I last drank alcohol on Christmas Day, 2015. The following day, I sat at work with one of the worst psychological hangovers I’d ever had. Yes, I was also physically hungover. I was suffering from lack of sleep. I was shaky, dehydrated and on edge with a severe headache and extreme gut-rot. My emotional hangover was what was really killing me, though. So many times I’d tried to quit drinking. I had an impressive collection of reasons that supported my desire to eliminate alcohol from my life, but I kept failing and going back to the same old shit.
Alcohol made me feel like garbage. Looking back, drinking too much and too often was probably one of the main reasons I had depression off and on throughout my twenties. It was also the influence behind pretty much every bad decision I made from my mid-teens until the age of 30! Decisions that jeopardized my health, happiness, safety, finances and dignity. Whoa, this is getting dark!
People, myself previously included, love to say things like “oh what? you don’t drink more than anyone else I know!” or, “that’s so funny, don’t even worry about it, everyone does dumb shit when they’re drunk!“, or, a favourite, “if you have a problem, then so does everyone else I know!” I now know that trying to make someone feel better about their own unique situation with booze by playing it down is not helpful at ALL. These kind of consolations just postpone change. Rationalizing was one of my biggest problems…one of the things that kept me stuck for a long time.
So, anyways, I sat there on Boxing Day, 2015, mentally beating the shit out of myself because I had once again drank myself into a state of maximum anxiety, regret and self-disgust. I’d behaved like a fucking clown all day on Christmas, started a fight about I don’t even know what with my fiance (we are married now, I didn’t mess that up!) continued the fight once we got home from dinner, “slept” upstairs in a spare bedroom (by slept I mean passed out, as my booze-soaked turd of a body transitioned from drunk to hungover) and then came-to in the morning, feeling like the neediest chick on planet Earth who was shaking like a leaf and paler than a White Walker.
Was this the final straw? I had said it SO many times before. Many of us have. I bet you know what it is before you even read it…
“I’M NEVER DRINKING AGAIN.”
And then, have a caesar or a Bailey’s and coffee and roll with it for another day…or spend a day in bed in sweatpants watching Netflix and eating shit-food, telling yourself that this is normal, that everyone does it sometimes. Ya, some people do do that sometimes and it’s okay for them! But if you are relating to this you probably do it more often than you’re comfortable with and dislike how it affects you, and don’t want to justify it anymore. That’s a good thing to recognize.
Quitting drinking, for me, was a huge, highly involved process. If you know me personally, you know that any new venture I approach is precisely researched and then seriously invested in with most of my time, and lots of my money. I didn’t go about quitting drinking any differently. These are pieces of my process; some of the things that happened along the way. Some of it is pretty personal, but I don’t care. I knew if I wanted to stick with it once and for all, I had to constantly care and consistently commit. Some of this may seem a bit extreme, and possibly even make you laugh (it makes me laugh, looking back on some of it) but it’s how it happened and what it took for me to succeed so I wouldn’t change a thing!
I hope you’ll see that it is possible to be a non-drinker, if it’s something you are interested in, of course. I also hope you’ll see that the process is the opposite of easy or fast, but very worth it! I have thrown in my favourite sober quotes that I picked up along the way.
Saturday, December 26th, 2015
Decided that was it. I was becoming a non-drinker. Enrolled in Getting Unstuck, a six week online course that was starting on January 4th, created by Kate at The Sober School. (More later). I needed to hold myself accountable.
I signed up for the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 1st, 2016. The 18-week training program would need to commence on Monday. Hey, why not lay another super challenging endeavor on top of an attempt to go teetotal!? I guess I was looking to make drastic changes.
Once my depression subsided enough to think, I journalled like it was my last day on earth. I collected ideas about fun, non-alcoholic substitutes mainly for parties but also for at home. I placed an order on Amazon for $242.61 worth of Belvoir Fruit Farms fancy fruit cordials. LOL. Then I ordered another $100+ worth of some other syrups from SplitTree. I never drank cocktails so I have no clue why I thought I was going to become a mocktail master.
Continued by going to Safeway on the way home and buying what seemed like a lifetime supply of club soda, non-alcoholic beer, Bottle Green presse, lemons, limes, clamato juice, dealcoholized wine and anything else I found that wasn’t water and didn’t have booze in it. Half of this shit I’d never noticed before!
