5 Ways My Life Would Be Different If I Hadn’t Given Up Drinking

This blog was originally published on The Fix

At a little over four years sober, there are often times when I stop and simply wonder what my life would be like today if I were still drinking. Though there is no surefire way to know exactly what that life would be like, I have some ideas.

1. I wouldn’t have met some of the most important people in my life. Sobriety has led me to cross paths with so many of the people who play a vital role in my life currently. One of my best friends is a fellow recovery blogger and we came across one another online. We actually even share the exact same sobriety date. Because of our common experiences, we have been able to provide one another with support and understanding, as well as advice when needed. Because of recovery resources online, I’ve also met a large number of other women who provide a great community of people just like myself. I can’t imagine my life without these people, and yet if I were still drinking, I’d never have even known they existed in this world. Sobriety has a way of bringing you to the people you need, even if you may not think you need them right away. Sharing a common experience creates a strong bond and gives you a solid foundation upon which to build a relationship.

2. My physical health wouldn’t be a priority. When I was drinking, I paid no attention to my physical health. Drinking made me bloated and gave my skin a yellow tint. The alcohol combined with the drunk eating also made me gain about 30 pounds. I was unhappy with my physical health and appearance, yet I didn’t care enough to stop drinking. Drinking was my priority, even if that meant my body suffered. In recovery, I’ve come to realize that physical health plays a large role in every aspect of life. Today, I participate in an intense workout program 4-5 times a week and make sure to move even on my off days. Though my diet isn’t perfect, I also pay more attention to what I eat in comparison to when I was drunk and would eat an entire pizza alone. The truth is that your physical health affects so many parts of your life — your mental health, your energy level, your self-image. It should be a priority, and sometimes alcohol can get in the way of that.

3. I wouldn’t have had the ability to stay in a long-term, committed relationship. Like many people who have had a problem with drinking, I used to make awful decisions when I was drunk. This included my decisions regarding men. Because of my inability to make the right choices in that department, I never had a long-term relationship when I was drinking. Instead, I bounced around and had random hookups, which always left me feeling guilty. But today, I’ve been in a relationship for nearly three years. I am able to be fully present in the relationship and for every choice involved in it. I no longer fear that I will get too drunk and be unfaithful. I have someone who loves me the way I am and respects my decision to no longer have a relationship with alcohol. And I couldn’t be more grateful to my sobriety for leading me to him and making the relationship possible.

4. I likely wouldn’t be as successful in my professional life. I’m lucky enough to have had my current full-time job for two years and thoroughly enjoy what I do. The same goes for the freelance work I do. But when I was drinking, my work life suffered. I often lacked energy due to drinking or felt incredibly sick because of an awful hangover. I called in sick more than once because I just couldn’t face being professional and acting like I had it all together. Today I don’t need to worry about that. I wake up early each morning and often work out, then get to work bright and early. I’m reliable and I work hard. I’m also lucky enough to be able to make a partial living off of sharing my experiences about sobriety and recovery, which never would have been the case had I continued to drink. When you shut the door on something negative, you’ll find that you open yourself up to your full potential and things fall into place.

5. I wouldn’t know self-worth or self-love the way I do today. Alcohol affects everyone in different ways, and some people don’t suffer at all when they drink. But that wasn’t the case for me. Like I mentioned before, my physical health suffered greatly at the hands of alcohol. But more than that, so did my self-perception. Because I didn’t feel good about the way I looked, I let that affect my perception of self. I didn’t feel worthy of good things, which may have been part of the reason I kept drinking. It was a vicious cycle, really. But in recovery, I’ve been able to rebuild my self-respect. It’s not something that happened overnight, though. It took time and patience to become comfortable with myself as a sober person. But any amount of discomfort was worth it when I realize that the way I see myself today is worlds different than the way I used to. Your self-respect and self-image are important. If drinking affects them negatively, it may be a good idea to reexamine your relationship with alcohol.

Recovery is different for everyone. These points may not resonate with you and that is okay. If you’re sober, I encourage you to take the time to think about the ways your life would be different if alcohol was still a factor. Chances are you’ll feel a renewed sense of confidence that cutting out alcohol was the right decision.