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6 Months of Sober Curiosity

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

This post is a follow-up to my blog post a few months ago as I embarked on a sober curious exploration…if you have not yet read part one of this story click here to do so. At the time of writing my first update, it was April, and Alcohol Awareness month. Now, it’s September, and we just had National Sober Day on September 14th and I celebrated my 6 month sober-versary at the end of August…it seems like a fitting time to revisit my reflections thus far.


February 23rd, 2022 was the last sip of alcohol I took, though unintentionally, it became a very important date. It feels full circle as that evening I was staying at a local glamping resort with the intention of finding a space to host my first ever wellness retreat that I was planning in late summer. Now, just over one week ago I hosted the first ever Moon to Sea Well-being Retreat at that same resort. I owe some of my sobriety to me being able to accomplish this life dream of mine and it wasn’t until this week did I realize that. Through sobriety I have found clarity, empowerment and more alignment to my life purpose. That said, it has by no means been easy, especially throughout the summer months filled with weddings, celebrations, many beach days & social gatherings. With clarity also comes pain - feeling into the emotions, reflecting on my past, setting new boundaries, choosing myself over others. It's very foreign to me, but I am grateful for the love and support I have in my life.


2022: A summer of mocktails & trying new bubbly beverages!


When I first embarked on this path, I was fearful about what people would ask me or assume about me. I thought that they would assume I was an alcoholic…but it wasn’t this specific judgement that worried me. It was more so that I had to explain that I wasn’t necessarily addicted to alcohol at the time I chose to quit drinking, but that I had a rocky relationship with alcohol since I began drinking at a very young age. With some, I explain that in my late twenties I began reassessing its place in my life. For others, I do not bother. I notice that people sometimes struggle to wrap their heads around choosing not to consume alcohol for this reason. And I don’t blame them either. Alcohol is everywhere and woven into all that we do, see and experience. The marketing of alcohol is interesting to notice when you stop subscribing to normative alcohol culture. I’ve noticed how our society (myself included) uses alcohol on stressful days, happy days, days of mourning, every day of the week and for just about every reason under the sun. It almost feels like an act of rebellion to no longer partake. And, with that, I have been able to practice something this year that I have put a lot of energy towards - boundary setting & people pleasing.



I’ve struggled with boundaries and people pleasing much of my life, which is likely a big factor in my poor relationship with alcohol and the terrible situations it led me into. The conversations I find myself in, and the situations too, have been a challenge to maintain this boundary and commitment I set with myself. I often feel out of place, even if nobody knows I am not drinking. Because with sobriety, comes the startling realization of how much of a social lubricant booze is for many of us, myself included. In conversations, I now notice how less present people are when they’re intoxicated. I notice my own judgement of myself that I am less fun when sober (I have proven this to be untrue many times, but it still comes up). I sometimes still stumble when someone says, “ahh just have one drink!” although this is happening less and less as others realize this isn’t just a month long booze free challenge for me. I still over-explain my need to not drink, even when someone doesn't ask. I am gaining confidence with each day, but I haven’t gotten to the point of just saying “no thank you” when someone offers a drink. There is a lot of un-learning, re-learning and re-evaluating my boundaries and needs on this journey. Even with my partner, I’ve had to explain that it isn’t necessary to tell people that I am not drinking, or explain that I am not pregnant. No explanation is really necessary. Isn’t it interesting how we do this though? Like it will somehow make others more comfortable with our boundary? I see this theme come up in my life in many areas, and lately it feels like practicing in this arena of sobriety has given me the confidence and strength to feel empowered to set other types of boundaries in my life, with others and myself.


I still have people ask, and I still ask myself, “is this forever”? I do contemplate if I’ll ever start drinking again. I still don’t have the answer, and I know I don’t need to. I feel the clarity in my mind, and I know the physical benefits to my gut (which I have always had issues with), my skin, my sleep, my immune system - the benefits are endless. I have also learnt on this exploration two very important things.

  • One: there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume. Ps. those “one drink of wine a day is healthy” claims are simply not true.

  • Two: I struggle with moderation and have an extremist personality, so one drink could be a very slippery slope I am not ready to test.

Now, that may change, but right now one drink is not worth it to me. When I am challenged on this journey, I remind myself of the nights of fuzzy memories, money wasted and hangovers that would last two to three days. The worst part? The shame I would feel that could last weeks, and then I’d do it all again. It was a never ending spiral. Interestingly, I’ve had to dissect my experience with alcohol cravings over and over. I often ask myself if I actually enjoy the taste of alcohol or if I only like how I feel when I drink it. I still do not know for sure, I think both, but certainly the latter holds more weight. Alcohol is no longer a part of my-self care routine.



Recently, I have inspired a few close to me to embark on their own sober curious journey and for that I am so grateful for. In talking about my experience I also open the door to finding other sober curious friends! If you resonate with this post, please do reach out to me. You are not alone, I promise there is a whole community out there and lots of resources. It’s important when you explore this topic to be gentle with yourself as there is often a lot of shame and judgement woven into most people’s relationship with alcohol. I have found it very helpful to find resources to support me on this journey and hope that they may feel supportive to you too.


I’ve started to read more books like This Naked Mind by Annie Grace, follow more sober curious Instagram accounts like @sobergirlsociety & @themindfulmocktail for mocktail recipes! And listen to podcasts like the Huberman Lab episode on what alcohol does to your body, brain and health - it’s packed with science! If you read my post from April when I started this journey, you may know by now my pal Amy @msamycwillis is an incredible advocate, coach and writer in the sober curious space. I urge you to check her out especially her work on Elephant Journal. This spring we co-created an amazing on-demand workshop resource that comes with a workbook (that I still use to this day) and 1:1 email coaching with Amy to help you explore your relationship to alcohol through the lense of self-care...



Lastly, there are professional supports and community resources (these are Canadian) - whether you are struggling with alcohol, or know someone that is. Please seek support.


Thank you for letting me share my story with you. Let me know in the comments if this resonated with you.


Lots of love,


Steff




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