Alcohol: just somebody that I used to know

Coming up on ONE THOUSAND days sober, I wanted to check in with my relationship with booze. Where are we at today?

It’s so crazy you guys. I fantasized about a time like now, way back when. So many of the times when I said “I’m never drinking again” I’d also imagine a future life that seemed unattainable. The life I was envisioning was one where I wasn’t letting alcohol make me feel, look and act shitty on the regular. There was none of the anxiety, depression, regret or guilt that stemmed from binge drinking and the behaviours that go hand-in-hand, during or after. I saw a vibrant, peaceful, fresh life where alcohol didn’t have a place. Out loud, I would test out what it felt like to say “I don’t drink“, but then I’d feel sad because I didn’t think it was possible to get to that place. But it is a place. It’s a thing. It’s awesome.

I don’t drink.

Guess what else? I don’t think about it much. That’s where me and Booze’s relationship is at. Like an ex who I’m truly over, or an old friend from the past who I’ve lost complete touch with. Or remember that cartoon Denver the Last Dinosaur? I think about drinking about as much as I think about Denver. That was random.

Never before has the name of the website tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com made so much sense. Even thinking about drinking was exhausting, and I can see that now that drinking isn’t a part of my life. Alcohol is not on my radar.

It took so much commitment, learning and change to get to this place, but it has happened. Just like a break-up with a human being, after I “dumped” booze, I had to make a ton of adjustments and reassess my time, what I did, who I spent time with, where I hung out, etc. Even after a year there were things I was still dealing with and working on. It wasn’t easy but now I find myself 965 days sober and the happiest I’ve ever been.

If you ever have the fantasy I used to have, about being able to say “I don’t drink” out loud and for it to be true, it can be and you can do it. Trust me. If I can, anyone can. I wish I had someone telling me that when I needed it, so I’m telling you in case you need to hear it!

#yodo

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3rd Sober May Long Weekend – 10 Observations!

I had a really good weekend and I hope you did, too. This year was my third go at May long weekend as a sober person. I was surprised that it still felt a bit foreign, but I’m okay with that. Prior to quitting drinking, long weekends usually left me completely exhausted, anxious and depressed. I always had a blast, but the aftermath was no longer worth it. It would take me days to get back to normal and I’d claim to never want to feel that way again. Then the next occasion would roll around and I’d do it all again. Let me tell you, if the after-effects of a long weekend are getting the best of you, it’s possible to partake without the booze. Here are ten awesome things I took note of over the course of my sober long weekend.

The weekend began stress-free

Back in the day, the preparation alone for a long weekend had me feeling strung out. How much booze would I need? Running out was unthinkable! Did I have enough drunk snacks to survive? How would my friends and I get to the parties we wanted to go to? No one could drive a vehicle safely, let alone legally, and most sensible people don’t really want to boat around the lake once it’s dark and everyone’s pissed. I’d be all wound up before even leaving town, ESPECIALLY if I was leaving later than some of my friends. PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE FUN WITHOUT ME!!!!

These days I feel no need to rush. As I’ve written about before, somehow booting alcohol out of my life eliminated FOMO. I hit the road after my morning run, when I was good and ready and didn’t even consider that I might “miss out on something” before I arrived. Oh, and I didn’t have to make that extra stop at the liquor store.

No self-inflicted malnutrition

Usually when I arrived at wherever we were celebrating Maylong, I’d start drinking beer immediately and that was more or less the only thing consumed for seventy-two hours, save for a couple smokies and maybe some Doritos. Now I care more about how I treat my body, plus there’s the simple fact that royally disrupting my general routine is a huge pain in the ass. No, I didn’t eat kale salads all weekend and take vitamins. But, I did make sure to eat some real food regularly amongst all the shitty snacks that I love more than anything.

Got up early

Not as early as at home in the regular routine, obviously, but early enough so that no part of the day is written off. In the past, my dried out eyeballs would open, I’d urgently search for anything non-alcoholic, chug it like nobody’s business, and then go back to “sleep”. By sleep, I mean roll around in a stinky, dehydrated state of discomfort, then finally emerge from the tent/trailer/cabin/lawn chair a while later, having wasted precious hours of my life. LOL.

Getting up early, whether it’s to go for a run, walk, swim, to resurrect the fire from the night before, or to just sit and enjoy a coffee, is awesome. Coffee. Yum. That leads me to the next one.

