8 Things I Know For Sure
Today I want to share with you the 8 things I know for sure after being alcohol-free for 8 years.
1. I don’t have to live my life as an anxious person.
When I first stopped drinking I felt this unfamiliar calm I didn’t recognize. I had shot my nervous system for so many years, I honestly didn’t recognize the feeling. I don’t want people to think that I didn’t struggle with anxiety at all anymore, that wouldn’t be true. But what IS true, is that the longer I abstained from the substance that was like gasoline to my underlining fire of anxiety, the more my nervous system healed. I was then able to put tools into place that did help with my anxiety in very impactful ways.
2. I can do really hard things without having to numb out.
I first realized this when I was 9 months alcohol-free and we were in the middle of adopting our daughter. It was intense with big emotions. Fear, joy, anxiety, awe, and some more fear. I remember walking away from that experience thinking, “nothing can MAKE me drink”. Living in fear of drinking again was letting alcohol still have control over me. I was amazed at the stress that I could handle over the years. Hard things. Painful things. What I learned is that being alcohol-free was like having a superpower. I could get through because I was alcohol-free.
3. I can have fun socially without a toxic drink in my hand.
What I have learned about myself over the years around this topic has honestly fascinated me. Once I stopped drinking I had to get to know myself all over again. For years my people-pleasing patterns had me going and doing things that I didn’t like to do. I’m a pretty introverted person so doing things in big crowds wears me out. I’ve learned I can do certain things and still have a great time, I just have boundaries around what I do and how much I will do. I no longer have to look at other people for approval around this.
4. I had traumas that needed to be dealt with.
For years I really didn’t understand what traumas were. I thought a trauma was something that you heard about on the news or just something significant. Sure I’ve had things happen to me, but others have had so much worse. Who am I to say I’m struggling?? Well, I learned the body doesn’t work like that. The body remembers it all, and when I stopped numbing they surfaced. This is where I can’t stress enough to find someone good that specializes in trauma. Not a Facebook group, not a friend (although it’s helpful to talk about), etc. Go to someone that knows how to help you process this, and the peace that follows is a beautiful thing.
5. I don’t have cravings, I have emotions.
When I first stopped drinking years ago, I was so afraid of the word “craving”. It seemed so scary and powerful. I soon discovered those times that I really wanted a drink.. I was just having a big emotion. Angry was a big one. Joy was an unexpected one. Once I learned that my drinking had just been tangled up in these things, and I needed to learn other tools to put in its place, it wasn’t scary anymore. Breaking down the beliefs you have attached to the substance is work, but it’s absolutely necessary in the process of finding freedom.
6. I’ve learned to lean into my flaws, or blind spots, instead of being ashamed of them.
We all have gifts, and we all have the things that tend to set us back. I was constantly looking for people’s approval, and people-pleasing. The tool that helped me the most with this was the Enneagram. There are tons of free tools around this, and I highly recommend looking into it. When I leaned into the discomfort of changing these old habits of mine, I realized there was amazing relief on the other side. This is something I will always be working at. I need a t-shirt that says, “I’m a constant work in progress”
7. I was playing small for years.
I always seemed to think if I just stayed quiet and kept in my corner, life would be peaceful and happy. Over years of healing, staying quiet got harder and harder. I have a lot to say and Im not going to let shame keep me silent anymore. I just want to stress that this took a long time for me. Take whatever time you need to heal and do your thing.
8. I am free.
This is something that I never thought was possible. I know a lot of people that have stopped drinking, but they are far from free. They still believe the substance serves them in some way. It’s why so many people went back to drinking during the pandemic.
Neuroplasticity is very real! Our bodies and brains are amazing. The work and time are worth it.
You are worth it.