Time enough for creativity in sobriety

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On January 28th this year I woke up with a dreadful hangover and decided that enough was enough. I haven’t had any alcohol since that day.

Wine was (is) my particular weakness although I most often drank beer early on. I had my first drink at 14 or so and immediately loved it far too much. I’m now 43 and have drunk mostly heavily for almost 30 years. This is the longest I’ve ever been sober in my adult life. It’s not my first attempt, just the latest one in a long line of attempts spanning the past two years.

I spent a long time hoping to moderate but it didn’t work out for me. I might manage it for a few weeks but I always ended up sliding back down the slippery slope to hangovers, health issues and a sense of essentially wasting my energy and life on trying to manage my intake of alcohol.

I finally felt desperate enough to admit I had a problem and let the drinking go. It hasn’t been easy but it’s been worth it so far. Putting down the bottle is only the beginning. I’m discovering that sobriety is a broad and complex thing. It spans physical, mental and spiritual challenges. It requires the courage to change and try new things. It demands enough open-mindedness to honestly examine our priorities and life choices.

It also provides wonderful changes. Many things can improve when you live sober. My health worries have eased in some ways – less suspicious liver pain, no 3am sweating and palpitations and less drunken junk food munching. My appearance has improved – I have clearer skin, I’ve lost weight, and I probably look healthier from spending more time being active outdoors. It’s also surprising how much your finances can improve when you’re not drinking so much money away – a real bonus on a modest income.

One huge change that many people comment on is that time seems to expand in sobriety. Gone are the numb and oblivous evenings slouched on the sofa. Gone are the blackouts and the lost and forgotten hours. This can be a mixed blessing though. Depending on my perspective, a long sober evening can be an intimidating amount of time to fill or a wonderful bounty of productive hours. The choice is mine but it takes focus and work to keep it positive.

I’ve filled a lot of my newly-expanded time with creative explorations. I’ve done an online photography course, ramped up my art and illustration productivity and started blogging and writing poetry. I’ve also binged on Netflix or XBox when I can’t gather my focus or motivation, I’m far from perfect. Even the least productive time-filling is better than drinking.

So, that ended up being a very long way to introduce myself and say hello. I’ll shut up for now. If you’ve read this far then welcome and hello 😀

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