Five Reflections on Two Months Sober

I’ve been a drinker for over a decade. Maybe not every day, but let’s say three days a week on average, at least three drinks, wine or beer. I did some time with whiskey years back, but decided I’d rather keep my pants on. It’s not the healthiest lifestyle, but neither is it something A&E wants to do a show about.

The week of Dec. 7 had been particularly drunk, and since I’d gotten into a pattern of late of saving my boozing and my hangovers for the weekend, I thought I’d change it up. A sober weekend. Well, two days has turned into two months now. It’s without a doubt the longest stretch I’ve had since I could drink legally, and probably since before that as well.

I had thought maybe of writing about it after one month, but it just didn’t seem like enough time, and since I don’t know how long I want to keep this up — it’s not something I entered into with a plan like, “I’m never gonna drink again” or even “I’m taking six months off” — I thought I’d share a few of my observations about sobriety. Can’t do anything these days without keyboarding about it later.

So here are five reflections on two months. Hope you dig:

1. It sucks

It’s true. Being sober is way harder than being drunk. I won’t lie, I’ve done a decent amount of problematic boozing in my day. You have a shitty late night at work, come home, five beers, bed. You have family drama, seven beers, bed. Maybe on a Monday night you come home from work, have 10 beers over the course of seven hours and make a night of it because you’re miserable and you’re having one of those, “every decision I’ve ever made in my life has been wrong” kinds of days.

Drinking to alleviate some inner turmoil or self-directed dissatisfaction — or at very least escape from it — isn’t healthy, but it sure is easy. Being sober and actually having to face the chasm head on, on the other hand, is hard. You begin to see your patterns for coping, but the kicker is that seeing them doesn’t do anything but make you feel worse. And you know how you don’t get to deal with feeling worse when you’re sober? By drinking. It’s been an interesting cycle of force-fed miseries.

2. I’m still awkward

Some of the best drinking in my life I’ve done to cope with a social situation. I’m a weirdo by nature, the kid in the corner my whole life, and to this day, I’m a piss-poor conversationalist, well-suited to spending my days in front of a laptop screen. Drinking never made me Mr. Cool or gave me abs like Budweiser’s marketing specialists would have me believe, but at least with three beers in me, I can fool myself into thinking I’m doing alright.

Sober? Well, there ain’t a moment of facepalm-worthy awkwardness that gets by Sober Me. Sober Me catches it all, internalizes it, and although a given conversation may still be progressing, I’ve already marked it as a failure. And so it ends. Weirdly.

3. Booze is expensive

If there’s an upside — and I’m not yet convinced there is — it’s that hooch costs money and not spending money on hooch allows you to spend money on other things. Like records. Or camera lenses. Or more records. And where The Patient Mrs. stood ready to remind my ass of just how broke we actually were at a moment’s notice when I was blowing $200 a week on fancypants beer and wine, now there’s a novel laissez-faire attitude when it comes to things like swinging through a record shop when I should be on my way to work. From my end, it’s just good to know I’m irresponsible no matter what.

Should I accidentally manage to save some money as well, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but primarily, it’s just nice to have a little more cash to work with on the day to day and not have to feel like I’m breaking the bank stopping for iced tea in the morning.

4. I still feel like crap all the time

This one might be the biggest bummer of all. I’ve got friends who take time off drinking or who have stopped altogether on a permanent basis and what you always hear is, “Oh, I feel so much better!” all in that breathy weight-has-been-lifted tone of voice. Screw that. I still wake up three days a week with a headache. I’m still sore. I don’t feel like I’ve been through some cleansing process and come out on the other end a better person. I feel like crap. And I can’t even drink about it!

Granted, the fact that I get an amount of exercise close enough to zero to be statistically insignificant might have something to do with it (see “laptop screen,” above), but still. I’m not thinking I’m going to stop drinking and two months later be as active as, say, the elderly couples in AARP commercials. But give me something! You would think that if you spent a decade poisoning yourself and then you cut it out there would be some discernible difference. Somebody get me a bowl of ice cream.

5. I’m in no way an alcoholic

I’m glad to know. Alcoholism is a real disease that effects scores of people the world over, and I’m not one of them. After however long developing a drinking habit, it’s been way too easy to be like, “Yeah no thanks” and just drop the whole thing. I don’t think someone with a genuine dependency gets to do that.

