I work with many people who are new to sobriety.
Witnessing the early stages of their process distinctly reminds me of my own experiences with getting sober. It can feel like walking a tight rope between “This is the right path for me!” and “Wouldn’t it be easier if I just go back to my old ways?”
Just over a decade ago, I was in the depths of struggling with my addiction and managing my life in general. I was failing miserably in school and thought I should just drop out since I couldn’t handle my life. I had a wonderful professor at the time who really helped guide me to make one of the most challenging decisions ever.
I approached my kindhearted teacher with my concerns. “Don’t give up just yet, Michelle,” he replied. “Why don’t you gear all the writing assignments in this class toward finding clarity on your drinking problem?” So I stayed. And I wrote about my struggles and the pros and cons of drinking and all my crazy emotions and everything. It was the most helpful thing I could have done at the time. It brought so much clarity and the courage I needed to move forward on my new path of sobriety.
Today, 10 years later, being sober is the number one thing on my gratitude list. The pros of being alcohol-free have evolved since I started this journey. Today I want to share my 10 biggest benefits of being alcohol-free:
1. No hangovers. Obviously! Who wants to wake up with a headache and a bad attitude? No thanks! Personally, my hangovers consisted of some severe self-loathing which was the worst part for me. I’m so grateful that I’m my own best friend these days.
2. Improved sleep. When I was a party monster, I liked to stay out till the cows came home! Excessive amounts of alcohol kept this energizer bunny going for hours and hours (probably the cocaine played a small role in that too). Needless to say I didn’t get a lot of sleep those days. Even if I did get home at a decent hour having had only a drink or two, my sleep was disrupted. There are probably a few scientific/physiological reasons for this, but I’ll just chalk it up to an unsound well-being in general. Being alcohol-free produces a sweet, sound sleep rhythm that keeps my whole life harmoniously balanced.
3. Better food choices. This one’s a no-brainer, right? When I was hungover, all I wanted was a big greasy meal. Or perhaps some more wine to wash it down. So on top of the headache, the bad attitude and the self-loathing, I added more fuel to the fire and thus continued the vicious cycle. Being sober ignites the spark to want to feel good naturally, so I make way more conscious choices when it comes to what I consume.
4. Improved mood. These benefits are starting to tie together now. With no hangover, sleeping well and making better food choices make me feel happier! Now I’m not saying that life is all rainbows and unicorns every day but I don’t live in the trenches of self-loathing and despair like I used to. I’m smiling 95 percent of the time.
5. Increased energy and productivity. Now we’re starting to get the hang of it. A good night’s sleep, high-quality food, a rockin’ vinyasa class and a smile on my face give me the energy I need to show up for the things I wish to accomplish in my life. I (usually) awake with gusto for the day ahead, I’ve found a rhythm with a schedule that works best for me, and I’m tackling those creative endeavors that were on the list for years. (Writing blog posts was one of the items on that list!)
6. Higher self-esteem. All of a sudden, I’m confident. I feel good physically, I wake up feeling refreshed, my mind is clear, I’m working on passion projects, making strides in my career and feeling really good about myself. I feel powerful and like a magical sorceress most days! Why, oh why, did I hide in a bottle of pinot grigio before? Hmm.
7. Meaningful relationships. When I started feeling better about myself, I began to attract people who were on the same wavelength. I magnetize others who are really aligned with my healthy lifestyle. Sober friends and spiritual seekers. Mentors and guides. Like-minded colleagues. Soul sisters. Sweet lovers. My life is abundant with loving, supportive human beings.
8. Self-discovery. Being sober has made me want to understand myself on the deepest level. I’ve become a detective regarding anything that has to do with my health and well-being. What foods and forms of exercise does my body like best? What type of climate do I thrive in? What types of activities bring me pleasure? If I’m feeling emotionally low, what’s the best remedy? What does my heart desire? What is my purpose? Finding myself has truly been the most rewarding endeavor.
9. Connection to spirit. When I first got sober and started attending 12-step meetings, it was like being in spiritual kindergarten. Back then, I was spiritually lost. I learned to reconnect with the loving God I once knew as a child. This relationship may look different from person to person but for me it means connecting with the divine essence within myself, the world around me and the entire Universe. This relationship is something that I ground in each and every day and I don’t take for granted. I honestly don’t know how I lived otherwise.
10. Higher vibration. This is the whole point! Being sober allows me to take care of myself in the sweetest of ways, connect to a higher power, be of service to others and genuinely have the utmost love and respect for myself. What all this does is raise the frequency of my energy. When I’m bursting with this amazing sparkly energy, I radiate it out to the world and inspire others. And I attract that which I truly desire to live the magnificent life I deserve to live.
All this from making that initial empowering choice to be alcohol-free.
Author: Michelle Mahlman
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Post Meme/Flickr