I don’t allow Alcohol to steal these 4 things from me anymore!

Coming up on FIVE HUNDRED days of booze-free living, I’ve been thinking about the big picture. This is how it is now; this is my life. I no longer worry about what I’ll tell people who ask “why aren’t you drinking??” because I own it now. I’m comfortable and proud of my non-drinker status. I don’t wonder if a social event or adventure might be “lame” the way I used to, because I’ve learned that life is awesome because of what we do, who we are with and where, not because of alcohol! But, even though sober living is pretty much second nature now and no longer something I need to dedicate all my focus and discipline towards, I still reflect regularly on the things that are SO much better after kicking alcohol out of my life. The improvements are so apparent and I notice all the time.

It’s likely I’ll say something along these lines every time I write about sober stuff: I’m not a hater. I don’t judge other people for drinking alcohol, and I FULLY understand that for many people, a negative relationship with booze isn’t a thing. It is, however, definitely a thing for me (and many others) and posts like this one are simply observations of my personal experiences that I think someone out there may relate to.

Even though it’s getting close to a year and a half of sobriety, I need to tell you that not a day goes by where I don’t, at some point, appreciate the positive differences I experience from it. This shit does not get old haha. Booze can be a thief! Here are the four big things I no longer allow alcohol to steal from me.

 

Order!

Order. Structure. Plans. Time management. Harmony. Call it what you wanna call it (I know you’re singing Xzibit right now, LOL) but alcohol has a way of really screwing up the manageability of life. If I was drunk, I didn’t care about my to-do list. If I was hungover, I also didn’t care about my to-do list. Or, I did care but was too tired or sick (or both) to get anything done, and then felt guilty and overwhelmed from procrastinating. Once in a while, I’d do the thing where one powers through the hangover and tries to get on with life as usual, but my brain sounded like a bee hive and I felt like a space cadet. Even a couple of beers or glasses of wine, for me, could lead to things like not having a lunch for work, overspending if I was out, letting laundry get out of control and having no clean work clothes, just to name a few things. Maybe sleeping in a bit because I went to bed later than usual, therefore sacrificing a planned morning workout and then trying to squeeze it into the schedule later or another day, which never, ever happened. It all sounds petty but then it adds up and it’s like life-anarchy!

How likely is it that you’d complete any of these not-super-exciting, time consuming tasks when you’re buzzed, drunk, or anywhere from mildly tired and dehydrated to fully hungover? Be honest. Make a doctor’s appointment, bank, shave your legs or face, get groceries, wash the vehicle, meal-prep, return a purchase, vacuum, do the recycling, mow the lawn, clean the house, change the cat litter, scoop dog shit in the yard, mail a birthday card, do laundry, check emails, finish an assignment, deal with the weekend’s camping gear, walk your pet, study, drop off old clothes to the Sally, blah blah blah! Sorry, that was a long list! But yeah, not very likely!

I am very supportive of a YOLO mindset, don’t get me wrong, but no longer when it creates mayhem in daily life, or when it sacrifices relationships or health. Removing booze from my life has created so much order! Of course there are rushed mornings or evenings I eat dinner at 9pm, but generally everything feels managable because shit is always getting done and I’m pretty organized. Procrastination is at an all-time low! Now, I have soooooo much more time for what I want because I’m never drunk, half-drunk, thinking about getting drunk, passed out, tired and dehydrated with a foggy head, or spinning with nausea and anxiety wishing I hadn’t got drunk. In my experience, sober = efficient!!

 

Ambition!

Ambition. Noun. Strong desire for success, big or small.

Alcohol can steal ambition and it most definitely inhibited mine. It can totally destroy the will to achieve. I know that sounds kind of intense, but seriously. Booze blurs the lines of reality and that’s why it’s so easy to adopt the “f*ck it” attitude when drinking regularly. Ambition is necessary to do anything that takes effort over a period of time. It is also necessary to COMPLETE projects. To care about our health. To care about the success of our community and to be involved. To simply give a shit about more than just our obvious priorities. It can also diminish the initiative to create new habits, like waking up earlier or getting into a new activity. Even to make plans and stick to them. Lastly, it can make things like setting huge, life changing goals like starting a business or running a marathon seem “too hard” and not worth the required effort.

