There was a time that I was afraid to stop drinking. I was afraid that I would fail. I was scared about removing something from my life that had been a part of my life for over 30 years.
I thought drinking made me fun…so by quitting I would be boring. I would lose friends. Which in hindsight was crazy thinking since I drank at home, alone, for the last 15 or so years. I didn’t have friends…drinking friends or not. Sounds like the opposite of fun to me now.
In the beginning the thought that I would have to be ‘in recovery’ for the rest of my life was depressing and overwhelming. Was I always going to have to work so hard? Was whether or not I was drinking going to be my only real story? I now see recovery as a gift.
I am truly grateful for my recovery and being in recovery. I can now take a step back and list off things that without my recovery I wouldn’t have. Things I’ve gained. Things I’ve regained.
I can also step back and remind myself of the things I don’t miss about drinking. Here’s a few of them.
1️⃣ The hangovers. The bloody hangovers. This is probably the main thing we can all relate to and the first thing that comes to mind when someone asks you what you don’t miss about drinking. Peeling your eyelids open, the pounding headache, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, shakes, lack of energy. There was a time that was my everyday routine. I would either sleep the day away, finally starting to feel human again later in the afternoon…when I would start drinking again. Or I would have a couple shots early in the morning to help get me through the day. My motivation and productivity was at zero. I don’t miss the hangovers.
2️⃣ The blackouts. Waking up and checking my phone in fear…when I could find my phone. Who did I talk to? What did I say and do? Not having a conversation the next day because I very well already had the conversation the night before and don’t remember. Playing detective the next day. I was a blackout drinker from day 1. I don’t miss blacking out.
3️⃣ The anxiety, the shame and regret. 3:00 am was the worst. I would get up and drink…if I could find the bottle I hid…just so I could fall back asleep. I never really thought I had anxiety until I stopped drinking and it went away. I don’t miss not sleeping properly, I have never experienced sleep like I have since I quit drinking alcohol, it really is incredible. I don’t miss the anxiety, the shame and regret.
4️⃣ Apologizing…over and over…again and again. It’s true that action speaks louder than words. But I truly was sorry that I drank, again. I truly was sorry that I said I wouldn’t, but I did. I don’t miss sounding like a broken record with the apologies.
5️⃣ Always thinking about alcohol. I don’t miss thinking about alcohol all the time. Have I got enough? Should I go and get some more? What if it runs out? Is it too early in the morning to go buy more? The mental energy spent when drinking is exhausting. I don’t miss always thinking about alcohol.
6️⃣ The harm to my health and physical appearance. My skin looked like shat. I had bags under my eyes. I looked years older. I ate junk food in excess. I had high blood pressure. I couldn’t sleep. I had no energy. When you’re actively drinking you don’t necessarily realize the toll it’s taking on your body, or you just don’t care. But when you remove alcohol, it becomes pretty obvious how it was affecting you physically. I don’t miss harming my health and good looks. 😉
7️⃣ Disappointing the people I love, disappointing myself. Not to say that after ditching the booze I never disappointed the people I love or myself again. Because that is just not true. I am human after all. But I can say I stopped the groundhog days of doing it. And once I was able to let go of the shame I was able to believe that I am not a failure because of my failures. And I was able to start rebuilding relationships…the most important one being the one with myself. I don’t miss repeatedly letting those I love down.
There’s more I could add…but I’ll stop there. I feel the longer I am in recovery the longer my list will get. Some days it is easy. Other days I have to use more of my tools. It’s not saying no to alcohol, it’s saying yes to a better life. And there are wonderful things on the other side…you just have to trust yourself you CAN get there.
But it really is worth it.
Until next time, be well.
Kerri Mac 🤟🏼
I can get lost in it. It’s where I can recharge my soul. And it’s one of my most used tools in my recovery toolbox. I feel better when I spend time outdoors. And when you feel better you are less likely to ‘relapse’. BONUS!
One of the great things about nature is that it is EVERYWHERE. I think that’s important to remember…especially during times such as these…with so much quarantining and isolating. IT’S EVERYWHERE. We are spending so much time indoors and online, when nature can help our brains, our bodies and our recovery.
Just a few of the favorable rewards we can get from nature are:
- Being in nature reduces stress and anxiety!! Hell yes! Better than anything you can find in pill form! And free! Calming nature sounds (even outdoor silence) can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response.
- Find yourself feeling a little crabby and cantankerous? Get back to nature! Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy is showing a strong connection between the time we spend outdoors and our moods.
- You will see an increase in your focus, concentration and creativity…which in early sobriety, as your body adjusts to a life without alcohol, is common to see the opposite.
- You’ll see an improvement in your short term memory.
- Less loneliness and boredom….which can often be ‘relapse’ triggers.
One of my favorite things to do outdoors is Geocaching! Have you heard of it? It’s like a treasure hunt. 🧐🗺 And it’s worldwide. I try and do it on all my travels. One of the things I like most about it, other than I just find it a lot of fun, is that it helps me get out of my head and my thoughts. I’m just out in nature looking for that next smiley face. 😊 (If you’re a cacher too, you know what I mean.😉)
I also LOVE to hike.
My husband and I have 3 large rescue dogs…
Acelyn, Bobo and Noggin.
I call them my pound puppies.
When the weather allows it we
take them and go hiking every
Sunday we can.
There are tons of outdoor activities that will help you add a little more nature to your life. Some suggestions…
- Go for a walk, a bike ride
- Create a backyard garden.
- Find a quiet grassy hill, or bubbling brook, and meditate.
- Look up the local parks in your area…and visit them!
- Take a nap in the park.
- Skip rocks.
- Look under rocks.
- Go birdwatching! Another fav of mine that I’ll do for hours in the morning from my very own backyard. I live on a greenbelt and have a creek in my backyard…so LOTS of birds!
- Take up outdoor photography. (This is on my list!)
- Rock Climbing
- Solo backpacking or camping. (Also on my list!)
- Go look for wildflowers.
- Sit and listen to the wind in the trees.
- Find the end of a rainbow.
- Hug a tree! (Like my daughter and granddaughter are doing in this picture! 🤗🌲)
If you can't make it outside then try listening to nature sounds, not exactly
the same but it can have a similar effect.
I love this quote, by Eckhart Tolle, from Stillness Speaks.
“When walking or resting in nature, honor that realm by being there fully. Be still. Look. Listen. See how every animal and every plant is completely itself. Unlike humans, they have not split themselves in two. They do not live through mental images of themselves, so they do not need to be concerned with trying to protect and enhance those images. The deer is itself. The daffodil is itself.
All things in nature are not only one with themselves but also one with totality. They haven’t removed themselves from the fabric of the whole by claiming a separate existence: “me” and the rest of the universe.
The contemplation of nature can free you of that “me,” the great troublemaker.”
That last line nails it…”The contemplation of nature can free you of that “me,” the great troublemaker.”
“Free you of that “me.”
On top of all the benefits I listed above getting out and being one with nature can help you get out of your own head. To just be yourself.
Do as the deer and the daffodil, do.
I’d love to learn how you spend your time in nature. 💚
Until next time, be well.
Kerri Mac 🤟🏽