Sobriety isn’t a magic bullet, but it is a powerful opportunity
This blog describes how removing alcohol from your life gives you the chance to do the work required to drastically improve the quality of your life.
The rise of the sober and sober-curious movements has led to a lot of hype around the beautiful benefits of alcohol-free living, of which there are many! Some people hop straight onto that pink cloud and keep riding it, but that’s not the case for everyone, at least not straight away.
This positive framing of sobriety as infinitely better than a life with alcohol, can leave the newly sober feeling disappointed and even, as one of our student’s put it, “cheated”. As in; ‘where are the rainbows and butterflies everyone raves about?!’.
I’ve felt like this at times throughout my sobriety. When I first quit drinking, I thought alcohol was the problem and therefore removing it from my life would be a cure-all. With the problem gone, everything would be better. Or so I thought!
Removing alcohol certainly removed the problems caused by alcohol (like hangovers and feeling guilty about drinking), but it didn’t take away any of the reasons why I drank.
Without alcohol, I was still overwhelmed by motherhood, I was still working in a job I didn’t like and I was still a highly sensitive person who had no idea how to handle my emotions. Without alcohol, I actually had to feel all of this because I wasn’t numbing myself anymore. Not exactly rainbows.
But removing alcohol was a critical step on the path to identifying what my ‘real’ problems were, and then addressing them as a result. And that’s where the rainbows and butterflies really started to show up. The clarity of mind that set in once alcohol was out of the picture, was astonishing. It quickly became obvious what areas of myself and my life needed work, and sobriety has given me the motivation to put my head down and do that work.
An example of this work is how I slowly but surely built up my confidence as a mum. Through reading books, doing online courses and working with a psychologist, I learnt and started practicing parenting philosophies that I truly believe in (rather than those I’d been automatically subscribing to from my own upbringing and general conditioning). I started to trust myself and my judgment as a mum, without worrying about what others thought or expected. Instead of being embarrassed when my kids didn’t behave like little angels, I became their advocate and cheerleader. We grew closer. Home life became more manageable, and more enjoyable. The constant overwhelm slowly but surely subsided and my life exponentially improved as a result.
This work isn’t glamorous, and it didn’t happen overnight. But it is literally life changing in terms of improving the quality of my life experience.
Other areas I’ve worked hard on (and continue to work on) are:
Being aware of my thoughts and controlling my mind so it no longer sends me spiraling into negativity and catastrophizing;
Learning how to unwind, relax and have fun in wholesome, nourishing ways that don’t involve a glass (or three!) of Sav Blanc;
Doing soul-led, purposeful work that I’m passionate about.
So, removing alcohol didn’t magically fix everything, but it did give me the clarity to see what needed to be fixed, and the drive to actually fix those things. This self-development work has led, little by little, to me liking and accepting myself more, and for the first time in a long, long time, feeling proud of myself.
Has it been easy? No. Will it be hard for everyone? To some degree, yes. And how hard it will be will depend on what your personal root causes are. If you discover that you’re over-drinking because you’re deeply unhappy in your marriage, that’s hard. Dealing with that root cause means either staying and doing everything in your power to make your marriage work, or leaving the relationship.
Or if you’re drinking not to feel the hard feelings, you’re going to have to learn to tolerate emotional discomfort.
While getting to the root of your issues can seem daunting, all you’re doing by drinking is papering over the cracks and delaying your opportunity to heal and grow.
And that’s why sobriety isn’t a magic bullet, but it is a powerful opportunity.
If you’re considering sobriety, why not start with our 21-Day Reset Challenge. It’s a great toe in the water to see just how life looks and feels, sans alcohol.