Despite taking up running in 2016, it wasn’t until I quit booze in 2018 that my level of fitness actually improved. Within 10 months of sobriety, I went from not being able to run a 5k to sprint-finishing a half marathon.
To paraphrase Iggy Pop, I was done beating up my brains with hard liquor, but didn’t want to forego the bottomless brunches, boozy exhibition openings or date nights perusing wine menus. Alcohol went hand in hand with my social calendar. Don’t get me wrong, I knew deep down that if my drinking had carried on as it was I’d be lying in a gutter by my thirtieth birthday. Once upon a time, my drinking was “social” but the blackouts gradually increased over the years, leaving me in some very sticky situations. I stumbled on an article written by Catherine Gray, which led me to taking a hard look at my drinking. A life without booze seemed impossible so I initially committed to just 100 days.
As expected, the first month of not drinking was demonstrably difficult at times. What I hadn’t been anticipating was how euphoric the sequential months would be. I had heaps of energy and enthusiasm. I bounced around supermarkets, skipping merrily through the wine and spirits aisles as they didn’t hold purpose anymore. 6am runs were plentiful and Sunday mornings were spent basking in the sunshine, not curled up in my bed with anxiety over whatever I’d blacked out from the previous night.
6am runs were plentiful and Sunday mornings were spent basking in the sunshine, not curled up in my bed with anxiety over whatever I’d blacked out from the previous night.
You know that “What a Wonderful World” song, where Louis Armstrong croons about the sheer joy of blue skies and red roses? Well, that sums up The Pink Cloud perfectly. Never before had I experienced utter joy in living. My social calendar actually got busier in sobriety, but unlike my drinking days I didn’t bail on friends, turn up late or make an idiot of myself.
The Pink Cloud Syndrome is a term that’s applied to those in the early stages of recovery from addiction to alcohol or narcotics. Sadly, that feeling of unstoppable optimism gets slated by critics. Apparently those experiencing a Pink Cloud are seen to be in denial about their problems and will inevitably relapse due to the sense of exhilaration being short-lived.
I disagree with this. I believe that you can still feel elated at whatever stage you’re at with sobriety. You’re probably facing any problems head-on, with a clear conscience.
For me, being aware that all emotions are generally short lived stopped me from reaching for the Rioja. It sounds corny but only you are responsible for your own happiness. Teetotalism doesn’t make anyone perfect but my life is certainly better than it was before.
Teetotal since 01.04.2018