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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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.

peaceful.jpg

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