Enjoyed breakfast

This one I’ve talked about in many of my non-drinking posts. Drinking coffee and eating breakfast WITHOUT:

  • a screaming headache
  • symptoms of a peptic ulcer
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • diarrhea
  • shame from whatever (or whoever) you did the night before
  • sore teeth from sugary drinks

IS AMAZING.

No sore teeth!

Oh my God. Tooth decay, how I don’t miss you. I know I said I mostly drank beer, but on hot, sunny weekends everyone knows how easy the sugary coolers go down. When I think back to brushing my teeth the morning after drinking a case of Twisted Teas..I could cry.

loid

Never stranded

When not drinking you can drive wherever the fuck you wanna go whenever you want. No waiting (or begging) for a lift to the next party. No need to be annoying AF harassing other drunk people for unsafe, illegal rides in the dark in their vehicles or boats. Also, when FOMO isn’t a thing, sometimes there’s no need to go anywhere besides the fire you’re already sitting at. I loved that I could do what I wanted at any time because I was capable of driving my truck or anyone elses vehicle if necessary.

Didn’t skip any runs

Yeah, I know, I’m always training for something. But lots of other people also like to exercise on the regular, even if not prepping for some event or competition. When I was still partying I always had good intentions to do my planned runs when out of town for the weekend, but they rarely happened.

No, it’s not the end of the world to skip physical activity for a weekend. Duh. BUT, if you’re someone who gets home on the last day and feels extra shitty, physically and/or mentally because you didn’t sweat (on purpose) all weekend, then you will relate to this! For me, alcohol meant all accountability was out the window. Now, I get it done. Prioritizing a workout on a super fun day feels good and helps balance out all the chips and dip. I got in my Saturday, Sunday and Monday runs as planned, plus an extra-large sense of accomplishment.

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Ran on the beautiful path that I’d usually look at longingly on the way home, hungover as fuck.

I live at the end of the line, so when we go away for the weekend it’s always in the same direction, with the same drive home. There’s an awesome walking/biking path along the side of the highway as you head west out of Terrace called the Millennium Trail. I remember looking at it many times while on the way home from a party weekend and thinking, “I wish I didn’t feel like a bag of shit right now and was running on that path instead.” This year, I did. Fuck yeah. Drove home sweaty and stinky but who cares? Not me.

The night before going back to work didn’t suck

Soaking in hang-xiety and self-loathing all evening, looking in every cupboard for something salty to eat for a way-too-late “dinner”…that’s what the end of Maylong used to be like for me. Hahahaha. Sounds so funny but it’s true! Instead, I got a few groceries on the way home, did some laundry and went to bed at a legit time. And my sleep was good! Another thing I don’t miss: twitching all night in a cold sweat and waking up simply to power through the workday so I can go back to bed again.

Tuesday morning didn’t suck

See above. It’s already a short week, I don’t need it to be shorter because it’s taken two or three days to feel normal again. When I woke up this morning I was seriously grateful that I wasn’t starting the week ten steps behind. I hammered out my workout on the treadmill from Lifelong Endurance and went to work with a runner’s high instead of the old drinker’s low.

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I hope everyone’s weekend was safe and awesome. As I always say, there’s no judgement here towards anyone who got buck wild drunk all weekend! I think it’s good to celebrate life in any way that suits a person best! As they say these days, “you do you!” I’m just doing me, and sharing some observations about why not drinking works better for me now, just in case it’s helpful to anyone else! xo

Thanks for reading! If you like, please share 😉

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I quit drinking and discovered I’m an introvert.

My entire life I thought I was a straight-up social virtuoso. Fear of missing out plagued me any time I couldn’t attend a party, outing, get-together or weekend away. Any event that might involve alcohol I HAD to be part of.

Being someone who’s gone to school, plays sports, has had many jobs, including in the restaurant and bar industry, and who LOVED to drink, I know a shitload of people. Meeting people has always been easy for me and it still is, but keeping up with acquaintances and the social scene in general seems to have been mostly due to drinking.

Like it or not, alcohol is something that a majority of society has in common. It doesn’t matter if two people share the same hobbies, values or passions, it’s pretty easy to have a drink and small talk with almost anyone. I bet you can think of at least a few people you’ve shared an alcoholic beverage with who are SO random and you have zero things in common with, or maybe don’t even know anything about whatsoever. I can. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s funny and awesome and I am not judging it whatsoever. It’s just that when I eliminated alcohol, I eliminated that shared interest. The one thing I had in common with many people, places and situations changed and I had to re-evaluate how I enjoyed spending my time.

