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by Regan Simpson December 02, 2020
I celebrated one full year living alcohol free on November 19th, 2020. Looking back, my intuition knew something I wasn’t consciously aware of. And it was that 2020 was going to be a year that turned a lot of things upside down. I don’t even want to picture how much I would have drank this year had I not quit at the perfect time.
Thankfully, I don’t have to picture it. And because of that, I’ve experienced more growth this year than in any of my 25 years combined.
It all started with a morning routine.
In early November of 2019, I decided it was time to dive into some personal development. I had spent years experiencing what I can only describe as a feeling of existential discomfort. I was ready to take the steps I needed to take so that I could stop that feeling. After reading “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod, I knew starting a daily morning routine would be the first step.
So I spent an hour every morning completing some variation of meditation, journaling, visualizing, exercising, reading, and saying my new affirmations. I still have that very journal. When I look back on the affirmations I created on November 5th, 2019, I have a whole section dedicated to alcohol. Those affirmations are:
“Excessive drinking adds nothing. It takes away from me.”
“I have no urge to drink from stress or boredom.”
“I wake up feeling refreshed, not hungover.”
At that point, I understood the destructive effect that alcohol was having on my well-being. But I didn’t drink THAT much. A couple of drinks a few nights a week. Getting drunk once or twice a month. I still believed complete sobriety was only for people who had hit rock bottom. And I was still far from it.
That thought process, as I later learned, is the illusion of moderation. I thought I could affirm my way to drinking less. I believed if I tried harder, I could stop myself from wanting to have one (or two, or three) more drinks.
Anyone who’s ever gone out for “just one drink” and woke up with a pounding headache and no memories of the night before knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Alcohol lowers our inhibitions, so it only makes sense that our good intentions fade away every now and again when we’re in an environment that encourages drinking.
On day two of my last hangover, something clicked. I finally understood the fact that I never had to feel this way again if I didn’t want to. I started to explore the idea of giving up alcohol completely. I spent hours scrolling through sober-living hashtags on Instagram. It was mind-blowing to discover that there’s a whole world of people who consciously choose not to drink.
I liked the way that world looked, so I decided to join it.
It was by no means an easy journey to start. My social life became nonexistent even before the start of Covid. I had to feel my existential discomfort and anxiety instead of numbing it. I had to face my life head on and take responsibility for everything I was unhappy about.
And that was the first step I took towards changing my life for the better.
I’ve experienced a lot of growing pains this year. But growing pains are a necessity for growth, and I’ve learned to celebrate myself every time I step outside of my comfort zone. When I was drinking, my inner critic was loud. She made me smaller and smaller every year, and my comfort zone was shrinking by the day.
Spending all day doing unfulfilling work frustrated me to my core, but I could numb that frustration with a drink and get through it again the next day. I didn’t believe I was capable or worthy of creating a life I loved.
When I eliminated that drink after work, I had to sit with the frustration and decide if that’s how I wanted to keep living my life or if I wanted to take responsibility and change it.
I decided I would change it, and that’s how I’ve been living ever since.
I never wake up with a hangover. I don’t spend any money on alcohol. My fitness is better than it’s ever been. My body image changed for the better. I’m not mentally, emotionally, or physically sabotaging myself or my goals with alcohol. I never have to worry about getting a ride home or calling an Uber, because I can always drive. My skin is clearer than it’s ever been.
But most importantly, I know I’m moving forwards in life instead of backwards. I’m growing instead of staying the same and believing I’m meant to live a mediocre life. When I do something that scares me, my inner critic isn’t quite as loud. I’ve learned to control my ego instead of letting my ego control me.
It all started with me deciding I was ready for more in life. I was building momentum, but alcohol was a roadblock that I needed to remove instead of jump over.
Personal growth doesn’t happen all at once. And quite frankly, it never ends. It’s a path that I will follow forever.
I know I can’t predict the future, but I plan on never taking a sip of alcohol again. Sure, I could probably have a drink or two right now and not want more. I could probably have a drink with dinner and everything would be fine. But after all of the growth I’ve experienced in this past year, I’m not going to even consider opening that door.
The path ahead of me is completely unclear, but I know the path I want to follow has no room for drinks. Unless, of course, it’s a non-alcoholic beer from Gruvi!