Today - September 29th, 2019 - is my 1000th day free from alcohol. I’ll be honest, I don’t track my days anymore because not drinking is just part of my lifestyle...it’s just something I don’t do. Miraculously, it’s also something I don’t have any desire to do...I never thought I’d be here.
The thing is, I never considered myself someone who “had a problem.” I didn’t suffer from physical addiction and I was relatively high-functioning in every area of my life. Those around me wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow to my social drinking habits. But the thing is, you don’t have to “have a problem” for alcohol to be a problem in your life.
I’d spent nearly an entire year before I mustered up the bravery to take a 30-day break from drinking trying to quiet the little voice inside that was telling me there had to be more to life than partying and recovering from hangovers. I tried (and frequently failed) to practice moderation in an attempt to have the best of both worlds. I listened often to the fearful voice in my head that reminded me I’d be a social outcast if I chose to not drink. I believed the lie that you had to hit rock bottom before making a change. I looked for mentors my age who’d also given up alcohol for the health of it and found no-one. I felt alone in my desire to take a break from drinking; this only prolonged the process until one day I’d had enough of listening to the voice of fear. The voice of possibility had gotten just loud enough. I wanted to listen to her.
I’ll be honest, I started this journey with a modest goal. I thought I was merely taking a short break from alcohol; just 30-days to re-set my system (read this post for more on my opinions of alcohol-cleanses). Thirty days turned into 90 days and 90 into a full year. One-thousand days later, here I am, with absolutely no desire to drink. I’m not only alcohol-free, but I’m also free from alcohol.
So, what got me from being a party girl in denial that there could be a life beyond drinking to being where I am today (happier, healthier, and more confident than I could have ever imagined)? Well, as you may have guessed, it wasn’t counting days or sheer willpower. There was (and still is) a tremendous amount of inner-work and grace that went into making me the woman you see today. Here’s what helped:
Massive shifts in mindset.
I could write pages and pages to explain the massive mindset work I’ve done over the past 1000 days. I’ve had to dig deep to call-out old thought patterns which were keeping me stuck and dig even deeper to shift my thoughts to those that support my new way of being.
Removing alcohol put a spotlight on all of the little conversations I was inadvertently avoiding. Years of drinking re-inforced my subconscious ideas that I “wasn’t enough”...or in some cases, that I was “too much.” In some way, we all drink to avoid feeling our feelings and when you lift away that liquid security blanket, you’re left with years worth of personal development. You can either choose to continue avoiding that work, or you can dive in headfirst. I chose the latter.
I documented some of the tough things I had to consider in my 30-day writing program, The 30-Day Alcohol Detox. Included in the program are exercises I used to help me uncover all of the areas in life where I might have more work to do.
Taking on a journey of personal growth is different for everyone. Mine included hours of journaling, prayer, meditation, workshops, traditional therapy, alternative therapy, crystals, gongs, sage...you name it. There wasn’t a method that was too far “out there” for me to try once I got going. The important thing is, that instead of choosing to find another vice to avoid my weaknesses (um, Netflix bing anyone???), I chose to immerse myself in opportunities to learn, grow and get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Mentors & Community.
For some time, I avoided searching out mentors and community because I feared I’d have to go to 12-step meetings to connect with others who had similar mindsets. Let me be 100% clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this path, it just didn’t resonate with me or my journey.
I also went through a season of introversion. I needed time to be alone with my thoughts and decide exactly what it was that I needed and desired from the people in my life. As soon as I got clear on that, I shared my desires with the Universe and opportunities to connect and make new like-minded friends appeared in droves. What’s more, I allowed myself to feel supported by those around me. I found a new appreciation for friendships that I was sure would be a casualty of my shift in lifestyle. Of course, my circle tightened, but today I am joyous to share that I feel more supported in every area of life than I ever have.
Everything is practice.
One of the biggest mindset shifts that have helped me along the way is realizing that everything is practice. I can’t expect to be a brilliant booze-free date or sober social butterfly on my first try. That would be like expecting bowl a perfect game if you’ve been using the bumpers for years. It’s not realistic. If you want to grow your confidence being alcohol-free in a boozy world, you’ve got to practice...and keep practicing. You’ve got to put in the time doing field research; noticing what works and what could be better. Expect to miss the mark, but understand there are no failures if you are willing to learn from each and every situation.
If you found this post while looking for inspiration about giving up alcohol, I’m glad you’re here. It’s taken a lot to get to where I am. It’s less about not drinking for 1000 days and more about what I’ve done to debunk all of the mental myths that kept me drinking for so long. While it’s not been all unicorns and rainbows, I can tell you that the life I have built for myself as a sober woman flows with more ease than I might have ever expected. I am a magnet for all of the things I need and want in my life. I am more confident, more resilient and I live in a place of joy and appreciation most of the time. To be honest, it’s more than I ever thought was possible and it all started with removing the one thing that was most keeping me stuck: alcohol. Cheers.