Not drinking alcohol is the ultimate freedom. Why did I ever think it would be any other way?
Because in popular culture, quitting drinking is seen as a penance for drinking too much, having too much fun in the good ole days, while the future ahead looks bleary and drab. We have this idea of what nondrinkers are like and it centers around being boring or eliciting pity for their predicament. And drinkers are portrayed as living the high life, laughing at bars, making new friends, sippin’ mai tais in the sand. So why would anyone ever go alcohol-free, if these are our two options? Only out of necessity we think, surely not out of choice.
And yet away from the constructs of society, quitting alcohol has been the best decision of my entire life. I wasn’t what you would call a heavy drinker, I drank socially or on the weekend, yet this statement rings so true. Sobriety isn’t a last resort. It’s the best-kept secret of our time. It has opened so many doors for me—to exceptional joy, love, gratitude, and awe. It has led to self-discovery and finding my true purpose. It brings me so much self-love and respect. And it gives me the ultimate freedom.
I am free from desire. I no longer tune out while hanging out with my friends, overeager to see the drink list, or contemplating when how and where I will get my next drink. I have no cravings for alcohol at all, meaning that I can be at full peace in the beautiful scenarios I find myself in, completely present—not constantly waiting for a bigger and better reward.
I am free from all the internal chatter that gave me so much anguish. You should have heard the thoughts going on in my head at a dinner party:
my wine pour is really small
I wonder when they will pour seconds
should I wait or should I just pour myself another glass?
will my parents notice if I fill another glass in the kitchen?
maybe if I ask someone else if they want more, it’ll give me an excuse to top off as well
do I have wine teeth?
do I look bleary-eyed?
everyone stopped at two glasses—is it obvious I poured a third?
did I sound buzzed?
did I talk out of my ass?
no, I hoped I proved how put together I am, how well my life is going, how much I travel . . .
This cacophony is a stark contrast to the silence I hear now, meaning I can truly connect with my loved ones without vomiting all these insecurities in my head.
I am free from monitoring myself. I almost never sought out to get drunk. Oh no, I had rules!
no more than three drinks tonight
no drinking until 7 p.m.
no day drinking, even when others are
drink a soft drink during the first hour of a party
drink two waters in between every drink
switch to beer
While some nights I did just fine, the truth of the matter was that I couldn’t trust myself, not when alcohol was the variable. The easiest way to fail is being a perfectionist, and all these rules were bound to be broken at one point or another.
I am free from shame. Well mostly, as much of my shame revolved around wine and embarrassing myself, letting myself down, and feeling different from everyone else. Shame festers in secret. It grows with rumination. But it can’t live when you speak about it, when you share your story. Vulnerability is the antidote to shame. I no longer believe my response to alcohol was unique or really any different from what is normal. And I share my story as loudly as possible so no one has to go through that shame spiral alone.
I am free from constantly failing. You know that thing that I had a hard time saying no to and forming clear boundaries around in my life? I don’t let it come around here anymore. Just like a toxic ex-boyfriend. I have become so adept at the things I would fail miserably at. I no longer drink more than I want to, unknowingly get drunk, or dishonor my intentions. I am now good at the very thing I used to suck at. Really good in fact.
I am free from my destructive habits. Alcohol isn’t good for us, at all. One drink shortens our lifespan by thirty minutes and there is no safe level of consumption. I wanted to live until I was 100, and yet, who was I kidding? Drinking was destroying my health at a cellular level. And I was leaving my personal development completely stagnant—not much grows when you are hanging out in your comfort zone all the time.
I am so free, it brings tears to my eyes. I am free of all of this nonsense, that I thought I had to put up with to be a normal adult. I’d much rather love myself and be a rebellious nondrinker.