“you can’t just leave the house sober and hope for the best; you have to be armed…” – Sacha Z. Scoblic
December 26th, 2015
Started reading the Sober Journalist Blog, which was Kate from The Sober School‘s blog before she created The Sober School site. I read this blog beginning to end, then read it again. I studied it and made detailed notes.
I made a list of every single thing I recall that I’d ever done while drunk that made me feel negatively. It was a long list and I felt like shit making it and re-reading it, but it was like ammo for my mission.
December 27th, 2015
Continued Pinteresting like a fiend, pinning my favourite booze-free ideas for sangria, punch, mocktails, etc. Here’s a link to that page, I haven’t updated it or even consulted it any time recently, but it’s there when I need it and it’s great!
I also journaled for approximately 741 hours and continued to do this daily for about eight weeks straight. I kept journalling after that, just not as obsessively because it wasn’t as necessary once I got the hang of all this.
I celebrated having gone to a very fun annual Boxing Day party the night before and getting weird AF with my friend Robyn, drinking juice and soda out of red solo cups. Then I drove home. First win. This win was easy though. Because I still felt so terrible from the last episode, there was no way I was drinking alcohol at that party.
December 31st, 2015
My first sober NYE!! I drank soda with lemon at the first big event because the only other non-alcoholic options were pop. That place was too annoying for me because it was overcrowded and the drunk people were too much for me at this point. This was still brand new to me. I was out. I’d made a big jug of fancy, sparkly juice for any after-party we might go to, so when we decided to leave and go to a friend’s house I was set! Oh and I drove there AND HOME. And didn’t look like a train wreck in the photos from the end of the night!
January 1st, 2016
Ran the resolution run and felt like one million dollars.
January 4th, 2016
Made it to day 10. Previously, this was around where I’d decide that I was totally able to moderate alcohol consuption.
Started the Getting Unstuck course! When I first got obsessed with The Sober School website (during a previous attempt at becoming a non-drinker) this course was “coming soon” so I signed up to be notified once it materialized, and I ended up in the first-ever class! This online course was so incredibly helpful. The accountability alone was exactly what I needed, but the tools and new habits I learned for changing what I believed about alcohol were invaluable. You MUST check out Kate’s creation!!! Changing what we believe about booze and what it “does for us” is key if you want to get away from it, or cut down.
January 5th, 2016
Wrote a letter to myself that would be delivered in the future via email as a homework assignment for Getting Unstuck. I’ll share later.
January 8th, 2016
My first sober birthday! I turned 31! Well, the first one in like fifteen years…sad but true. I made a giant, fancy alcohol-free sangria for myself and it was amazing. I had a very good time, but was also relieved once all our friends left and it was bedtime. Going to bed when tired? What an idea. Some of my drunk friends liked the sangria so much they wanted some to mix with their vodka. It was obviously really good!
Note: one of my bestest friends brought me a 6-pack of non-alcoholic Becks. That’s a supportive friend. Thanks Jana.
January 16th, 2016
Ordered Sober is the New Black and The Sober Revolution: Women Calling Time on Wine O’Clock to add to my small but growing sober book collection! I treated these things like textbooks!! Neither of the above were that great, but still worth reading when you’re obsessed with focusing on the task at hand. All reminders, studying and learning helped me. Best book so far, Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z. Scoblic.
January 17th, 2016
Signed up for Belle’s 100 Day Sober Challenge. I learned about Belle’s site, tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com, from Kate. Check her out she’s amazing. I love the “Two Eiffel Towers” podcast. So funny.
“Being sober is easier than thinking about drinking.”
February 14th, 2016
Completed the Getting Unstuck course! All six weeks! Since I stopped drinking on Boxing day, this was now 51 days booze-free! I was in disbelief and never felt better or more proud of myself. I was starting to get the hang of it. Not drinking is pretty normal once you get over the belief that alcohol is required for fun.
One of the things that I was very aware of now: I now knew how to handle that window of time on a Friday after work where it feels like time for a drink to decompress from the week, or to get the weekend going. It used to be such an automatic association, but by now I had new ways of relaxing and transitioning.
February 15th, 2016
Received the email that I wrote to myself on January 5th, here it is!
The following is an e-mail from the past, composed on January 05, 2016. It is being delivered from the past through FutureMe.org
Dear radiant, well-rested, grounded Jamie!!
