In response to two photograph challenges (#cultivatingenough and
I posted on Instagram last week about my feelings regarding sobriety ahead of a
weekend away with friends. The response
that followed confirmed my long-held suspicion that many of us are looking for
a safe space in which to talk about drinking, and more specifically about our
own relationships with alcohol. How much
is too much? Do we have a problem? How do we define ‘problem’? What is the lure of booze? When did so much of our adult identity become
so intertwined with liquor of one form or another? Why is it so difficult to stop drinking even
if we want to? Do we want to?
The edgy ‘How are you coping?’ chats that littered talk during Dry
January prompted a foray
into trying to write about this topic but I didn’t delve into what it feels
like to live sober, the many and contradictory feelings that come
with the territory. This is only ever something I’ve done on Instagram, using the hashtag #sobrietyontherocks. But now I’ve decided to
share last week’s post here too because it’s beginning to feel like an area that I need
to integrate into my work more. Let me
know what you think!
I’m going away with friends this weekend and much of their talk as we
prepare is about what bottles they are bringing. Here are mine [pictured].
They’re a bit different from the rest – 0% proof and all that.
Mostly I’m okay with not drinking. More than okay really. For me sobriety feels
less like deprivation and more like freedom – both freedom from (compulsion,
obsession, the past) and freedom to (honour my physical and mental health, show
up as I want to, embrace the future). But it isn’t always easy. Sometimes I
just want to feel “normal”, to be able to join in and not sit
slightly tight lipped during the camaraderie of prosecco planning.
And sometimes I crave the #possibilities
that alcohol seems to engender. The thrill of the night wide open in front of
me, the prospect of unlimited spontaneity. Who knew where the evening would
take me, what adventure awaited. That allure of possibility kept me going back
long after the fun had faded.
Of course the change isn’t all about abstinence. Age and stage are factors too,
both for me and my former comrades-in-bars. Even when we do go out now, the
options are not what they were. Babysitters and early mornings create other
kinds of boundaries for them where sobriety sits for me.
Other possibilities emerge though. Real moments of connection where once fuzzy
declarations of love stood. The pride of not having to loosen or numb to get
through an event let alone enjoy it. Accepting this is where I am, who I am and
how I feel, not hiding that truth even from myself.
So with my two bottles sat on the worktop ready to pack, I find that in with
the melancholy and nostalgia for the good old drinking days (which weren’t
always all that great really), there’s also an enormous amount of #gratitude for
letting go of that world and that way. I didn’t think it were possible but it
is. And I am open to all the new possibilities that this opens up.
What’s your relationship with alcohol
like? Some read these words and understand
exactly what I’m on about; for others it won’t resonate at all. Get in touch via Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (email@example.com).