Drinking too often makes everything fuzzy and it’s kind of like this weird comfort zone where everything just feels okay or fine. Making changes or taking initiative can simply feel like too much effort. I’ve come to find that I don’t want okay. I want awesome! Not to just float through life, but to live it with intention. And not just regarding big, cool types of successes, I mean in daily life! Being stoked and motivated feels so much better to me than just feeling MEH and coasting along.

 

Time

Time! This ties directly into the first part regarding order. I can’t even begin to tell you how much time I have to do whatever I want with now that I don’t waste it all NOT DOING ANYTHING.

Please, do not get me wrong, I am not telling you that I quit drinking and became this dull robot who only does errands, chores, exercise, eats and sleeps. I love my times with my friends where we hang on the couch and laugh and do nothing but eat junk and be weird, or go out for epic meal time and then lay around being too full to do anything but go on Instagram. When I say I wasted time in my past “doing nothing” I am talking about things like wasted Sundays in bed dying and not seeing the light of day, or a not-even-special wing night gone wild, resulting in skipping all the things I was supposed to get done between dinner and bedtime AND my next morning’s run. Having a great time at softball, but leaving half-cut and not being able to do anything productive afterwards, including drive my own vehicle which is necessary for a lot of shit! That kind of thing.

Thinking about drinking, drinking and the big one: the aftermath of drinking, wastes a hell of a lot of time! Now I have lots of extra. It’s fucking glorious.

 

Sense of Peace

HAHA that sounds so corny. But for real. If you take away the feelings that alcohol has the ability to create, like anxiety, exhaustion, dehydration, guilt and the secondary results like feeling rushed, disorganized, on edge and simply like you CAN’T EVEN, then all that’s left, really, is feeling grounded with a clear head to deal with more important things.

The main things that come to mind when I think about what robs me of feeling peaceful are (in no particular order) an over-packed schedule, a surplus of dirty laundry, no groceries, lack of sleep, lack of physical activity and the inability to concentrate. Interesting that these things aren’t common in my life anymore now that alcohol has been given the boot.

I took away the source of all my complaints. Too busy. Too tired. Too lazy. “Trying to save money.” Life is challenging enough as it is, and now that I don’t lay chaos and overwhelm on top of it constantly, I feel much more at ease and satisfied on a regular basis.

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So, there you have it. Four hundred and ninety-seven days gone by and I’m not dying for a beer. I have zero use for alcohol anymore. If you feel like you’re letting booze F up your life in big ways, or in small ways that are snowballing, I am living proof that you can break up with it and not get back together! Aahahaha. Email me if you want!

 

@jammiekomadina

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My Interview with Kate from The Sober School <3

In early 2016, I was amongst the first group of students to complete an online course created by Kate, creator of The Sober School, called Getting Unstuck.  I’ve mentioned this course before, and The Sober School and Kate, and how much participating in the program helped me when I decided I didn’t want to drink alcohol anymore.

There are now multiple groups of people who have completed this course and Kate is really on a roll with her program, it’s amazing!!! She is adding a mini interview series to the Getting Unstuck course. Every Sunday, part of the lesson will involve an interview with a graduate of the course, talking about their experience of sobriety. I feel really proud that she picked me as one of the people to interview and it was really interesting answering the questions. Revisiting this stuff was pretty cool after almost 500 days! Here’s what we talked about.

This is Kate!

Kate: How were you feeling about your drinking before you joined the course, and what made you decide it was time to stop?

Jamie: “Before joining the Getting Unstuck course, I felt like I had serious issues with alcohol and I was stuck in a vicious cycle that I wanted to break for a really long time. Over ten years. When I drank I’d adopt a “YOLO, who f*ckin cares” attitude and disregard everything: next-day responsibilities, money, my physical and mental health, relationships with friends, family and significant other. Priorities temporarily didn’t exist. I also had a lot of friendships that weren’t really based on anything except drinking.

