6 years ago, my life hit rock bottom: my parents unexpectedly got divorced, I hated my job (especially my “Boss from Hell”), and my live-in boyfriend walked out on me for another woman. Just when I thought my life couldn’t get any worse, I drunkenly crashed into a car at a stoplight on my way home, injuring two people in the process. Suddenly, prison—a word that had never been in my vocabulary before—was my soon-to-be future.
I ended up spending 3 1/2 years in the Florida state penitentiary, and though it was more difficult than you could ever imagine, it changed my life—for the better. A timeout from society gave me the opportunity to soul-search and reflect on every decision I’ve ever made. It allowed me to realize what was important in my life. And at the end of the day, that something didn’t include alcohol.
How it All Started
In the past, I was your quintessential binge-drinker. Whether it was sorority date functions in college or paid-for bar tabs in law school, there was always an excuse to party and let a little loose. But the consequences of my irresponsible behavior were steep—a killer migraine the next day, coupled with a day’s worth of nausea and misery.
Looking back, I don’t know why I put myself through such physical turmoil. But it sure is nice today waking up feeling refreshed, never having to worry about carrying out the day with a splitting headache.
I’m happiest when I’m busy and feeling productive. But I found after having a glass or two (or three) of wine, I’d often feel sleepy and dazed, able to justify putting off work that needed to be done. I’d miss deadlines, make excuses, and request for extensions. Now, I can accomplish what I need to with a clear mind and not wake up scrambling to complete what I should have the night before.
Looking (and Feeling) Better
When I was a practicing attorney, the world revolved around me. Money was always at the forefront of my mind—how to make it, and more importantly, how to spend it. I was selfish, self-centered and rarely thought of anyone else. Once others were affected by my self-destructive actions, however, it caused me to take a step back and really re-evaluate my life.
I was sick and tired of only focusing on myself—the time had come to start serving others and give back. Without alcohol in my life, I’ve been able to do this, and as a result, I’m a much happier and fulfilled person.
I went into prison at 27 and, when I got out, I noticed that I had barely aged. In fact, the aging process seemed to reverse. My skin was glowing, my muscles were toned, and the dark circles under my eyes seemed to disappear.
Cutting out alcohol made me look the best I had in years! And as an added bonus, I have an easier time maintaining my weight, as I don’t overload my body anymore with empty late-night calories.
More Time for Hobbies
In my past life, my nights and weekends were usually spent at a bar or club. Now, I focus my energy on learning new things and developing new skills. In the last two years, I’ve taken up tennis, taught myself Spanish and enrolled myself in two writing courses.
The possibilities to better myself are endless, and I’ve found that not once have I missed sitting on a bar stool with a bunch of strangers.
Attitude is Everything
Before prison, self-pity was my best friend. I had so much to be grateful for, but, instead, focused on all I didn’t have, constantly comparing myself to others. Life wasn’t fair, I often lamented. Why did I have it so much worse than others? This negativity bred more negativity, and I’d regularly turn to a bottle of pinot grigio, feeling sorry for myself.
Now, I’m thankful for everything I have, and that, in turn, has made my life so much more worthwhile.