March 03, 2019

Sober Sunday (A Candid Post After 62 Days Alcohol-Free)

Sober Sunday isn't going to become a "thing" (you know how long those last when I attempt to do that) but since I love alliteration and today is Sunday, I thought I'd write an update on my "Dry 2019" challenge. It's feeling less weird to call it "sobriety" and I'm definitely feeling more and more like drinking was a bigger problem for me than I initially thought.

Today is Day 62 of sobriety.

This is definitely the longest I've gone without alcohol since I was pregnant with Eli. (I wasn't able to breastfeed my kids due to medical reasons, so I didn't have to abstain postpartum; although, I wasn't really a big drinker then.)

At first, I completely resented this challenge (to stay alcohol-free for all of 2019). I was kicking myself, wondering why I came up with it in the first place (I'm sure I was drinking when I thought of it, haha) and then why I had to be so public about it. I wanted to quit.

Each day that passed, though, I started to realize what a huge role alcohol played in my day-to-day life. Wine was always something to look forward to in the evenings; and then toward the end of 2018, in the afternoons into the evenings. It was literally the only thing that calmed my anxiety. Anti-anxiety meds have never really done much for me, but alcohol (especially wine) worked like a charm. Even in small amounts.

I've been sleeping SO much better since I quit drinking. I wake up early on my own--today, I got up at 5:30 on a Sunday! I don't have that sour feeling in my stomach that I'd gotten used to. Or purple-gray stained teeth and tongue from the dark red wine.

It's gotten easier the longer I abstain. It was kind of like intermittent fasting, in a way, when I experimented with that. When I knew I couldn't eat between two particular times, I didn't even think about food. It was a non-issue. I loved that! Now, since alcohol is a non-issue, I don't really think about it much.

I had huge cravings at the beginning; not so much for the taste itself, but for the habit, the romanticizing, the calm-my-nerves feelings. A couple of times, on particularly stressful days, the cravings almost made me cave in. But I knew if I did it once, I'd be back to making it a regular habit.

I do make "mocktails" once in a while. Nothing fancy--I'll either have diet tonic with lime (I ADORE True Lime and True Lemon; I bought an enormous box of each because I use it so much. It's not a drink sweetener; it's literally just crystalized lime or lemon, and each packet is the equivalent of a lime or lemon wedge); or, I'll mix club soda with something like juice. I still love my tart cherry juice in a wine glass, too. Recently, I bought some good lemonade and I mix that with club soda and pour over ice from my ice machine.

Side note: Did I write about my ice machine? Jerry and the kids got it for me for my birthday, and it's pretty much my favorite present ever! I am an ice chewer, and have been for years (there is no medical reason for it--my iron is fine). I was buying bags of ice from Sonic every week and going through them so quickly that Jerry and the kids decided to see if an ice maker was an actual thing (we don't have one on our fridge). They discovered that it does, in fact, exist, and they bought me this one.

Anyway, it makes the perfect chewing ice (soft, so it's easy on my teeth, but still satisfyingly crunchy). It even spits out ice at a rate that I can't keep up with. I put the ice in my beloved Bubba water bottle (this is another of my very favorite things--I like it so much more than the expensive Tervis brand) and the ice does melt at all while I'm eating it. Look how cool the ice is shaped, too:

Luke and Riley stayed the night last week, and Luke has recognized my water ice bottle since before he could talk. He started saying, "Ice?" knowing that there is ice in there. When I used to carry around my Sonic ice (super small pieces) I would give him pieces of it and he'd always come back for "More?"

When he was here last week, he wanted to hold my water bottle and feed Joey ice from it. So, he sat and gave Joey pieces of ice, one by one, until the bottle was empty! Hahaha. Joey loves ice, too.

Well, how's that for a tangent?!

Back to Sober Sunday. What was I saying? Oh, mocktails. So, my fancy ice with some sort of club soda and juice or lemonade, or my go-to tonic and lime, or my tart cherry juice make me continue with my routine in the evenings--just without the alcohol.

