The Sobriety Project: A Year “Shedding” Unnecessary Burdens

Today marks one year of sobriety. For over 30 years, I have not experienced a full calendar year sober (except during pregnancy). After a year, what do I miss? I miss wine tasting nights at home. Chad is a talented vintner. I miss bottling nights when we would sample batches, sharing thoughts, and discussing pairing ideas. He still makes wine, but it’s no longer the couple’s night activity we used to share.

More impactful, I miss the 20-30 minutes of relief and pleasure that come from those first drinks, or as Billy Joel sings, “...to forget about life for awhile.” However, I know it’s never just a couple drinks, and what comes later is physically and emotionally damaging. Our bodies aren’t meant to process an entire bottle of wine (or two) in a day. Alcohol sapped my energy and reduced productivity. I often had horrible stomach aches and didn’t get enough sleep, usually lying wide awake, berating myself for hours. Apparently, I also snored like a freight train. My husband is quick to point out that the train still makes rounds on occasion.

Emotionally, alcohol intensified what Churchill referred to as “the black dog.” The black dog represents our darker/sadder thoughts, which often gain immense power with alcohol. One of my biggest struggles is an overwhelming sense that I don’t really fit in anywhere. My parents were public figures, and from a young age, I struggled with the increased visibility and public scrutiny from adults in the community, at the college, and even peers. Accomplishments often felt as if they were not my own, and my failures, which should have been a private, personal lesson for growth, instead became a poor reflection on the family. This combined with a childhood spent representing the family at college work events developed into crippling anxiety and depression. Alcohol became a frequent crutch to lessen the burden of larger gatherings.

Sobriety provided a much needed, swift kick in the pants!

Sobriety provided a much needed, swift kick in the pants! I saw that I was pretty lucky. The global pandemic over the past months offered another hearty reminder to count those blessings! The time in Hillsdale, while challenging, gifted a powerful education. In addition to a top notch experience in the classroom, I fondly remember the many informal exchanges with professors or sharing a meal with visiting speakers at home. I’m blessed with a healthy and happy family, a fulfilling career, and a handful of lovely, loyal friends. Sobriety helps separate the negative (and at times traumatic) events, preventing the addition of another layer to that foundation of doubt, slowly built brick-by-brick. To be honest, the doubt still returns, but sobriety helps slowly chip away at this unnecessary burden.

Unnecessary burden, that sums up alcohol for me! Is sobriety is the right path for you? Take some time and reflect. Do you bear any unnecessary burdens? Does alcohol add to them or perhaps create such burdens?

Thanks for reading!

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