Timeline of a farewell to booze: Day 1 until Today!

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?

March 2016

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

April 2016

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!!!!

view from me and Meg’s room!

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.

June 2016

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.

August 2016

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

September 2016

Interesting email:

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!

Fall 2016

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?”

Christmas 2016

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

NYE 2016

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.

January 2017

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.

Spring 2017

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?

June 2017

Marathon #5

Summer 2017

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.

Today

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

@jammiekomadina

trixie

 

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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 ✌✌

What do I drink, then? What do I do at parties??

One of the best things I learned from Kate at The Sober School was how important it is to drink something that you actually like when trying to avoid booze. Whether you’re wanting to take a break from alcohol or get away from it altogether, it’s hard, especially at social events because of the way our society celebrates alcohol like it’s the crucial factor for having fun.

A party or event is usually some kind of celebration and drinking a plain glass of water doesn’t help anyone feel like they’re celebrating. For lots of us, going out and not drinking is like going to another planet. Standing around holding nothing or that boring-ass glass of water is just going to make you feel left out and awkward, plus it increases the chances of super annoying questions like, “What the? Is that water?” or “what are you pregnant or something?

I realize that what other people think doesn’t matter, but give yourself a break. If you decide you want to hit up a party or event and not drink, bring something else you look forward to having. It’s a game-changer; I speak from experience. Again, it’s not about what the other people are asking, thinking or wondering, anyway. It’s about you being able to hang out with your friends, acquaintances and new people and enjoy your “special” drink just like everyone else is without feeling like you’re missing out on something, or like you have “I’M NOT DRINKING” written on your forehead in black marker. Quitting or taking a break from alcohol doesn’t mean you need to hide in your house. I’m not saying it’s easy, especially at first, but here are ten ideas for you when you go out to a house party, the bar or even just out for dinner.

1. The Red Solo Cup

There are drinking songs about them, they are used for Beer Pong and Flip Cup, and they are sitting in a stack on the counter at most parties and functions. Contrary to popular belief, they are not just for beer and highballs. Grab one and fill it up with whatever the hell you want! One time at a friend’s annual Boxing Day party, myself and my equally weird friend drank juice and club soda all night long in red cups and lots of people thought we were pissed. LOL. Nope, just gettin weird and having a good time because it was an actual fun party with sweet people and the appy table of the year. When drunk people started close-talking and repeating their stories, I drove myself home instead of waiting for (and paying for) a cab during Christmas party season.

2. Booze-free Sangria

I made a REALLY good batch of this on my 31st birthday at our place when I was two weeks into the non-drinking project. It was so good that other people wanted some. They may have added vodka, but that’s not the point. It was really good, felt fancy and like something the token birthday girl might want on a special day. That sounds really corny but you know I’m right about wanting something unique to drink on a special occasion. I don’t remember the exact recipe but I used a bottle of dealcoholized red wine (grocery store) a big batch of cold black tea, a bit of Sprite and then added oranges, lemons, limes and strawberries, all in a giant bowl with a ladel. Served in a fancy glass, of course.

3. Wine Glass

Even plain water feels cool in one of these. Or, fill it with flavoured sparkling water and berries, limes or cucumber slices. Whatever you pick, it’s more fun than a regular glass of anything and it looks like a cocktail, which can be helpful for warding off the annoying questions.

4. Non-alcoholic Beer

There are some really good non-alcoholic beers and lots of them don’t have “NON-ALCOHOLIC” across the label in huge red letters. I love the taste of beer, that’s why I like drinking these! You can buy them at the grocery store, if you’re wondering. Last year during Seafest (biggest party weekend of the year where I live) someone said to my cousin, “whoa, look at Jamie, she’s really on step tonight!” i.e. they thought I was drunk. If they looked closer, I was actually double-fisting O’Doul’s because someone bought me another one before I’d finished mine, and I was having a blast because most of my favourite people were there, the music was good and the night was just genuinely fun. But remember from the 373 days of non-drinking post, alcohol is generally a not-that-great tasting beverage that people drink for other reasons. So drink whatever it is that you actually like the taste of and if that’s beer, then fake beer might be the perfect option for you.

