“Am I…an Alcoholic?”
This is a question I asked myself multiple times over the past 4 years but today I’m celebrating 100 days of being sober.
This wasn’t the first time I tried to change my relationship with alcohol though. I failed multiple times and my best friends and family can attest to that.
How did it get to that?
Drinking for me was never a big concern in my early twenties. It wasn’t until I discovered craft beer 4 years ago that I developed a significant passion for alcohol and everything that went along with it:
The artistry of making beers, wines and spirits, as well as the endless food pairing adventures you can go on. A juicy IPA, petey whiskey or a full bodied malbec were amongst my favourite indulgences…
Not to mention my intense enthusiasm for having fun, being social and always being down for adventures!
I grew into a person who could find any excuse to have a “delicious beverage” if I really wanted to.
The problem was that I started to ‘want to’ more often than I ever expected.
Booze started to become my trusty companion with most things I did, developing a strong association between “fun” and “liquor.”
The two went hand in hand and made for a perfect marriage, so much so that I started to think about them as the same thing without realizing it.
If I was having fun, I was usually drinking, and if I was drinking, I was always having fun.
There became too many times though where I would wake up even mildly hungover and looked back on the previous night, not feeling particularly proud of my behaviour.
There were even a few times I felt foolish and shameful for the way I acted under the influence.
For the last couple years it became a growing inner conflict:
“I love having fun so much but I don’t think I need to give up booze altogether. I really can just be a casual drinker because, after all, I’m not actually an alcoholic…”
I’ve always defined addiction as something you don’t feel you can stop by your own conscious choice, and I always felt I could make the choice to stop drinking if I really wanted to. I didn’t think that made me better than anyone, it was just my honest truth at the time.
Despite my attempts to go casual with it though, it ended up being more challenging than I thought.
I would go for a couple weeks at a time, but soon after I allowed my passion for booze and everything that went along with it continue to dominate the majority of my free time.
It wasn’t until this last year though when I’d begin to allow myself to have a drink even if the occasion didn’t really call for it. For the first time in my life, it really did become that itch I felt I HAD to scratch.
There was no doubt that something happened I never thought would happen. I was addicted to alcohol.
“What the hell am I doing?” I started to ask myself, waking up with sometimes mild, other times heavy hangovers throughout the months.
“This isn’t me…”
“…This isn’t the person I want to be…”
“…This certainly isn’t the person I want to be while upholding my career as a Life Coach.”
After the past Christmas holidays, I knew that I had to make a more aggressive change this time.
One afternoon in early January I told a close friend what I was going through. His eyes lit up with compassion and enthusiastically invited me to join him and his girlfriend on their 100-day sobriety challenge.
Despite my initial hesitation of knowing this meant actually committing to the shift I knew I needed to make, my whole heart said, “Yes, I’m in. Let’s do it.”
This isn’t a story about how it was easy for me to let go of alcohol, because for a long time, it really wasn’t. I loved booze and a big part of me didn’t want to give it up.
However, for those who want to know what shifted for me, read on.
I think that everyone can agree that no matter who you are in life, if something or someone is the most important thing in the world to you, you will give up anything and everything for it.
Maybe not at first, but you hear stories from people who have recovered from addiction who say that they were able to do it because of a higher “power” or “purpose.”
That may be because of the love they have for their children, significant other, or family member.
It may be because of their stark realization that if they don’t change then they’ll lose their greatest power as a human being: Life itself.
It may be some kind of spiritual realization that enables them to see life in an entirely new way, giving them the freedom they were always seeking through their addiction.
Whatever our higher purpose or power is, it’s clear that it’s different for everyone, and once you realize and embrace it, you will give up everything for it.
Again, that shift typically doesn’t happen right away; it usually takes years for people to make that transition.
But despite our societal belief, I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of. No one is perfect, even though we usually unconsciously place that expectation on ourselves. Everyone is coming from a different past and processing different traumas.
I don’t pretend to know anyones struggle, however, the truth is that the more honest we are with ourselves, the more we will have the courage to admit when our actions are integral with who we really are and when they are not.
For me personally, I’ve known most of my life that my life purpose is to help people be more happy and successful in life.
I realized I wanted to be a life coach and spiritual teacher at the yellow age of 20, long before I was really ready for it.
It’s been a challenging pursuit, processing my own unconscious traumas, along with many failures, growth opportunities and life lessons along the way.
But despite how challenging it’s been, I know in my heart that I couldn’t give up anything for it — it’s who I really am.
There are many obstacles in life; for me, alcohol started to become a fairly serious one. Of course, everyone has a different relationship with it and this isn’t a “pro” or “against” alcohol post.
But regardless of our struggles, we ultimately have the freedom and power to rise above our limitations when we summon the courage to do so.
I share all of this for two reasons:
I think alcohol and addiction are subjects that could be discussed publicly in more healthy ways than they typically are. I aim to be transparent with my struggles because we all have them on a variety of topics, and there doesn’t need to be shame in admitting that you have an addiction, regardless of what it is.
I know there are millions of people in the world who have at least once considered my opening question:
“Am I an alcoholic?”
You reading this may even be considering that question in your life right now.
Regardless of who you are or what you want in life, please allow your takeaway from this be that you can make the changes you know you want to make in your life, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
Is it always going to be easy? Hell no. But what it will come down to is asking yourself the ultimate question of your life:
“What is my higher purpose…my higher power…my higher reason for living?”
If you’re not ready to accept it fully, that’s okay. Don’t deny, however, that the life you want is on the other side of the decision to get vulnerable with yourself so you can begin consciously exploring who you really are as apposed to upholding values that are no longer in alignment with your highest self.
If you are someone who is looking to make changes in your life, feel free to reach out to me on a professional level (I’m not an addictions counsellor, I’m a Life Coach). If not, know that there are always good people out there who have a genuine interest in seeing you conquer your battles and create a life that is deeply meaningful to YOU.
Carry on with courage. Stay strong. You got this. I believe in you.
I’m so grateful to everyone on this journey. It truly is a beautiful life.