Why Being Sober might be the Best Idea we Never Had.

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I used to love drinking.

Not in a black out, party all night kind of way, but in a wine tasting all day, champagne toasts at dinner, mimosa at brunch several times a week kind of way.

I was a social drinker and prided myself on never drinking alone (which for me would have felt too much like having an alcohol problem), and I convinced myself that, as long as I wasn’t getting more than just buzzed, it wasn’t a problem.

Except…
I come from a family that struggles with overdrinking and addiction.
I worked as a healer, and I am fiercely committed to my personal and spiritual development.
I had a sneaking suspicion that even one glass of wine was impacting my ability to be as clearheaded and healthy as I would like to be.

And then—the winery I belonged to asked me to be part of their upcoming photoshoot for their new website and marketing materials (yes, they knew me that well).

I declined, and finally admitted to myself that maybe something needed to change.

We live in a culture that’s inundated with messages that say drinking is the only way to celebrate or have fun. Even so, we all know it’s not fun to wake up after a night of drinking and drag oneself through the day (if you’re in your 20s and reading this, just wait until you hit your 30s—the pain doubles). We all know how not fun it is to discover that we’ve texted an ex or our latest crush, saying things we never would have said sober.

We all know it’s not fun to—in order to “soak up” all the alcohol in our body—eat a ton of greasy, unhealthy, not ethically sourced or organic foods that massively disrupt our body’s health. We know how it’s not fun to be unable to fully recall what we said or did the night before, or to actually remember and be horrified by how we or others around us behaved.

And so, one sunny spring day, while sitting outside in trendy northwest Portland, imbibing a glass of champagne with a long-time friend, I had the sudden realization that my relationship with alcohol was over.

As I took my last sips, I could feel how all that I knew intellectually to be true about alcohol—how it’s poisonous for our body and mind, how it’s a socially encouraged habit that keeps us disconnected from our real and authentic self—was all legit. And finally, I was no longer resistant to letting alcohol go from my life.

That was over three years ago, and I haven’t had a drink since.

In the days, months, and years that followed, I had to change my lifestyle. Instead of happy hours and wine tastings, I rediscovered my love of art, farming practices, and walks in nature. These walks brought expanded intuitive guidance, new writing inspiration, and a peace I had not yet known.

Celebrating for me now meant solo time at a spa or with someone I had a connection with. It looked like making new healthy recipes and discovering the different flavors of tea, enjoying sugar-free beverages that were now available to me.

I stopped going to bars and wineries. Instead, I went within myself to find out why drinking had become such a constant in my life.

With this, I began to feel all those emotions I wasn’t feeling when I was busy ordering that glass or two or three of wine or champagne.

The hardest part in all of this was losing friendships that had been rooted in meeting up for wine tastings and happy hours. My sisters kept checking in with me, “You’re sure you’re not going to drink? How long is this going to last?” they would ask.

The truth is that when I stopped drinking I didn’t know how long it would go on, but over time it became increasingly clear that it was 1,111 percent the right choice for me. I couldn’t help but notice that my skin was brighter, and I started receiving compliments about looking a whole lot younger. I slept better than I ever had. I saved a ton of money. I ate healthier, and the overall peace in my life improved.

These were pretty sweet by-products of removing alcohol from my life.

It is often said that we are so free that we can choose bondage. And for me, in hindsight, I can see the kind of bondage that alcohol had me in. And while I didn’t consciously say, “I’m never drinking again!” I allowed my intuition and life to guide me to this truth.

Living sober has been the best idea I never had. But I could not be more grateful for it.

Here’s a quick and easy alcohol cleanse so you can test the waters to see if letting go of alcohol is the right choice for you:

  1. Set a specific amount of time to be alcohol free. This can help anchor your commitment so that you can clearly see the results from being alcohol free. Sharing this with a friend or loved one is a wonderful way to try this way of living out, too.
  2. Take a photo of yourself on the first day of your alcohol cleanse.
  3. Each day, journal either at morning or at night (or both) about your feelings, emotions, and thought processes. What are you noticing about yourself? What new insights are you having about your emotional state and what you need to feel joy and love in your life? Also, notice your physical health—how are you sleeping? What are you eating? How does your skin look? These will all give you signs about how your body is doing without alcohol.
    Please note: You may notice an increased craving for sugar upon doing this cleanse. Because alcohol converts to sugars in our bloodstream, once someone goes alcohol-free they often crave massive quantities of sugar. Refined sugar also has a poisonous effect on the body.
  4. Instead of going out to drinks or happy hour, look for creative new activities to partake in. Try things you’ve never tried before. Let yourself go outside of your usual routine for new discoveries and adventures.
  5. Instead of drinking alcohol, what new, healthy beverages can you enjoy? Fresh juices, teas, or sparkling and fermented beverages?
  6. If a lot of emotional content comes up and you feel overwhelmed, set up a session with a therapist, someone who can give you new tools for how to navigate your emotions in a healthy way.
  7. At the end of your cleanse, take another photo. What do you notice? Brighter eyes? Clearer skin? Look at the photos side by side and journal about what you notice. Then, sit with yourself and your beautiful heart, and ask if you want to make this a regular part of living a healthy life.

Give it a try if you feel called—you may never go back.

author: Kristian Strang

Image: Justin Aikin/Unsplash

Editor: Kelsey Michal

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Kristian Strang

Kristian Strang is a best-selling author, editor, love activist, and mystic. Her books include Live Like You’re On Vacation: An Oracle From The JOGs, Ecstatic Union with The Divine, A Life of Magic: An Oracle for Spirit-Led Living, The Quest: A Tale of Desire & Magic (currently optioned as a film), Following Bliss, And Then It Was You, and Anatomy of the Heart: Love Poems. She has written for and been featured in Bustle, Spirit Guides Magazine, Elite Daily, The Huffington Post, Sivana Spirit, Elephant Journal, Sedona Journal of Emergence, FinerMinds, The Oregonian, Portland Monthly, and the book Fierce on the Page. Join her free love newsletter.

