There isn’t any one reason I decided to quit drinking. More a cluster fuck of tiny reasons that gave me the push I needed to quit banging my head against the wall and then start crying because there was blood in my eyes and it was yucky. Here are a few of the ones I can think of off the top of my head:
1. Tired of drunkenly pissing beds
2. Tired of always anticipating what I need to be apologizing for
3. Tired of physically imposing myself on men who I think are attractive in order to not be sad for ten minutes
4. Tired of falling down
5. Tired of being tired
6. Tired of wondering what I did last night
7. Tired of spending money
8. Tired of being so depressed brushing my hair and teeth are too much to ask for out of my day
9. Tired of the cats judging me
10. Tired of hating myself
There are more reasons but who has the time?
I didn’t hit rock bottom. I didn’t wake up in the street last week beaten up and wondering where my wallet was. The worst thing that happened over the last two weeks was that I was a little anxious had a show that got cancelled right before I walked onstage, and without the release of doing my set, I had a panic attack so bad that I found myself curled up in the fetal position on the floor of my apartment LIKE AN ADULT!
My alcoholism isn’t to the point where I am going to lie to my friends, cheat on my boyfriend or steal from my parents just to get my next drink. The truth is, whether I have two drinks or ten, I can no longer control the effect alcohol has on my mental health and emotions. And, that my friends, is what will kill me in the end. Not the booze, not all by itself, anyway.
What has the first week looked like? Well I’ll tell you!
After spending the previous night speaking with a sober friend on the positives and negatives of not drinking I wake up with plenty of vigor for my new pursuit. In quite possibly the most poetic fashion and in words that I might just tattoo on my body, my friend asked me the night before “This is life and death shit babe, are you worth it?”
I woke up Wednesday wanting to be worth it and that was at least a step in the right direction. Still hung over from the previous day it was easy to give myself plenty of reasons why not drinking was going to be a breeze. Feel how much this sucks? You don’t have to do this anymore? Isn’t that going to be great?!
One of my biggest concerns of drinking is fear of missing out on the fun. So later that night I went to the comedy show I always go to. I stopped by 7-11 and got a Gatorade so that I wouldn’t feel the pull of PBR quite so bad. I felt further vindicated when I left 7-11 and a drunk homeless man knocked me over in the street. It felt like the universe was telling me SEE! You don’t want to be that! And I was already congratulating myself for how awesome I am now.
I went to the show. Missed the beers. Maybe I was a little quieter but still had fun. Actually WATCHED comedy for the first time in ages. As I went to leave I realized I did not have my keys. Fearing they had fallen out of my pocket during the homeless kerfuffle I retraced my steps all the way home. Turns out nope… I just locked them in my car. So far sobriety did not make me not an idiot. Bummer. I had to call my ex-boyfriend at one in the morning to break into my apartment. He was thrilled.
I returned to the scene of my last beer. I had to tell the bartender who was used to already pouring me a PBR that I quit drinking and I’ll take a “soda water with lime”. My drinking buddy and bartender looked at me perplexed and asked how long I was drying out for. I said “I think its forever”. He continued to look at me like I just spoke to him in Orca sounds but he poured the soda and did not judge me any further. Not out loud anyway. I was surprised at the shame I felt in this moment. My inner dialogue was like take a look at this pussy, can’t even have two beers without sending herself into depression spiral over an iPhone commercial later. Weak.
But I didn’t drink and it turned out to be easier than I imagined. I later had a friend come help me get my keys out of my car and took them to dinner, thought about how I would normally be having a beer, but begrudgingly ordered a coke instead. Then I returned home thinking now you have your keys, your apartment is cleaner, you could have actual people over. Life is really looking up! High fives self in mirror. Almost breaks mirror.
I spent the day cleaning my apartment. Not much to report. It’s pretty easy to stay sober if you don’t leave your house. I really nailed it that day. Pats self on back.
However, when the night cometh life got a little harder. All I could do was imagine the taste of cold tasty and the boredom really began to eat at me. I had cleaned my apartment, like really cleaned it. Like, scrubbed the walls. Well I didn’t do the dishes; I’m not a psychopath. All I could think was man… I wish I was out with my friends right now. But I haven’t heard from anyone and I am tired and I have to be up early. Just go to sleep. Drinking water….lots of water, helped with the cravings, and not being conscious helped with the desire. Those are my only pro-tips thus far.
