I pour what’s left of the non-alcoholic wine down the drain in the kitchen sink. I no longer feel like romanticizing the shit that used to be killing me and plus this imitation nonsense tastes like vinegar and gives me a massive headache. I read somewhere on one of the billion sober sites I follow that you can actually have a bizarre reaction to alcohol-free wine where you feel drunk. Some kind of weird psychosomatic situation. I did feel buzzed which freaked me the fuck out. And I found myself doing this cringey thing where I treated the fake shit just like I did actual wine back in the day (haha, yes only forty-eight days ago but who’s counting besides me). I worried how much of the stuff I was drinking, wondered if it would it be really bad if I finished the whole bottle, how much was left, how much my husband “sampled.” It was legit insane especially considering I didn’t even like it that much. Plus it cost way more than I would have spent on the real deal. Fuck that. The jig is up, we are not doing this. I drink like twenty Pellegrinos a day and that’s that.
What you don’t think about often enough during early sobriety, or I feel like I don’t anyway, is how many hangovers you don’t have to crawl your way out of. How many fevered useless arguments you don’t have. How much anxiety doesn’t course through your sweet little veins. And I know we count days because for some reason we have to which is to say that for some reason it helps us keep going, but it isn’t just the time passing that is healing us. To be fair, there is an element of that, scientifically speaking. Once alcohol finally leaves your system at around nine or ten days clean, your body begins repairing itself on its own (how fucking amazing and miraculous and incredible is that, by the way).
But the rest of it is mentally quite a steep challenge indeed. You are actively engaged in fighting back against this menace who lives inside your own house. You are up against this thing that you have literally trained your brain to believe is essential – E S S E N T I A L – for your survival. As in your blessed little fucked up brain is telling you over and over that a drink is the answer to every goddamn thing because your addiction has trained it to believe that is so. It isn’t that your head is telling you that alcohol is the solution to boredom, anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia or whatever else because your brain is broken or defective. Your brain is working as it should thinking it is keeping you safe and alive. You have physically become dependent on that shit because your brain believes it is necessary.
Getting sober is this wild work of reorganizing your mind. Paving new pathways that teach your brain to reach for actual things, thoughts, techniques, treats that will actually take care of you. Comfort you. Get you back to your precious balanced self. Contrary to popular belief, time is not what heals all is what I am saying. Doing the work of healing heals all. And for as difficult as it can be at times, how surreal and outrageous and subversive, it is hard but it’s the good kind of hard. It is the work of being human even when you’d long forgotten just how extraordinary that can actually be.