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Celebrating One Year Sober Curious

It feels like just yesterday, yet it also feels like forever ago that alcohol was a part of my life. I have been sharing about my experiences openly since embarking on this journey via my Instagram and blog - a few months into this sober curious journey here, and again at the six month mark here. But, the one year soberversary has truly been a remarkable milestone for me and I felt it a fitting time to share an update about my experiences as of late and answer some questions I received!


Are you on a sober curious journey?

  • Not yet, but I am debating it

  • Yes, quite recently / trying it out

  • Many years now!


A Moment of Reflection

I recently discovered confirmation that I began really contemplating my relationship with alcohol back in 2017 from some old conversations I came across. This is the furthest moment back in time I can remember beginning to get inklings that the relationship with booze was no longer serving me (well that and the raging headaches and hangovers lasting days I'd get more and more as my twenties went on). Recently discovering this has made me realize that the intention to stop drinking was not just by accident, it was a seed that was planted five years earlier.


I share this because I want to remind people that it can take a really long time to unravel the role alcohol plays in our life. At the time I decided to embark on my sober curious journey (February 23rd, 2022 was my last drink) I was actually getting physically sick and originally, it was a short term goal to avoid alcohol for a few weeks to allow my body to heal. Well, that's what I keep telling myself at least. And there is truth to it, but the reality is, I started this journey many moons prior, it just wasn't yet the right time for me.

Circa 2012 before iPhone Pro, before I knew I was gluten intolerant &

before I admitted I had a drinking problem we'd have a ritual night every

week seeing how many of these massive beers we could consume


How did you know you needed to stop drinking?

Recently, someone in my community asked me this question. And I think it's such an important one to contemplate and share on. Firstly, because there is a big stigma around being sober. Many have assumed in my case, that I had an alcohol problem at the time stopped drinking, but the pinnacle of my issues with my drinking were actually many years prior as I shared above. It took me a while of attempting to decrease my consumption to realize that no matter the amount, my body was begging me to stop poisoning it.


We may assume that someone not consuming alcohol at all may have been an "alcoholic", a term that I think is quite problematic. Alcohol is addictive to all humans, not just alcoholics. Simply put, it's not a safe substance regardless of if you are an alcoholic or not. It's so normalized to consume alcohol that I think we have forgotten this. It does not matter if you were not an alcoholic, or if you didn't hit rock bottom in your life - you are worthy of making a change for yourself. We all have differing relationships with alcohol, as such, our sober curious or recovery journey will look different too. No matter the reason, you are allowed to reassess your relationship to alcohol and you don't need to explain it to anyone either.


For me, I knew I needed to stop drinking for many reasons, both logical and spiritual. This decision is complex, and multifaceted, some of these included:

  • feeling ill while drinking or worsening hangovers the next day

  • decreased tolerance for amnesia (aka blacking out)

  • gut and thyroid imbalances (correlated to stress which in turn had me wanting to drink more often)

  • emotional avoidance for years bubbling up

  • commitment to my spiritual practice & healing which required more energy and openness

  • feelings of being out of integrity with myself for drinking

  • no longer looking forward to drinking

  • being turned off by the taste of alcohol more than before

  • witnessing other family members in their recovery journey (addictions and mental health disorders highly prevalent on both sides of my family)

  • inner intuitive nudges to explore life without alcohol for years prior that got stronger with time

Christmas parties, couples nights, life milestones & weddings...experimenting with

non-alcoholic versions of my fave drinks has actually been very fun (Oddbird is the winner ps!)


What do you miss the most about drinking?

I liken the past year of being sober to a large wave of grief, which is what I think has made it such a tumultuous experience that certainly has not been easy. I've grieved the party girl identity I loved holding onto. I grieved the feeling of the first half of the drink and the dopamine spike that comes with it that I loved so much. I've grieved the idea (and still am) that moderation may not be a thing I can ever manage. And most recently, I have grieved events that I know I can not attend in this stage of my journey if ever. Through this grief I have also had to navigate small bouts of cravings, dismantling my people pleasing and saying no to friends and loved ones invites and continuing to take this journey day by day.


What is the hardest part about not drinking?

Missing the above things, but also how it's become more difficult to be in environments that heavy drinking is present. Not that it makes me want to drink, it actually does the opposite. In the last year I've attended big events like weddings and festivals, and smaller events and gatherings (though I have yet to travel since starting this journey). The common thing I have noticed is that for me there is a very fine line between enjoying my time sipping on my non-alcoholic bevies and feeling disconnected from others I am with. How quickly I approach this fine line depends how quickly alcohol is consumed in the environment I am in.


