April is Alcohol Awareness month but for me, it’s more about Alcohol Self Awareness. I’ve changed my relationship with alcohol drastically within the last year. I drink maybe one or two adult beverages a month but that used to be what I drank daily, if not more. The more distance I put between myself and alcohol the less I want.
Firstly, no matter where you are in relationship to drinking, no shame, no judgment whatsoever. Awareness is everything and choosing self-awareness is a great way to welcome growth.
Getting curious about consumption.
There is a sobering concept (pun intended) that I caught wind of last summer right in time for my questioning of social consumption. Author and podcaster, Ruby Warrington calls it “Sober Curious” and I fell for it because that’s exactly what I was feeling. I found Ruby on The Life Stylist Podcast and then again she crossed my path on Goop. I was ready to get sober curious about why I was drinking, how much I was drinking and why I was choosing to believe that it needed to be “normal” in my life.
I met a fella once who was an alcoholic and he had been sober for over a decade at that time. He was around my age and I was curious, “How did you know you were an alcoholic?” His answer stuck in my brain, “I kept breaking promises to myself.” I didn’t ask for further clarification because I didn’t feel like it was necessary. I knew what he meant. I’ve broken many promises to myself over alcohol. I accepted this information and filed it under: “Something to consider later” and carry on a little disrupted.
Welcoming new self-awareness.
A few years pass and I’m well on my way to the most healed and whole me that has ever existed. I am very committed to doing something I call, “Owning my junk.” Basically, it means that when I have new self-awareness around any behavior, thought, reaction, etc., that I am willing to ask myself a few questions and take a look in the mirror.
It finally happened. I saw how I was BEing with alcohol. I’m over 40. Do I need to do something that “everyone” is doing to relax, have fun or fit in? I was also recalling the conversation about breaking promises. I did this. Heck, I overdid this, at least a handful of times a year if not more. This was my newly discovered Alcohol Self Awareness.
Alcohol was the way I got comfortable being around other people.
This disruption shook me more than I expected.
Here’s the question I asked myself: When was the first time I felt this way? Why was I choosing to believe that a sober me couldn’t show up around my friends to have a good time?
The answer easily surfaced. High school. I started drinking socially in high school and never stopped. Wait, what?
I’m no longer in high school. I sure as heck don’t want to continue making decisions from the perspective of 16-year-old me. I’m 43 with four kids and would prefer to be secure within and not feel the need to alter myself to be around the people I call friends or family. I don’t believe they love and accept me because of my mixing mastery so, I can be me, right?
I decided I would go 30 days with no alcohol. It’s Florida and drinking is basically a pastime, we are primed and ready around here. Y’all! This was way harder than I imagined.
Changing anything habitual or even adding in a new behavior that you have deemed positive is hard. Doing anything different is initially hard. Our brains view change as dangerous, proceed with caution or even abort the mission and we experience resistance even under the best of intentions.
It took a few months for me to settle into socially sober curious me and I did have to try some stuff out. Mocktails, tea, kombucha, just the ritual of holding a beverage was a decent alternative that worked for me.
Being mindful of myself and honoring how I’m feeling in the moment instead of wanting to squash myself into a different form took some practice. Sometimes I want a drink but I’m just tired and need rest. Other times I want assurance that I’m accepted and enough and then have to remind myself that my worth comes from inside me and not an outside source. Uncovering and unbecoming ways of BEing that are part of social conditioning is a practice.
Choosing to be sober curious has been an eyeopening experience that has taught me a few things I needed to know about myself. Avoiding my true needs is no longer something I want to practice even if that means I pass on the Patron.