CONGRATULATIONS! you paid a significant fee for this course and actually STUCK TO IT! not that it’s about the money, but just saying, way to not waste it. Way to have the resolve to stay away from alcohol because it is not necessary, and give and receive support for 42 days with a group of strong, brave women from all over the world with similar goals.
How nice are you feeling, being migraine free for over 50 days now? Not having grey skin or unnecessary anxiety at work? How incredible is it to go to a party, enjoy yourself, AND drive your truck home safely (and legally)? No walking/running or getting a ride to your vehicle in the morning!..or afternoon..or a few days later even.
You must feel so fuckin fired up getting those Sunday long runs done with energy, a stable heart rate, and legs that feel strong and fit, not like lead. You also completed EIGHT 6am Buti Yoga classes with Karen since you went teetotal! You have completed your 500 RYT certificate because you have been so productive instead of a procrastinating sack of hangover!
The wedding planning must be coming along well, especially without silly drunk fights, as well as shitty moods due to impatience and sensitivity from alcohol.
You are doing this. You are experiencing a life you truly love without having alcohol in it. This is something to feel very proud of. Your chakras must be in line as fuck. Namaste!
February 16th, 2016
Signed up for Belle’s Sober Jumpstart Class (7 days) to keep the momentum going. There was no way I was going to allow myself to slip back into old habits now, after how much I had learned and 50+ days of success.
“Why not moderation? Moderation doesn’t work for people like us, plus we’ve tried that already.” – Belle Robertson
February 18th, 2016
Here is a random piece of an email to Belle..
It makes me pretty mad when people are like “haha ya right you quit drinking” or “until when? ” or “that’s lame” but I feel like now that I have some momentum and confidence in sobriety, I just stand my ground and tell them “no seriously, I quit drinking”. And then in my head I tell myself I’m unique and smart and a good role model for someone I might not even know yet, or ever.
Some people are really hard to tell though, like the in between bestest friends and acquaintances..like we know each other well but not close enough to have done things like hikes or movie nights or play on a sports team or anything sober, really. The people who all our encounters involved drinking. Those are the people hardest to tell. But my life doesn’t revolve around “going for drinks” anymore, which will naturally remove those kind of relationships from my life I guess, unless we can find other things we want to do together. Right? Is that how it works? We can go for dinner and not drink if we like each other enough. So many people I used to hang out with I don’t even know if I actually like anyway or if they like me, it was just people to drink with. That makes me feel ashamed of myself..
February 20th, 2016
here’s a piece of another email from Sober Jumpstart day 5
Oh my god. Most glorious experience last night. Driving home at 1am from a party where I shit you not, I drank about 6 liters of perrier with lemon and hibiscus syrup, I went through a road block and the cop asks me if I’ve been drinking and I told him
“No I have not, I actually haven’t had anything to drink for 8 weeks! 56 fucking days!”
And he said: WHY? He asked me why!!! Seriously police officer?? Before I could respond he looked at my ring and asked oh are you getting ready for your wedding?
I told him NO I am not not drinking because I’m getting married (WTF?) I’m not drinking because I don’t want to. And I’m training for a marathon. And I enjoy driving my own truck home from a party and not paying for a stinky ass rickety Skeena taxi.. And I hate feeling like shit. Bottom line I went through a road check and had no anxiety, and got to brag. Thanks for everything Belle.
I had a lot of fun, but what it did cumulutively to my life wasn’t worth it. – Toby Maguire
End of February 2016
Started listening to some of Belle’s sober audios on runs. Amazing. Try it. Or any podcast for that matter. Run, Selfie, Repeat?
Still viciously craving carbs. Apparently this can last up to sixty days, but my carb obsession has never subsided…maybe it’s because the kilometers keep increasing.
Ran my first 32km training run and couldn’t believe it. On a Saturday morning. Who is this person?
I like this new feeling of freedom
Got to 100 days on April 3rd 🙂 Decided to sign up to be sober penpals with Belle for the rest of the year. It’s good to have someone checking in on you, or someone to vent to! Like one time, a hipster gave me ginger beer that was supposed to be 0% but then I found out it MAY have been 2% or something, and I freaked out! But she told me that isn’t falling off the wagon, it has to be by personal choice.
from my journal on April 15th: “day 112, NBD!”