Then, when I wasn’t drunk anymore I’d be totally swallowed up by loneliness because a lot of the “fun” I’d been having was fake. I’d experience extreme guilt, anxiety, depression and shame and reality would set in and those priorities that went out the window mattered again, and my life would feel out of control. I would have physical symptoms like nausea, shakiness, acid reflux, dizziness, low blood sugar, irritability, etc and I would tell myself I had to stop treating my body and mind this way. I felt needy and paranoid about the tiniest things when I was hungover and I would research how to quit drinking all the time but never found anything relatable until I found Kate’s blog.

I knew it was time to stop for a long time, but then I basically wrecked Christmas and had to sit and deal with myself for 8 hours at work on Boxing Day and it was actual torture. I finally decided enough was enough and took some action.”

Kate: What was early sobriety like? How did you feel during the first month or so?

Jamie: “At first I was obsessed. I’m like that though, I usually approach new things 100%, not sure if that’s healthy or not, but whatever, it was the way I knew I could succeed. I read Kate and Belle’s blogs all day, every day when I wasn’t busy doing other things, and I went on Amazon and bought a bunch of books. I also went out and did a big grocery shop to stock my new non-alcoholic beverage cabinet at our house. I read every article I could find about non-alcoholic drinks and I was meticulous about planning out the social events I was going to go to and what I’d bring with me to drink. Non-alcoholic beer was pretty much my saviour. I went out sometimes, but I usually went home early when I was feeling awkward or annoyed by drunk people, or if I noticed that the situation was genuinely not that fun..which I’ve found happens a lot!

I made sure my now-husband knew how serious I was about this sober mission. It helped that I simultaneously started training for my first full marathon and I used that as a way to get people off my back when they’d ask why I wasn’t drinking. The first month or so it was a project that I was fully engaged in and committed to. I had to be excited about it or it would be a chore and I’d have failed like I did a hundred times before. Every time I arrived home sober it was a win. And every morning I woke up without a hangover was one too. Once it became more natural, it was a little anti-climactic because I no longer had to focus all my energy on being sober. I had gained some momentum. But I adapted, obviously,, and transferred my focus to the bigger picture of my life and what I wanted to do with it. Hands down, planning what to drink instead of booze was the number one thing that helped me at first and still does.”

Kate: What’s life like now?! What do you love most about alcohol-free living?

Jamie: “Now, I feel like my life is what I wanted it to be like before I quit booze. It’s what I was looking for but never found long-term. I would drink for all sorts of reasons that I didn’t recognize at the time, like to feel confident, free, alive, pumped up, to “give zero f*cks”, be funny, social, etc. Once I figured out that I didn’t need liquor for any of those things it was like a light bulb went on.

Everything is more authentic now. I hang out with people I can have good conversations with, I do my favourite things with a clear head and not feeling like shit, and I’m generally just a way more efficient person with way more time and money. What I love most for sure is that I never ever feel guilty and depressed about being irresponsible the night before and spending too much money and treating my body like a garbage can. And I feel like I’m way more grounded. Life is just really good.”

Kate: What sober tools are in your toolbox? How do you deal with emotions or situations that you might have previously drunk over?

Jamie: “The most important tool I learned is playing out the situation to the end when I feel like drinking. Asking myself, “do you really want to wake up tomorrow dehydrated with all your makeup still on and a smaller bank account, a migraine, nausea, the shakes and on the verge of an anxiety attack all day long?” NO, I don’t. My other tools are non-alcoholic beer and virgin Caesars as my go-to drinks, or soda with lemon. Drink something you like! Another tool is I buy something I want and then remind myself: this costs the same amount as a night out back in the day, but this is useful and will last – not get guzzled away. Rewards are important. It’s also really fun to get ready to go out and wear something new and remind myself that I’ll look healthy, happy and my makeup will be good the whole evening instead of gradually getting smudgy, getting a red face, wine lips and droopy eyes and looking like a trainwreck by midnight and possibly embarrass myself or do something I’ll regret.