Hell, I had four separate Xmas celebrations this year (five if you count the office party). If I can make it through that without a drop, I can do anything. In the last two months I’ve been rejected for mortgages, had to put a dog down, been to shows, had more than a decent share of shit-tastic days — all occasions that would seem to warrant a few beers if not a full sixer — and still, nope. That’s not me bragging. I’m still as much of a wreck and as incapable of dealing with my existence as ever. I just apparently don’t have the illness that makes me drink to cope with it. Thanks, science.

There you have it. I don’t know how AA would feel about this list, but that just what I’ve noticed. And if you take something away from it, take away the fact that even realizing all this crap, I’m still not having a beer. On some level, I think it must be worth it. That, or I really like having the cash. Ha.

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20 Responses to “Five Reflections on Two Months Sober”

  1. Ron says:

    Great post man……you do it for as long as you feel is necessary. Being sober does suck…I can’t drink anymore cuz of reflux and I do miss that nice buzz. But thats life right? We cope and we move on. Good luck with the mortgage biz and sorry to hear about your pup.

  2. JohnArz says:

    Agreed on all five counts. I used to do annual drying out for a couple of months, but stopped after the second kid was born. Sometimes you just need the crutch. Good on ya for sticking with it, though. Those first couple of weeks are a fucking disaster of ill temper and weird dreams.

  3. Bill Goodman says:

    It’s good that you realized you have issues and are working on resolving them. I’ve known a few people in the past that have fallen to alcohol including my own father when I was 11. Granted I’m in Chicago, if you need to chat or talk just to get something off your chest, fell free to get ahold of me. I’m sure there’s a lot more people out there that will read this that will do the same. As far as the “behind the keyboard” thing, it sounds like a case of introverted personality. I can relate. Stay strong!

  4. Roosevelt says:

    Sounds like you should be drinking more water if headaches are an issue. You are probably dehydrated. Also eat good food. It doesn’t all have to be the the healthiest, just not over-processed dog shit. You get out of your body what you put into it. Just because you’re not drinking, doesn’t mean you aren’t poisoning yourself with all the other crap people tend to ingest.

    • I avoid processed food as much as I can, no fast food, no soda, etc., though you’re probably right on the hydrating front. I’ll try to be more conscious of it going forward. Thanks.

  5. Chad says:

    Great read. I completely agree with all points. Nice to know you’re not alone in how you feel, huh? I especially feel close to point #2. I’m very similar. I struggle with dealing with awkward silences, so I end up talking about anything and, more often than not, I feel like an ass at the end. Having a few, helps to break down that barrier. Pretty sure the subject matter has less substance though. Currently I’m on a diet and drink very, very rarely. Perhaps one a week. I was never a real heavy drinker, just your weekend booze-hound. I love beer. Love it. Not so much the buzz, I just love drinking. The same went for smoking (tobacco). I only quit because of the health ramifications. I fucking love smoking. Love it. I could pick up a cigarette anytime and it’d be like yesterday. I just try to be more disciplined with myself. I plan on a bender on St. Patty’s day and that’s it until this weight is off. I’ll probably have a few cigars this summer. Just not every day. Plan for it. Stay disciplined.

  6. Chris West says:

    Awesome. This is great JJ, if you don’t need it and can carry on without it then keep going. I managed three months a while back and I really appreciated the extra cash for sure. Very sorry to hear about your dog as well dude.

    Keep going, you never know it may just take a little more time for you to stop feeling crap and it’s great to know there are more awkward people out there as well. You’re not alone by a long way.

  7. Tad Léger says:

    I’ve always enjoyed partaking in this & that since high school.
    as an artist & musician it’s sometimes VERY hard to get through rehearsals recording, ENDLESS hours recording, then mixing, which seems to go on FOREVER. you really need something to adjust your attitude sometimes, or end up wanting to strangle someone, or run screaming into the night in frustration. in no way do i condone using booze or anything else as a crutch but if you’re able to keep things in moderation, stay focused on your goals, health & your work ethic doesn’t suffer, then i think it’s fine.

    i find if you are truly working & as productive as possible, you’ll find very little time for recreational partying & i believe that’s the key to keep a monkey off your back. you have to replace the hours you spend in inebriation with activities that give you a sense of accomplishment, because that is the greatest high there is. that’s why we write, paint, write songs, play shows & tour. even though you have to endure loss of sleep, money & quality time with your family, our creations define us & leave our mark upon this cruel world.

