This used to be me…
Always living for the next opportunity to go out and party.. I was the girl that would get tipsy after only a couple of drinks and dance on tables and poles at bars and nightclubs. It was my way of “letting my hair down” and unleashing the inner vixen that so badly wanted to be seen and heard.
I remember frequently waking up after nights of drinking suffering from pounding headaches, anxiety, dizziness, and dry mouth. My body was telling me it was suffering and it so badly needed rest and recovery. In addition to the physical hangover symptoms, my friends also reminded me of how crazy I was acting on the dance floor and some of the weird things I was saying to people, which made me feel guilty, sad and ashamed. Needless to say, I also earned the nickname of “wild child” when I would go out and drink with friends.
Of course this was only a snapshot of a period of my life. I was in my early twenties and all I wanted to do was drink and have a good time. Oddly enough, I thought it was the drinking that allowed me to have a good time but it was really the experiences I was having with the people I cared about. As my excessive party girl habits changed in my mid twenties, my drinking habits continued on, whether it would be drinking at restaurants, parties, holidays, or just polishing off a bottle of pinot noir to myself at home. My drinking habits were a slow wake up call, or a progressive realization that my relationship with alcohol was very dysfunctional.
There was really two major reasons why I chose to drink alcohol. The first one was it was socially acceptable to drink and it was my way of feeling included with friends, family, and colleagues. When I was younger I was involved in a lot of extra curricular activities but I was always naturally more introverted and would frequently “live in my head” and overanalyze everything. Drinking alcohol was a way for me to feel accepted in whatever group I was with at the time. Not drinking alcohol made me feel left out because I wasn’t aware of who I was or what I had to offer yet. I wasn’t comfortable being the real me.
The second reason I chose to drink was to numb out my strong emotions. As a sensitive person that feels a lot, alcohol was a lubricant to “protect me” from getting hurt or feeling too much. It was my go to for pushing away all sorts of emotions in my life from anger, to sadness, to excitement and happiness. Red wine was always my “go-to” drink of choice after a stressful day at work, a cure for my Saturday night boredom, or a reason to celebrate a promotion at work or the holiday season. Society normalizes these things as reasons to drink, however in my own experience, it is a cop out and it just made things worse over time. After a few years of contemplating my relationship with alcohol and trying so damn hard to moderate my consumption, I threw my hands up in the air and surrendered. It wasn’t easy but I knew I had to end my relationship with alcohol if I wanted to move forward out of stagnation in my life.
Today I celebrate 90 days of sobriety. I can write on forever about the benefits 90 days of being a non-drinker has done for me, but that isn’t what this post is about. My purpose is to inspire you to question the role alcohol is playing in your life. How does choosing to drink alcohol benefit you in your life? It may be that you drink a lot, moderately, or hardly at all. Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones that never even started in the first place! Whatever the case may be, my intention is not to judge, just to get you to start thinking about why you drink. I challenge you to think very deeply about this. The true answer may surprise you.
For a long time I believed alcohol was actually helping me but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. It was hurting me and if anything, it was slowly killing me mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. I believed alcohol made me more confident, likable, and interesting. The truth was I wasn’t comfortable with the person I was on the inside so I continuously would hide behind different masks in order to be accepted and validated. Looking back on this wounded part of myself, I now give her a big hug and tell her she is perfect exactly as she is. This takes courage and the willingness to be vulnerable. It is choosing self-love and acceptance and it definitely takes time and I am still working on it, trust me. The truth is I am already perfect exactly as I am. I just know drinking alcohol takes me further away from my true self so I choose not to go that direction anymore.
I understand giving up alcohol or even having the courage to question your relationship with booze can be difficult. I totally get it, trust me. If someone would have told me a long time ago I would enter my 30’s sober, I would have laughed and not believed them. I used to live to drink. Forget everything else important in my life such as building relationships, having good conversation, or laughing at funny jokes…all of that was second priority to my drinking. It was like all of those things didn’t matter unless I knew I had enough alcohol to get me through the evening. Alcohol was the prerequisite to me having a good time and that in itself was exhausting. I also used to think people that didn’t drink were lame but knowing what I know now, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Alcohol, whether we admit it as a society or not, is an addictive drug. I do not consider myself an alcoholic but I definitely consider myself strongly effected by the addictive nature of the drug. The only way to rid it from the body, is to simply avoid it all together.
It takes awhile to adjust to a sober lifestyle so it is important to be kind to yourself. I still struggle every so often and usually get triggered when I am out at a restaurant or at family parties. It is important to not take away the fun in your life during the transition to sobriety. I treat myself to fun things frequently whether that be bubble baths, kombucha, chocolate, exercise, yoga, acupuncture, manicures, pedicures, trying yummy food at new restaurants, having good laughs and fun activities with my husband, friends, and family. I also have been exploring creative hobbies such as painting. knitting, or working on a DIY home project. These things have become non-negotiables in my life and they definitely keep my life more rich and exciting. I find myself forgetting about the fact I do not drink anymore because I get lost in all the new fun I am having!
My sobriety is sacred and now part of my spiritual journey. I get to live my true self everyday and that feels so powerful because it is my choice. I am no longer being controlled by an addictive substance. My life is amazing, my life is authentic, my life is free. I am now in control of my choices. Life isn’t always a happy rose garden, but at least I know I am being true to myself. Sobriety is the best decision I have made for myself and I honor this decision with my heart everyday.
I challenge you to question your own relationship with alcohol today…What role does it play in your life? Or if you’re a non-drinker, how has your choice not to drink improved your overall quality of life?