I also tasted Fre wine--a non-alcoholic wine--and I really didn't like it. I always assumed that non-alcoholic wine would be just like grape juice, but apparently it's wine with the alcohol removed, so it definitely tastes different. The store had Merlot or Chardonnay, and I chose the Merlot. I took a few sips and then poured out the bottle. I'll stick with tart cherry juice.

Now, I'm not going to pretend that a mocktail does the same for me mentally as a cocktail or real wine. I miss the wine buzz where I feel warm and glowy and happy. I'm pretty sure Jerry misses it, too, because it would always put me in a good mood. But he's super supportive of my doing this, and he won't even drink beer in front of me anymore. I'm not into craft beer, so it honestly wouldn't bother me one bit if he did, but that's just the way he is. I'm lucky he's so supportive.

So, the main reason I wanted to write this post is to share how I think alcohol played a more significant role in my life than I thought; and that it was probably more of a problem than I thought.

For years, I was totally satisfied with one glass of wine in the evenings (or none at all, if I didn't have the calories to spend on it). And then, like I wrote before, I started getting severe anxiety about writing in my blog and eventually, I was drinking a bottle of wine when writing. Last summer, I would usually stop at the store for wine after cross country practice--I felt like I deserved it after the mental challenge of coaching 3rd-5th graders!

In all honesty, I wasn't feeling stressed after practice--I'd just told myself I was because it was an excuse to have a bottle of wine instead of a glass. I was romanticizing the idea, something that I did very well and that I think is a huge reason people develop drinking problems. I would imagine getting cozy in my pajamas, cuddling up on the couch to watch a movie or TV show with Jerry, and sipping my wine.

Except it never went that way. The romantic thoughts of situations like that were never the reality, and never as good as I imagined in my head. Instead, I'd drink the first two glasses rather quickly, feel very talkative and energetic (and start snacking), but the third glass would make me sleepy. So I'd finish it off and then go to sleep. What was the point?!

I'd fall asleep easily, but then wake up at 2:00 or so in the morning and toss and turn the rest of the night. Wake up super tired, drag myself out of bed, brush the sour taste out of my mouth, and eat something to get rid of the pit in my stomach.

Now, I still get sleepy on the early side, but it has nothing to do with alcohol. It's just part of a nightly routine (and Jerry is working days right now, getting up early, so we tend to go to bed together). I wake up earlier than needed, start a cup of coffee brewing (Jerry gets it ready for me in the morning before work, so all I have to do is push a button; this is one of my very favorite things he does that makes me feel loved).

I don't drink the coffee as a "perk me up", but more of a morning routine of "me time". I make a piece of sourdough toast and spread it with coconut oil (my current favorite breakfast) and sip my coffee until it's time to take the kids to school and start my day as a housewife (you know, where I sit and eat bonbons while watching soaps all day).

I like the coffee routine almost as much (if not more than) the wine routine at night. The coffee gives me that perky, talkative feeling that the first glass of wine did, but it doesn't make me feel bad later. I've been drinking coffee at least twice a day now, and I kind of wish I hadn't gotten into that habit (the caffeine is terrible for my anxiety) but I'll work on that habit later.

One thing at a time right now!

(By the way, there are a few Amazon affiliate links in this post--simply because I was going to mention the products anyways, so I thought I might as well link them.)


  1. Why not switch to decaf coffee? I buy high-quality and don't find there's any difference in the taste. Give it a try- you can still enjoy your cups and maybe lessen the anxiety.

  2. I have a question my boyfriend is addicted to alcohol for many reasons. He is a veteran who is bi-polar, has ptsd, suicidal thoughts and on his number 3 brain injury from falling drunk and hitting his head. He has been to the VA so many times its not funny. I keep hearing about rock bottom. If he don't stop drinking he will be dead in 5 years. So any positive thoughts you have.

