Jason Vales

30 Days of Freedom

Today marks 30 days since I had another Day 1. I feel totally free right now. I feel like I can take whatever comes my way - good and bad. You see, I had learned to reach for a glass of wine no matter what my day threw at me.

  • Had a shit day? Drink!
  • Celebrating something good? Drink!
  • Kids throwing a temper tantrum? You deserve that glass of wine!
  • Going to a birthday party? Grab a beer!
  • Are you reading a book, watching T.V., listening to music? DRINK!
  • Taking a vacation? Relaxing with friends and family? Going to the grocery store? FOR GOD'S SAKE JUST DRINK ALREADY!

I have always been a drinker. A boozehound. A lush - but it was always kept in check. I never crossed the limits. I never wound up in a ditch (although one night many years ago, before children, I did run smack dab into a bush and busted my flip flop). I welcomed a glass of wine with gusto. Always. Never really turned it down.

I used to be sad when I would go to baby showers and there was no alcohol. I remember taking the kids to Gravitopia (an indoor trampoline park) one time and thinking, "I wish they served wine here."

But lately, with raising toddlers, juggling a small business and going through the regular stresses of the day (and let's be honest, these are all princess problems. I know it's stressful to be a working mom these days, but I'm not exactly living in a war torn country fearing for my life), I started to think about alcohol all the time. And I started picking up bottles of buttery yellow Chardonnay and sweet sparking rose for the everyday Wednesday.

I would have good intentions to just drink a glass. But alcohol is freaking addictive people! And I couldn't have just one. I would usually drink the whole bottle, leaving me irritable, tired, argumentative and just pissed. I would sleep like crap, get out of bed and then do it all again even though I said I didn't want to.

Last September (September 2017), I somehow stumbled on Annie Grace's The Alcohol Experiment (I think it was a FB ad) and it completely changed the way I viewed alcohol. Annie uncovered the lies I had always believed to be true:

  • alcohol relaxes me
  • alcohol allows me to handle my stress better
  • alcohol makes me a sexy grown up
  • alcohol is the center of all my sources of enjoyment

I made it about 8 days but continued trying to unlearn some of my behaviors. While I didn't stop right then, I did start to view my actions differently. I made it about 13 days through Sober October and several days in January 2018. I even went to a concert sober in January. But after about Day 13 or 14, I would always slip back and start at Day 1. Again and again and again.

Here are some things that I did that helped tremendously. My husband drinks and was not interested in quitting for even a challenge (totally cool and fine with me) and most of my friends drink so it's not like I have a lot of sober inspiration around me physically. So I turned to online support and courses. There are a lot of them that I used - it's almost been a year in the making to get to 30 days so I didn't do these all at once!

  • I read books. And books and books and books! I really needed to immerse myself in learning about how other people viewed alcohol in a negative way - to change my behavior and thought patterns. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that I actually had the energy and interest in reading after the kids went to bed (before, I would be two or three glasses of wine in and just go to sleep). My favorite books are:
  1. The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley - I am actually reading this for the fourth time. As a mother of little ones, she just so accurately describes some of the unique stressors that come with being a mom, raising small children and doing all of the little duties that sometimes become pretty mundane. She is funny. She is smart. She is compassionate and I just can't recommend this book enough.
  2. Mrs. D. Is Going Without by Lotta Dann
  3. Kick The Drink Easily by Jason Vales
  4. This Naked Mind by Annie Grace
  5. A Happier Hour by Bex Weller
  6. Alcohol Explained by William Porter
  • I signed up for online courses
  1. I loved the Sexy Sobriety 90-day course. It was an investment but I looked at it as that, since I needed all the support I could get to break this ridiculous habit! Bex offers interviews with women who have gotten sober, recipes, elixirs and live coaching calls that are all really helpful.
  2. My favorite course, though, was James Swanwick's 30-day NAC. It's really affordable and each day he provides a video (typically 20-25 minute videos) addressing best practices from a slew of experts. He is interesting, relatable and offers a private Facebook group to be part of. I have watched the videos several times and it's nice to revisit.
  • I stopped buying wine - I know this sounds so ridiculous but I would buy wine and then drink it. Because, of course I would. If ice cream is in the house, I'm going to eat it. Same thing with wine. It's just too easy to pour a glass if it's right there in my face.
  • I started buying non alcohol drinks - This is definitely something that is up to someone's preference. I am in the middle of reading The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray (LOVE IT. I will add it to the "read" list when I am finished) and she explains drinking near beer is like being a car accident victim wanting to experience a car crash simulator - that is a paraphrase. It helped me and I find myself not leaning on it too much these days but I like Becks non alcoholic beer. I also started experimenting with different soda waters and teas. I love Sprout's sparking lemonade options.
  • I started an Instagram account - This has helped me so much. Before, when I would declare to "never drink again!" to my husband, I would last a while but no one ever really held me accountable. To be fair, I never told my husband how much I really wanted to see it through. It sounded like a harmless declaration but I didn't ask him to hold my feet to the fire. There is so much sober inspiration and a genuinely supportive community - I feel like many of them are friends now. If you want to follow along, I'm on Instagram at 100 Days of Sober.

I would like to hit days 60 or 90 before going into all the physical and emotional benefits. But to touch on some quickly, I:

  • Have clearer skin
  • Am eating better - not perfect but better
  • Enjoy working out so much more!
  • Am sleeping better

So this story is not over. This isn't the top of the mountain - I'm just resting a bit to reflect and taking a peek down to see how far I've climbed.

What questions do you have? What advise do you have? Thanks for letting me share.