A Year Without Alcohol: 7 Month Update
A few months back I shared my decision to take a year off from alcohol. There I included my background with booze, what led me to make the decision, and how I had fared so far in the experiment.
I decided to check in with another update - this time in podcast format - because of the added clarity I’ve received around why I think this choice has been so beneficial for me, specifically in the relationship and work departments of my life, and how I think I’ll proceed with alcohol in the future. Below is an overview of what I covered in the podcast, links to a couple of the resources I mentioned, and the full episode itself (#26).
I won’t repeat the full history and story again (you can read that in my last post), but at a high-level, I was making decisions while drinking that were not in line with the values I hoped to be true about myself. I believe this was due to things in my soul that needed healing, and also misdirected energy that was finding ways to surface in unhealthy behaviors under the “release” of an altered state thanks to alcohol. Several times I had felt this was something I needed to address in my life, and typically I would end up dismissing that nudge since I didn’t think I had a “problem,” or compromising and giving up alcohol for a more limited amount of time, with no real results seen at the end of those breaks.
I share the story of what led me to make the more dramatic step back for an entire year (this is the podcast episode that included the synchronous confirmation of the year-long time frame), and my reason for sharing an update this week was due to the fact that I just hit the 7 month mark in this journey (woo!).
As I’ve gotten deeper into this experiment, I feel like I’ve begun to more clearly see the fruits of this decision and the ways in which my life is benefitting from it. Here are a few of them:
Lessening an attachment to a specific person - Since alcohol was one of the contributors to me finding ways to reach out and stay connected to someone who was not right for me at this season of my life, it’s no surprise that removing it has dramatically improved that situation. Even one or two glasses of wine used to lower my defenses enough to find myself wanting to reach out, even when my logical mind had firmly told me I wouldn’t just hours before. Alcohol removed = problem solved. Which has naturally led to a greater disconnection and has really helped with my healing in this area.
“Spirit not Spirits” - One particular evening with a guy friend, I had the conscious (sober) thought that if I was drinking, I could have almost guaranteed we would have ended up making out, thanks to me. Not that I think that’s a big deal or a horrible decision, but in this instance, I wasn’t ready for that, and didn’t feel nudged to take our relationship in that direction. Days later I was reminded of the verse that said, “don’t get drunk on wine….but instead be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18). And I thought about how poignant and powerful that was for this stage in my life, where I am delighting in the ability to constantly connect with my Inner Voice, and trust that guidance for every decision possible in my life - most importantly about things like who to date and when to release that decision out of my own hands. When I think back about the times in my life I have proceeded in certain relationships against the guidance of my Inner Voice, it has often ended in pain or sadness, and not that they’ve been bad or I haven’t learned or grown from those experiences of course, but when I think about the alternative of making decisions based solely on the wisdom and guidance of God, a loving being and creator who is looking out for my greater good, why would I ever want to divert from that wisdom? And I realized that when I’m drinking, my direct connection to that voice and guidance is blurred, and it’s made me re-evaluate and question why I would want to intentionally bring that blurring into my life.
Increased creativity and productivity - It’s not a coincidence to me that my creative and productive output has vastly increased during this time too. It feels as if I’ve cleared a channel for that energy to flow more freely through me, and that feeling is oh-so-wonderful.
Increased trust and love for myself - By proving that I can exercise self-control and discipline in this one area of my life, it’s increased my trust in being able to exhibit those same habits in other areas as well. I’ve stated this before, but one of the best things about this experiment has been reframing it as an act of self-love and care rather than one of punishment, and because of that, it makes me feel like I’m willing to do really good and hard things to show how deeply I love and care about my heart, body, and overall well-being :)
Improved life data - I strongly believe one of our tasks on this earth is to be scientists of our own lives. To collect data on how to optimally live and love, and as I’ve been loving doing that in other areas of my life, it was easy to carry that over to this experiment, and allow myself to approach this time period scientifically in order to take note of the times I find myself wanting to reach for alcohol, the times I’m most grateful I didn’t drink, the results I notice when the presence of alcohol has been removed, how I feel, how it’s improving my happiness, etc. All of this is helping to inform how and if I’ll decide to introduce alcohol back into my life in the future.