Introversion is not the same thing as being shy or having anxiety about social situations. I am still a friendly and outgoing person. I think I’m approachable. I love to talk about things (even feelings) with my close friends, family, husband and run buddies. Sometimes I’m a comedian. Public speaking and karaoke don’t scare me at ALL, and neither do group projects. I am not shy. Sometimes I go to running events that have thirty thousand participants and hang out with people I’ve never met before.

Introversion is a trait that can be described as more of a focus on internal thoughts and feelings than on external stimulation. This hits the nail on the head for where I’m at these days as a sober person. Being around lots of people in a loud or busy environment drains me and makes me feel agitated. I usually sneak away. Nowadays, I’d rather organize my compression socks by colour than go to most parties. Not pointing a finger at drinking parties, I’m talking about any moderately hectic social interaction that lasts more than two hours and doesn’t revolve around something personally fascinating. I’m not anti-social or a hermit, but unless it’s my super close friends getting together, or an activity I am passionate about, I’d just kinda rather do something alone or with my husband, who happens to be my best friend. Alcohol used to be my favourite reason to go out and do anything with a group, but not anymore.

Energized and recharged by solitude, that’s where I’m at. I never thought I’d say it until a couple years ago, but I LOVE being alone! Hiking, running, travelling, reading. When I was a big drinker, I didn’t know how to be alone. Maybe it was the hangover anxiety, or the fact that I didn’t know (or really like) myself at ALL and needed to be around others for distraction. It makes sense, since for a very long time I didn’t really have any specific hobbies besides partying, so when party time was over and I had to be by myself, I hated it. Now, when I go home after work on a Friday night, I am usually overjoyed to not go anywhere else hahaha. On my birthday I ran 33km by myself and then had an exercise party with twelve people and no liquor. If someone told me this in 2010 I’d be like WTF??

In my case, this transition to self-awareness and in turn, introversion, happened because I quit alcohol. Blaming booze isn’t something I’m into; personal responsibility is real and alcohol didn’t MAKE me do, or not do, anything. But I really did let it hold me back. Taking it away gave me the opportunity, finally, to get to know myself and learn what I’m actually like. Then it took some more time to get used to it, and to not judge myself for wanting to stay home on a Saturday night and read Descent into Madness: The Diary of a Killer in my bed, not even wondering what anyone else is up to. Can you guess what I did last night? LOL.

What I’ve gladly discovered is that as a sober person, I’m still outgoing, fun, brave and adventurous with a serious sense of humour. I’m still social too, but in different ways. On the other hand, though, I’ve also learned that I like having a handful of very close friends, versus that plus twenty groups of acquaintances. I’ve realized that I’m independent and self-aware. My preference is doing whatever the fuck I want, often alone, instead of trying to keep up with everyone else at all times. And as of recently, I’m totally okay with it 🙂

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One of the coolest things I’ve noticed since becoming a non-drinker

Hi! It’s August! WTF?

Where I live we haven’t had much of a summer so far. We don’t usually get a ton of warm and fabulous weather up here on the north coast of BC, but it looks like a streak of sunny days may have finally arrived! Ahhh get outside, ASAP!!

Driving to work today I was thinking about how I just had four days off and now it’s my turn to work the coming weekend, which happens to be August long weekend. Sigh. But, after the initial thought about this not being ideal, I started to observe the ways my feelings toward a situation like this one have shifted since I kicked booze out of my life. Let me explain.

A year and a half ago (or any time prior) if I discovered it were my turn to work over a long weekend I would become plagued with anxiety, victim-like thinking and FOMO. If you aren’t familiar, FOMO is the fear of missing out. In the past, in my opinion a party weekend was hands-down the best thing ever. Like, ever. Since getting drunk and wild was my favourite thing to do, as well as part of my identity, the thought of missing out was actually torture.

POOR ME!!! EVERYONE is going to have so much fun partying without me!! I’m going to miss out on all the craziness and the laughs and the drunk idiotic entertainment! This is unthinkable. What am I going to do? My friends are probably going to forget I exist!!! OMG. It’s so unfair that I have to work! I bet it’s going to be the MOST fun ever had on any weekend, EVER. Legendary memories will be made and I’ll be left out. If I can’t be with everyone, the long weekend should be cancelled!!!