My truth is, it isn't enjoyable to engage with drunk people when you are sober. And, it makes me reflect on all of the times I was that person - absent eyes, slurred speech, fumbling things or falling over, saying or doing things I don't intend to etc. It's confronting for me to witness. I know it's not my responsibility to shed light on other's relationships to alcohol, but as a natural healer and fixer it sure is hard. This has been my experience lately, though there are a lot parts that make the journey challenging at times. When I loose sight of my why, I sometimes have to remind myself through journalling, reflecting on old photos or memories, or sharing with old friends about who I was when I was drinking. It's not the person I aim to be and can help to re-align me to my true self.


more & more places have mocktail menus now which has made this journey

and celebrations more fun...this is a spicy blood orange sugared rim bev from Sim's Corner

Steakhouse & Oyster Bar on PEI and is probably my fave mocktail I have had yet - so balanced!


Should I stop drinking completely, or is drinking on special occasions okay? I am afraid of being too restrictive.

I was really grateful to receive this question in an anonymous question box on my Instagram a few weeks back. Whomever shared this if you are reading, I honour you even contemplating this for yourself. I think this comes down to personal choice and experience. That said, evidence informed decision making is key. Meaning, we have the facts we need to make the best choice possible. That said, reducing your alcohol intake by any amount is beneficial. It's not always the best path for someone to completely stop drinking (especially if they consume alcohol frequently) for medical reasons.


Personally, I slowly tapered my drinking a few years prior to deciding to remove alcohol from my life completely. At the time, it was for an undefined period of time, and while it still is, each day that passes I am more and more clear that I am not ready to introduce it back into my life and, I never may. It's worth experimenting with being sober at a special occasion or event (or drink less than you normally would perhaps) and see what comes about - check in with how you feel there during and after. I believe our intuition is powerful, so if it's nudging you to stop completely, it may be time.


How did you feel leading up to and on your one year soberversary?

I started tracking my days sober on an app called "I am sober" so I have been quite in tune to the date, although I wasn't as in tune to how I was feeling until the week of the one year mark. There were a lot of emotions (and they are all felt a lot stronger on the sober journey), the most prominent one being pride. I realized that this was likely the longest I had gone without consuming alcohol since I started drinking - probably for the last 17 years which is really wild to think about. I had done month long alcohol free challenges & health kicks many times in my twenties, but never did I dare go to a bar or event sober I'd simply hermit away and emerge cleansed and ready to poison myself when it ended.

So with this one year mark, came also a lot of shame. Not to mention, Facebook memories have really kept me in integrity lately with sharing updates like that time I got suspended in high school for screaming "I am so wasted" accidentally in front of my principle the proceeding to throw up all over his desk when he was calling my parents. I missed my grad trip that year and truthfully though I lost my chance at going to university too. This was one of the many rough situations I found myself in during my rocky relationship with alcohol.


Social Benefits & Influence on Others

The last thing I'll say, is that sometimes in your choosing not to drink, others naturally will reflect on their own relationship to alcohol. This can be confronting for the person and some may get defensive or try to diminish your decisions. Though this hasn't happened to me often, it has happened. I used to feel bad and go out of my way to let people know that I don't judge them for choosing to drink, it's just not for me. Now, I really just stand by my choice and have gained confidence in knowing that sometimes I am going to be a mirror for people but it is not about me. I remain kind and compassionate and open about my journey to those that want to listen.


I am so proud that many of my close friends and my partner are even reassessing the role alcohol plays in their life lately. I've met more sober pals in the last year that I could have imagined and find myself connecting much deeper to myself and others. I am so proud of anyone who even gives their drinking a second thought. Awareness is so key, and yet it's so difficult when "Big Alcohol" pushes marketing all over, alcohol is woven into all types of events and we're left feeling like it's just our problem. It's not just an individual problem, it's a collective issue and any small ripple really does help.


If you are looking for a resource to help you examine your relationship to alcohol, my amazing friend & expert in the field, Amy C. Willis, and I recorded an on-demand workshop packed with alcohol myth busting, reflective exercises, supportive tools & more that you can watch where and when you feel comfortable, as many times as you like. Plus, Amy, who is a a Sobriety & Mindset Coach , has graciously offered 1:1 email coaching & a beautiful workbook too!

[celebrating with some great food & better company in the cutest dome]


Sobriety allows you to feel deeper, see more clearly, live more optimally, express yourself authentically, heal your mind and body - the benefits are endless. But the journey comes with challenges, too. I am still very much on a journey of healing the regrets, disappointments, confusion, shame, pain I caused others and broken relationships 17 years of drinking caused. I am thankful I made this decision in the final year of my twenties, because if I hadn't I may be on a very different path. I am so incredibly proud of myself for embracing sobriety on my 30th birthday, through a life-changing hurricane that hit our home island, Halloween celebrations, the Christmas holidays & New Years, and during some very stressful times in business and life. I look forward to the continued wisdom that comes from it. I continue to share this journey because I know how healing it is to hear about someone's experience, whether you relate to it or not. If you think this would benefit someone you know, please share with them. Also feel free to write a comment, question or send some love down below.



Thank you for reading this long update :')


With love,


Steff




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