  3. The little ice cubes are so cute! As is Luke feeding them to the dog. What a doll!

  4. Your posts are so genuine. It's very clear you write from your heart. I've met so many people who can't be that honest even in a simple conversation. I'm so glad you are sleeping better and can feel your body's improvements. I love your line about "romanticizing" the drinking of wine. I think this is so true not only for wine, but many habits we fall in to. Great post!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing! I am sober now 5 1/2 months and can completely relate to the feeling of 'deserving' that bottle of wine. It became too frequent and too much of my routine, and now looking back I realize it was a bigger problem than I let on.

  6. I'm not sure that my comments post, but I quit drinking in 2013, which was two years after I started reading your blog. I actually got help because I was physically addicted. I will tell you, from personal and now professional experience, day 30-120 is the hardest. You're already at 60, so you're right in the middle. Slowly, your body will start producing more dopamine again that it stopped producing because it didn't have to (you drank regularly and that triggered it). I was sooo terrified of the idea of NEVER drinking again... in the beginning. I'm not saying you are an alcoholic or anything! It's just brain science. I'm sure your psych can help explain more if you're curious. I'm so proud of you, btw, for talking about your bipolar diagnosis. I wondered a looooong time ago when I read a couple of your blogs about your binge struggles, but of course it was no place of mine to say anything! You're incredible, really and truly. It's almost been 8 years since you sent me a little jean pouch! (I think, maybe 7?) I've still got that goal to run a 5K in under 30 minutes tucked in there... it's still a goal even if it's been one for a decade, right?

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know about days 30-120! I am having a HORRIBLE time with anxiety and depression, and I keep asking myself, "Why is it not better? I thought that quitting drinking was supposed to make me feel better, not worse!". It's a relief to know from someone with experience that I just have to wait it out a little longer before I start to notice a big change. Thank you!

  7. I had the best mocktail at a restaurant recently. It was Luxardo cherry juice, simple syrup, and soda. It wasn't too sweet and felt "fancy" enough to satisfy me. I also had a non-alcoholic mojito which was delicious. I am pregnant and I love that more restaurants have specialty non-alcoholic drinks because if I'm on a date with my husband, I want something a little more special than Coke or tea. Also, my pregnancy craving is ice so I am suuuper interested in that ice maker :)

  8. I have been reading your blog for years and I adore you. Thank you for sharing this! I appreciate all your honest and your jokes, like the bon bons! haha. :)

  9. Congratulations on the sobriety! Very happy for you.

    Just a side note on the coffee, there is such thing as no caffeine coffee if you're interested. They can be a little tricky to find sometimes but they do exist. My mother in law, has heart issues so she has to stay away from caffeine as much as possible but she enjoys the routine of coffee in the morning. She's always on the hunt for another bag when she can find it.

  10. I found your blog post resonated with me because i lived with a person who was always drinking and I would follow suit. I remember how awful I would feel in the morning and would then have to get up and go to work. Your post really hit me. Congrats on making a decision and moving forward.

  11. I love to chew ice as well! I used to go around to the gas stations and just get the largest cup full of ice. I knew which ones had the "good ice" and everything, how funny! I don't chew ice so much any more but when I go by a Sonic I HAVE to get some because they have the best!

  12. way to go on continuing your sobriety journey! I recently started drinking coffee as part of keto and intermittent fasting and I have to say I am REALLY loving it.

  13. OMG - it's so funny that you love ice! I've been reading your blog for years, and feel like we have so many similarities, but I didn't know you were an ice chewer, too :) My fridge's ice-maker can't keep up with my habit most of the time...and I've mentioned to my husband over the years, that I'd love to get a nice ice maker someday! (I know this wasn't the main point of this post - just had to comment) I also love coffee in the morning, but have to drink decaf because of my anxiety. If I accidentally have a cup of my husband's full-strength brew, I can usually feel it within 15-20 min. Your sober challenge is interesting to hear about, and does sound very challenging! The better sleep does sound pretty intriguing!


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