinking, time apologizing, retrieving lost credit cards, picking up cars, spending money I shouldn’t have spent, recovering from drinking, feeling sluggish and simply choosing to lay on the couch in limbo, rather than actually living my life all because the alcohol was constantly streaming through my body and making me a lifeless loser.
Without alcohol in my life, the sun shines brighter, the sky is bluer, and I feel like a million bucks. So yeah, you want to share this amazing secret with ev-er-yone!
The only problem is that ev-er-yone does not care to hear you talk about it all the time, especially if they are not really on board or ready to make the jump themselves. I’ve found a lot of people kind of look at you like you’re trying to introduce them to Jesus or sell them a bunch of Rodan + Fields (no offense to either) when you start talking about how great you feel.
You have a few choices: you can start a blog and an Instagram account and talk about it ALL the time (what- like that’s a bad thing?), you can hide yourself away and come out years later when you’re finally ready to be around other people who may or may not drink. Or you can just be the awesome and lead by example.
Is it scary to sit there with your real true self? Hell yes. Are you a certifiable weirdo? Also yes. Will your friendships change? More than likely. Is it worth it. 100% yes. Weird shit comes out. Dark thoughts. Light thoughts. Insecurities, hidden passions, secret delights and desires, longing you did not even know was there. All. Of. It.
It’s like untangling a mess of iPhone earbuds. It’s annoying as hell but things get straightened out with patience. When you remove the muck and the noise and all the dead weight alcohol was putting on your life you reveal your true, purest personality. You get to be that little girl (or boy) who had big dreams and wanted to have a big life again. And that is really fucking cool.
From most of my discussions with people who have chosen the teetotal life, the scariest part is what other people will think and how friendships will change. I can’t tell you that they won’t. I have certainly noticed changes in my own friendships, so I don’t have a golden answer for you. I still feel like an outsider sometimes, which is something I have to pay close attention to, because that yearn to fit in fueled a lot of my early drinking and lead to the habits that almost took me out.
I do know that if it is weird at first, and if they are real friends, they will come around and get used to this new you. They have to understand that this is the best version of you, because you’re finally giving yourself a shot at a real life. And it has nothing to do with them. Choosing sobriety is a deeply personal decision that is about one person – the person choosing to be sober.
It’s scary, it’s sad, it’s very lonely when you feel like you don’t quite fit in with your crowd anymore, but I have to believe it’s worth it to have the hope and joy I find in my sober life.
I feel like I needed to send out a letter that outlines the new expectations my friends should have of me and it might go something like this:
I regret to inform you that I shall no longer be imbibing in any of my former favorite beverages as you were so used to me doing. This means I will no longer tell you the same story multiple times and never actually get to the point. I will no longer fiend for cigarettes after 2 drinks, chain smoke and leave ashes all over your back porch. I will not be sleeping in the yard, in my car, on your couch, or in a restaurant booth.
I will however still be available for lunch, dinner, breakfast – any meal really. I am still going to be quite skilled at organizing happy hour. I will still make jokes and have fun and engage with you in charming conversation.
We have had some great times with and without drinking. We can still talk about all those fun times, laugh about the dumb shit we did, and look fondly back at our times together. None of that will go away. I am still me, but a clearer, brighter, healthier version of me and I hope you can feel happy for me.
I will not be judging you for whatever relationship you decide to maintain with alcohol. I know that you have a completely different relationship with it than I do and I believe that however you choose to drink or not drink is one hundred percent your decision and I will support you and be there for you no matter what.
You don’t have to exclude me from things. I am still fun. In fact, I’m more fun because I’m no longer a liability. I feel happy with myself and can therefore be a better friend because my head is no longer shoved up my own ass.
Thank you for loving me even when I was shrouded in darkness and slowly self-destructing by drowning myself in alcohol. Please keep loving me now that I have seen the light.
I’m not going to try and force this lifestyle on you, however if you ever do want to talk about it I’m here and I can tell you all about the good, the bad, and the ugly. But if you order a life without alcohol now, I’ll even throw in a set of free steak knives!
The friend formerly known as Bad Decision Brantley