April is alcohol-awareness month and I would like to invite you to join me in celebrating awareness with an alcohol-free month. I’ve had a long and colorful relationship with alcohol but I’m now happily retired from my illustious drinking career and that is worthy of celebration.
My first taste of alcohol was during my senior year of high school. I remember that night so vividly-the moment I could feel the alcohol taking effect and the deep desire I had for MORE. I remember angrily yelling at the taxi driver, stumbling up the stairs to my house, getting sick right in front of my mom and crying myself to sleep. Looking back, I see how this night clearly demonstrated what my relationship with alcohol would be like.
I was constantly chasing after that initial buzz and falling madly in love with the feeling of losing control. My naturally timid composure was hidden and I felt so liberated by it. When I drank, I drank. Too many nights I made horrible decisions and did things I regretted. Too many mornings I woke up not remembering. I tried to use it to mask my anxiety and depression but instead of covering them up, it made them unbearable. But, I still always viewed drinking as fun and exciting and always thought getting drunk would be, a good time.
I think for many of us, we cling to that vision of drinking being fun. We cling to the memories of a “good time”. But I think that if we looked back, and dug a little deeper, we’d see clearly that, those memories of fun we are clinging to, actually had nothing to do with alcohol and everything to do with the feelings we were searching to feel.
For me, it was always a search to feel a sense of belonging, camaraderie, closeness with my friends, the excitement from losing track of time and having nowhere else to be and nothing else to do. Feeling carefree and forgetting about the worries and struggles that life often brings us. But I can see now that alcohol promised these things, but never kept that promise. A broken record playing the same scratched up tune… a tune that I loved. Seeing and feeling glimpses of the notes that I thought would be there, notes that *should* have been there… but could and never would play for me. I still put that record on, over and over again, thinking it would eventually play the way I’d remembered it.
Can you think back for a moment, to a night that you were drinking that you remember as such a good time? Where were you? Who were you with? What were you doing? What made it so great? I bet, that if you dig a little deeper, to what was under the surface, there was a feeling there that you’re are remembering to be so great… and it wasn’t actually found in the bottle.
I have finally felt the things I had spent so much time searching for. I’ve gotten lost in time and spent hours feeling like a little kid again. I’ve made friends that feel like home and finally feel like I belong somewhere. I’ve learned how to work through my worries and stressors, not to just momentarily escape but so that I can actually transcend them. I have truly felt what it means to have a good time and I’m doing all of this sober. It has taken repetition. It has taken choosing to be sober and doing things over and over again in order to rewire my brain and change my perspective. It has taken time, persistence and an element of curiosity and openness to find the things that bring me joy…. but now I am fully aware that alcohol is not the way to have a good time, it actually never was and it definitely won’t ever be.
The key to embracing sobriety and having a good time with it, all comes down to changing our perspective. Understanding what it was that brought you to the bottle and what feelings were hiding underneath that kept you reaching for it over and over. But I truly don’t believe we must go searching for answers to these questions…. I truly believe that staying sober is about finding ways to have a good time without alcohol and doing those things over and over again. The answers will reveal themselves with time and without a lot of additional pressure. You’ve gone through enough already, can you just surrender a little bit… open yourself up a little bit to the possibility that your greatest moments have yet to come, but will come as long as you don’t drink?! Be curious enough to explore new ways to have a good time without the awful repercussions that follow from alcohol use?
Let’s commit to not playing that broken record this month, ok? For Alcohol Awareness month let’s chose a tune that renews our spirit and makes us come alive again. Let’s dance and sing with one another and make this month a sober memory worth remembering as the moment we KNEW, being sober is the best way to have a really good time! Embrace the adventure of living life free!
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