Earlier this month, an anniversary slipped by without any fanfare. In fact, I had completely forgot about it. Because it represents something that now just feels normal, that I don’t have to think about. But I do think about it, just not in the same way: sobriety.
Five years ago, I stopped drinking. I wasn’t out bingeing or suffering through stomach-churning, mind-bending hangovers. On the days when I wasn’t flying (I was a flight attendant for 7.5 years before the pandemic, and there were strict rules around alcohol), I had a glass or two of wine with dinner. Wine also featured prominently in a lot of the dinner recipes I prepared since, back then, I was making my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Child, Bertholle, and Beck). And dealing with sleep issues for most of my adult life, it became clear: I had to change my life.
Know Your ‘Why’
How many times have I tried to scale back my phone use? Or try to reduce my sugar intake? Or even drink more water during the day? Too many to count. I’d ‘succeed’ for two or three weeks and then fall back into old habits and routines. Why? Because, unlike with sobriety, when it came to making those changes I didn’t know, or understand, my ‘why.’
But before I’d made the decision to stop drinking, I had already decided on the ‘why.’ First, I wanted to improve my sleeping. I’d noticed that even one glass of wine with dinner disturbed my already fragile sleep. I was tired of waking up multiple times each night, tired of walking around like a zombie on my days off. Second, I wanted to reduce the odds of procrastination ruling the day, and then, consequently, focus on doing the work I feel called to do.
When you’re not an alcoholic, when alcohol hasn’t detonated an atom bomb in your career or relationships, people question why you’d stop drinking. Many of my friends did. Since I’d been paying attention to my energy levels, again I noticed that even a glass or two of wine at dinner made my energy level low the next day. In the morning, it took me longer to get moving and feel alert. And if I didn’t have a lot of energy, or the mental capacity to focus, I easily gave myself over to distractions.
Yes, it’s been five years since I stopped drinking (and gave up eating all dishes prepared with alcohol), and this is why I will remain sober.
Sobriety is a state of being that brings clarity, and offers me a path to fulfilment by simply being me. Staying sober gives me the greatest chance of living my best life — without caring what other people think.
Sober, I can express the truest version of myself and, ultimately, be of service.