I would feel some resentment towards my then-boyfriend and my friends for “leaving me behind” (lol) and then proceed to mope around, feel sorry for myself, whine about it and worry. Oh, but not without desperately trying to find others in the same “unbearable situation” as myself who might be staying around town and want to get together and “have so much fun” getting drunk while “everyone else” was at the lake, camping, festival-ing, etc. I confess that I’d even feel a little better when another person would tell me that they also had to work over the weekend. Misery loves company. What a dick I was!

Just too be clear, I’d prefer to be off this coming weekend. Duh haha. BUT, here are where things have changed:

First, for the record, if indeed completely free this weekend, I’d likely head to the lake and spend three days the way I prefer to lately, as a non-drinker. This is just a little different (but better) than the past. There is all the usual stuff but with a sober twist. Boating, possibly quadding, fires, maybe some bocce (all more safe and more memorable), going to bed at a reasonable hour in our trailer, which is SO comfortable and peaceful (when one can remember doing so)..then, my Saturday long run wouldn’t suck, because of the absence of cotton-mouth and a raging headache. I’d get back at the time most others wake up, so no missing out on breakfast! Coffee tastes amazing because it doesn’t feel like I beer-bonged hydrochloric acid the night before. The rest of the day in the sun is perfect, because I am not disgustingly dehydrated and don’t have a stomachache or migraine while ripping around in the boat or laying in the heat on the dock. Not forgetting to eat lunch is also great. Sober weekends, holy shit. Unreal. Glad I discovered them when I did, and not later!

So, wait. If I still love a good weekend as much or more than I did when I was a piss-tank, why am I not sad about missing out? First: with some sober experience under my belt, I no longer consider the only way to have fun as drinking a shit-ton of beer and fireball. Second: after I personally realized that there is a plethora of ways to connect with others, nature and myself DAILY that don’t revolve around drinking, I simply stopped caring about missing out on a long weekend or party here and there. Who cares? Try asking yourself that, it’s crazy. “Who cares?” I can extract the same satisfaction and other good feelings from almost any day of this life, it turns out! Who knew?

Day-to-day life without alcohol is filled with so much more energy, motivation and awareness that I don’t really give a shit if it’s a three-day-weekend or a weekday of work. Every day seems to offer me the same opportunity to feel good and capitalize on my free time, however much or little there happens to be. Life isn’t filled with such extreme highs and lows anymore. I don’t plod along waiting for the next super fun party, event or vacation. Having, for example, approximately four hours before and after work to make the most of, is fantastic and I look forward to those windows of time now just as much as I look forward to a full day off. Maybe it’s because I’m more present? Have more clarity? Anyways. A run before work in the sun (or the rain!) when the roads are empty because everyone else is out of town or still sleeping is just as serene as a run on any other day in any given place. And coffee at my kitchen table without a hangover is equally as peaceful as coffee on the porch at the cabin or by the campfire. In my right mind, I know that being away from my crew for one fun weekend isn’t going to result in anyone forgetting about my friendship or our future plans. It also doesn’t mean I won’t have my own amazing weekend!

I’ve come to find, and apparently other sober people I know have similarily discovered, that FOMO becomes minimal if not non-existent when a person takes away the blur of booze and begins to connect in more ways with the wide-spread opportunities of daily life around them. I love fun shit and I love fun people. I guess I just gave myself the chance to learn that my spectrum of fun is far more broad than I ever thought it might be. My appreciation for an hour of free-time now compares with a glorious, responsibility-free long weekend. Quitting drinking happens to be what changed my perspective.

So yeah. Removed booze from life – discovered that pretty much all days are great and have equal potential for good times –  noticed that FOMO isn’t real. Cool!

Of course I’d love to be off this weekend. Hell, I’d retire if I could! Gahaha. Do I predict a lame weekend? Absolutely not! I predict the exact opposite! Will I suffer from the depressing effects of the fear of missing out? Hell no. FOMO isn’t real unless you believe in it. Bring on sunny mornings, way too much coffee, relaxing evenings, sunsets and maybe a random unexpected adventure. Life is fuckin gooooooood.

@jammiekomadina

 

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

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