Alcohol Free: the right choice for me...
"Sober Curious" is everywhere at the moment. Seems to be a trend especially with the much younger than me crowd. I applaud them for their openness, their curiosity. These millennials have much to teach us. In my 20s the very last thing on my mind would have been the idea of doing the weekend (or most other nights) without a belly full of drinks. Working in the food and beverage industry in downtown Vancouver in the late 80s early 90s, nobody I knew was "sober curious." The belief that good times could not be had soberly was firmly entrenched in my mind. Truthfully alcohol consumption was already not serving me back then.
Deep down I always knew that booze did me no favours. Yup, there were some hilarious times. Some ridiculous times. Some epic memories. Also, there was a nagging sense that engaging in that kind of consumption was choosing to not be fully present in so many moments of my life. Big moments. Wedding moments. Family celebration moments. Sad, saying goodbye moments. Society, family, peers, and media all conditioned me to believe that a drink in hand was the best way to experience all of the moments. And yet... There was an unease around it.
When I was pregnant with my three kids, I stopped drinking entirely. I experienced such quiet joy. Vibrant health. Full presence. Deep sleep. Oh my god, the sleep. I returned to wine following each birth eventually. But those months had provided me with an experience of life straight up that I could not forget or deny. My soul whispered – more of that... I actually missed being pregnant and the accompanying sobriety.
Over the years I would do “cleanses” and New Year’s Resolutions for health, and fitness blitzes where wine was firmly not allowed. Again, that sense peace would arrive. The restorative sleep returned. I gained these beautiful mornings where there was no dry mouth, queasy tummy, headachy fatigue. These booze breaks were an incredible relief and deep healing for my body.
In my forties I began to take stock as is common at that stage of life. There seemed to be two kinds of people: those who were in rehab because alcohol imploded their life and those who could “handle” alcohol. Those categories did not reflect my experience. On every level I knew that alcohol was not adding value to my life. There might have been a time where it was a net neutral, but that season was long gone. When I reflected on what it really “did” for me I began to see the illusion. It allowed me to join in with the camaraderie of the moment. And that is really where the positives ended. And so I chose to quit for good. I say that like it was no big deal, easy peasy. It was not. It took work. It took commitment. The effort was and continues to be paid back in spades.
Without wine numbing my mind, dulling my emotions and taking down my body physically, I began to take care of myself deeply. I found practices that enhanced my life big time. Yoga and meditation brought a sense of profound well being and awareness to my life. Around this time I moved to the land I live on now and began to spend vast amounts of time outdoors in nature. With nature came more wellness. I started to write. Grew a garden. Made beautiful food grown with my own hands. Slowly I became more and more fully present in my own life. I don’t drink on purpose. I see now that it kept me small, stuck, numb, distracted and physically compromised. It absolutely did not add quality to my life. It took far more than it gave: vibrancy, energy, consciousness. It remains a rebellious choice not to drink. It also remains one of the very best choices I have ever made.
So as summer comes to a close and autumn is gently knocking with her cooler evenings, I take stock. Is this radical decision still serving me? Or is it an over-correction as many friends and family members have asserted over the past five years? I would not return to that hangover haze for love or money. Sipping kombucha on restaurant patios is what added value to my life this summer. Waking up every single morning clear headed and with energy to spare added value to my life this summer. Being fully present for each conversation and remembering every single word added value to my life this summer.
I applaud the "sober curious" trend even though I am not at all curious about my choice. It is certainly not the right choice for everyone but it is absolutely the "rightest" choice for me.