I gave Dry January a try, here’s what happened…
A few months before we rang in the new year, my body started sending me messages. And to be completely honest these messages from my sacred temple were nothing new, I had just gotten really good at ignoring them. And because I ignored them, they started to get louder, until they became so loud that I could no longer not listen.
Once I tuned in to these messages, it became real clear what my body was trying to tell me, and the cold hard truth of it all was that the bad habits that I’d use to deal with my stress, my pain, and my emotions were slowly but surely turning on me.
A drink or two the night before started wreaking havoc on my body and my mind, leaving me confused and unsure because “I just had two drinks, why do I feel so terrible today?”
The anxiety increasing, the depression showing me its ugly face again. The old familiar feeling of unsafeness rising up inside of me. All messages that I hate receiving and all messages impossible to ignore.
Next came the cannabis, which is my longest running vice, and now it too was turning on me. That was a real punch in the gut for me because I have found so much healing in my long journey with this plant medicine.
Even the thought of living life without it sounded like some big joke from the Universe that left me wanting to hear the words “JUST KIDDING” come down from the heavens. But unfortunately, that was not the case.
It started slow, with body aches and pains increasing as soon as it entered my body. Then a stiff neck each and every time I would partake. Even trying different strains from totally different sources didn’t seem to fix the problem.
It only increased the subtle thought that maybe it was time for me to part ways with my long time coping mechanism.
So with these messages from my body (which holds more wisdom than we even understand) screaming at me loud and clear, I prepared to get sober come January 1 and give this Dry January trend a try.
What the heck is Dry January anyways?!?
Dry January is somewhat of a new trend that’s catching steam thanks to all of us Millenials that are drinking way less these days.
After all the heavy drinking, eating, and indulging that happens during the holiday season, detoxing and rebooting isn’t far from everyone’s mind, and that’s where Dry January comes in.
The sole purpose of Dry January is to abstain from alcohol for the whole month. According to goodhousekeeping.com, this actually comes with a wide range of benefits, like better sleep, clearer skin, weight loss, and increased energy.
There is a sober curious movement happening and listen, I’m not complaining, I just here to give you my experience with it.
Full disclosure thoughts from your’s truly
Truthfully, these past 31 days haven’t been the easiest. I wish I could say that it was and that I conquered it with ease and resiliency, but in actuality, the struggle to get through them was VERY REAL. And to be totally transparent with you, I did have two glasses of wine on January 24th so it wasn’t a total success either.
But what’s important here for me to share is what I learned, because I learned a lot, not just about the experience and what it feels like to be sober in 2020 but also, I learned a whole lot about myself and what I needed to work on more as a person.
Because when you remove all those vices in your life that keep you from facing your truest rawest nature, you can be sure that some shit is gonna come up for you. Shit that you tend to stuff deep down inside and refuse to face, oh it’s gonna come up, and for me, that’s exactly what happened. Let’s get into it, shall we?
1. People get uncomfortable around you when you are not drinking and they are.
THIS!! Because it’s so real and to be honest, I don’t understand it, but really it isn’t for me to understand. This is their own stuff they need to work thru, not mine. But the type of questions you get and the energy you feel isn’t something you can ignore.
In my case, especially because they know me to socially drink and smoke, people were really weird about my choice to participate in Dy January. They asked me questions like: “Are you pregnant?”, “Is everything ok?”, and the kicker, “why, what happened?”. As if something drastic needed to happen in order for me to make a healthy choice for myself.
I don’t blame them, it’s just not what they are used to, but also they shouldn’t be so nosy. Or maybe they’re just expressing concern. But really showing concern over me making a healthy choice sounds absolutely absurd, doesn’t it?
And then you have to sit there and explain your decision, which is frustrating for me because I really don’t want to talk about it and explain my decisions to anyone. But such is life.
4 ways to deal with this:
- Pretend you’re drinking.
- Pretend you’re hungover.
- Pretend you’re sick.
- Turn down all your social outing invites.
And if all else fails, have your explanations ready because you can be 100% sure people are going to ask you about it, not because they are genuinely concerned, (maybe, maybe not) but because it’s bringing up something in them that doesn’t sit well. Perhaps their lack of awareness of their own alcohol consumption or perhaps their need to also quit the habit mixed with their fear to actually do it. Who knows, but either way, be ready for this.
2. New cravings will replace the old ones.
I’ve always heard this happening when people get sober and in my own experience with my husband, it became evident that this was in fact true.
In 2016, my husband got sober for the first time and with alcohol no longer running the show for him, his cravings for sweets soared to new heights (and weights for that matter).
If I remember correctly he gained about 40 pounds during his sober journey, which really makes you wonder if sobriety is just switching out one problem for another?
I’m sure that’s not the case but in his case it was. In mine, Dry January removed my alcohol consumption AND my cannabis use. However, it seemed like “the case of the munchies”, as one gets under the influence of marijuana, stuck around with me the whole entire time!