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Kristian Strang Sep 12, 2018 6:22pm

Yaay! Love that you found inspiration here. Keep us posted on your experience. In Love, Xo

Kelly Colacicco Sep 11, 2018 3:02am

Theresa, thank you SO much for mentioning The Naked Mind! I had never heard of the site or what it has to offer! Such a GREAT and positive approach to change. I’m taking the 30 day experiment. Excited to start this journey! Thank you thank you thank you for mentioning! 🙏

Kristian Strang Sep 7, 2018 2:29am

Thank you so much for this beautiful share about your experience. I am so grateful to know that there are more of us out here having this experience. So much Love to you! Xo

Lindarae Horness Ohlson Sep 6, 2018 11:07pm

Thank you so much for this! 🌟 If I had sat down to write about my experience of giving up alcohol, this is what it would have looked like! (Perhaps not as eloquent!) I too, am much healthier, have seen some relationships fall away, had to deal with a surprise sugar addiction and redefined what ‘fun’ meant to me. As Theresa wrote, The Naked Mind changed the way I looked at alcohol and my relationship with it. Now with this article I have both pieces to reflect on. So very grateful. 💞

Bob Mckelvey Sep 6, 2018 7:11pm

Kristian Strang Blessings to you...

Kristian Strang Sep 6, 2018 5:19pm

Bob, your comment gave me tears! Thank you so much for sharing this. And thank you for the inspiration of 34 years sober - what a gift to yourself and to all! You are so right on when you speak about sobriety being the path of being fully present and fully showing up for your life. I wish someone would have told me that long ago - maybe before I started drinking - but I'm so happy to know it now. Many blessings to you, Xo

Bob Mckelvey Sep 6, 2018 12:46pm

Thanks for this personal pasage into the land of sobriety you have shared...I have been sober 34 years and this piece made me cry...tears of knowing, connection and relief for folks who take this path...the path of being fully present for your own experience, of showing up for your life...

Kristian Strang Sep 5, 2018 4:36pm

Thank you so much honey! YES, we are programmed to believe alcohol is "fun" and a way to socially connect, but it actually disconnects us from our true self and true authentic connection. Who would have thought, eh?! I had no idea, until I released it. So much Love to you, Xo

Delaram Hakiman-Adyani Sep 5, 2018 4:44am

Beautifully written Heather! Freedom from alcohol as a social crutch...

Delaram Hakiman-Adyani Sep 5, 2018 4:43am

Beautiful!

Kristian Strang Sep 4, 2018 11:45pm

You are so welcome lovely! And yes, the feeling of freedom is SO good. I so appreciate and value your support. Love, Xox

Kristian Strang Sep 4, 2018 11:45pm

Theresa Pridemore YES. Amen sister! So, right on. So thrilled for you and all that this alignment is bringing and will continue to bring to you. In Love, Xox

Theresa Pridemore Sep 4, 2018 10:56pm

Kristian, I can totally relate!!! I feel like I am learning how to just be the full, fun me without the crutch right now. And also being okay with not always being ready to bounce around and entertain everyone... Just being chill and low key is more than fine, fine, fine. I am noticing that I am no longer willing to lower my vibration to tune myself to others anymore. I care way more about tuning to my own inner being in a way that I didn't when alcohol was a part of my life. Love to you!

Hannah Seraphina Sep 4, 2018 9:20pm

Such a beautiful article, and every word so true!!! Never have I felt better than living a life free of alcohol and toxins. Thank you for another gorgeous piece love. Cheers to sober living! Xox

Kristian Strang Sep 4, 2018 8:57pm

Thank you for sharing your insights! It's incredible how letting go of alcohol can free so much for us. I love what you are experiencing, please keep me posted. I realized that even as a "normal" social drinker - alcohol was clouding so much for me AND I was essentially living out cultural programming to alter my consciousness in order to "have fun". I experienced so much more true fun, true joy and true connection once releasing alcohol from my experience. Who knew?! Apparently, us. :) Love to you, Xo

Kristian Strang Sep 4, 2018 8:55pm

Right?! Such an important reminder how when we are open to it, we are guided to exactly what we need at exactly the right timing. Love to you! Xo

Theresa Pridemore Sep 4, 2018 6:37pm

I gave up alcohol over three months ago, and I have to agree, the shifts I've experienced, and the awareness of the deeper healing that was waiting underneath, are incredible. I had a similar moment in time where I was realizing that I was ready to let alcohol go, and I was curious how it could be easier to do so. An inspiring woman in my life encouraged me to listen to the audio book version of "This Naked Mind," saying that, for her, the urge to drink evaporated after listening. It worked the same for me. When you become fully conscious of the dependency that even a "normal" drinker can have, and how truly poisonous it is, it is hard to go back to a casual relationship with it. I will say that the sugar cravings after the fact are definitely higher than I've had before and that's the next stage of releasing and healing for me. But I am being gentle with myself in these early stages as I settle into this new normal. Having so much more clarity, deeper intuition, greater energy, and more focus have been massively supportive and have helped me serve on such a higher level than I have before. And I enjoy my days so much more. It is totally worth it. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom! It is really encouraging and validating for me as I continue on this path.

Tami Kinner Carda Sep 4, 2018 6:17pm

It never ceases to amazing me. Divine timing <3