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  • The Pot of Gold At the End of the Rainbow: 4 Benefits of Stopped Drinking

    For a long time, I thought I had to “give up” alcohol, and the thought was almost devastating. To give up implies sacrifice and being deprived of something of value. Like most people, I did not want to miss out on life – especially on something that the majority seemed to enjoy. I felt like a little kid who was asked to watch all her friends suck on bright-colored lollipops but forbidden to have a taste. “This is unfair! I want it too!” my inner five-year-old was screaming at the top of her lungs.

    It took me a very long time to discover the truth and realize that I was not giving up anything worth having. On the contrary, by letting go of alcohol, I was finally allowing myself the full range of experiences that life offers. The real treat of life is to experience every single moment with full presence, not through dulled senses. Living life in sobriety is like tasting a fresh watermelon for the first time – the bright-colored watermelon lollipop suddenly loses its appeal in front of the freshly cut, juicy slice. I discovered there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Allow me to share with you what I found.  

    I Look Better 

    I thought the dark circles under my eyes were just “the way I look,” and the puffiness around my face was part of aging. I blamed the constant weight gain on my slow metabolism. Little did I know, these were all the doing of my favorite lover, alcohol. Once alcohol left my life, my skin was clearer; my face was brighter; the dark circles under my eyes vanished, and the puffiness around my face disappeared. A few days ago, I saw a lady smiling back at me from the bathroom mirror, with sparkles in her eyes, and I realized that was me. 

    I Feel Better

    I used to feel tired all the time, regularly waking up with a pounding headache, and was unable to start my day without a few cups of espresso. My energy level was low, and I often wondered how other people go through their days full of energy when all I could think is how many hours were left before I could crash on my couch and pop open that bottle of wine. Again, I thought these were signs of aging. Only after alcohol was out of my life did I find out that I have just the same amount of energy as those who I used to envy. It turned out that waking up feeling refreshed and headache-free is not a luxury that only belongs to the lucky few. I am amazed that I can feel clear-headed after just a cup of decaf and still have energy left over to enjoy a lovely conversation with friends after a day of work. 

    I Have More Money, More Time, And More Energy 

    I used to always feel tight on my budget. I never had money left over by the end of the month, and a $200 item was often too big of a purchase for me to afford. Time was another thing that was tight, and I always felt like I needed more time to take care of all the tasks on my plate. Assignments were often scrambled until the last minute, and any additional chore felt like the last straw on the camel’s back. Taking a new hobby is virtually impossible. “This must be what adulthood is like,” I claimed.

    Of course, it turned out that the scarcity of money, time, and energy had little to do with adulthood and much with my love affair with alcohol. Now, with alcohol becoming an irrelevant part of my life, the money in my account stopped magically disappearing. Just the other day, I paid $800 for a cooking class. It was still an investment, but it didn’t feel like giving up an arm or a leg. Now I finish all my projects before their due dates, and still have extra time and energy to learn a new skill as I always wanted to. Only after I experienced living my life sober did I learn how much money, time, and energy alcohol had drained from me.  

    I Learned My Worth And To Love Myself More 

    The most painful part of my relationship with alcohol – one that I never spoke of during my decade-long love affair – was that, deep down, I believed that I was unlovable and damaged. It was a vicious cycle. The more pain I felt from that belief, the more I used alcohol to drown my sorrow, and the more I drank, the more that belief seemed to be true.

    Today, with the love affair existing only in my memory, alcohol becomes a past lover, whom I have loved, hated, and reconciled with. In this long journey, I finally learned that I was always lovable. My worthiness was never in question – whether or not I was drinking. My struggle with alcohol did not, does not, and will not ever define the core of who I am. But in that long, black tunnel of daily drinking, my eyes were blinded by the darkness; my worth was covered by mud. I could not see the light and lost touch with my core.

    Sobriety was the dim light at the end of the tunnel, gleaming in the distance to guide my way. For a long time, I didn’t know what was on the other end, and all I did was follow the glimmer. Finally, when I came out of the tunnel, I found a colorful new world with green grass and beautiful flowers, just like many have promised. As the tears of healing slowly wash off the mud and dirt covered all over me, revealed underneath is a me that has always been worthed loving. 

    Still wondering what is in the pot at the end of the rainbow? For me, it is a rediscovery of my true self. If you are curious about changing your relationship with alcohol in 2023, I have created some FREE worksheets to help you have a jump start. May you find joy, peace, and true freedom in your journey.