It took me years to finally make the decision to stop drinking. There were numerous reasons I thought I could never be a non-drinker, and those reasons were keeping me stuck in alcohol dependency and living a life that was mediocre in comparison to the great big, beautiful life I dreamed about. I want to take some time here today to discuss some common myths and misconceptions most people have about choosing sobriety.
- You will now and forever be labeled an Alcoholic. I have gone into depth about my opinions concerning the label “Alcoholic”. For those who are not familiar with my stance on the term, I will do a quick review. Becoming addicted to alcohol affects 15 million people per year because alcohol is a highly addictive substance to which our brains and body develop a powerful dependency- it effects every single body system, not one in a positive way. Alcohol is a toxin. Dependency on alcohol prevents us from being able to go more than a few days, or at best weeks, without it. Even the medical lexicon is no longer using the term “Alcoholic”, they have replaced it with the label “alcohol-use disorder” (AUD) and they diagnose AUD as mild, moderate, or severe. That term created a massive umbrella under which most people who drink alcohol will land. If we drink alcohol on any sort of regular basis, we fall under one or another level of alcohol-use disorder since alcohol is one of the top five most addictive substances in the world. All regular consumers of alcohol exhibit some level of alcohol-use disorder, so let’s pass on labeling ourselves or anyone an “Alcoholic” and bypass all the stigma and shame it carries. You certainly do NOT have to start attending Alcoholic’s Anonymous unless you choose to, it is positively not necessary for becoming sober and for many, it is not desirable. I have zero interest in ever becoming part of that organization for a long list of reasons that I will not go into here. As I have acknowledged previously, AA has saved lives and is a lifeline for some, and hallelujah for that. It is not for me and I am in a growing population of sober folks who take a stand in opposition to the “twelve steps” and AA’s fundamental (masculine, oppressive) principals. That said, you DO need community, support, accountability, help, love, self love(!), forgiveness, growth, healing, determination, commitment. All those character traits are wholly necessary for full immersion into this new way of living. But you do not need to ever, not even for a minute, label yourself or ANYONE else an “Alcoholic”.
- Quitting is hard. Making the decision to quit drinking, and knowing your inner compass has wished this for you for maybe your entire adult life, is the hard part. Once you arrive at the point where you realize alcohol is keeping you from living the life you truly want to live, that it is causing unnecessary pain and suffering, that your life could be so much more without the addiction to alcohol with all its negative effects; once you are 100% ready to dive into the Sober Ocean and come swim in the clean, clear, vitality-giving life of that water, nothing is easier. It is the thinking that we are giving up something we love, that we will be missing out on some fun part of life, the belief that life will suddenly be dull and uninteresting, that WE will become dull and uninteresting, that keeps us stuck in addiction. I personally thought I loved the TASTE of my artisan cocktails with all the fresh herbs, berries, and delectable ingredients, but I have never enjoyed drinks more than I have been enjoying my alcohol free “mocktails”. I can say the same for wine. Wine is something we train ourselves to enjoy. Ethanol, the pure form of alcohol and the addictive substance in booze, actually would kill us if we drank it straight. Ethanol is in every alcoholic beverage, disguised with rich, luscious fruit or other ingredients to get us to imbibe. Once our palates get used to NOT drinking alcohol, there is no missing the taste. And in actuality, our sense of taste becomes much more sensitive, acute, turned ON, without the dulling that happens from alcohol. All my food tastes better, the notion that wine makes food taste better is not true. We are brainwashed with ideas about any form of alcohol enhancing our lives. Living in wine country, I know very well all the romance and sensuality associated with wine. The colorful, romantic, heartwarming stories about the history and culture of winemaking, which I personally appreciate and have always revered, made it hard for me to imagine I would never enjoy a glass again. However, a shift happened in my brain, my body, and my spirit. I have a clear-as-a-bell memory of the lethargy, anxiety, debilitating depression, self loathing, muscle aches, hangovers, the myriad struggle in 100 different ways, of how I felt because I drank 2/3 of a bottle of wine every night. The comparison of my wine drinking life to the vitality I am experiencing now makes letting go of my wine habit a total no-brainer. Simple! Sobriety is full of fun, productivity, creativity, love, joy, and endless possibilities. I would not be writing this blog and sharing all I have shared with you, if this were not true.
- Sobriety is boring! If I become sober, I will be boring. This one is about as far from any truth as it gets. I have laughed harder, cried more, felt more, lived bigger, experienced greater happiness and joy, gotten so much more done than I ever thought I could, played, socialized, and lived more fully than ever before since I became sober 98 days (!) ago. Imagine having a day so full of ideas, inspiration, excitement, and vitality, you can’t wait to jump out of bed earlier than you can imagine, just to get a start on it. THAT is sober living.
- I won’t be able to relax, sleep, chill out, enjoy sex, de-stress. You might need to learn new habits, new ways of coping, new skills, adapt some new healing tools, to naturally destress and unwind, deal with conflicts, communicate. Alcohol is a horrible interrupter of sleep, as it totally “F”‘s with our blood sugar, causing first a huge spike which makes us super sleepy, then a drastic drop in our blood sugar as our body metabolizes it, which wakes us up and makes us crave more sugar. One of the first things people say when they give up drinking, and usually in just the first week, is that they are sleeping better than ever in their lives. Uninterrupted, peaceful, happy sleep. Then we start noticing our skin looks better, all the puffiness goes away. Then our eyes are brighter, our energy level is off the charts, we are singing as we vacuum or drive our usual commute, we are seeing and feeling everything at enhanced levels, we feel this new sense of heightened gratitude and appreciation for life, the joy overflows. This isn’t just my experience, it has been pretty much universal in the sober groups to which I belong. It is the sober journey into being authentic, real, healthy, and healed. I may take the rest of my life to accomplish some of the big things I want to accomplish, to make my mark in the world, to leave my legacy. I was never going to get what I wanted as I was dealing with procrastination, avoidance, and other destructive behaviors that were my daily hamster wheel experience while drinking. As a sober woman, I am growing into my best self, and that makes me ecstatic. There really is no finish line.
- I will be missing out- all my friends drink, go out to bars, talk about drinking all the time, I mean -alcohol is part of everything! FOMO. This may be true, but it is absolutely not necessary to drink to be part of social gatherings, celebrations, deep conversations, visions, and all forms of fun. I am having a total blast these days, as I am feeling more emotions on every level, and appreciating how much joy is spilling out of me. If you hesitate to give up drinking, even though you know there is a better life awaiting on the other side of alcohol addiction, trust me. I know it is a leap of faith to walk away from The Booze Bitch and all her lies, but it is honestly the most wonderful, rewarding, truly authentic journey you will ever take. It is easy for me to say I will never drink again, but you never have to say or feel that if you don’t want to, that is my decision and I am completely, ecstatically happy about it. Start with thirty or sixty days (I recommend a minimum of 60!), and see how you feel. Come surf the sober waves with me, they are the biggest, brightest, and most thrilling ever! Just learn the highly developed skill of surfing first-prepare your tool kit for success. I’ll be waiting for you with a delicious mocktail in celebration!!