12 Things I've Learned After 12 Years Sober

Illustration: Assa Ariyoshi
Twelve Januarys ago, I woke up with my last epic hangover. There was nothing special about this particular hangover – just the usual dread, nausea, thirst and sick, sick head – but something inside me snapped that morning. I had a flash of insight. I’d stop drinking. After two decades of epic hangovers, I’d had enough.
I used to be a brilliant drinker – I never threw up, threw punches, fell down, or went home. I could drink large men under the table, do shots like Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sure, I’d black out, but who wants to remember everything anyway? And so what that my fingertips were tingly, my kidneys achey, my face blotchy, my friends frowny – it was all in the name of fun, wasn’t it?
Except it wasn’t. Fun, I mean. It had been for years, but then it wasn’t. Like a relationship gone sour that you are too scared to leave, I needed to break up with booze. And like ending anything toxic, it felt terrifying at first, then liberating, until it became the new normal. An ongoing, wondrous, joyful normal, of which I have yet to become bored.