500 days. Today is 500 days alcohol free for me. I had written a long post when I reached my 1 year so I will not try to outdo that post but I still felt the nice round number of 500 deserved some attention. So to celebrate 500 I felt just a list of things I have noticed in my life since I decided to quit drinking alcohol.
I am a better dad: My daughter recently turned 12, which means she is going into the age where peer pressure, social pressure and all the other types of pressure will be in her face every single day. She is well aware that her dad used to drink alcohol, and that he made a decision not to any longer. She has also witnessed the difference in her dad. I am more positive, I am more emotionally available, I have more time for her and I seek to better understand. At this point I have no idea if she will ever drink, nor would I ever try to make that decision for her but what I do know is I am showing her the alternative to the societal norm. I didn’t have that.
I am a better husband: Many of the same reasons that make me a better father make me a better husband. The word “available” just keeps entering my mind. I am present, I am here to have that conversation with. Alcohol used to be my way not to deal with emotions, now when I am sad, or angry, I have to really sit in that and communicate it. The same goes for happiness, previously when something good would happen I would want to celebrate with a drink, now I get to think about why things make me happy, and share that with my wife. I want her to experience me, as a person and not some numb version of me.
I am a better friend — to some people: Same goes for all relationships, I am more of my authentic self than I have every been. So to some friends our relationships have been wonderful. However not to everyone I used to call a friend. To many the version of me that would drink to cover pain, or sadness is the only version of me they knew. Or the version that would find any excuse to celebrate at a beer garden isn’t there either. I do not fault anyone, or hold grudges against those that have become more distant since I made a change in my life, I am not the same person they knew.
My depression/Anxiety is much better: I have always been open about my depression and my anxiety. I still have episodes of both, however I no longer make them worse by ignoring them with a pint in my hand. The theme I am sharing is I now have to really sit in all my thoughts. That used to terrify me. Since I no longer have alcohol to help me brush over those thoughts I have had to learn to work through them. I have read, researched and listened to countless methods of doing so. Meditation, walks, journaling, working out, talk therapy etc… none of which are as sexy as a drink, which is why a social media post about needing wine to deal with the day gets more likes than one about journaling.
There are many other noticeable positives that I have experienced over the past 500 days. However I don’t want to give the illusion that it was easy. Saying no, or grabbing a sparkling water instead of a vodka soda water is easier today than it was 6 to 9 months ago but it still causes me to flinch a bit sometimes. The physical act of not drinking was never that difficult for me, the feeling of being outcast, of being judged or looked at as less “fun” by others, that was the fear. Now 500 days in I am comfortable with who I am. I know who I am and am proud of what I was able to change. The change has been more positive the I ever thought it could be.