Resisting The Temptation To Drown Anxieties, And Other Quarantine Adventures.
Darlings! It’s Tuesday, it’s May, it’s still a global pandemic and we’re all trying so hard to keep our stuff together long enough to think about dinner. This one’s a short one, but it’s an important one to me. This one’s for all of you out there struggling with substance issues.
As I’ve told y’all a million, trillion times (look, my personality is not drinking, liking dogs, and being loud. I know my brand), I am five years without alcohol. And I credit the decision to stop drinking with nearly every good thing that has happened to me since then. Since quitting, I’ve been able to temper my anxious brain in a healthy way, I’ve tried to embrace my own faults while celebrating my achievements, and I’ve had the clear head needed to decide that I deserved a better life than the one I’d been barely inhabiting before, in many more ways than one. And the only reason I’ve made it this far in this quarantine without losing my mind is knowing I have all my faculties, that I’m already doing well by just waking up and not drinking.
That’s huge, and that’s a comfort to me.
But is this quarantine challenging? Yes. Uh, yea. Oh god yes, it freaking is. So might I recommend two new pieces to read that I found compelling, and a reminder of why not drinking is a super power I wouldn’t give up for anything? Well here they come!
Friend of the Missive and one of my favorite humans Alex Wilhelm wrote a great piece on the challenges he’s tackling as an ex-drinker in quarantine, outlining the steps he’s taken to protect his mental health and keep going during this time. All of his tips, from creating new daily patterns to leaning heard into hobbies and projects, mirror my own efforts pretty closely. And here’s the bit that really spoke to me: it’s not about being perfect, or expecting that you’ll get this all “right.” It’s not like not drinking means we’re suddenly zen as heck, smugly nestled in our perfect choices and yoga-strong bodies. No, it means we’re all now having thoughts like “After all, what time could be better to get hammered around the clock? Everyone else is suffering from their own stuff, so pass the breakfast vodka and call me on Thursday.” But instead of drowning those thoughts and obliterating our own achievements, we go for a walk or text a friend or grab a pint of ice cream and call it a day. It’s about knowing there’s no such thing as a perfect sober quarantine, and that we all just have to do the best that we can.
And then over at Vice, Molly Priddy wrote about how quitting, and the myriad of discomforts and indignities and tears and fears brought up within, prepared her for this extended period of lunacy we find ourselves in. I’ve had this convo with a few of my sober friends, but I feel like the five years I’ve spent getting comfortable in my own skin and forcing myself to sit in my own brain without numbing—and let me tell you: my brain is a messy bitch who lives for drama— have made my transition to quarantine much easier than I expected. I found myself nodding along enthusiastically during this whole piece, especially when she describes the skills she’s honed “knowing that being alone with my feelings won’t destroy me; and knowing that even though I’m doing something I find super annoying and disruptive to my life, the day-to-day inconvenience is worth the long-term payoff.” And this kicker hits me right in the feels: “Staying in control each day after the one before is difficult. It’s a sign of hope to factor in a better future.” That’s it, that’s the nugget: we quit drinking because we believed it could be better, NEEDED IT to be better.
Anyhoo, I’ve got no further words of wisdom to share here. Maybe one day, I’ll write some opus on the enlightenment I’ve enjoyed as an ex-drinker in isolation. More likely, today I’ll make myself breakfast, get ready for work, check in with my friends, and forgive myself for a Tik Tok binge or two. All I know is, no matter how hard all of this is, I find comfort in knowing I’ve made it exponentially easier on myself by choosing to remain booze-free, and by spending five years investing in my own happiness and resiliency. And I’m eternally grateful for that.
Be kind to yourselves, won’t you?