Dry July: What I Learned After 31 Days of Sobriety

After too many virtual happy hours, it was time for a change.

Photo by Christian Fridell on Pexels.com

I spent July completely sober. In this time of COVID, that’s a strange thing – especially since there are Zoom Happy Hours popping up everywhere you turn. However, I’d noticed that my occasional evening cocktail was turning into a daily occurrence, and it was affecting my mood, my sleep, my mornings, and my coping skills. I started viewing my nightly drink as an escape, and that just isn’t like me. So I took the month of July off from drinking.

For the most part, not drinking wasn’t a huge challenge. I mean, if it were something like giving up chocolate or social media for a month, then it would hurt a little. But alcohol has never been something I couldn’t live without.

That said, there were a few things I noticed when I actively chose to not drink.

1. Alcohol is pushed at you everywhere!

I got a taste of what newly sober alcoholics must feel in their first months of sobriety. I repeatedly said no to people who kept trying to put a drink in my hand. “Come on, one won’t hurt.” Thank goodness I don’t have an alcohol issue, but how is this kind of pressure for someone who chooses a lifetime away from booze? I also had to face countless ads depicting delicious looking drinks. And then there are those virtual happy hours. I eventually stopped attending because it’s just not that much fun to see your friends getting smashed through a video screen while you sip your sparkling water.

2. I was forced to face my issues

Whether it was stress, boredom, sadness, anger… At the end of a hard day, my regular routine was to fix myself a vodka soda, and feel my discomfort slip away. Now, I had to actually feel that uncomfortable feeling – and I learned that wasn’t necessarily a horrible thing. Sure, it doesn’t feel good to feel bad. But if you allow yourself to go through the motions of a negative feeling, you’ll eventually be able to move beyond it and go on with your day.

3. I slept better

Originally, I wondered if I’d have a harder time falling asleep without a nightcap. That was definitely not the case. I read before bed, and found myself falling asleep around 10 p.m. – earlier than usual. Then I’d sleep soundly the whole night through. On more than one occasion, my husband has mentioned the snoring habit I developed. Once I stopped drinking, however, the snoring stopped too. I thought it had just been a hereditary thing that caught up with me, but apparently it had everything to do with alcohol.

4. I woke up better

I’ve always been an early riser, so morning time is my jam. But I hadn’t realized how hard mornings really were – or how much better they could be – until I gave up drinking. A week into my sobriety, I noticed I could get up without the overwhelming need for caffeine so I could fully wake up. My body moved easier. My joints hurt less. In general, I was just more awake from the moment I opened my eyes, and I felt much more alert throughout my day.

5. My mood has improved

You guys, I’m 42 years old. I have a stinking suspicion I’m heading into Peri-menopause. The mood swings are real, and they aren’t going away. At the beginning of this month, as I was still detoxing off alcohol, I suffered the mother of all mood swings. A month later, when I should be experiencing the same thing, I feel all right. Not perfect, but not stuck in a downward spiral either. To me, that’s a total win.

All that said, there were also a few things I missed this past month. I missed that feeling of celebration from sipping sparkling wine or a tasty cocktail. I missed the social aspect of drinking (or as social as you can get in these COVID times). I missed how alcohol made me less inhibited, or how I could quickly let go of stress after a long day. But after 30 days, my need for alcohol to cure these ailments became much less. By the end of the month, I was happily sipping my sparkling water from a wine glass, and the feeling of celebration was just as real.  

Now that July is over, I’m free to drink again. I may even enjoy a cocktail tonight. Every night, though? Nah. I’ve realized just how much I enjoy the evenness of my moods and how rested I feel throughout my day. I think that feels better than feeling buzzed.   

2 thoughts on “Dry July: What I Learned After 31 Days of Sobriety”

  1. mik1999 – Canada – I am a mid-career professional. I lead a not for profit organization and am your typical socially liberal fiscally (slightly) conservative urbanite. I have a young family and a fantastic wife and try hard to be a good dad and an exciting husband. I fear boredom and routine.

    Great post and really interesting observations you had on this time we are in and on yourself

    1. Crissi Langwell – Crissi Langwell writes romance, women's fiction, young adult novels, and more. Her passion is the story of the underdog, and her stories include ones of determined heroines, family issues, free spirits and more. Beyond writing, Crissi is an avid bookworm, loves to meditate, and has tiny muscles from weight lifting. You have to look closely. She pulls her inspiration from the ocean, and breathes freely among redwoods. Crissi and her husband are both Northern California authors with day jobs. Currently they are kicking their kids out the nest (2 down, 1 to go!), and can't help spoiling their beautiful, bratty Maine Coon cat.

      Thank you!

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