When my parents forced me to get sober, I was convinced I would never be happy again. I didn’t think I would ever enjoy weekends at college. I didn’t think I would fit in with my friends anymore. I didn’t think I would be a happy person, period, without alcohol in my life.
Almost 20 months later, I’ve realized how wrong I was. I miss almost nothing about my old life—mostly because I am still able to live it, minus one thing: the booze. By losing that one thing, I have gained back so many others that I didn’t even realize I had lost at the hands of alcohol.
Here are 10 things I don’t miss about my drinking days:
1. Regretting or not remembering the night before: It is so incredibly refreshing to always wake up in my own bed, with my own belongings, with every memory from the night before intact. I never have to deal with a path of destruction in my wake, unless I soberly choose to create a problem (which is rare). My decision-making abilities are so much more present and effective when alcohol is not in my system. Shocking, I know.
2. My physical appearance: For some reason, I never took into account the fact that alcohol contains a lot of calories. And after taking in said calories, I without fail would get the drunchies (drunk munchies) and continue to inhale calories. I even ate an entire medium pizza on my own on a few occasions, which mortifies me to admit. Only after getting sober did I realize how I had been treating my body. I had gained 30 pounds and had a yellowish cast to my skin. I was always bloated. I was just unhealthy overall, and the worst part was that I just didn’t give a shit as long as I could keep drinking.
3. Waking up with a hangover: Opening my eyes in the morning was sometimes the hardest thing I’d ever done. I’d wake up feeling like I had been hit by a train the night before. Whether a hangover presented itself as a headache, nausea, or vomiting, it still affected my life negatively the day following drinking and took way too long to shake off. Sometimes, I’d even resort to taking a shot or two in the morning to ward it off, or I’d swear I was laying low on the drinking for a while, but I’d be back to it as soon as the hangover wore off.
4. Spending money: Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a broke college student. But at least now I know where my money is going. Alcohol is expensive, and the drunker I got, the less I cared about money. I’d enthusiastically buy more drinks, pizza, etc., and in the morning I would wake up with no cash and kicking myself for spending it on stupid things while drunk.
5. My reputation: I managed to make a reputation for myself really quickly in college – and it wasn’t a good one. People knew who I was because of my actions at parties, which at the time almost made me proud, but now is beyond embarrassing. Thankfully, I have managed to rebuild myself and the person I am known as in college now is actually someone I can be proud of.
6. Legal consequences (or the potential of facing legal consequences) – Since all of my drinking took place before turning 21, I was always risking the consequences of getting caught drinking under age. Somehow, the only time I actually did was the night of my last drink, but I definitely should have been caught more times than that. I was in the bar underage all the time, and I wasn’t the most subtle person. To be honest, it was exhausting always worrying about being caught. I can see a cop today and know I did absolutely nothing wrong. I no longer feel a sense of panic.
7. Spending time drinking instead of doing things I was passionate about: This is one of my biggest regrets from the two years I spent drinking. I spent so many hours drunk or hungover, hours that I could have been reading, writing, doing homework, even just spending sober time with people I love. Instead, I spent the time in a haze. I still did well in school and spent time writing, but I know I could have done better. I wasn’t living up to my full potential.
8. Ruining or losing my belongings: I lost phones. I lost purses. I lost clothes. I spilled alcohol on all of the above. To this day I do not know what happened to my favorite green sweater. Thankfully, these are just material things that could be replaced, but it was still never fun to wake up and realize I didn’t have my belongings and didn’t know if I would recover them. I don’t even want to know how much money I spent replacing what I ruined.
9. Not setting a good example for my younger siblings/disappointing my parents: There were moments during my drinking that I would stop and look at myself and wonder what I had become. I wasn’t a good example for anyone, let alone my younger siblings. After getting sober, so much shame stemmed from this fact. I was distraught about it and my uncle said to me, “What better example is there than someone who falls down and picks themselves back up?” These words have stuck with me in recovery and I finally feel as if I am a person my siblings and parents can be proud of—rather than ashamed of.
10. Compromising my morals and beliefs: Guilt and shame were common emotions for me when I was drinking. It was like once alcohol entered my bloodstream, I forgot who I was and what I stood for. I would do and say things that I would never do or say while sober, and wake up the next morning wondering what in the world had come over me. Yet, I would continue to drink and repeat the cycle – insanity at its best. I don’t think I realized how much of myself I had compromised until I was a few months sober and I started to realize I was a person I could love again.