Club Soda + Lime

Day 30: What I learned

What 30 Days with no alcohol, coffee or soda has taught me.

As I continue on to the next 2/3 of this journey, I thought I’d take this time to reflect on the last 30 days.

If you would have asked me six months, or six years ago, to take 30 days sober, I would have laughed in your face. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I could do it, it was that I was so freaking scared. Oh, and that it would have been your idea, not mine.

Looking back, I realize the things I was afraid of are not really “things” at all. They were false beliefs and a bunch of excuses. In order to actually be successful at this, I had to make a decision; an iron clad, water-tight, no excuse decision. The answer when presented with any temptation, and there are a lot, either from another human or from the squirrels in my head, had to be no. Not maybe, or just one. No. No. No.

And, this my friends, is how you make a resolution stick.

Here are a few things I learned or what happened in the first month:

It’s easy…once you realize it’s not hard.

The first few days were a little rocky. Over the holidays, knowing this was coming, I over indulged on just about anything and everything; junk food, wine, desserts and a whole lot rest (read: doing nothing).

I was pretty hard on myself; expecting unrealistic weight loss results and an overnight improvement physically and mentally. All the things I had read had promised beautiful, glowing skin (I literally got a cluster of zits on my cheek on January 2nd), weight loss (I’m guessing they didn’t mean the first day), improved sleep (I sweat like a hog for the first three nights, getting no sleep) and overall better mood (complete bitch and totally irritable).

Once I cleared of the toxins, everything started to become, dare I say it, easy. After the first 10 days or so it became clear that I was in this for the long haul and I didn’t have to do EVERYTHING in the first month. I concentrated on doing the things that made me feel good; getting outside for a walk, practicing yoga, writing, taking baths and playing with the dogs.

I gave myself a damn break. Once I did that, everything else just became easier.

Chores, Schmores.

I loathe chores. I used to sit at my kitchen counter, surrounded by dirty dishes, piles of dirty and clean laundry, tumbleweeds of dog hair rolling under my stool. I hated that I had to be the one to clean it all up and so…I just didn’t.

I have gotten more done around my house and at work in the last month than I can honestly say I have in the two years combined.

Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I am no domestic goddess. This is surface stuff, but it’s still more than I was doing which is a notable improvement.

There’s still dog hair everywhere, my windows are covered in puppy snot nose prints, my pantry is a disaster and I keep shoving things in drawers, but I have checked tasks off my imaginary to-do list that I started building 3 years ago when we moved in here.

Orgasmic sleep.

Who doesn’t love a good orgasm? Well, I do and I can honestly say the sleep I am getting ranks right up there with the big O.

Every single article I have read about alcohol abstinence has mentioned improved sleep patterns. I didn’t even realize how horribly I was sleeping! If I was over(self-served, I would get up at least once to pee and then fight like hell to get back to sleep, usually winning about 15 minutes before the alarm would go off.

There’s a running joke about how early I go to bed. Most nights after I put the kids to bed at 8, I just took a left turn in to my bed and out I go. I realize now I was probably so tired because I was sleeping like shit.

While I still do love to snuggle in to my warm bed early, I am often awake and productive until about 9; a significant extension. I am also wide awake at 5:00 most mornings but fully rested, headache and groggy free.

I can’t explain the sleep. It’s like anesthesia or something. I fall asleep peacefully, dream like a puppy and wake up with no interruption. It’s amaze-balls.

If nothing else, this is why it’s totally worth it.

Saved and made some moola.

I didn’t quite know how much I was spending because I was super great at burying my head in the sand about finances but I have a pretty good handle on it now. Plus I can do simple math. My grocery bill has been cut in almost half and our “entertainment” category even more than that.

I can also chalk up the money I have either found/made to my sobriety. I never had the energy or desire to declutter my spaces until recently. And I definitely never wanted to announce to all of Facebook that I had this much shit to get rid of, but like almost everything else, I have given up caring what anyone else thinks.

I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Losing Weight.

Puke. That phrase has become one of my least favorite in the English language.

It’s really not about weight loss. I know…blasphemy. The further away I get from January 1st, the more I realize this is really not about a number on a scale or a letter on the tag of a shirt. This is about how I feel about those two things. Ultimately it’s about perception.

Am I happy with the weight I am at? Yes.

Bet you thought I was going to say no. And for years I did. But the truth is, I am happy. And the only weight it has to do with is the one that’s been lifted off my shoulders.

My family loves me. I have friends rooting for me. I am surrounded by snuggly, hairy animals, a comfy home and a bunch of imperfect things. These are a few of my favorite things.

For decades I have felt like I am trapped in this heavy fat suit that I could just unzip from top to bottom and step out of, thereby matching my inside to my outside. I know that sounds a little woo woo but believe me, I have thought of crazier shit.

I realize now that what I was feeling on the inside DID match my outside. Frankly, the weight loss attempts were completely futile and just another way to beat myself up and let myself down, a relentless punishment. It’s so very sad tears are running down my face as I type this.

Sad for me, yes, but more than that, I know I’m not alone. I know there are sisters (and brothers) out there that feel, or have felt, the same way I do. And if that’s you, I get it.

Now before we all go turning on our favorite Sheryl Crow song to cry along to (is that just me?), there is good news. All of the things I have, and haven’t done, over the last 30 days is totally working.

All the walks, yoga classes, self-help audio books, writing, positive affirmations, conversations with friends, journaling and puppy love has worked. That dumb scale told me today that I have lost 12 lbs since January 1st.

Since I haven’t really paid that much attention to my diet (think tater tot casserole and chicken enchiladas weekly) I believe without a shadow of a doubt that all of the mind work above is more powerful than we ever imagined.


And, let me be clear about something, my numbing agent happened to be alcohol, which led to poor choices in other areas of my life. But someone else’s could be shopping or smoking or binge eating or doing drugs or exercising to dangerous levels or any number of things we do to cope with whatever we’re not coping with. And guess what? I’m not judging any of them.

Ultimately, I wanted to change my life. My gut told me that if I took care of this one thing at the top the rest would fall in line. I listened, when she got loud enough, and I trusted her.

She hasn’t let me down yet.

I am sure there are things I missed, however, I still have 2 more milestones to get to. I’ll save it for then.

And just in case you’re wondering, holy fuck I want a cup of coffee.

P.S. If you are struggling and want someone to listen, I am happy to help. I am not a professional, in anything actually, but I can read an email. And, it can be completely anonymous, which won’t get a response, but better out than in I always say.

Better out than in.

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