The big “Who am I without Alcohol” question will affect all of us differently. Embarking on an alcohol-free life is a huge life event for a drinker. Becoming sober is life-changing, to say the very least.
People who do not have issues with drinking will never understand this. Yes, the “Who am I without Alcohol” is a journey that drinkers take alone. They start off fearful and angry and sad. They get to their destination free and alive and grateful!
Learn How to Stop Drinking First
Along the way, they try recovery coaching and online ‘how to stop drinking’ counselling. Many try to find their sober tribe. The answers to this question may lie hidden but they are there, waiting. We may avoid the question at all costs for a while, yet the answer is essential for our wellbeing into the drink-free future.
I hope that my blog can be the catalyst for many drinkers to take that courageous step to find themselves after booze. Who am I without Alcohol? My friend for so long, my support, my crutch and my constant companion? Just read our Goodbye Letters to Alcohol and see what people are saying about losing this bosom buddy!
Rephrase this question to read, “Why have I changed so much?” or “Who am I now that I am sober?” or “Who was I before I started to drink?” Dave Rich hits the nail on the head when he notes that he has lost touch with who he really is.
“I’m not sure who I am anymore without alcohol in my life, or I’m not really who I thought I was… Perhaps I am an idiot. But in my defense, for the past 30 years all of the knowledge I have been able to obtain has been filtered through my approximately one-third of a functioning brain that actually gave a sh*t about something other than alcohol.”
Trapped by Alcohol to be Someone Else
He adds that ditching the drink allowed him a freedom he had never known. This made me think about how alcohol traps the drinker: we think we are free and having fun and one of the boys but, in reality we are fighting our demons of guilt and shame, puffiness within and without – and utter worthlessness.
For many of us, becoming sober is impossibly daunting. When we embark on this new journey sans bottles, we are intimidated and shy. Until the benefits kick in and we start to realise how good we feel, how normal we feel and how amazing everything around us actually is. No more hiding, no more dreading the day ahead and no more whining and grumpiness.
“For the first time in my life I feel as though I can literally do anything I want, and I don’t know what to do. I honestly don’t know if I want to do anything at all. So I’m taking this opportunity to examine more closely the way I feel about things now,” confirms Dave.
Suddenly, when alcohol is out of the picture, there is so much else to occupy the mind. All the simple, boring things come to the fore: what to wear today, what to do today, what to cook and what to read. Maybe just to sit and think.
“My message is simple, and it goes out to anyone who is currently struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, or knows someone who is—don’t give up. I never thought I’d see the time where I didn’t want to drink anymore, but that time is here; it is now, and for this opportunity I will be forever grateful. “
Losing Friends and Finding a Tribe
For me, becoming sober meant relooking at my entire life. One friend of mine told me recently that I was a sanitised version of the me she knew in the 1990s. The me who used to drink and party and laugh and do crazy drunken things. The me who passed out at dinner parties or parked my car halfway down banks or who got the munchies way past midnight.
I told her,” Yes, but I am sober now, that time was a farce!” and then I thought that maybe I was letting her down a lot, saying that, and being a serious sober cookie now? I am discovering the real me and she cannot understand who I am anymore. So, goodbye to her.
Relooking at my entire life means going back to when I was a young girl. That girl whose inner child was so damaged at a young age. And I started to read about how to find out if my inner child was wounded or not, and how I could fix this.
According to Aleithia Luna of LonerWolf, “The inner child is the part in your psyche that still retains its innocence, creativity, awe, and wonder toward life. Quite literally, your inner child is the child that lives within you – within your psyche that is. It is important that we stay connected with this sensitive part of ourselves. When we are connected to our inner child, we feel excited, invigorated, and inspired by life. When we are disconnected, we feel lethargic, bored, unhappy, and empty.”
Finding your Inner Child
I think many people who turn to alcohol are those who have lost touch with this vital part of ourselves. As children, if we did not feel safe, we retreated and hid. Safety is related to the meeting of basic human needs: food, water, shelter, clothing, community and love. We need to feel respected and accepted by all who love us in terms of physical, emotional and spiritual needs. If, for example, one of those needs is neglected, we can be wounded for life.