During this Dry January experiment, I found myself reaching for the sweets more often than not, and especially in times of stress and pain.
Since I know my body so well, I knew this was 100% a side effect of freaking Dry January! I’m not a snacker in general and I tend to stay away from the sweets, most of the time. So this change didn’t go unnoticed nor did it go unsatisfied. I totally gave in to all of my cravings and I’m not even mad at it.
To each their own but if you’re thinking about sobriety be prepared for this to possibly happen.
3. Time seems to go by so slow.
I think the problem with this is that I put a date on it. The first time I got sober because this wasn’t the first time, there was no end date. I just wanted to not drink until I felt better again mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This time I set all kinds of numbers and dates around it. 31 days, 4 weekends, 1 month.
I even put up a calendar in my office that I saw every day so that I could track my progress. This had the reverse effect on me because it only reminded me how much longer I had to keep this commitment going.
With my first shot at sobriety there was definitely a problem, but this time my mind and spirit were in the right place, it was just my body that needed healing. And because I tend to push past physical pain way better than I can push past my mental pain, it was easy to feel like this was a chore rather than and healing process.
I’ve learned that I don’t like boxing in things with deadlines and timelines, etc. I perform my best when I just go with the flow. Next time I’ll consider this.
4. Time also expands and you get so much more stuff done.
I guess looking back, Dry January was meant to be because it allowed me to accomplish all the goals I had set for this month and so much more.
Everyone always goes into the new year with a grandiose plan about how they are going to change things and this is going to be their year, blah, blah blah. And look I’m guilty of it too.
I prepared way in advance for 2020 to get here. I was ready and with all this extra time being sober and clear headed, I was able to focus on getting shit done. Which actually turned out to be my saving grace because when my shit came up, it gave me something to shift my focus onto.
5. You find clarity in sobriety but you also find a big pile of mess.
Without the marijuana clouding my mind and the alcohol masking my pain, I found clarity in a lot of things. I got clear on what I want for my business, I got clear on what my body needed and changed my diet, and I got clear on some of the biggest issues that were holding me back from moving forward.
I found that underneath all the vices that had become apart of me, I am actually carrying a whole lot of anger. Anger about my past and things I cannot control. Anger about how life has been unfair to me and unfair to a whole lot of people. Anger about how some people are just shitty AF and will never change.
I mean the list goes on and on. I do question why my pain and issues manifest themselves into anger instead of sadness, depression, and anxiety, although I have had my fair share of that.
I question it because anger seems so much more dangerous to me.
There have been days where I felt like a ticking time bomb. There have been days where I’ve lost my temper and taken it out on my children. There have been days where I’ve treated my husband like shit for no damn reason at all.
It’s a scary feeling knowing that at any moment you could explode and even more so because I have no clue how to deal with my anger issues.
Dealing with my depression and anxiety wasn’t easy but I found a clear path for that healing and it’s a path I take almost every day because it’s become a part of my life. So naturally, I tried these same tactics to deal with my anger.
Meditation every morning, journaling, affirmations, and working out consistently to move around my stagnant energy.
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These things took the edge off for a bit but they never really helped me. I would still found myself pist off and every little thing seemed to piss me off even more. Once this became apparent, I knew it was time to reach out for help and so I did.
When my anger issues came to the surface, I realized that Dry January was apart of my journey and was meant to happen all along. This anger problem I’ve stuffed down needs to be fixed or else. I’m currently finding new paths for healing and doing what I can to release this anger that’s stuck inside of me. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.
***Anger, depression, and anxiety are different for everyone and it is always recommended that you seek professional help if you feel called to. If you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm please call 1-800-273-8255 to find 24/7 support. If you need help with substance abuse or mental health issues call 1-800-662-4357. It’s free and confidential.***
Final thoughts on Dry January
Overall, I am grateful for my decision to participate in Dry January. I don’t want to say that this was a bad experience (even though it did bring up some bad stuff) because there was a lot of good that came out of it too.
Physically I feel healthier and I’m proud of the progress I made this month on my goals and resolutions. I’m also proud of my resiliency to stay commitment all the way to the end (minus that one day) even when all my shit started to come up.
Will I stick to being sober?
Probably not but I don’t think I’ll be leaning on my vices so much anymore. I like the clarity and productivity I now have because of this experience and I’m taking that with me.
Do I recommend this?
I’d say yes, I do recommend it but I’d stick a big fat warning label on it too. Removing something from your life good or bad will always create space for new things to come in, good or bad. People need to be prepared for that. And when the messy stuff comes up and I can guarantee you it will, preparation for that is also needed.
I think the important takeaway from this is that getting sober for any amount of time is a learning experience and a vehicle for extreme growth on a personal level. Which is ALWAYS a good thing because growth is the essence of life.
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