On January 5, 2016, I had my last drink.
I remember sitting in the Gatwick airport like it was yesterday, having a glass of wine with a friend and my family before we boarded our flight home after my five months of solo travel. In that moment, I knew with every bone in my body, every ounce of my soul, that I was done.
I had decided on New Year's Day, four days prior, that I was done drinking. I woke up feeling like death. I didn't have a drink until I got to the airport on the fifth. So, why then? Because I hate flying. The anxiety was growing, and my instinct for dealing with uncomfortable feelings was to have a drink. So I did. Did it help? No.
After my travels through India, I began to realize that I masked things I didn't think I could deal with or (or didn't want to deal with) with alcohol.
Bored? Have a drink. Lonely? Have a drink. Scared you're going to drive your rented Peugeot off the cliffs into the Dead Sea? Have a drink.
It was a self-sabotaging, scar-inflicting escape. (Literally—I have a scar on my left bicep because I fell in a fire. You would think that would've been my wakeup call. Nope.) There was a time in my life that I was an every-weekend party girl, but since 2012 my relationship with alcohol was becoming less steady and turning into more of a roller coaster. Once or twice a month, I'd have a few drinks, and that would lead to my becoming blackout drunk. Every time that happened I woke up feeling horrible, depressed, and unworthy. It was one step forward, 10 steps back.
I needed to stop the pattern.
So, I made a decision. Once I landed on Canadian soil, alcohol would not touch my lips for one year. Initially, I thought, "This is seriously going to suck. One year is an eternity. This is going to be the hardest thing I've ever done. I've signed myself up for a real shit year. But I can do it. I have to do it."
So, 365 days later, What have I learned? What does a sober year look like?
Clear. Focused. Simple. Aligned.
It turns out being sober for a year has been the easiest thing I have ever done. There hasn't been one ounce of temptation or desire. It has felt like the most natural thing to do.
There's virtually no drama in my life. It was definitely upsetting when I realized that some people didn't want to be on this path with me. Before, my response would've been to have a drink. Instead, I had to sit with it. I had to grieve it. I had to dig into why I was letting those people dictate my self-worth and why I was taking it personally. The people in our lives are mirrors of ourselves. These people weren't accurate reflections of me anymore, nor I of them. And that was OK. That was healthy.
All of my relationships have shifted—my relationship with my daughter, with my mom, and most importantly, with myself. I've never felt more confident and beautiful. When the darkness creeps in (because it always does), I embrace it, sit with it, and lean into it. I'm not fighting it anymore. We have to love those parts, too. Nobody is perfect. It's humbling and liberating to know I don't have to try to be.
New supportive soul sisters have come into my life. I've made deeper, more meaningful connections. I have become more aware of being present. When I'm here, I'm here. When I start to wander off in my mind to some other place, when the monkey chatter starts, I am aware. I try to bring myself back. It's not perfection. It's a practice. Presence is a practice that I am working on every day. The stillness and softness is expanding. The people around me seem happier because I am happier. Life is lighter, simpler, and replete with purpose.
I've come back into my heart space, peeled back loads of layers, and learned to love myself again. Turns out sobriety is pretty sweet.