As I approach almost 9 years of sobriety, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be sober: to live a life without alcohol or drugs.
I can’t tell you how many of my coaching clients come to me saying they wish they could just be “normal,” with drinking. Or that they didn’t think they had a problem because they weren’t blacking out, falling over, drinking in the morning, having the shakes or hitting some kind of stigmatized rock bottom inclusive of losing their job, becoming homeless or stealing from loved ones to get their fix.
Truth be told: everyone wears their addictions differently. And the thing is: none of that really matters.
It doesn’t matter what it looks like. It matters what it feels like.
Whether you are drinking wine at night or vodka in the morning, if it doesn’t make you feel good that is the only reason you need to decide that drinking alcohol isn’t for you.
A sober lifestyle is no longer something to be shamed for or to be made to feel guilty for or less than for. There is a movement happening and it’s full of people saying – NO MORE. We are also saying we want MORE for ourselves, our lives and our bodies; and this is reason enough.
“I don’t drink because it doesn’t make me feel good,” is our anthem and we are going to keep singing it loudly so that others may know they can choose this for themselves too.
We do it for the health of it and that is the only reason we need. We certainly didn’t decide to quit drinking so we could put on a label that says: I can’t drink because I’m an alcoholic. No. That doesn’t fly anymore.
We have traded in our drinking days and the consequent shameful mornings for a life of no hangovers, feeling good in our skin and taking a stand for our peace, wellness and the beauty of who we truly are, sans the substances.
Sobriety isn’t about admitting you are weak or have a problem or that you are some kind of outcast who can’t handle their liquor. No.
Sobriety is a call to action. It’s a commitment to living life on your terms, not the terms society tells us we should live by.
Not drinking doesn’t always have to mean you are an alcoholic. It just means you’ve decided you like your life better with out alcohol and better yet, you feel better without it too. Getting sober means you get clear on what matters most to you. It means you are a ‘yes’ for your health and well being and that drinking has taken a backseat to your peace of mind.
I’m not of the mindset that alcoholism is some kind of disease with a life sentence. I believe substance use disorder is a mental issue in which the obsessive nature of our minds extends itself to our habits. I believe it is as simple as a lack of connection and by drinking or using we are seeking relationship, to feel part of something, with a means that leaves us empty handed every time.
The stigma that has been created around alcoholism and addiction must be met with opposition. For far too long we have let society scare people into sticking with their bad habits as this seems easier than admitting they have them in the first place.
What kind of a culture have we created where someone is made to feel that living inside of an addiction is better than admitting they have one? Because by admitting we are addicted to any kind of substance, it puts us into of group of people who are diseased and broken beyond repair? No, I can’t get down with that.
We must take a stand, a united one at that, for those of us who choose to live substance free lifestyles. We are allowed to be non-drinkers for whatever reasons we choose and we are also allowed to change our minds around the persuasion of a drinking culture: shunned if you don’t drink and shunned if you drink too much. How absurd is that when you say it out loud?
Let’s forget about being “normal” when it comes to putting ethanol into our bodies. At what degree is that really even normal? Research shows that alcohol is a lead cause of cancer and alcohol is linked to Alzheimer’s and many other autoimmune diseases. It’s loaded with sugar and chemicals that our bodies were not made to process at the levels we have been consuming them. But I digress.
The point is, when you live a life without alcohol you get to redefine “normal.” By choosing to live life outside the norm we are effectively creating a paradigm of new norm.
We, the non-drinkers and substance free-ers, don’t need permission from anyone to choose this lifestyle. We also will no longer succumb to being called alcoholics, addicts, misfits, losers, junkies or too-far-goners.
No, We Are:
Abstaining to obtain.
Health conscious beings.
Recovered and uncovered.
Mindful practioners of experiences.
Intentional Doers of Life.
We are alcohol-free, drug-free and under-the-influence-free facing our lives, feelings and health full on, unafraid of looking in the mirror, taking off our masks and walking this earth with our vulnerability, authenticity and courage on our sleeve.
We live fully examined lives rooted in self-inquiry, reflection and finding meaning inside ourselves. We seek deep, meaningful and conscious connections with others and no longer seek connection through alcohol stained eyes because we have caught on to the fact that it doesn’t actually create a sustainable, feel-good experience for us.
Tommy Rosen said something that knocked me off my socks recently. “Addiction is only possible in a consciousness that allows it. Connect with people, change your consciousness and make yourself an unwelcome host for addiction of any kind.”
When we choose to live alcohol-free lifestyles it is because we are choosing consciousness, genuine and deep connection and to be container for only the things that serve our well being and make us feel whole.
We must shift the conversation around what it means to live an alcohol or drug free lifestyle. What it means to be part of a thriving and growing sober community. What is means to say: We don’t drink because it doesn’t make us feel good.
It starts by stepping into and owning why you have chosen your path in the first place.
It starts when we become unafraid and unashamed about how alcohol has negatively affected our lives.
It starts by not feeling like we need to remain anonymous for fear that we may be identified as an alcoholic.
It starts by changing the stigma of what it means to NOT drink. What it means to be and live alcohol-free. What it means to be FREE, for that matter.
Because being free from substances that limit our evolution, stunt real connection and keep us feeling bad about ourselves is not something to be bashful about anymore.
The times have changed. We are speaking up and speaking out.
We don’t drink because it doesn’t make us feel good. Join us, won’t you?