  8. Mr Neutron says:

    Some good honest stuff here.

    I’ve been on a tear since my mom passed away about a month ago, and have always used alcohol as a “social” crutch.
    It’s somewhat comforting to see that names i know (if not the actual people) deal with some familiar issues, and not be preachy dickholes about it.

  9. jonnee2001 says:

    get a hold of a beer,smoke,line or whatever, just dont let it get a hold of you.

  10. Ed B says:

    me no boozing 10 months now because of an autoimmune condition – still sucks
    As Ozzy says “not drinking and not doing drugs is fucking boring”
    but good for you

  11. Ben says:

    Hey brother, I’ve been dead ass sober for 2 1/2 years now. The first year was very difficult but I remember having a real moment of clarity where I realized that everything in my life is better without booze. Drinking away your problems does not at all get rid of your problems. It often makes them much much worse. Keep it up dude. You rock!

  12. Ben says:

    And as painful as exercising is at first, once you get into it, it can really change your life. I use exercise as a means to get high now, better than any drug, hands down.

  13. joust1 says:

    August 2011 until now, not one drop. Took two months of rehab. Completely done and so over it, and as far as the awkward social situations, it’ll get better and way funnier trust me.

    At my heaviest drinking I was at 255lbs, since I quit, hitting the gym everyday I’m down to 220lbs, the pro’s outweigh the cons times a million, you”ll see.

  14. Great post, it’s nice to read something so sincere. Saludos!

  15. Maddlock says:

    Very honest words! I can’t tell much about the alcohol-thing, because I thing it sometimes helps to ease the pain a bit, not more.

    But what makes me wonder is what you say about awkwardness and feel bad all the time. The same was my situation, I have an strong allergy disease. So I searched for answers all the years and found this theory about it(in german it”s called”basisallergie -“baseallergy”) . For example: If you react allergic at house dust mites it`s just a symptom NOT the disease origin itself. The reason is located within your daily food intake. Most of allergic-people haven`t been breastfeeded the whole 6 month as a baby. Instead they where feeded with breast milk substitute. It usually contains gluten, milk, yeast, glutamate, in the states also maybe corn and sometimes even more. So your immune system wrongly is permeable for those substances. It results in so many different disorders(asthma, unnatural hunger, mentally unstable …). So start to avoid all products with milk for the first weeks, then(if necessary) go on with avoiding gluten-products , and so on. Try to avoid it 100%ly. You will feel so much better within a few weeks, no joke! It`s definitly annoying to find out which are the wrong substances(takes some detective work).

    Nowadays I`m on a strong diet(probaly for life), I even can`t drink beer :( But it`s worth.

    Hope it will help you and that it does`nt sounds to missionary.
    In Europe this theory isn`t well known. But it really works. Only pharmaceutical industry won`t earn any money with healthy people(my consideration).

    Sorry for bad writing, had`nt much time.
    For more questions, pls write to my mailbox.

    Greets and thx for the great page,
    Maddlock

  16. ed says:

    Excellent summary of exactly how I feel after one sober month. Wrapping up about 3 decades of drinking here. I always felt number 5 as well and reinforced my position by thinking I didn’t have to drink every day, and proving it by not drinking everyday. At the end here I decided no, I am an alcoholic. I think the magnitude of some of reasons 1 through 4 prove I am. It is very hard to stay on the wagon even for a month. I think the personal disgust I felt the last time feom embarrass ing myself in vomit falling on the pavement laying in the yard sleeping in the garage I dontknow if that’s not indicative of a serious problem I dont know what is. Good luck

  17. deeballs says:

    im 2 months sober also, and you nailed it. this cracked me up

  18. DazzyD says:

    I found your story after googling “alcohol wihdrawal symptoms after two months”. I thought I’d feel better by now, be ten pounds thinner and generally emotionally more balanced. NOT. Like you, I don’t suffer with alcoholism, I started drinking at age 40 and fifteen years later wondering whether the expense and downtime were really worth it. I hope you update this post to inform about the longer trajectory of your sobriety.

    • JJ Koczan says:

      Hi Dazzy. I’ve been sober now ever since this post went up, something like four and a half years total. Don’t miss drinking. I still think people are fooling themselves somewhat with the instant “I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER!”-ness like after a day of not drinking, but there’s no question I’m healthier now than I was when I was getting loaded all the time and I don’t in the least regret giving it up. I wish you the best of luck on your path.

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