When it comes to emotions, I no longer have such extreme emotional experiences as I used to when I was drinking all the time. I feel more grounded and resilient as a whole. But when I do have a shit day or something stressful or overwhelming is happening, I usually just go for a run or have a nap or talk about it with a friend or my husband. Getting drunk and postponing dealing with things is WAY worse than just taking a deep breath and handling it head-on and in my right mind.”

Kate: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to deal with since you stopped drinking? How did you overcome it?

Jamie: “The biggest challenge was initiating the decision and sticking to it at the beginning. Change is really hard. That involved learning about why I thought I wanted/needed to drink.  Nowadays, very rarely, when it randomly feels like summer or I smell campfire and get caught off guard, I get a random urge to start day drinking or “get f*cked up” but then I think rationally about it and I’m like wait, that’s just an old reflex, no I don’t. Gaining momentum at the begining was hard because it was new and different. People question you. I still question myself. Occasionally I have moments where I think, am I missing out and being antisocial because I’m chilling at home on this particular Saturday night?? I have felt unsure and sad for a split second, but then I remind myself of how good my life is and I get over that moment of uncertainty. I socialize in tons of other ways and I still go to parties when I feel like it!

These days I don’t really feel like there are many challenges. It’s simple now because it makes sense. I don’t enjoy feeling like shit! Sobriety is like a secret weapon that makes my life amazing and no one can take it away from me. When people ask me if I’ll ever drink again, I don’t even think twice about saying no. It actually makes zero sense to me now, to drink alcohol. It serves me in zero ways.”

Kate: Tell us about something wonderful that would never have happened if you’d still been drinking!

Jamie: “I wouldn’t have run 3 full marathons (so far!) and be training for my 4th with the goal of breaking 4 hours this time! I wouldn’t have the healthiest, most amazing marriage I can imagine. I wouldn’t have a life that feels good, manageable and organized the majority of the time. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be a role model for other people who are or were in my previous situation. OH and I wouldn’t have taken my best 2 vacations of my life so far; a week long health retreat in the Mayan Riviera, and Walt Disney Marathon Weekend in Florida.”

Kate: Do you have any tips or advice for people taking the Getting Unstuck course right now? What do you wish you’d known, when you were on the course?

Jamie: “My advice is to commit to it fully and even if one of the exercises or discussions doesn’t feel important or relevant to you, just go with it because it’s all valuable. What I wish I’d known when I was doing the course was that one day I’d be proud of what I was doing, and not unsure and embarrassed. But all of that comes in time.”

Kate: a few quick-fire questions:

My favourite sober book is…”Unwasted – My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z. Scoblic”

My favourite quote is … “always changing, but I love quotes about running from amazing female elite marathoners like Kara Goucher, Deena Kastor, Shalane Flanagan, Paula Radcliffe, etc”

My favourite alcohol-free drink is…. “Virgin Caesars and fake beer! Ginger beer too, and a super easy one is soda with lemon.”

My favourite sober treat is … “online shopping for running gear, fancy baths with candles and essential oils and a good book or Instagram, going on running trips to out of town races!”

🙂

 

WOW!! I loved answering these questions and being so sure about my answers. I remember sitting at work on Boxing Day 2015 wishing that I could fast-forward to a time where everything felt better and I felt healthy and grounded. In about a month it will have been 500 days since I had any alcohol at all, and it seems to have flown by, looking back. If you relate to anything you’ve read here, I encourage you to check out Kate’s website, The Sober School. It is awesome. And if you have any questions or need a hand, contact me!

@jammiekomadina

Sober Project Update: How I get buzzed lately. (I haven’t had alcohol in 444 days).

It makes me sad when I think about the fact that for fifteen years of my life I incorporated alcohol into as many situations as possible, no matter what I was doing or who I was with. This is not an exaggeration. Don’t worry, then I get really happy because it’s not like that anymore. I try all the time to understand why I (and bazillions of others,) feel like alcohol is essential for a good time, or even an “alright” time. It’s so fucked up.

Living is how we learn things about the world and about ourselves, and we all do it at different times and rates and in different orders, but now that I’ve had a significant time away from booze and can see that I used it to blur the lines of life for so long, I have a new perspective and I’m just sharing a piece of it with you in case it’s helpful in any way. I’m not an alcohol hater and I’m not trying to preach, just sharing.

