I thought I knew so much about living alcohol free while I was still drinking. I thought people who didn’t drink (who had previously drank) were living a life of sadness, sacrifice, and scarcity. I assumed that at every event, every show, every gathering, every game that they were miserable and bored. I felt sorry for them.
I was ignorant. I was very close minded, foolish, and I couldn’t possibly know about something that I have never experienced. I can’t believe that I thought those things. But in reality I was justifying my drinking. I was hanging on to those thoughts in order to believe the stigma that “they had problems and I was not like “them.” I judged and made up “facts” all from under my giant hooded sweatshirt with my heart beating 1,000 beats a minute and my body sweating out the alcohol from the night before.
Luckily I am now immersed in the world of sober people, alcohol free people, and people in recovery. They are among the most alive humans I have ever met. I feel so fortunate that I have the opportunity to open my mind and learn.
So here are a few of the things that I thought I knew but that I had all wrong:
I will have no friends if I stop drinking.
People, people, people. Most of your friends are your friends because they love you. Drinking might be something we do together but it’s probably not the only thing we do together (and if it is-maybe they’re not your true friends?). Time with our friends is spent talking, laughing, relating, and more. Those things all still happen. Alcohol does not create friendships. In fact, I have made more friends since becoming AF than I ever thought possible. I have more deep fulfilling conversations, more fun because I have let go of expectations, and finally a true connection because I am not so focused on getting my next drink.
I will have no fun if I stop drinking.
Bull.Shit. I LOVE this post by Holly Whitaker about people asking her “what do you do?” She talks about all of the amazing things she is doing while vacationing in Rome. She’s out on walks, going for coffee, swimming in the ocean, going on dates, laughing, singing, dancing, etc. but people are still asking her what she does. Do you know why? Because we’re brainwashed to think that you can’t do anything without alcohol. Every single ad that we see tells us that this thing is fun because of alcohol. NOT TRUE. Fun things are fun!!! Going on walks, riding your bike, going to coffee shops, out to dinner, hikes, new experiences, boating, swimming, vacationing, hosting a dinner party or a brunch, skiing, reading, watching movies, writing, and all the things…. BUUUUUUTTTTTTT, maybe you’re doing things that you don’t think are fun? Then those things are not fun. The alcohol probably only made them tolerable. I am full of fun now. More than ever before. In fact, just this week I went out drinking (mocktails) with some great girlfriends.
I won’t be able to (relax, sleep, hang out, go on dates, take the edge off, insert other things) if I don’t drink.
Um…..No… This is why alcohol is a problem. We have life problems like anxiety, stress, sadness, anger, and more. We use alcohol to mask that problem and then we think it’s working because for a short time it does. Believe me-if I were to down a couple of beers right now, my heart would stop pounding about this post. I would loosen up a lot. I would feel great. But then? Everything gets worse. I start to lose touch with my problems and my consumption and I don’t realize that the alcohol is making things feel out of control and that my anxiety isn’t nearly as bad without alcohol. Trust me. Alcohol is making your problems worse.
I know exactly (and I mean exactly) what you are thinking right now. You’re thinking….well, she doesn’t understand because anxiety isn’t my issue. Or, she drank way more than me so she doesn’t know how hard it would be for me to be social without drinking. Or, she drank way less than me so she doesn’t get the problem I have. Or, alcohol really isn’t that bad…look at other drugs and what they do to people. Or, alcohol is the most fun thing I do how could she say that it doesn’t make things more fun?
I get it. I do. But you’re wrong. And it’s ok because I was too. Those thoughts are mindset problems. They have very little to do with the alcohol and a lot to do with how we approach the situation (which you could also apply to a lot of other things).
I’m not going to lie that there might be a very short period of discomfort while going AF. When I first started I didn’t know who I was, what I liked to do, or how to do life without alcohol. But finding out has been such an amazing journey. I realized how much the alcohol held me back or kept me in my “comfort zone” (which happened to be extremely uncomfortable).
Maybe being AF isn’t your thing. That’s totally fine and I am glad you’re still reading anyway. But, maybe you’re reading because you’re considering not drinking and you have the same fears and limiting beliefs that I did. I just want you to know you’re not alone. I am here and I love you.