Luna says we should look for these things to see if we were made to feel unsafe as children:
- You were taught that it’s not OK to have your own opinions.
- You were punished when trying to speak up or act differently.
- You were discouraged from playing or having fun.
- You weren’t allowed to be spontaneous.
- You weren’t allowed to show strong emotions such as anger or joy.
- You were shamed by your parents or family members.
- You were verbally criticized/abused on a regular basis.
- You were physically punished, e.g. smacked, beaten.
- You were made to feel responsible for your parents and their level of happiness.
- You weren’t given physical affection, e.g. hugs, kisses, cuddles.
As a result, we may display these behaviours:
- In the deepest part of me, I feel that there’s something wrong with me.
- I experience anxiety whenever contemplating doing something new.
- I’m a people-pleaser and tend to lack a strong identity.
- I’m a rebel. I feel more alive when I’m in conflict with others.
- I tend to hoard things and have trouble letting go.
- I feel guilty standing up for myself.
- I feel inadequate as a man or woman.
- I’m driven to always be a super-achiever.
- I consider myself a terrible sinner and I’m afraid of going to hell.
- I constantly criticize myself for being inadequate.
- I’m rigid and perfectionistic.
- I have trouble starting or finishing things.
- I’m ashamed of expressing strong emotions such as sadness or anger.
- I rarely get mad, but when I do, I become rageful.
- I have sex when I don’t really want to.
- I’m ashamed of my bodily functions.
- I distrust everyone, including myself.
- I am an addict or have been addicted to something.
- I avoid conflict at all costs.
- I am afraid of people and tend to avoid them.
- I feel more responsible for others than for myself.
- I never felt close to one or both of my parents.
- My deepest fear is being abandoned and I’ll do anything to hold onto a relationship.
- I struggle to say “no.”
If you answer YES to at least 10 of these, you need to do Inner Child Work.
It Takes a Lifetime to Find Out Who We Are
It takes a lifetime to find out who we are and what our life’s purpose is. For newly sober people, drinkers and for those who never had addiction issues. Maybe take time out for yourself when you decide to quit the booze and look inward and find value in everything you do?
Kelly Fitzgerald has great advice when it comes to finding the answer to that question: “Who am I without alcohol?” Think back to who you were before you took that first sip of drink. An innocent teenager or a rebellious 20-something year old? Just starting out in life and so vulnerable.
Finding Yourself Sober Means:
- Finding new health and senses that open and receive the world: hear the birds and insects, see the sunrise before yoga, smell the dew on your lawn, taste the fresh air of a new day, feel the sun on your arms and the wind at your back. And intuitively know that you are doing the right thing…
- Emotions that soar and plummet daily, finding their new equilibrium over time. Very deep lows and short, delicious highs! Make it your goal to lengthen the joyous moments and shorten the sad moments.
- Tuning in to your real needs: how to spend the day free of thoughts of booze, how to spend the evenings free of boozey nights out, how to work with a clear head and how to exercise without the guilt of a puffy body. Learn a new art, start a new hobby.
- Discovering fun things to do without needing alcohol to make things fun. Run in the wind, play with your kids, throw a ball for the dog and scream yay at the sun!
- Feeling in control of your destiny: look at where you began as a young child and see where you can still go. You may be closer to middle age, but life awaits you even more magnetically than ever before. Stay present, forget the past and manage the future.
- Telling yourself that you deserve love and that love deserves you. Find the goodness within you and within every other person you come into contact with.
- Casting aside toxic people. You may lose close friends who still drink. Their lens is about the glass and the liquid that fills that glass. Your new lens is huge and panoramic and open to life’s great gifts! Find the tribe who loves you, who does not criticise or demean you.
- Accepting and embracing your faults. Who wants to be perfect anyway?! Tell yourself in the mirror that you love who you are NOW and forever.
“I was always that girl who needed alcohol to have fun and now I am a testament to the fact that you don’t need it to enjoy yourself. I wake up every day feeling relieved that I never have to feel hungover… The best is yet to come,” says Kelly.
Join Tribe Sober today if you haven’t already and start to discover your hidden inner child.