Before I began the sober project at the end of 2015, I didn’t really know I was doing it but I was constantly trying to use booze to feel more confident, care-free, relaxed, funny, adventurous or warm and fuzzy, just to name a few feelings that we are socialized to believe alcohol provides, or enhances. Why? I either didn’t have the personal resources to create those feelings on my own, at the time, or it could just be that I never tried! Drinking, I felt, was fully required to enjoy, succeed at or simply handle:

  • basically any meal with friends, family, acquaintances or strangers
  • work functions
  • meeting new people
  • a day off
  • bike riding
  • catching up with someone
  • time spent at the beach
  • cooking
  • shopping
  • casual walks or exploring
  • campfires
  • flirting, dating, romantic experiences
  • coping with loss
  • being the passenger on a road trip
  • winding down or de-stressing after work
  • boredom
  • watching TV shows, movies or sports
  • playing softball
  • golfing (yes, I’ve golfed a little)
  • riding a bus, train, ferry or plane
  • holding conversation at social functions with people I had nothing in common with
  • cleaning the house
  • enjoying a bath (or sometimes shower)

Okay, that is like the longest list ever. It’s SO EMBARRASSING!!!! (my opinion). I feel like I could sum up it all up by saying something like,

“hello! I have no real hobbies, interests or passions and I’m so uncomfortable in my own skin/head that I partially numb myself to all experiences! I also don’t like my friends or family (or myself) enough to enjoy spending time with them in my right mind!”

HAHAH like wtf!? Okay that’s an extreme statement and I’ll stop being mean to myself now, because that’s not cool. I was just trying to make a point. Most of the things on the list above are really fun, if you actually like the task or activity at hand, the people you’re with, you are in the right mood and have an open mind. It’s so simple now that I have a new frame of reference. Alcohol was decreasing the authenticity of all my experiences and therefore my life as a whole, as well as my future. For real. I feel like I’ve made the discovery of a lifetime!

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Kate is right!

I don’t care if you think this is corny or me attempting to stick up for sobriety because it has a bad rap for being boring and lame. Additionally, I understand that many people do not have issues with alcohol and everything I’m saying might be making you raise your eyebrows. This is just my experience, but the feedback I’ve gotten from previous posts about my counterproductive relationship with booze tells me that I’m not the only person who feels this way about alcohol. So back to the point. Now, I get a buzz by actually fuckin experiencing things in the raw. Undisguised, intense and unedited real-life shit!

Legit conversations with people I like and who I find interesting, vs. what I used to do at social events which was make small talk with anyone and everyone, as many of us created a false sense of camaraderie around drinking alcohol. Instead of sleeping in and feeling like shit, getting up before it’s light out to run, get fresh air, maybe see the sunrise and sweat my balls off with my friends before half the time zone has even woken up. Laughing at seriously funny shit and remembering it clearly later. Being by the ocean, on the lake or up a mountain, and fully experiencing my surroundings instead of chugging fireball and being half checked-out of the moment. Feeling fresh, happy and energetic in the morning, ready to start an awesome day because I don’t have a dehydration headache and I washed off my makeup before bed. Getting to enjoy a coffee with my amazing husband, hangover-free. There is way too much to go on and on about here!

For far too long I made the mistake of believing that booze made things more intense. Woooo let’s get pissed and have the best time! Wrong. Not drinking intensified everything in my life and it’s indescribable. Events, emotions, relationships. Not every intensified feeling is positive, don’t be fooled, but even facing shitty stuff head-on and coming out on the other side unscathed with some new wisdom and no hangover is pretty sick.

So that’s my non-drinking update. Yes, it’s stil going really well, and yes, I’d recommend it. No, I don’t miss having drinks, and no, I’m probably not going to ever drink again. My life is better and more fun and exciting than ever before. Okay, and I’m so sober right now and overwhelmed by how happy I am, I’m like crying. That’s some intense shit man ahahahahah ✌✌