Three Lessons I’ve Learned From Living Two Years Alcohol-Free

three lessons I've learned from living two years alcohol free

It’s that time again! Another year has passed since I decided to give up alcohol. Year two was not without its challenges, but I continue to believe that I am gaining more from my current lifestyle than I ever did while I was still drinking. This post could have filled an entire book – and maybe it will be one day (I hope!) — but, for now, I will keep it short by quickly sharing the three lessons I’ve learned from living two years alcohol-free.

I love being in my head

three lessons I've learned from living two years alcohol-free
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I used to think that being in my head was the worst and most detrimental space I could exist. I no longer feel that way, because my mind is clear and my anxiety is managed through better coping mechanisms. I can spend so much time by myself these days – in fact, I find myself NEEDING to be alone more than I ever did before. To be honest, when I would need alone time when I was still a drinker, it would be to drink wine on my own – without anybody judging me or invading that ‘sacred’ space that I so longed for.

When I was in my head while drinking, I was sucked into a metaphorical tunnel and I convinced myself that the only way to cope with that place I had emotionally transplanted to was to continue to drink. If you have ever tried to ‘drink away’ your feelings then you know that it’s not possible. In fact, I now call drinking away feelings as the ‘booze boomerang’ — you send your feelings and anxiety off, but when the alcohol wears off (and you’ve forgotten you’ve released them) they come back and smack you in the face. I now know that I cannot escape the conflict inside of me, so now I focus on not stoking the flames of discord but on filling my heart and head with things that make me feel good about myself and constructive ways to get through my stress.

I cannot control anything except how I respond to things

three things I've learned from living two years alcohol-free
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Most people who have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol, drink out of reactionary impulse. I was no exception to this. I have discussed in some previous posts how alcohol had become my coping mechanism for any emotions. In essence, there was rarely an occasion that I wouldn’t have rationalized that I somehow earned a drink.

What these past two years have taught me is that I always have a choice when any given situation presents itself, and that choice is never to have a drink. I have learned to cope with stress, but not only manage my anxiety, but I have a lot less of the stuff. Is my life more comfortable? Hell no! I have far more stress in my day-to-day life these days than I ever did before, and yet, I rarely allow myself to get to the level of anxiety and anger I would previously. Changing my response to what happens outside of me – as trite as it may sound – has helped me not only evolve as a wife, daughter, sister, etc. but has enabled me to remain sober for two entire years. In these past two years, I have had two birthdays, two holiday seasons, two trips home to America, completed a challenging marketing qualification, started a new blog and freelance writing gig, started a new job, and attended a wedding. And I have done it all without a drop of Cabernet or Chardonnay. Now, when I am stressed, I meditate, take a bath, read a book, listen to a podcast, go for a walk/run — I no longer even consider doing anything but activities that will elevate my consciousness.

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My relationship with alcohol absolutely stemmed from my relationship with my body

Three lessons I've learned from living two years alcohol-free
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I spent over a decade of my life struggling with a progressive series of eating disorders. I bounced between anorexia, bulimia, exercise bulimia, and binge eating disorders. So, it is no surprise to me, looking back now, that I sought and found comfort from alcohol. For so many years, particularly my late teens and throughout my twenties, I struggled to feel comfortable with who I am. I don’t think that is unique in any way, but I know that the connection between my attitude towards alcohol and the way I delivered myself to the world, was toxic.

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I have noticed, over the past two years of life without alcohol, that my relationship with my body is much healthier. Not just because my body doesn’t fluctuate from the added calories of drinking – though it doesn’t – or the fact that I eat a better diet than I used to. Not drinking has made me more connected to what my body needs. I don’t have false spikes in my blood sugar like I used to. I don’t have zapped energy for days on end that leads me to want to stay in bed all day long. I don’t have to force myself to exercise or feel guilty when I don’t want to because I need to do something – anything – to counteract the debauchery of the night before. I can hear myself, but not only that, I listen to myself. I know when I need rest. At two years alcohol-free, I now know when I need to create a boundary. And I know when I am being unkind to myself – inside and out. This has made the biggest impact on my life so far.

So, as promised, I kept this post short, but sincere. I am proud of how much growth and progress I have made in these past 24 months, but I also know that the work is never done. What I do know, however, is that no matter what day it is – or where I am – I am truly living my best life.

Let me know your thoughts!

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