Inner insights - As mentioned in the last post, a big goal of mine during this time was to dig inward and try to uncover some of the reasons these behaviors were surfacing in the first place - since I felt they had more to do with my inner self than with my relationship to alcohol. And I’ve made some powerful discoveries. The first being the connection between sexual and creative energy, and recognizing that as I may have been blocking some of the creative flows in my life, the outcome was sexual energy being expressed elsewhere in unhealthy ways. Being intentional about allowing that creativity to flow freely and to dwell in the pleasure of what it feels like to create out of my own soul has felt incredibly healing and exciting for me. I also have learned a powerful mindset shift around visualizing myself as the fully loved, fully confident and self-assured woman that I am, that allows any form of energy not matching that feeling to much more easily melt away. I expand on this topic in the episode more.
Tips for easy and fun sober living
After 7 months of living that sober lyfe, I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two around making this experience more enjoyable. Here are some tips that have helped me in case you’re ever in a similar boat:
Come up with drinks that are fun to drink! I love the Seltzer Waters from Trader Joes (they come in a 4 pack box in the flavors Lemon Ginger, Blood Orange and Orange Juice, and Cranberry Lime). I splash bitters in them too (which yes, technically does contain alcohol, but you use such a minuscule amount that I’ve never felt it, and I liken the amount to be the same found in Kombucha - another fave bev during this time). I also buy fun juices (preferably with low sugar) to splash in sparkling water, and am obsessed with the fact that the “To the Power of 7” juice from Trader Joe’s looks identical to red wine.
Ask bartenders and servers to make you fun mocktails! I’ll give them an alcoholic drink I’m in the mood for (i.e. a French 75), and they usually do a pretty great job of making you the non-alcoholic alternative ;) I also ask for my drinks in fancy glasses to make them feel more special too.
Create a new ritual around a drink that you can look forward to drinking. Like a special tea before bed, or a fun coffee drink that makes you excited to wake up for.
Think about how good you’ll feel the next day without a hangover. “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want right now.” I use this quote for deeper things usually but it applies here because what I want most is definitely to not have a hangover in the morning.
I’ve learned to harness the amazing power and feeling of sitting in and delighting in pure presence. The joy of being fully present in my life and in a given moment, and the buzzy excitement that comes from feeling everything around me in a sensual sense (i.e. using all 5 of my senses to anchor myself to a moment and to the people I’m experiencing it with) easily replaces, and typically surpasses, the experience of being tipsy or drunk.
Recognizing there has been a move in the wellness and self-development world away from alcohol as people are starting to notice its interference with stepping into the fullest and most awakened version of our selves.
Reading the book Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington. I could not recommend this book enough. Whether you plan to give up drinking ever or not, I think it’s so important to take a good introspective look at a substance most of us consume on a fairly regular basis, and this book walks you through all the nuances of consuming alcohol in a thoughtful, empowering, and non-judgmental way.
I have truly loved being sober so much. Many times I can honestly say that I believe my life is better without alcohol than it is with it. That being said, I do see myself drinking again in the future, but in a much more minimal, controlled, and intuitive way.
The question I hope to answer before consuming a beverage (or multiple) is: “Will this drink help bring me in higher alignment?” Meaning: not just, will this drink make me feel good and happier right now? Cuz, duh. But will having this drink elevate and enhance this current moment and experience, will it benefit myself and the people I’m surrounded with, and will it aid in my greatest health today and the days to come? May sound like a lot to consider for one drink, but I believe that stopping to check in with my intuition and play forward these simple questions will allow me to keep my greatest interest and good at heart.
The most important thing
Finally, I’m going to copy and paste the same ending from my last post here because it remains the most beautiful and powerful takeaway from this experience, and is what I most hope to convey when sharing my story around this:
I hope this post does less to convince people they might need to temporarily give up alcohol, and more to empower you to listen for the voice that’s looking out for your greater good, for the most full and free and joyful life you could imagine, and reminds you that you’re worth pursuing that, and you’re strong enough to do anything it takes to run after that life. Love you friends, sending you peace and love wherever you’re at today.
Ditto forever. Thanks for reading, and listening, friends. Take such good care of yourselves.
Listen to the full episode here:
[Important Note: I am in no way qualified to give any advice around the consumption of alcohol and what is right for your life, this is only my story and experience. If you feel that alcohol is something that has too strong of a hold on you or is continuing to play out in unhealthy ways - and this is where I would highly encourage you to listen to your own Inner Voice - I would lovingly encourage you to seek help on a professional level. Whether that is therapy, a doctor, AA or other support groups, there are many amazing experts who are equipped to meet you where you’re at and get you on the path to living your most full and healthy life. There is no shame, only healing and celebration waiting for you on the other end. Love you.]