December 1, 2020

One Year Sober

One Year Sober

One year, no beer. No bourbon or booze of any kind. No THC. Hell - not even a diet soda! What a time to pick to go sober!

I wasn't going to acknowledge the anniversary publicly because I didn't want "sober" to be my personality. It is just a behavior. A choice. I know, however, that the world we live in is crazy and stressful, and at times, can seem to be too much to deal with. And I want you to know that it is completely doable sober.

Preferable, actually.

When I quit drinking, I also made a commitment to improve my health - all aspects of it. That meant finding a doctor who was willing to work with me to address my insomnia, anxiety, and even my high blood pressure.

It also meant seeking out a counselor who could help give me a new perspective on my challenges and help me tackle my complex PTSD.

My medical doctor prescribed the right medications and I am happy to say I have not had a single sleepless night since, my anxiety is in complete check, and my blood pressure this morning was a respectable 124 over 76.

With the counselor, I began Hakomi  - a somatic mindfulness practice, that helps rewire your neural network and how one internally organizes around trauma. The results have been fantastic. Seriously - if you have any questions about this modality, I would be glad to share my experiences with you.

Combined, I have had the patience, strength, and even the desire, to face the challenges that have hit us all in this past year head on. I released an app into the wild (Can Dogs Eat It?) with a few more in the idea phase, took on some home improvement projects, and am starting in on some new creative projects. (Basically, my Trello to-do board is full)

Don't get me wrong. There has still been a lot of suckage. The world is a mess. We're separated from friends and family. I just haven't piled on anxiety, hangovers, shame, and poor health on top of it all.

So if the quarantinis and day drinking seem to have caught up to you and are adding to your exhaustion instead of relieving you of it, know that there are options.

Besides the medical and mental help I got, there are a few simple practices that have done wonders for me. And no. I'm not in AA, nor am I suggesting you go. It works for some, but, for me, there was a better path.

These practices are all pieces of a puzzle. None of them on their own are magic bullets and they are not listed in priority order.

First, gratitude. This practice is simple but powerful. Every morning, I just run down in my head the things that I am grateful for that day. No rules, no requirements - this isn't like a wish list for Santa or nightly prayers were you need to make sure you get everything and everyone covered. Just, right now, what are you grateful for.  Some people journal this, some try to never repeat. Whatever floats your boat. Lots of articles out there on why this practice is beneficial - here is a non-woo-woo one.

Second, The Four Agreements. The book itself is a little woo-woo, but that is easily disregarded. The main points, Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don't Take Anything Personally, Don't Make Assumptions, and Always Do Your Best, are just good guide points on getting past self-limiting beliefs.

Third, and this is something of my own, with a nod to Bob and General Semantics. It is important to remember, internalize even, that we as humans are verbs, not nouns. We are dynamic. We constantly change. So it is important to refrain from labeling yourself. If you shoplifted something in high school, are you today "a Thief"? Or did you at "one time steal something". Would you allow yourself to carry around the guilt and weight of "Thief" as a self identifier? That's why, for me, labels like "alcoholic" or "addict" are not useful. Shedding those labels allow you to move past those associations.

It's funny, for the most part, the first three things have nothing really to do with sobriety. I think they are generally good practices for anyone. But there are some specific alchohol related suggestions.

Allan Carr's Easyway offers simple and, well, easy ways to stop addictive behaviors. His book is a quick read and has amazing results.

Medical help. If you've been drinking to excess for a long time, or have quit and started up again a number of times, your best bet is a medically supervised detox, with or without a "rehab chaser". I'd be happy to share some of my experience with you if you're interested.

And that's it. That is what worked for me. I've gone a year with no cravings, no desires to go back, just focused on what is ahead.

Finally, don't take this the wrong way. I am not here to convert you or shame you or anything like that. It was a choice I made for me, based on who I am and what I wanted. You do you and what works for you. If what you're doing is not working, there is an alternative, and I'm here to listen. And for the rest of you that are aces - I can't wait for when all this is over to start throwing parties again. I want to laugh at how wrecked you get and pour you into an Uber!