what a 16-month alcohol fast taught me

I’m sure we’ve all said something along the lines of “I’m never drinking again” more times than we’d like to admit.

I know I have and I’m not afraid to speak on it. The first time I thought about living an alcohol-free lifestyle was in 2014. I was living in New York City and was a fresh college graduate. I started having the awareness that heavy drinking wasn’t really my favorite activity but for some reason I thought that being an adult meant going to work then going to happy hour right after.

I was under the impression that being social was synonymous with drinking with people. Because I love getting to know new people, I drank with people quite often.

There were a handful of signals my body would send from those original thoughts to almost two years later when I went cold turkey. Yes, it took me two years to commit. During that time, my tolerance to alcohol would decrease at a rapid pace. At one point only two cocktails would be enough to put me out of commission for at least a day. I also started to develop acne and suffer from negative thought patterns. Still, I ignored these things because having a poppin’ social life way more important. Plus, going out and being around people enjoying drinks was difficult, especially when your friends love to turn up so I decided to drink, every time.

Fast-forward to September 2016. It was fashion week and I had invites to way too many champagne-filled events. I will admit to having more than two glasses of champagne one night and I decided to end the shenanigans once and for all. In all honesty, it was a great night. I didn’t have a terrible experience and I didn’t do anything that I regretted. I just noticed something that wasn’t sitting right in my soul.

I think that when we are drinking in excess, we are not our best selves. I care about how I’m perceived to a certain extent, and I’ve been blessed to be in some really inspiring spaces with people that I admire, and that made me think about how I'm showing up in the world. So, I just stopped.

some things I gleamed from sixteen months without alcohol:

You harness a sense of clarity like never before

I had no idea that I was walking around in a functional fog. I call it functional because I was able to move through my days, able to stay on my toes and alert when I needed to, but my mind was cluttered. My decision-making abilities and discernment sharpened to the point where I thought I could read people’s minds. On a literal level, I know I’m not able to read people’s minds, but I felt so in tune energetically with everyone and everything around me. The first few weeks were very visceral and well…sobering.

You find out who your friends are

My favorite lesson of this experience was learning that having a social life that is heavily focused on turning up is not really my element. More than anything, I love to be around people so I really put in the effort to involve my friends in some of my new activities, but it was made clear that I actually had far fewer friends than I thought. Some of my party friends weren’t really interested in being around me without a lot of hoopla. I felt isolated and a little hurt until I remembered why I was doing this in the first place. It wasn’t long before I began to attract people into my life that also shared my interests outside of drinking.

You embrace your natural essence and gain confidence

I’ve always used alcohol as a tension reducer in social settings. I used to say things like “I have social anxiety” when in reality I wasn’t embracing my wholeness and used drinking as a way to make myself feel secure when I wasn’t capable of doing that myself. I had to really challenge myself to show up fully when going out with other people. It was hard at first and I was in my head constantly over-analyzing myself and my actions. It took actual practice to calm down my critical and anxious thoughts. I used tools like meditation and visualization to help me get to a more confident me. Once I was able to learn myself without the filter, It was easier to embrace who I am among people who are drinking without feeling like I have to indulge. It was liberating. Confidence leads to more confidence. Initially, I was a hermit choosing not to even be around people who drank but as I settled more into myself, I started going out again but with a more concentrated friend group who embraces me as is.

In totality, I would say that any time we completely remove something out of our lives with the purpose of evolving, it will be very humbling. Most people fear humbling, and that's natural, to be afraid of what the truth will reveal. But you have to know that there is grounding and growth once you know more about yourself.

As of January 1, 2018, I am slowly incorporating wine and champagne back into my life. I never had the intention of staying alcohol-free forever. I am too much of a wine snob to commit to that, but I have a lot of respect for people who choose that lifestyle full-time.

For anyone who is considering removing alcohol from their lives for a while is to find a solid reason to commit and embrace the process. It is challenging but if you believe that you can be a better you, give it your best effort.

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