January 2018 will be my third year doing Dry January. I started in 2015, after spending some time in New Jersey over my Christmas vacation, which I had named “The 10 Days of Christmas.” My friends and I planned all the things we were going to do during those 10 days; some of it was cheesy holiday stuff (think Christmas light shows in Philly) and some of it was not (think The Riv in Pennsauken). I was ready to party, and so I did. For. 10. Days. Straight. I was a fucking disaster. I didn’t come home some nights, and the nights that I did, I was a shit show. I passed out on my mom’s dining room floor. She woke up in the middle of the night, got me up, and sent me to bed. What parent ever wants to see their child like that? My argument “I told you this was going to be 10 days of partying…I’m on vacation!” I blacked out almost every single night.
On December 29 2014, the 10 days came to a close, and I drove back to Delaware, a knot in my stomach. You know that binge drinking after effect, where you’re filled with anxiety, coming down off whatever rollercoaster you were just on, everything feeling wrong? I handled it the only way I knew how: slept, then drank more. A friend came down for New Year’s Eve so we partied at The Barn apartment in Harrington. Another blackout. January 1st consisted of nothing but laying on the couch. Laying there, I was unable to bear that empty yet full of dread feeling, so I made a drink. Another day gone.
On January 2, 2015 I looked at myself. I looked old, and dry, and bloated. I looked haggard. I looked how I felt on the inside.
I have no idea how to fully explain where I was at this point in my life, without giving you every single detail of what got me to that exact moment. But I’ll keep it quick and concise: I was angry over so many things that had happened in my life, angry at myself and at other people, and I spent years, YEARS, thinking that by not giving a fuck about anything, I was showing them how worthless they were. But what I was doing was treating myself like I was worthless. I felt it. And that shit felt so wrong. January 2nd, during some point in the evening as I was getting ready to go back to work, it hit me. That the only person I was hurting was myself. That I was completely miserable, and frustrated. That I didn’t want to be this person. That I was stuck.
All of this came to me, like a revelation my head and my heart finally agreed on, and when it clicked, it felt like an electric shock inside. I needed to change. I wanted to change. And so January 2nd kicked off my first Dry January. Up until that point, I’m not sure the longest time I had ever gone without a drink. Though my binge drinking was always saved for the weekends, I would have a few drinks throughout the week. Going 30 days seemed daunting.
The first week was so…bizarre, I couldn’t relax and couldn’t sleep (maybe 45 minutes each night). My mind felt like it was on fire. I had nervous energy. I started running (well initially it was 4 minutes walking, 1 minute running) and agreed to do my first 5k, Run to the Plunge for Special Olympics Delaware. I started to feed my body differently, to actually care about what I’m putting in it. I went on a first date on January 30th with a man who ended up being very important to me. I ran the 5k on January 31st and finished in about 34 minutes +/-. I thought this was it. I thought that tunnel vision feeling I’ve had for as long as I can remember was over. I thought that was the end, I was fixed now.
January 2015 wasn’t the end, it was the beginning (of Amy the Upgrade as my friend JJ calls me). So much has changed for me in 3 years. Physically, I’ve lost about 45 pounds and am in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I’m conscious about the food I consume (unless it’s Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which is why this January is also “natural sugars only” January!). I enjoy working out and challenging myself to become better, faster, and stronger. I just ran my first 10k a couple of weeks ago. I’m way more active and find peace and pleasure in hiking and kayaking. I tried rock wall climbing (indoors, none of the free range “this is how White people die” shit). Mentally and emotionally, I’m putting the work in to be equally as healthy as I am physically. I’m learning to forgive myself for things that I’m not proud of. I’m trying to look at those years I spent angry and blacked out as what it took to get me here today, and not as wasted time. There are a lot of things I’m just coming to terms with. But guys, it feels open and free and fucking amazing. There are some days that I don’t feel like I’ve grown at all. I’m not everything I want to be, I’m continuing to do the work.
This life style changed has opened my eyes to a lot of things. It forced me to question myself, and ask “If I’m doing something that makes me unhappy, why am I doing it?” So, if you’re doing something that makes you unhappy or does not leave you fulfilled, I ask you: Why? What’s the alternative?
This sounds like some hippie, “I’m on a journey” BS. Do I wish I came to this realization sooner? I honestly don’t know. Things are starting to feel right in my life. And I’ll also tell you, I enjoy one drink now way more than I ever enjoyed one bottle of vodka then.