This past weekend, I celebrated the 90-day milestone of my alcohol recovery—during a quarantine.
This is surely one of the worst-case scenarios to stay focused and remain sober. What a great time to numb myself and let the world fade out around me.
In the past, during times of crisis, I have hidden within the depths of substance abuse to shield myself from unwanted emotions. Some examples may be the September 11th terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the DC sniper shootings that terrorized my region. And although all of these scenarios are tragic, this time it’s different.
It’s different because the entire world is feeling the impact of COVID-19. People are getting sick, people are dying, and yes—people are under quarantine.
Substance abuse recovery has unique challenges during this pandemic. Not only is it a time of uncertainty and doubt, but there are limited to no active support groups (at least in the physical sense.) I expect that there will be a large number of recovering addicts who fall victim to their demons. This is a sobering truth that jeopardizes the sobriety of millions, including myself.
Throughout the last 90 days, there have been seven positive changes that I have noticed, which motivate me to continue my journey and to remain alcohol-free during these tumultuous times.
1. No More Hangovers! This one speaks for itself and I must say that I don’t miss these at all. When I reflect on being hungover, I realize how difficult they made my life. Why did I punish myself so many times? I woke up on many occasions with the feeling of death. Now, I wake up ready to live. And, my Tylenol intake has declined tremendously.
2. Make Better Decisions and Have No Regrets. I can only imagine how embarrassing it would be to witness all of the idiotic things I have done throughout the years while I was drunk. I can’t help but cringe as memories resurface while I’m writing this. How many mornings (or afternoons) did I wake up regretting things from the previous day? Since I cut alcohol out of my life, I don’t wake up with regrets at all. I wake up knowing that I did my best. Instead of feeling regretful or embarrassed, I am proud of myself.
3. Improved Health in all Areas of Life. I have always held the belief that positivity breeds positivity and negativity invites more negativity. Being sober has been the most positive change that I have ever made to my health. Almost immediately after deciding to strip my life of alcohol, I found health became my new addiction in a sense. I am eating healthier, I’m working out on a regular basis (only home-based workouts for now), and I am expanding the horizons on which I base my spirituality.
4. Make Better Purchases and Save Money. My spending patterns are so much better these days. First of all, alcohol is expensive. It’s difficult to fathom how much money I have spent on alcohol in the past. (It’s a lot.) Also, it’s apparent that being intoxicated somehow altered my mindset regarding my personal wealth. I would spend money like I was a part of the upper echelon. Now I find myself making purchases that benefit my life in some way or that I view as investments to my overall well-being.
5. Discover or Rediscover Interests. Recently, I have rekindled my love for certain aspects of life such as playing music (I’m a drummer), reading more books, writing, exercising, and cooking. I have also taken on new interests or plan on trying some new hobbies, including photography/videography, painting, and planning various potential business ventures. My creative juices are flowing, and I’m eager to try new things.
6. Create More Meaningful Relationships. I have found that throughout life, friendships and relationships are formed with varying layers of depth. When you gain friendships based around drinking, they are frequently one-dimensional and therefore fragile to longevity. When the party ends what is left? It can take little effort to gain a drinking buddy. But, when the alcohol stops flowing, it seems like those friends are the first to disappear.
At the same time, when relationships are formed outside of the drinking scene, they are typically more meaningful and genuine. Those relationships have the depth, due to shared interests, to last for a long time. I believe that this is why childhood and adolescent friends tend to last a lifetime. They were created before social drinking “norms” became a part of everyday life. Enjoying someone’s company just for who they are, or for that shared interest, creates meaningful relationships that are more positive and less toxic.
7. Love Myself. The most important part of my recent sobriety has been the self-discovery that continues to transpire and my increasing self-love. I have gone through an identity shift and that shift continues to develop. This doesn’t mean that I’m trying to be a different person. More so, it is me looking at who I really have become as a person. It is about discovering the things that I really admire about myself, and other things, not so much. In either case, it is me—it’s who I am—and I am learning to love myself. There isn’t any substance to hide behind or to numb my thoughts and emotions. Sometimes I feel like I’m meeting myself for the first time.
After roughly three months of a sober lifestyle, there remain some significant challenges.
Isolation and boredom have been consistent. There is no getting around these feelings. The key is to remember that they are temporary. Keep in mind—whether you are in recovery or not—during these days of quarantine, most people are feeling isolated and bored. This a pandemic.
This quarantine, too, shall pass.
During these challenging times, I continue to focus on the positive changes that are occurring in my life. As I continue my journey through alcohol recovery, these changes keep me motivated and they instill a feeling of positivity and hope.