Is Drinking Really Giving Yourself A Break?

I used to do a lot of drinking when I got home from time away. 


I had a sunken feeling of being home. It felt like Sunday Scaries on steroids. I never knew what to do with myself. I didn’t know how to end the “good timing”. I didn’t know how to transition back to real life.

I didn’t really want to be in real life to be honest.

I wanted more social gatherings to keep my drinking looking normal. I wanted excuses to keep drinking alongside other drinkers. I wasn’t happy at these gatherings, but I wasn’t happy without them either.


This Spring Break we were bummed to leave the 80 degree weather and head back towards snow in our Chicago suburb.

I didn’t want to feel resentful about coming back to my real life, because since getting sober over 4 years ago, I have created a real life I loved, or so I thought.


I am sober now. I own my own coaching business. I love my job. Shouldn’t I feel excited about coming back to the life I have created? 


I wasn’t dreading coming home, but I was uncomfortable with the feelings of sadness about our vacation ending and returning “back to the grind”.


In some ways this had to do with what was ahead for me. We had a 19 hour drive home. We did it in two days with tons of traffic. It was horrible driving. Driving and riding give me anxiety. I do not like to sit still. I always have to use the bathroom. I drink more than a gallon of water everyday. I am a very fussy rider.


In other ways, I was not looking forward to the return because of the daily grind.  Getting back to household chores and To Do lists that were put on hold while we were sitting in the sun. Everything I was delaying and avoiding would be staring me in the face upon my return.


Obviously the weather, having snow in April, wasn't awesome after a perfectly sunny beach vacay. But still, I was worried about my lack of excitement in returning home and I started to question why.


When we finally pulled into our driveway we were relieved to get out of the car. I was arriving at a perfectly clean house, as my housecleaner came the day we left. This eased the stress of going in. Our dog was still with my in-laws. This felt like a big piece missing when we walked through the door. I didn’t want to go through the mail, unpack, and go to the grocery store. I didn’t want to do the things that I knew needed to be done. I also didn’t want to just sit and relax after 20 hours of sitting in the car. I read 4 books on vacation, I did not want to lay in bed with a book. I almost always want to do that, but not upon my arrival home from a long vacation.


It was 5 pm on Sunday night. A time that was too early for bed and too late for a lot of other things. We were not eating dinner, as we had a big meal on the road (Bob Evans, if you know you know).


After completing my 75Hard challenge right before we left, I had mostly fallen off the routines during Spring Break. I was ready to get back. 

What I really wanted to do was call my mom and go for a walk as I had done for the 75 days leading up to Spring Break. So I did. I remembered during the challenge, going for a walk outside really was a cure for almost anything in those 75 days.


I typically talk to my Mom daily and I hadn’t connected with her outside of group chat Wordle reports for most of our vacation.

Moving my body and spending time outside gave me the initiative to hit the gym next.

Not for a work out, but for alone time. Time in the hot tub, steam room, and sauna. While I was there I decided to take a cold dip in the pool. This led me to a few laps of swimming. I am not a swimmer, yet there I was doing the backfloat with glee. Hearing my own breath underwater, gave me a smile as I watched the ceiling go bye. Swimming up and down the lanes, going back and forth, back and forth. Not quickly. Not in a race. The opposite. Trying to go slow. Trying not to make a splash. Using swimming as meditation. My cousins are literally record breaking swimmers at top universities in the country, but I have never liked it until this moment. A feeling of peace came over me in the water. I was pleased with myself for trying something new.

Sobriety and 75Hard taught me to do this. 


After a shower and setting myself up for a great Monday morning, I came home and unpacked. I was filled with energy and joy to put my belongings away including new shopping purchases that looked so cute in my closet. My husband went to the grocery store. The kids and I updated our family calendar with upcoming activities and events. We were getting excited about our upcoming month. 


It was good to be home. We all agreed. 


Then I settled in and watched a movie (the award winning Coda) on the couch with my oldest. I had popcorn and Swedish fish for dinner (what a treat!). 


With the candles lit and my happy inner peace glowing, content after swimming the  squirmies out.

I felt there was nowhere better in the world to be than exactly where I was.

I loved my Spring Break vacation. I loved walking and talking with my mom. I love my spa and swim time at the gym. I loved my movie time with my oldest girl. I loved feeling organized and prepared with happy anticipation about the days and weeks ahead.  I woke up early with a slow start to Monday. I got excited about my To Do list and all the exciting things I have coming up, including my professional growth. I love seeing what’s ahead for me. 


Looking back I can see, I loved vacation and couldn’t imagine being so happy at home. Once I got home I loved that too. Once I got back to work I loved that too. Not every moment or task in my life is awesome, but for the most part I love being present with the moment that I am in, wherever that is.

This is a huge difference from my drinking life.


In my drinking life I always wanted to be somewhere else than where I was. I wasn’t comfortable in social situations, but I liked them because they allowed me more alcohol. I wasn’t happy being alone because I couldn’t sit with myself. I didn’t like the life I had created because I was mostly a martyr. I didn’t have self care or boundaries in place. I wasn’t happy at my job for a long time. I was full of resentment, which I have learned really means wishing I was another way, than the way I am.


It’s much easier now because returning to work means reporting to myself. I gave myself a day alone on vacation, so I got a real break from everything. I block my calendar from meetings on Mondays. I use Mondays as my creative days for writing. It also gives me a chance to catch up on administrative tasks. This makes me feel organized for the week as well. This is a great way to calm my own storm, and make sense of my own thoughts and potential overwhelm, before meeting with clients for the week. I look forward to Mondays which start with ease and end with productivity. 


I have set my life up in a way that works for me.

Discipline helps.

I won’t be doing 75Hard all the time but I will stick close to many of the routines that I created. I know the power of doing things that set you up for success, even when you don’t feel like it. I know good habits lead to physically and mentally feeling good, so I keep them most of the time. I know that time outdoors is a necessary part of my wellbeing. I know that moving my body heals things I don't have words for.


In my first weekend at home, I was able to catch up. I got a car wash and took off my vacation nail polish. I started meal prepping with enthusiasm. The laundry is done. The appointments are made, the volunteer sign ups complete.

This feels so good to me. 


I also created my perfect day at home. I made a Mexican brunch, took a long hike in the arboretum, enjoyed a long spa bath, a healthy dinner, and Bridgerton Season 2. 

As a drinker, I honestly thought I was being nice to myself by drinking.

I called it “Me Time”, “A Break”, “Mom’s Night Out”, or something like that. I thought sitting down, pouring a drink and letting myself off the hook for responsibilities was taking care of myself. I thought running from responsibilities was the break I needed. I honestly thought asking everyone to leave me alone and then drinking wine was self care. I thought laying in bed hungover was somehow deserved. I felt like I earned this self sabotage.

I told myself this was me taking care of myself, and now I know it wasn’t.    


As a drinker, I was reckless, edgy, and terrified while drinking. What was I going to turn into? I was miserable and full of shame when hungover. Hiding from myself and everyone else too. I was twitchy and anxious in between drinking and hangovers because I needed a drink and was usually preoccupied with getting it.

I was never in the present moment and I was never at peace. 


As a sober person, I love being on vacation and I love being home. I love being productive and I love to relax. Sobriety and my own discipline has given me more of what I love, not less. It's a real myth that alcohol brings you relaxation and fun. If you drink like me, it was none of that. It was zooming adrenaline getting a high, and crippling depression coming off. Sobriety has given me the peace and clarity to enjoy so much more with none of the negative consequences.

Simply put, being sober makes me happier.


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