Today, I want to reflect on why I recently decided to cut alcohol out of my life. I haven’t talked about this much except with some friends and family, but my intention in writing is to share this new part of me and maybe even connect with others out there on a similar journey.
Let’s get right to it: why I stopped drinking
My decision to quit simply came down realizing that I don’t like drinking anymore. I noticed I felt out of touch with my emotions when drinking which actually made it more difficult to socialize. Also, my hangovers were getting really bad, and I was starting to feel anxious at parties knowing I would have to deal with a hangover. I am a lightweight so even one glass of wine would make me feel terrible the next day.
Prior to quitting, I was already drinking infrequently. I only drank with other people in social situations, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. This would lead to 30 minutes of happy euphoria, followed by several hours of a sleepy haze, and then I would wake up with a soul-crushing hangover.
After countless times of feeling bad about myself from drinking, I finally decided to let go completely. I came to terms that a social lubricant I once loved no longer works for me, and I had to learn to adjust and thrive in social situations without alcohol.
My previous life with alcohol
I certainly had a period of my life when I enjoyed drinking. Those fond hangover-free days in my early-20s living in NYC, where 3-4 days a week I was partying at night clubs and bars. But a few years into this “work hard play hard” life, the burn-out set in. My life was centered around nightlife, which was one reason I decided to leave NYC as I needed a new environment to reset my lifestyle.
When I moved to San Francisco in my mid-20s, my drinking reduced somewhat as my weekends were filled with time in nature and running around the city; however my social life was lively and I was still drinking frequently.
A turning point for me was when I discovered Kava Lounge in SF, a cafe that served non-alcoholic herbal beverages like kava, teas, etc…I felt at home right away with the other regulars who were like-minded people, most of whom were sober. This community gave me the space to be who I was despite my drink of choice. We went to events and parties together, all without a single drop of alcohol. It felt so refreshing to be around this group of people as they opened my eyes to alternative lifestyles that don’t need alcohol.
While I loved my kava circle, that was only one part of my life, as all my closest friends/colleagues still regularly invited me to happy hours, birthday parties, bar hopping, and Napa winery trips. Even though I found myself gravitating away from alcohol, it was hard to imagine cutting it out of my life completely. I didn’t want people seeing me as the “buzz kill,” and truthfully, my social life was so centered around drinking that it was hard to imagine going to a concert or wedding without it.
Transitioning to a sober life
When I decided to stop drinking 6 months ago, the learning curve was around gaining confidence in social situations. So initially, I started testing the sober waters at smaller events. A picnic here, a birthday party there…slowly I experimented with making my own kava drinks or bringing kombucha to a party. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it felt to survive an event without any alcohol. I not only survived, but I genuinely enjoyed being sober and being clear-minded for an entire event.
I actually felt I had even more energy and could stay longer at parties – the reason for this is because I am extroverted, so I gain energy from being around people, and alcohol was muddying my natural instincts and drained my energy. I felt so accomplished when I went home after a party and realized I could feel whole while sober.
And the best part was waking up with NO hangover.
I then graduated to larger events – bigger parties or happy hours with my clients. It was a huge accomplishment when I went to a wedding sober, and I must say, I had a lovely time. I danced, I laughed, and I hung out all the way until the venue closed.
How my life has improved since quitting
I think the biggest benefit to cutting out alcohol has been gaining a feeling of wholeness while sober. I feel accomplished knowing I can have fun in social settings without liquid confidence. The old me would NOT go onto a dance floor without a drink, but pushing myself to do things sober has made me embrace life in ways I never thought was possible.
Another benefit from quitting completely has been feeling more accepted by others. The longer I’ve been sober, the more I notice people respect my boundaries and embrace my new identity. And truthfully, I felt liberated when I started being completely open about this part of me. It also helped that the pandemic significantly shrank my social circle (as I’m sure it has with many people). I organically said goodbye to my “party friends” and stayed close with friends who accept me no matter what.
The last benefit is that I’ve lost weight! I know this can be sensitive for some people and I definitely don’t think losing weight is always a good thing, but for me, it was an unintended positive outcome.
It has been 6 months since my last sip of alcohol, but to be honest…I don’t think this number really matters. It’s more about my overall journey of sobriety. At the moment, I’m taking things one day at a time. I’m not sure if I’ll be sober for the rest of my life – I’m a firm believer that you cannot plan more than 6 months ahead at a time. 🙂 All I know is I’m whole heartedly embracing this life chapter.