First sober camping trip! Did my final long run before race day on the Sunday of this trip! Sixteen kilometers on fresh, unfamiliar road with sheep and cows watching. In the past, I’d go on weekend trips intending to complete a training run, but NEVER EVER did.
May 1, 2016
Ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 1st. I had wanted to run a full marathon for years. This was the third marathon I’d registered for, but the only one I had actually run. I trained my ass off and couldn’t have done it if I were still drinking all the time because I didn’t prioritize health, training or resting enough to properly prepare to run 42.2km. I also think the training helped me not drink! It worked both ways. I just kept feeling healthier and more energetic along the way. It’s crazy the things on the to-do list that started getting ticked off my list. Alcohol really puts a damper on productivity!
May 12, 2016
Flew to Tulum, Mexico for my first ever real, booze-free vacation! I went to Amansala resort on a fitness retreat and did yoga, zumba, pilates, kick boxing, HIIT and ran for like, 6 hours a day, all day long for a week with a whole bunch of amazing ladies who I’d never met before. Oh, and relaxed too, hahah. We all became such good friends. The food was healthy, fresh and detoxy. The days started early with meditation in a sunny, yoga hut looking out at the ocean, and we went to bed early in our little treehouse-type of rooms!!!!
INSANELY AWESOME!!! This wasn’t a dry retreat, but it was for me. That being said, I think I saw a couple people have one margarita or pina colada over the course of the week. It was definitely about the company and activities and everyone was there for self-care. The Temazcal was one of my favourite things we did, and I remember thinking about how if the old me went in a sweat lodge, there would be alcohol coming out of my pores. I returned home from vacation for the first time (as an adult) feeling rejuvenated.
First sober Seafest! Partied my balls off (party = wear non-exercise clothes, some makeup, MAYBE brush hair, get weird, dance, laugh, give zero fucks) drinking O’Doul’s at the bar and someone said to my cousin, “Jamie’s really on step tonight!” and she informed them that I was double-fisting non-alcoholic beer! LOLOLOL. Stayed until the ugly-lights came on and drove myself home in my own vehicle, feeling anything but ugly!
Also, first sober Slo-Pitch tournament!! Was it as fun as drunk ones? Yup. Did I drink some O’Doul’s and fake wine out of the bottle? And twerk? Yup. Nothing was different except I didn’t feel like shit on Monday.
Another camping trip, this time with friends, not my whole family. It was just as fun as usual and I did all the same things plus more.
Got married to the love of my life. Was present for all of it. Didn’t look like a goblin in any of the photos after the ceremony due to getting pissed.
Ran my 30k training run on wedding day because I felt so fucking good. Didn’t have a hangover the next day. Survived what I had anticipated to be one of the biggest challenges that I would eventually face while learning to be a non-drinker, but it was easy because..
alcohol is NOT an essential part of life. And sobriety is not some parallel universe where all the rules are different and you have to do everything a completely different way. Sobriety is just your regular life… minus the doses of liquid poison 🙂 – Kate
Just went out to huzzie’s garage to grab a few sodas that I knew were out there…open the mini fridge, there’s a wide assortment of random ciders, craft beers, etc left behind from our wedding.
it’s so strange, like there’s no way in HELL I will drink, I am fully aware that I don’t realistically want to, won’t, should not, will not, can’t, not gonna happen, but I still walked out of the garage with my sodas and said to him as he was washing his truck
“I obviously am not going to, but I’d love to guzzle everyone one of those random drinks in there and get right pissed falling down drunk.”
I can laugh at this, being where I am, but seriously it’s just such a good reminder of the “drink now” voice and the tendencies people like us can have. Like omg drink IT ALL, but what happens when it’s all GONE?? then what? fuck it fuck it fuck the dinner plans, fuck the laundry and the early morning plans and the run tomorrow and all other commitments let’s just drink all the drinks!!!
I am so thankful that I will not go there. What a LAME place to go, that stupid careless place where nothing matters but getting drunk and laughing too loud and thinking I’m funny and such a star. NO THANK YOU!!!!!!!
It’s way easier to stay sober than to get sober!
Didn’t really think about drinking at all. Trained hard for the Victoria Marathon in October, got myself a shiny sixteen minute PR. Continued to train for the Dopey Challenge in Disneyworld in January. My energy levels were at an all time high and same with my ability to get shit done.
Stopped journalling about not drinking, it’s all shit about running after that!
