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.
It never occurred to me that I’d be drawn to the path of abstaining entirely from drinking. Over the years, I’d had times when I drank more or less regularly, but the truth is that the pendulum inevitably swung back to the “more” side. And every so often there’d be a night when I drank too much and did something regrettable. I told myself alcohol gave me the freedom to be more myself, but it actually gave me a license to be disconnected, and pretty obnoxious.
Letting go of alcohol factors into my sound healing work, and my desire to hold safe spaces for others to process their challenging emotions and experiences. Having encountered healers who are struggling with their own addictive patterns, I've seen the harm it can cause. Holding space for healing asks you to show up as the clearest possible channel, and in my experience alcohol is an impediment to being at this high level of integrity. I didn't realize how much more clarity and connection was possible to bring to my work- until I stopped drinking.
I know many of my friends and clients have been on their own journeys with alcohol, so if you have any insights or words of wisdom, I receive them with gratitude. And I look forward to where this clearer path will take me as the new year unfolds.