I did not wake up to flowers and candy and the endless adoration of male suitors on this morning. I know, it crazy. But I did start my day with a photo shoot. Like a weird sexy photo shoot where I ate wings… naked. This was planned. This is definitely something I would have drank for previously. Even at nine in the morning. Especially, at nine in the morning. Man, I want a Bloody Mary right now! This shoot taught me that I could do two things I had previously never attempted sober. Be naked and feel sexy. I cannot remember the last time I had sex with someone for the first time sober. I probably loved them or something stupid like that. This gave me confidence that my love life is not going to die with my sobriety, but that’s yet to be seen. (Also, my love life was very much dying with my drinking, so not sure I have anything to lose in this department).
After this I went to my first AA meeting. I watched people celebrate their sobriety and learned to not be so proud of myself for being sober for four days. This shit is going to be really hard. An older man spoke about all his health problems and said if you stay sober you can live as long as me and have all this to look forward to. I thought, man, you are not selling it right. I got the 24 hour chip and a lot of respect for the work people do in AA. Not sure yet if I am going to go back. It takes a strong ass person too look at themselves under the microscope that closely and I have nothing but admiration for those who do the work.
That night I had two comedy shows. This would be the really test. The first show was packed and I was awkward. My brain overthought all the jokes and I am not quite sure I ever found the groove, but I imagine that this was true while drinking it was just easier to ignore with a few beers.
The second show went much better. Sure, I had to sit through a lot of bad improv and that would have been more palatable with a beer or two but when I finally got onstage I felt loose, comfortable and sharper. All promising feelings. I thought oh good I’m still going to love comedy as much as these nerds love improv. Phew! Side note, while sober the waiting is harder. The stage still feels the same. Better even. This is just what I noticed.
I was executing my first live show and if there was going to be a day I was going to drink this would have been it. The day for the most part flew by. Coordinating and setting up is actually fairly time consuming and other than the morning brunch there wasn’t time for a beer until the event.
The event went great, far greater than I ever could have expected. But a funny thing happened in sobriety. I was really critical of everything that didn’t go right. We had sound issues and most the people who I thought loved and supported me did not attend. It felt like a slap in the face. Previously, most of these things would have rolled off my back because I would have just had another beer and waited until the following day to wallow in my mistakes. Sobriety made all the shortcomings obvious in the moment and tough to shake.
After the event my legs were incredibly tired and sore. This is where the real depression set in. Oh yeah… this is why I drink. It would be so much easier to walk if I had four beers in me right now, this is dumb, what is the point of being sober???? I am always going to be disabled. Why live with physical pain, its going to give me the emotional pain I am trying to avoid anyway. I cannot win. Hopefully, the Lord will just take me soon in a rare case of Spanish Influenza and I won’t have to think about this anymore. (Fingers Crossed).
In order to not wallow in my previous days disappointments I did almost nothing in order to keep my mind busy and free of self-deprecation. Trust me on this tactic, I am a pro at positive self-talk. Monday was still hard. I watched SNL 40. Laughed and cried. Napped and cried. Smiled and then cried, the usual Christie Buchele fun day.
That night I went to the usual bar in order to convince myself, yet again, that sobriety does not mean missing out. It was awkward when the bartender had a beer poured for me before I ever reached the counter. I had to inform him I was not drinking and he gave me the same perplexed look my previous bartender/friend shared. But overall, the night was a success. I have created a t-chart to illustrate the differences between this Monday and the previous Monday where I was hammered.
Despite my previous days good choices I still woke up feeling sad on Tuesday. Turns out quitting drinking is not a cure all for depression. Sobriety isn’t the dream catcher of life that is going to keep all the bad stuff away. On this day. I woke up. I ate, and I slept for the entire day. I felt a little sorry for myself. Beat myself up for wasting the day. I ended my day by going to Comedy Works and hosting. I felt much better after doing comedy.
So far it’s just one week. Will I drink again? Probably. Seems naïve to think this is going to be just that easy. So far, I am bored. But I really enjoy not apologizing for myself everyday*. I also have great admiration for the people who have done this for real and I thank them. Thank you for being public about your sobriety. The way sobriety positively impacts your life and your comedy is undeniable. Your success is a huge reason I can no longer justify drinking in my own life.
The things I know for sure about drinking and sobriety now:
Alcohol feeds my depression
Depression cost me my job
Despite sobriety I will still have depression
My depression is much more rational while I am sober I cry at real problems instead of commercials and thought tangents that have no basis in reality
I am mostly a better person sober
I will still be crippled even if I am sober
Pain is harder to manage sober
I am most likely a better comedian sober
Sobriety is boring sometimes
AA is super hard and only for bad-asses
I don’t need to feel overwhelmed but the commitment of not drinking for the rest of my life, I get to make this choice everyday.
Drunk people are not as annoying as I thought they would be when I am sober
This is life or death shit babe, and I AM WORTH IT.
*Disclaimer: I was still an asshole several times this week and found myself apologizing regardless of sobriety.