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Letting go of alcohol

It’s been two months since I had any alcohol. I wouldn’t have called myself addicted, but the truth is that booze was a big feature of my life. To feel social, to feel sensual, to feel relaxed, to feel creative, to feel free.

Only I started to notice that alcohol didn’t help me feel any of those things. I felt anxious, exhausted, achey, depressed, uncertain, stuck. I’m not saying it was all down to drinking, but once I allowed myself to take a break, I noticed how much better I felt. More clear and calm. More able to sleep. More tuned into the reality of my life.

What started as a few days off became a couple of weeks, then a month. I took a trip in early December to Paris and London, which I figured would lead to an inevitable fall off the wagon. I couldn’t imagine London (where I spent my wild 20s) without pub nights or Paris without vin rouge at a cafe.

Turns out I was fine to drink elderflower spritz and ginger ale instead of tequila shots and wine, not to mention hot chai and turmeric lattes and apple cider at the Christmas market. Without alcohol, I sailed through my jet lag and had boundless energy for activities. No waking up with hangovers, or that feeling of dread that I’d done or said something I shouldn’t have when I was tipsy.

The holiday season, and my post-Christmas solar return (Capricorn ♑️ season!) was my next challenge. This time of year has so many associations with alcohol. It’s been a long time since I celebrated my birthday or New Year’s Eve sans champagne. I read recently that it’s easier to stop drinking entirely rather than to taper off or cut down. It eliminates the emotional energy around deciding “do I or don’t I?” drink tonight.

I’ve had a couple of nights this holiday season where it felt tempting to have a drink, but each time I've chosen to lean into curiosity about the feeling-- why is it coming up, and what is it allowing me to avoid looking at or experiencing? In some cases, it's meant allowing myself to feel challenging emotions, like grief or regret. In the past, I'd have pushed those emotions away with a drink. What I'm discovering is that by not avoiding the challenging feelings, I allow them to pass through more quickly and prevent them from getting stuck.

A woman jumps in the air, in front of a sun set and two palm trees
Celebrating my first alcohol-free holiday at the beach

It never oc