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9 Hard-Earned Lessons From 365 Days of Sobriety

Yet even as the music changed, the clothes changed, and the community grew, my habits stayed with me wherever I went. I’m not even questioning it, just upgrading what I consume based on my age: a few cans of cider for a few bottles of wine, this for that. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but all of a sudden I couldn’t live without the fore drink alone or the back drink alone, and of course all the drinks in between. I can’t seem to socialize on any level — date, sex, gig — without, if not being totally drunk, then teetering on the edge of it. I’m always sick and always blue. However, I didn’t connect the dots. I don’t have a vocabulary yet. No one used words like “anxiety” back then, and only people on American sitcoms or Holland Park would do therapy.

Fundamentally, my drinking is a disappearing act. While my drunk image rushed forward, my real self would recoil. Sure, I’m spontaneous, but I’m also aggressive and prone to outbursts. I was funny, sure, but I was also dangerously sloppy, passing out in a taxi and waking up with cuts and bruises and vomiting on my best shoes.

When I turned around 36, the lights were on, but I didn’t know how to leave the party. It took two years of false starts to find myself on the real start. There was a time when I would celebrate the end of each one- to two-month “dry” period with unprecedented outbursts before giving up again, which kept me in low-level depression. The hangover cycle took all my energy, time and space. At 38, I know it’s over – I’ve had enough – but can I really change?

Somehow, I’ve come to believe that my curiosity will eventually win out, because I really want to know: what’s next? What happens after drinking? What else is out there, or inside me? What would happen if I stopped avoiding, postponing, beating myself up and actually letting go of the past? Getting sober freed me from a decade-long stigma of talking about my time in the music industry. When you let go of things like this, your inner space opens up because the same dusty, warning narrative is no longer there.

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