10 Lifelong Lessons I Learned From Being Sober For 3 Months

by Tawny Lara

In the fall of 2014, I decided to do the unthinkable: give up alcohol.

As a former bartender and party girl, life without booze was never a possibility. But, the older I get, the more I realize that there’s more to life than binge-drinking and making out with randos.

I decided to test this theory for three months and here are 10 things I learned during my sobriety:

1. How to go out and not drink

Being "that girl," who sips water while her friends have drinks isn't as tragic as it seems. It was interesting to see how alcohol would slowly begin to affect others.

Words would begin to slur, people became more outgoing and for once, I was the quiet one.

When I drinking, too, I didn't notice those things because I was transitioning along with them.

2. How to socialize away from a bar

While going to a bar isn't terrible, it definitely was not my first choice for sober socializing. Yoga and coffee became my favorite ways to spend time.

When gatherings stopped centering on alcohol, I began to remember life as I lived it.

3. No more feelings of shame when looking at your phone the next morning

I used to be the queen of drunk texting and calling. I would wake up and look at my phone only to discover that I FaceTimed someone at 4 am, thinking I had gone to bed shortly after 2. *Cringe*

4. Alcohol made me a negative person

When drinking was my go-to, I found myself making fun of others, gossiping and talking about the past.

When booze was taken off the table, I discovered that I’m eager to discuss goals, dreams and the future.

5. Sober birthdays are fun and memorable

For the last 10 years, my birthday was an excuse to slam whiskey and blackout. I was determined to celebrate turning 29 in a different way: I had a sushi dinner with a small group of friends.

I had a bit of sake, but soon found I didn't even want it. In fact, I was happier without it. It turns out good conversation with good people (and cupcakes!) are all you need to have a happy birthday.

6. What feelings feel like

Whether I was feeling angry, anxious, sad, stressed or scared, I often chose to numb the pain with whiskey. But, not having alcohol as an outlet for a few months forced me to actually feel those feelings. I learned more about myself and how to handle situations in a productive way.

7. When you go public about a problem, people listen

I announced my problem with alcohol through a vulnerable post in my blog. Some told me they admired my courage, some asked how I did it and some even opened up about struggling with an alcohol problem for years.

While I got an overwhelming amount of support, some reactions were appalling. I heard everything from, "So… what do you do for fun?" to, "Yea, like that's going to last!"

8. Alcohol is not required to survive the holiday season

Christmas 2014 could have easily been my most stressful holiday to date. It was the first holiday I spent in the same room as my parents in more than a decade. It was the first time my mother met my stepmother, and I had my mom as a roommate for a week.

One of those things could have been enough stress to send me over the edge, but I chose to go with the flow, manifest the best and “feel” the stress when it happened.

9. Which celebs are sober

When I'm interested in a topic, I tend to research it incessantly. I discovered a long list of celebrities who have a different perspective on alcohol.

Blake Lively has never cared for drinking, Jennifer Lopez avoids booze because it dried out her skin, Bradley Cooper stopped drinking at 29 and never looked back and Russell Brand is wide open when it comes to discussing his recovery.

Naïvely, I assumed everyone drank like I did because that's the group I chose to surround myself with. #narcissistprobs

10. How to have a few drinks and stop

My biggest takeaway from this experience was learning how to appreciate alcohol for what it is and no longer making it my lifestyle.

I am now able to enjoy having a drink or two with a friend, being in bed before midnight and avoiding the drunken phone call shame. From time to time, I’ll give in and have more than I should, and I’m happy to say that those times are now few and far between.

The sober life isn't so bad; it's actually pretty badass. Experiencing this new world has helped me find the balance I actually craved.