I was 26-isch years old when my then Mentor encouraged me to embark on one year of sobriety.
Turns out, I loved it so much, I kept going for 8 years.
He knew I wanted to guide people in the way that I do now, and that to do so, I needed to know myself, and know what it is like to really feel and be clear and alert.
Challenge accepted, I thought.
It came at a perfect time, I had grown tired of missing the Sunday 9 am Yoga classes due to feeling like crap, and I had just had one of tipsy blow out fights with the man I was with at the time and carried a big time case of the guilt. I was also bumping up against a growing edge, I really wanted to transition into being a Coach/Teacher, and felt super scared and insecure about it.
It was a truly eye opening experience and a journey of self discovery and self awareness for sure, and I highly recommend it.
When the year was up, I was so in love with the way I felt, I decided to keep going. To my amazement, I thought as little about drinking alcohol as one would think about eating crocodile for breakfast, hardly ever.
I also knew when and if the desire would come back to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, that I would not make a big deal out of it and just go with it. The time came when I was with my closest sisters Ash and Kathryn, it was 11 am and we were out shopping for a special occasion and champagne was offered.
You should have seen the look on their face, it was priceless.
They were some of the few people that even knew that I was not drinking alcohol, and were delighted. I remember having to teach Yoga later that day, and-oh my-the hangover from that little glass of bubbles was brutal.
The experience completely transformed my relationship to Alcohol, and it is still very special when I drink. I often go weeks without it, especially when I am transitioning into something new, or when I am experiencing a difficult time. As it so goes, the contrast is always really valuable.
Since many of you have written or talked to me about the desire to take a break, I felt inspired to put together a few tips to help you on your own experiment.
1. PICK A DATE AND TIME FRAME. I gave myself a few weeks to “prepare”, aka come up with strategies to deal with emotions, what else I would want to do with all that extra time and money, and how long I wanted the experience to go. There is always some party, event, or seasonal situation that seems like an obstacle, so do not let yourself be discouraged, just focus on how you want to feel, and what you are willing to do to feel that way.
2. KNOW YOUR WHY. My reason was Growth and Personal Development so I could step into my life’s purpose as a teacher and Coach. That felt super inspiring to me, grabbed my heart and pulled it forward. It was sheer power. Do not use force, as that fuel will burn up before you know it. Let your reasons come from your heart, not from your bitchy inner critic. Please trust me on that, as I have stopped other habits in my life, only ever successful when it came through Inspiration vs Motivation. It is also perfectly ok if you in this moment realize that you do not actually want it badly enough, there is a time for everything.
3. DO NOT TALK ABOUT IT. Just like a Space Rocket needs the most fuel to get off the ground, it takes energy and courage to make such a drastic change. Everyone and their mother is going to be curious, will have an opinion about it, or will want to talk you out of it. It never has anything to do with you, it is all their stuff, however, it is not fun to play 20 questions everywhere you go. A “No thank you” is enough when somebody offers you a drink. “Not right now” also goes a long way.
Again, do not post about it on social media, do not mention it when you are out and about, do not draw attention to it. Some of my closest friends didn’t notice that I was not drinking and fell out of the sky when I told them years later.
4. UP THE EMOTIONAL SELF CARE. Let’s face it-alcohol is a great way to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Especially initially, you might be surprised how full your emotional garbage can has gotten over the years. Hire a coach (call me, wink wink), practice Yoga, Meditation, get body work, or journal. Especially if you believe that you need Accountability, I invite you to seek that outside of your circle, and hire a professional that knows not to judge, project, or rescue, like a Coach or Therapist. Just like you see many recovering Addicts now smoke cigarettes or eat a bunch of candy, it is easy to just transfer the avoidance to something else. I sure did all of that, including becoming obsessed with working out-and no, not a good thing either.
5. WATCH OUT FOR ARROGANCE. I remember going out sober for the first time in over a decade, and seeing people’s behaviors with new eyes. WOW. I admit, I felt a little bit better than everyone for a hot second, and have witnessed that in some of the people I know that are currently choosing not to drink-and it makes me not want to be around them, just like back then, some people pulled back from hanging out with me. Instead, practice non judgement and see everyone as your mirror and teacher. Seeking Validation, no matter through what, is just a symptom of a lack of self love.
6. TRUST THE PROCESS, ALLOW RELATIONSHIPS TO CHANGE. I remember being scared of this one the most; the thought of things changing in my friendships or my marriage at the time. All relationships will change form over time, and when one of us stops doing something we used to do together, yes, that changes things. I invite you to trust and get proactive. I started to make exercise dates with my friends; walks, trying out new classes, or taking workshops. It took a while to get comfortable at events or parties, as I started to become aware how insecure I was, and that Alcohol was an amazing social lubricant. Some friendships drifted apart, but most friendships grew deeper, and many new ones formed. It is surprising how many people crave more sober events, yet are too scared to ask for it. So take charge, lead, and trust that it is all happening for you.
7. CREATE NEW WAYS TO REST. It took me a long time to understand that I lean towards empathetic Introversion, and that I simply sometimes need a day in bed watching movies.
Without hangovers, I felt like I “should” be doing something, so I would sometimes exhaust myself mentally with judgement and inner beatings, until I recognized that there must be a time to rest and unplug. Yin Yoga, Sound Baths, Massages, Acupuncture, Reiki, bring on the yummy Self Care. There is a time to be and a time to do. We all have natural Rhythms and Cycles, honor them.
8. LIGHTEN UP. It took me a while to hack this one. I didn’t really know how to have fun without substances. This one took the longest to (self) realize.
Give yourself permission to goof off; watch comedy, take an improv class, do something creative, and most of all, give yourself permission to have fun. My definition of fun has changed so much since then. Personally, Meditation probably helped the most with this. The more I meditate, the more child like I become; curious and joyful.
9. LOVE YOURSELF. Without the cloudedness, it is likely you will discover things about you that you do not like. The duality of our human experience. Love and accept yourself for everything you find, embrace yourself, befriend yourself, get to know your essence. Again, working with somebody through this is very helpful. I am very grateful I had my mentor guiding me. And one last thing..
10. GET YOUR SEXY BACK. Again, our level of insecurity shall be revealed quickly here. Just remember-everyone is scared, everyone has their insecurities, and if you neeeeeeed a substance to have sex, perhaps there is something there for you to feel, deal, and heal. Yoga really helps to make us comfortable in our own skin, especially the flowy and gentle kind.
Well, I could go on and on,and the biggest thing-Just DO it.
Watch your ego like a hawk, and that desire to blast it into the world, write it into your what-I-would-post-but-choose-not-to-journal. Have FUN in new ways, let your inner child get creative.
It might become one of the best choices you have ever made.
On a very very, verrrrrry personal note, that night I flipped out on my ex husband in a jealous rant, it was the night he started cheating on me, which went on/off for ten more years. My Intuition was going crazy, and I was not experienced enough to know the difference. He was very good at making me believe that I was the one having a problem. However, without all of it, I would not do what I do, be who I am, or feel as good as I do. My BS radar today is strong and my best friend, and I no longer question it, but channel it to help others.
Everything always happens for us, not to us.
Lots of love, E