Our life’s journey often takes us through various experiences, some of which shape us profoundly. For me, growing up in the rural Midwest with a drinking culture, alcohol became an early companion in many aspects of my life. From my teenage years through college, I consumed a lot of alcohol, unaware of the toll it was taking on my physical and mental well-being. It helped take the edge off in social situations or after a hard day. However, nearly three years ago, I made the decision to stop drinking alcohol.
If you drink and enjoy alcohol, and it works for you in your life, I am happy for you. It simply got to a point where it didn’t work for me and the life I wanted to live.
In June 2020, I tested positive for Covid-19. I got hit hard and completely lost all taste and smell. I can distinctly remember having a slight panic attack at the thought of never being able to taste another glass of wine ever again. My taste and smell eventually returned about three months later, and I was back to drinking regularly, and working from home made it easy to have that 5 p.m. glass of wine while wrapping the day.
After some self-reflection and already being on a journey of self-discovery, I realized the unhealthy path alcohol had led me down. I noticed how it affected my ability to have patience and enjoy simple moments with my daughters and how it was taking a toll on my physical and mental health. Hangovers sucked. Recognizing that I needed a change, I embarked on my journey toward sobriety.
I was exposed to a book by Annie Grace, This Naked Mind. I headed on a trip in October 2020 and flew through the book, and took my last drink of alcohol that weekend. I remember reading a part of the book that truly struck like lightning: Alcohol erases a bit of you every time you drink it. It can even erase entire nights when you are on a binge. Alcohol does not relieve stress; it erases your senses and your ability to think. Alcohol ultimately erases yourself.
How, while on a journey of healing and self-discovery, could I include alcohol as part of my life?
Abstaining from alcohol allowed me to rediscover life’s authentic experiences. Instead of relying on alcohol as a crutch to enjoy social gatherings, I found myself genuinely engaging with people, savoring conversations, and making lasting connections.
One of the most remarkable benefits of giving up alcohol was the newfound mental clarity and emotional stability I experienced. Without the fog of alcohol clouding my judgment, I gained a better perspective on life’s challenges and found healthier ways to cope with stress and emotions. From improved sleep patterns to increased energy levels, not drinking alcohol revitalized my body and provided a greater appreciation for a healthier lifestyle.
Sobriety taught me the true meaning of emotional resilience. Instead of using alcohol as an escape from life’s challenges, I learned to confront them head-on, developing a stronger sense of self in the process. In December 2023, I lost my life partner completely unexpectedly. Facing grief head-on and being sober was one of the hardest things that I ever had to do. But it taught me how strong I really am.
My journey to sobriety has been transformative, enabling me to embrace life with strength and clarity. As a 42-year-old who spent a considerable portion of my life entangled in alcohol’s grip, the decision to quit has been both challenging and liberating. Additionally, the current sober-curious movement and the growth of the non-alcoholic beverages category make it easy to enjoy an adult drink, minus the booze. Some of my favorite brands include Athletic Brewing Co, Best Day Brewing, Untitled Art, Sovi, Parch, Avec, Mingle Mocktails, Blind Tiger Spirit Free Cocktails, Surely, Everleaf Drinks, Seedlip, Kin Euphorics, Lyre’s Spirit Co, Ghia, St. Agrestis Phony Negroni, Grüvi, and Buzzkill Wines. The options are truly amazing. And there are so many more that I haven’t even tried yet.
The benefits of being sober extend far beyond the physical realm, permeating every aspect of my life, from relationships to mental well-being and overall happiness. I encourage anyone contemplating a similar path to embrace sobriety with an open heart, knowing that the journey will lead to a life of authenticity, purpose, and fulfillment.
I am grateful to bring this focus on health and wellness to my work every day at Parallel Path. If you want to chat or learn more about my journey, hit me up on LinkedIn.