7 Annoying Things About Sobriety

It’s not all meditation and fuzzy feelings

Photo by Mercedes Álvarez on Unsplash

Getting sober (again) during a pandemic and election year… has been super fun.

Not horrible at all.

Nope.

I could write about the positives of my sobriety — but not today.

Today, I really want to slam four absolutely filthy ice-cold gin martinis in my face. I really, really wish I could turn off my brain and just… not. You know?

My anxiety has been through the roof lately, not helped by the three daily cups of coffee I cradle when I finally peel myself from the bed. My depression has made tiny tasks like, doing laundry or wiping down the bathroom counter feel like impossible feats. Shit sucks right now.

So here’s a list of things about early sobriety (happy 75 days to me) that are not fun, that suck, that I wish were far, far in the rearview mirror… but aren’t.

Cravings

The most obvious of all. I really would love to have a martini, or a mojito, or a super bitter negroni right now. I just bought an amazing book of nonalcoholic drink recipes, but as I said above — my motivation is little to none. Reminding myself to drink water has been a struggle in itself.

Shrubs I have made are getting moldy in the refrigerator. I bought Limoncello LaCroix figuring it would be sweeter than straight-up lemon, but for whatever reason, it smells like Coldstone cake batter ice cream. In a bad way. I still drank it, but it was gross.

I still throw bitters in seltzer, and that’s fine, but this go around I haven’t had any hopped seltzer, nonalcoholic beer, or nonalcoholic spirits. I’m a bit nervous that if I do my cravings will get worse.

We’ll see. I miss bitter cocktails and dry, weird, funky orange wines.

But that’s also because I’m a snob. Anyway, moving on…

Crying/emotions, in general

Is everyone else crying at least once a day???

I’ve been reading about highly sensitive people and that has been ticking a lot of boxes of my personality but damn I am tired of crying when listening to a song or this new Etsy commercial of a grandma and grandchild face-timing.

I’m tired. I recognize now that my motivators for binge drinking above socializing, above unwinding, above sincerely liking the flavor… was to numb myself.

Emotions are gross. I hate them — and I have so fucking many of them.

Relapse dreams

Truly, truly, truly, truly awful.

To wake up in a sweat, feeling guilty for a night of imbibing that didn’t happen? Yeah, no thank you.

I have the unique experience that in the dream, I know I am supposed to stay sober but I make the same excuses I always have. I repeat “it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine,” and have flashbacks to the years I dated around and was at my peak of self-destruction.

It’s a relief to wake up and sometimes a reminder that even if I miss it, am craving it, I do not miss snapping awake full of hangxiety, which was a huge part of my decision to stop drinking entirely in the first place.

Headaches

A side effect of downing coffee and getting anxious and not drinking enough water, I’m sure, but damn headaches are extra annoying now.

How did I live my life with crippling headaches from hangovers 3–5 days a week?

If I have the slightest tinge of a headache I am such a baby. I whine about not being able to stare at screens to write or distract myself or read.

This isn’t that big of a deal. It’s just an irritating “I’m behaving, what the fuck body get your shit together!!!” kind of moment.

Insomnia

This is getting better… especially since I don’t work high-stress evenings anymore.

Drinking after working dinner service in restaurants was a common way to “come down” or force yourself to pass out.

I have always been a night owl of sorts (I sleep from 2AM-9:30AM, generally)… but the first week or two I’d stay up until 5AM.

This, of course, didn’t help the nightmares or raw emotions. At all.

Booze in the Media

This is a two-parter.

Thank goodness most of the drinking jokes have passed. The end of March and early April was a rough time for binge-drinking jokes on the Interwebs. There is a consistent sort of issue with mommy wine culture and tacky shirts at Target that as an Adult Child of an Alcoholic make me want to rip my eyes out.

I definitely did my fair share of ordering delivery alcohol and chain-smoking cigarettes to get through ~pandemic fears~ but as usual, it made me feel physically and mentally worse. Though my drinking was less the have-a-glass-of-wine and more drink two bottles, knowing I was struggling with it made the jokes cut deeper.

Secondly, any time a character is having a drink in a movie or TV show it brings up those cravings. We are watching Endeavour for the first time and every time Detective Morse and Thursday have a beer at an English pub, all I want is beer.

It helps to remember that I more wish for a reason to be outside of our apartment. I wish I was in that charming establishment and having a good conversation, drinking something bitter and hoppy. I have to tell myself, as Holly Whitaker told me in her book:

“You don’t want a cigarette. You want a moment. And it was true. That was exactly what I wanted. A picture perfect Hollywood moment. The classical music, the window seat with its cold marble perch, the two of us, naked and without words, just our cigarettes and our gazes and our glasses of fine water, on a late Roman night.”

Holly Whitaker, Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol

I feel the same is true about bar culture. The desire for a moment is greater than the desire for a drink (and all that comes after it, for me).

Forgiving My Past Self

A work in progress. Stay tuned.

Comes with a flood of emotion and self-loathing is the weird desire to want to reach out to people and apologize. Or worry that they’re thinking of me in the past tense. However, my doing so right now… while I’m still raw… wouldn’t be super helpful to either party.

There’s a LARGE chance they aren’t thinking about me at all anyway and that my apology is more self-serving (to make myself feel better). So, in a wild and new way, I’m trying not to be a selfish piece of shit.

In other news…

The election coming up is stressful. Odder still is the fact that my partner and I got together the night Donald Trump got elected… so we’re inching up on our four year anniversary (November 6th).

But that’s a story for another day.

For today, I’ll scream in my pillow that sobriety… while beautiful and great and necessary… is fucking hard and awful sometimes.

I’m going to go eat a bowl of olives now.

I need something as briny and salty as I feel.

Other sobriety essays I’ve written recently:

Writer (she/her) of the foodish, bookish, & feminist. Author of Bright Blue (poetry) Dancing Girl Press / Website: www.aliciabanaszewski.com / Twitter: @b___ski

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