September 4, 2018

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

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.

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.

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Kristian Strang

author: Kristian Strang

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