FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
This was a very real feeling I had when I decided to stop drinking for good.
At the time, I believed that I couldn’t have fun without alcohol. I believed that alcohol is what made a party fun. I felt like my life was going to be over if I couldn’t drink socially, and I was never going to have fun again.
I believed this because I had been conditioned to believe it. But I didn’t need alcohol as a child to have fun. It wasn’t until later that it was ingrained in me as an adult, which I know now is simply not true.
In the past when I “quit” drinking for days or weeks at a time or did Dry January or a weight loss challenge, my experience was horrible. I felt such deprivation and loss every time I was around a social situation where others could drink and I couldn’t.
The drinkers were the ones having fun, not me. I would sit there and sulk and feel left out, uncomfortable, and sorry for myself. I would dream about the 30th of the month, or that Saturday that I had to make it to, in order for me to be able to drink and have fun again. I had learned to associate not drinking alcohol with not having fun.
The FOMO kept me hyperaware every second I wasn’t drinking and kept me feeling less than and deprived. I would be so busy focusing on what I couldn’t have, I would forget to enjoy the people I was with, the place I was at, and why I was even there in the first place. It would be all about me, poor me.
In order for me to get to a place where I could actually enjoy myself in sobriety, I had to change my belief about alcohol and what it can do for me. I had to start thinking of it differently, not like fun in a bottle anymore, but like a poison. Like rat poison—because for me, that’s exactly what it is.
Altogether, it made me sick. It caused havoc on my mind and body, day after day. My anxiety was off the charts—the obsession, the cravings, the control it started to have over me. I had constipation, insomnia, and my skin was always dehydrated. I walked around in a fog that I didn’t even know I was in.
Once I started to believe that it was poison to me, my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) became JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). Once I didn’t have the desire to drink alcohol anymore, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I didn’t feel deprived.
I now see it like, I don’t have to drink anymore. I don’t have to be hungover again. I don’t have to feel hangxiety ever again. I don’t have to worry about drinking too much. I don’t have to wonder what I said or did.
I get to remember, everything.
I can turn my attention to the people whom I love and care about and want to be around, just like I did naturally as a child. I can have meaningful conversations because I get to be aware, and I get to present. I get to wake up in the morning with no fear or regret or pain. I am grateful that I get to be there for it all.
The longer I live sober, I am finding that I’m not missing out on anything. The truth of it is, I was missing out on so much more when I was drinking.
My life is not over now that I am alcohol-free; it has only just begun.