BECOMING WHOLLY SOBER THROUGH SELF EXPLORATION
Before I started living wholly sober, I never thought of myself much more than my roles as a mom, employee, and daughter and the defining labels I assumed and accepted, bitch, stubborn, difficult, tough, trouble, and survivor. I was angry and defiant, which perpetuated my need to decompress with alcohol.
As I began my sober journey, I had this great epiphany, I am not done, and that became a huge inspiration. Imagine the freedom of realizing your story is not over, and you hold the pen. Unfortunately, my community then insisted on not only holding the pen but labeling who I was, who I would always be, and scripting how I would have to live the rest of my life. They felt they knew better and did their best to convince me that my best thinking was what got me drunk and stuck.
Although it was a bit of a struggle at first, I took back control over the narrative of my life with a shaky hand but a resolve to see what I could create on purpose.
I had a blank page considering I lost my home, cars, bank accounts, and livelihood. I remember old beliefs prompting old behavior reactions. Imagine an editor’s red pen scratching out words, drawing arrows, and making circles. The pages were a mess, but I practiced intercepting thoughts with questions like, why do I believe this? Does it have to be this way? What do I want instead? What else?
Curiosity and courage were my influencers that kept me engaged in my new adventure of living without the reliable escape from reality – alcohol.
One specific experience was shortly after moving into a rundown and filthy apartment that belonged to a member of my community. He didn’t charge me outrageous fees and deposits, and I agreed to pay month-to-month and clean up the place after his son and friends abandoned their party central. My boyfriend had moved in, and I felt insecure with him. Insecurity translated into being cold, angry, and shutting down, which boiled down to screwing him before he got the better of me. Healthy relationships were never modeled in my home growing up, and I had only stopped drinking a few months prior. You do not need to tell me this was not a good idea.
There I was, utterly vulnerable after my world had burned down around me, standing alone in a heap of ashes. I had choices. I could tell him to get out, I could close up and disconnect (old behavior), I could not care, which turns out to be entirely against my nature, or I could explore what I wanted in a relationship and work toward that.
Being willing to explore the possibilities allowed me to relax and soften, and I began to realize nothing is permanent. I attribute that mindset to my nineteen years of living a fulfilling and rewarding life without alcohol, wholly sober.
Never have I ever felt like I needed to drink or, even in the darkest pain, wished I could numb out. I have learned the power of staying connected to feel emotions and heartache all the way through. I have learned that I get to the healing part much quicker and am able to collect wisdom that will serve me in ways I could have never predicted.
Over the years, there have been moments when I found myself feeling trapped. In my work, for example, I kept being told I should use specific language and warned that people would not find me if you do not speak their language and what I think is not what everybody else thought, and that is not how sober is commonly done. Essentially, I was told I couldn’t market the truth. People will not recognize it.
Well, I do not teach and coach the traditional approach to challenges with alcohol – sober isn’t defined by abstinence, alcohol isn’t bad, it’s not about the alcohol, stop focusing on alcohol and making it the enemy.
But I kept trying to bend and twist to blend my experience with traditional practices and language and became frustrated and fat. Yes, fat.
Are shoulds shaping your thoughts?
What is shaping your shoulds?
Instead of being excited about my work, I would feel underwhelmed and push away from my projects to find solace in screen time and snacks.
Until I finally dropped the shoulds and applied how I got sober with curiosity and courage to address my work doldrum. Doldrum is a perfect word for how I felt. This is a succinct description of how many women I have worked with over the last ten years have felt when seeking alcohol for a reprieve – doldrum drinking. #doldrumdrinking
Doldrum: a spell of listlessness or despondency: blues. a state of bafflement: quandary
Can you relate to feeling stuck in the doldrums?
I started with a willingness to step forward without having the entire vision clear but trusted that I would find a way that honored mySELF. Remember the questions I asked above regarding my boyfriend? I used them here too.
Why do I believe this? Does it have to be this way? What do I want instead? What else?
Of course, I had to be willing to face the reality that I may need to walk away from Pink Cloud Coaching altogether, and I was willing to do just that to reconnect to self and move forward with meaningful work that made me feel alive.
When was the last time you felt alive?
It took a few months of exploring my why, what, and who. I enrolled in an accountability coaching program that I answered weekly to keep me on track. Yes, coaches, GOOD COACHES, use coaches. We know the value and importance of having people to help us dig deeper and stay focused. Often, I could only see what was hidden or just out of view when I was reporting my progress and expressing my thoughts.
I am fortunate that early on I changed my language from I cannot drink because I have a disease and alcohol is bad TO alcohol will stunt my growth and delay my discoveries that can only be found with a clear mind, open heart, and having a defined intention – that is being wholly sober.
And being wholly sober provides me limitless opportunities to expand and become the woman of my dreams by staying connected to SELF.
There is no better way to stay connected to SELF than by exploration.
We are not the same woman we were last year and will not be the same a year from now. It’s our job to be intentional about who we become.
ABOUT THE BOYFRIEND
The boyfriend became my husband, and we have spent over eighteen of our nineteen years of no alcohol daydreaming and doing one adventure after another with pen in hand.
As always, I’m here for you. If you have any questions or want to chat about how you can live wholly sober, too, click here.