First sober Halloween. I had so much fun making my costume, getting ready, going out, but the party wasn’t overly fun, so when I had enough I left and had a good sleep!
If you drink at a boring party, it just means you’re drunk at a boring party. – Kate
Here’s something that came up though. LOL. An email from Belle. Pretty sure this went out to over three thousand subscribers. TrixeeK is me, obviously. Trixie is from the movie Problem Child 2, and K is for Komadina, if you must know.
not everyone feels awesome,
but TrixeeK does…
from TrixeeK (day 331):
“hello from day 331! I was telling my friend about the “sober car” analogy and I suddenly really wanted to email you. My car is fucking RIPPING ahahaha seriously like a crazy driver! I can’t believe how natural it has become. But wait, actually, yes I can believe it.
I can believe it because of course it feels natural and amazing to never be hungover. To feel fresh as a fuckin daisy pretty much all the time and to never have that poisonous anxiety-guilt-nausea-low blood sugar-shaky hands feeling. GROSS.
I can’t believe I have enough momentum to feel super confident and not think twice speaking the sentence “I don’t drink.” So many people ask, will you drink again after one year? and the only thing I can think of to say is “why?”
By now I had my go-to party drinks, or things I liked to drink, if anything, while sitting around visiting at home with friends/family. It wasn’t something I had to think hard about anymore. I accepted that I didn’t usually feel like staying late, and that parties aren’t actually that fun sometimes. It all depends who is there and what is actually going on. A large majority of parties are just people standing around talking about nothing interesting.
Celebrated one year without any alcohol! I woke up on Christmas Day at Sparkling Hills Resort in Vernon where my husband and I spent Christmas Eve. I drank some dealcoholized wine in the biggest bathtub ever, ate good food, went in like twenty different saunas and felt amazing.
Alcohol isn’t some magic thing that bonds people together or seals friendships. Bonding with people is about listening, sharing, caring and connecting. Those things have nothing to do with booze. – Kate
Ended up at a house party at the exact same place as last year! I was excited to get ready to go out, like I used to, but without the wine in the bathroom with me. Once again, had a fun night with great people, ate spectacular appies, and went home when I felt like it. I drank sparkling water, juice, soda and fake wine because I like the taste. That’s the trick, drink stuff you actually like!
New Years Day 2017
My second non-hungover resolution run. So good.
Travelled to Orlando area and had the time of my life running every day at Disneyworld Marathon Weekend, ran my third and fastest marathon to date on my 32nd birthday, flew back to Vancouver and had a luxurious sleep at the Fairmont YVR. There’s no way in hell I could have trained for and run 78.3km in four days if I were still letting booze fuck up my health, motivation and goals. I also probably couldn’t have afforded that trip, since Disney races are expensive AF and the CAD exchange has been weak.
No thinking about drinking. Just running. Drinking, thinking about drinking, and being hungover takes up a lot of time. The amount of time I have now is crazy.
Ran marathon #4. Fully addicted and loving it. Did I replace my love of getting drunk with running? Possibly. I don’t know enough about psychology. But if that’s what happened, who cares?
I am a busier and more productive person now. Busy is good. I have hobbies and goals and interests and shit to do. I don’t have time to get drunk. I completed my first triathlon and loved it! New addiction? Probably. So I bought a road bike! We are getting ready to move to a new house and it’s disorganized and hectic, but I can handle it because I’m a way more patient person now, and I worry almost never.
I don’t think about alcohol anymore, really. It’s just not on my radar and not a thing in my life. Once in a very blue moon, if I’m caught off guard in a situation that used to involve heavy drinking, I’ll get a weird old habitual thought, just for a sec, like “I’d like to chug that mickey of fireball“, but then I’m like, wait a sec, that’s the worst idea ever. LOLOL. Cavities. Yummay.
I’m now a person who just doesn’t drink alcohol. It’s not a big deal. I filled my life up with way better shit than booze. Looking back, when I was obsessed with drinking my life was, in ways, very boring and basic, and full of mood swings or depression. I don’t care if it sounds cheesy, daily life has way more meaning now that it’s filled with a wider variety of activities, adventures and challenges.
I’m not trying to hustle you into sobriety nor am I judging anyone who drinks. I’m just saying that IF you find yourself where I did, it might make sense for you. If you’ve considered it but it seems impossible, it’s not. See. Email me if you want. And please, if you like what you read, hit share xoxo