5. “Vodka Soda without the Vodka”

My best friend has a very funny way of describing and explaining things. One time back in the day when we were being drunk loons at the cabin, one of the many quotes in our weekend collection was “I made a vodka soda but forgot the vodka!” We thought it was hilarious (it is) but it’s also genius hahaha! I personally love soda, it’s like chugging Coca-Cola but without eight billion grams of sugar. Put some limes (or lemons or grapefruit slices or raspberries, whatever you want) in there and you have your Vodka Soda without the Vodka. Who knew.

6. Homemade Iced-Tea

When I was younger I swear there was only one kind of tea. Red Rose. That was the only kind. Now there is every flavour you can think of and places like David’s Tea exist. Make a huge batch of your favourite tea, stick it in the fridge and when it’s cold (way longer than you want it to take, FYI) add ice and any garnish that suits the flavour and pour it in a fancy glass. Or, put the whole batch in some kind of thermos or jug just like people do when they make Moon Juice (or whatever you wanna call a sh#! mix of alcohol) and bring it with you to the party you’re going to. I bet there will be a red solo cup for you to drink it out of.

7. Virgin Caesar

Have you ever had a Virgin Caesar? I have and guess what it tastes like? Yes. A Caesar. I love Canada. Bloody Mary’s are gross. The Virgin Caesar is high on my list. They’re also fun to make! If you aren’t Canadian and you don’t know what I’m talking about I wish I could see your face when you Google “clamato.” Bahaha

8. Coffee

Sometimes all we want is something in hand at a party because we’re used to always having a drink and it feels weird with both arms dangling at our sides. Maybe you’re tired but still feel like socializing for a while so you want some caffeine, or maybe you just effing love coffee. Bailey’s makes a coffee creamer now so if you’re going to tell me you only like coffee with Bailey’s, you’re good.

9. Hipster Pop in a glass bottle 

They have this kind of thing at the microbrewery, Wheelhouse, where I live and it’s awesome. These days they’re carrying soda from The Pop Shoppe. It’s one of the most fun places in town and even though I don’t go there as often as I used to when drinking all the beer was my favourite hobby, it’s nice to have something else to order and it’s friggin delicious. Oh, and NOBODY cares that I’m ordering a creme soda and not a Gilnetter.

10. Ginger Beer

Not all ginger beer is alcohol-free (I’ll tell you a story about that another day…) but lots of it is. I had a large bottle of Fever-Tree Ginger Beer after the Victoria Marathon and it was SOOOO good I wanted to beer-bong it. At Christmas time when we were in Kelowna at my mother-in-law’s house she had this kind here, Buderim, and it was amazing too. Not for everyone, but I think ginger beer is amazing.

I used to think that if I wasn’t drinking alcohol I couldn’t go out because I’d be bored and awkward with nothing in my hand. There are so many things to drink besides booze if you don’t want alcohol and once I learned this from Kate and Belle and did some experimenting, it got way easier. On New Year’s Eve this year I brought bottles of dealcoholized red and sparkling white wine (“Virgin Brute” LOL) and a bunch of cans of club soda to mix because I don’t like drinks very sweet. It was a really good New Year’s party because of the people, the atmosphere, the conversations and the food of course. When I got home I looked as fresh as when I left the house after getting ready, not like Stu on The Hangover.

Please don’t think that not drinking alcohol = denying yourself of good shit. It might take some trial and error but you will find things that work for you and once you get some practice, going out sober is no longer like going to Mars.

 

I haven’t had alcohol in 373 days.

There is a grey area between being an alcoholic and being a party animal. I think what makes a person fall into this space is how the alcohol consumption makes them feel about him or herself afterwards. I don’t even know how I’d define the term “alcoholic,” I never considered myself one, but one thing I do know about myself now is that for about 15 years I was in the grey area, drinking too much alcohol too often and it was affecting me in all negative ways.

If I were to list off every single shitty situation, short or long-term, that I ever ended up in, alcohol was involved 99% of the time. Risky behaviour, arguments or fights with ex-boyfriends, injuries, mental health issues like depression and anxiety, overspending, ignored responsibilities, sabotaged fitness goals, the list goes on and on.

