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Why I Stopped Drinking

Amber Shumake
Written by Amber Shumake

Some days, I used to come home and want to take the edge off. The line between taking the edge off and numbing out is a fine one. And so, around Christmas, I decided to stop walking this tightrope for a while. I gave up alcohol.

People have asked if I wanted to join them at AA. I'm honored, but I don’t need a support group. And, no, I'm not in denial. I'm well aware of the gifts of my sobriety. Here are 5 reasons I'm grateful to live without alcohol:

1. I can feel joy.

Not only have I used alcohol to numb pain, I have used it to numb joy. Alcohol cannot discern between joy and pain. I champion joy. It’s my job. Sure, joy can be overwhelming. But, I’m learning that I am deserving. I don’t need to “come down.” I don’t need to apologize for loving my life exactly as it is. Instead, I’m learning to revel in it. Soaking it up is easier now that I’ve gone dry.

2. My intuition is sharper. 

As much as I love a low light lens with a blurred background in a portrait, I prefer to see my life with clarity. Landscapes look more vibrant these days, and my third eye has become more precise. I can intuit that you've broken that ankle before, that you're having headaches, that your husband is laving you. How I ‘see’ these things, I don’t know. But, in the spaces where life once looked hazy, I have newfound vision.

3. I am in touch with what I want. 

I no longer have to search for the wisdom within. The bridge between my psyche and mind has been completed, traffic flows freely through the darkest of tunnels. Whatever you call it - spirit, soul, essence, a stroke of the divine .... all semantics aside, I know who I am. I no longer seek Her out in a decadent Syrah. She and I are one.

4. I can get higher.

I do not have to wait and wonder about where I'll get my “next fix.” After a good yoga class, I feel like I should call a cab. I find it so much easier to get drunk these days - on sunshine, on breath, on the words to a soulful song. The touch or embrace from a stranger or friend feels more heightened. Everything seems more potent.

5. I am aLIVE. 

I haven’t awakened with a need to place my head beneath the faucet and drink. I awaken with blind enthusiasm about what might greet me that day. Sleepwalking through life is a thing of the past. You must not be a morning person ... nobody has said this to me in months. No longer in a perpetual state of dehydration, I have found other means to quench my thirst. Yet, I remain hungry - for the miracle of life and all it has to offer me.

Perhaps you've read this and you think, I’ll have what she’s having. 

Caveat: it may not work that way. Your patterns might be different than mine. My point is, there is grace in sobering up to the incredible beauty that resides within and around us. Do what you need to do to see it and feel it, breathe it and beam it, to be more aLIVE.

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