For lots of people it’s not a problem and they can drink without it interfering with quality of life and physical and mental health. This is not the case for me. Since I quit drinking alcohol and talk about it openly now with lots of people, I’m starting to see that it’s pretty commonplace for a person to fall into this grey area and to realize that they do not want to be there anymore.

Kate at The Sober School taught me (and many others!) about how to see booze for what it really is. A not-that-great tasting dehydrating beverage that numbs everything out and changes the way we feel about situations, priorities and ourselves; a disconnect from reality. For me, the best option is to not drink at all. For someone else it might be to moderate. I don’t want this post to feel depressing so I’ll try to talk about why I like my life better without alcohol and not all the reasons I needed to ditch it.

I have WAY more time

Alcohol actually steals your time. Hangovers and sleeping half the day wastes time. Going to the liquor store takes up time. Not being able to drive your own vehicle wastes time. Being drunk or buzzed disconnects us from the present situation and all of a sudden it’s over! Ignoring chores and errands make the next day jam-packed instead of relaxing.

I feel like I have so much time to do whatever I want now because I do not waste time being drunk, buzzed, hungover or procrastinating. No joke, I never have a to-do list because I know what I need/want to get done, and I do it.

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) isn’t real.

I don’t really know how to explain this one. Maybe it’s because now I know that once alcohol is removed, many parties are just a bunch of random people standing around making small talk and trying to get drunk because it’s “fun.” If there is something going on and I am stoked about who will be there, what we’ll be doing, what will be talked about AND I have the energy and interest, then I’m there. But if not, seriously who cares haha.

I have way more money.

This one is easy. It’s not just the cost of booze that is expensive. Have you ever gotten drunk and thought it was an awesome idea to buy a round for the whole table or the whole bar? Or at 2:30am to buy everyone at 7-11 ALL the taquitos because you love everyone and it’s such a nice thing to do? Taxis. Cover. Snacks you end up wishing you didn’t eat. Shopping after lunch (with drinks) with friends and thinking “YOLO TREAT YO SELF!”and buying $200 gumboots..you KNOW what I am talking about, and it sounds hilarious but when everything is said and done, if there are feelings of regret, guilt, anxiety or worry, that’s a problem. Now I get to spend more money on Oiselle and Lululemon, race registrations, vacations, and dates with my husband just to name a few things. Oh and when I go out for food with my friends the bill is NEVER more than 40 bucks.

I do what I say I’m going to do.

I registered for three full marathons before I actually ran one. Each time I downgraded to the half because I didn’t follow my training plan to be able to complete 42.2km. Don’t get me wrong, I love the half-marathon distance, but I wanted to run a full marathon and wasn’t following through because I really liked drinking a lot of beer or wine (or both) every weekend and many nights during the week! The same week I stopped drinking alcohol I began an 18-week training plan and ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 1st 2016. Boom. Then I did it again. And I’m doing it again in 6 days.

I finally finished my 500-hr yoga teacher certificate that I had ONE project left to complete but didn’t get around to it for over 2 years. I take the freaking recycling to the depot once or twice a month so the bin isn’t over flowing. I get groceries so I don’t have an empty fridge and eat crap (unless I feel like it.) Guess when I get all these things done? Yes, when I am not drinking, hungover or thinking about drinking. Winning.

I look and feel my own age.

Better skin, more energy, looking and feeling alive and not Googling how to hide a hangover with makeup. Work is just fine because I am not exhausted or feeling crappy. Exercising is something I look forward to. My eyes are white and not red. I’m not dehydrated all the time. Everything is BETTER.

I’m mentally healthier than I have ever been before.

I feel happy, confident and grounded 99% of the time. No anxiety. Better sleep. No depression or worries. Minimal stress. Everything is BETTER

If you are finding yourself in that spot between alcoholic and party animal and you’re over it, trust me you’re not alone. Check out www.thesoberschool.com and www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com and you will see that sober life isn’t boring, lame or anthing bad at all, it’s actually awesome. I used to be the person who thought it was ridiculous to go out and not drink. I still go out whenever I want, for how long I want, I drive myself there and back, wash off my make-up and sleep well, and then I get up in the morning and sweat, get shit done and buy new running clothes. Email me if you feel like talking about this more! oxoxox