A few months ago, this instagram post from Laura McKowen stopped me in my tracks:
At the time I had been off of gluten and dairy for over a year because eating them made me feel like sh%t. And yet, I was drinking wine multiple days a week, and it only took me a second of being present with my body to realize that wine was also making me feel like sh%T, though up until that moment, I was blind to the problem.
Why was that?
I instantly sparked an internal debate over whether or not my relationship to alcohol was healthy.
Part of me longed to no longer wake up with a head ache on a Saturday morning and knew my general puffiness was caused by wine.
And quite loudly (and angrily) parts of me piped up with “you’re not an alcoholic so you’re fine.” “wine is my break” “I need wine to survive motherhood” “I can’t imagine my life with out it.”
Yikes. I was ATTACHED.
I ignored my aching, puffy body for a while until a close friend of mine told me she was doing Dry January, where you don’t drink any alcohol for the month of January. My gut reaction was to change the subject, but I knew my strong reaction was a call to show up for this opportunity to look at my relationship to alcohol. So I did it.
Here’s what I knew to begin, alcohol is neither good or bad, but if I was using it in a way that was masking something I was missing in my life, it was stealing an opportunity for true healing and at the same time creating physical stress that was hurting my body.
I do want to say that since I don’t identify as an alcoholic, my experience is not meant to encompass the whole spectrum. I am not here to tell you what you should do, all of our experiences and relationship with alcohol is as unique as our fingerprint. I want to offer my journey as an example of what it looks like to explore one’s relationship to alcohol with out feeling the need to give it up forever but to have a clean and clear relationship with it.
I created Live More Weigh Less on the foundation that food is a replacement for something we are missing in our lives, so I started to look at what I was currently using alcohol for…
The Three Reasons I was Drinking
- I use wine at my “motherhood OFF switch” when I put a glass of red wine in my hand I feel more like a Woman, and less like a Mom. It signals to my system that it’s time to relax and get into a more party like atmosphere.
- I use it to act like I’m “normal”. Being a Priestess with a Temple in my backyard, I’m a bit of a black sheep around these parts. Although consciously I feel empowered about who I am and my work in the world, subconsciously I still have a fear about being the odd duck on the elementary school playground. Layer in moving 10 minutes from where said childhood playground is, I realized this fear of being ostracized was activated. I honestly felt pretty out of place amongst my peers growing up until I (ding ding ding) started drinking! I went from feeling like I was on the outskirts of the social scene to the life of the party. In college, I threw parties as my extracurricular activity. I threw three parties a week, every weekend, for four years. It became a big part of my identity and I attached it with socializing and fitting in.
- I use it to feel sexy. Somehow, holding a glass of wine makes me feel like I’ve lost 30 pounds, perked up my boobs and gives me an air of joie de vivre. After having 3 babies and barely sleeping for 5 years, this is no where near my baseline state of being. Wine allowed me to drop into my sensual energy on a date with Jonathan quickly and shake off the frumpy feelings.
I knew I needed to get some emotional medicine so alcohol is no longer medicine/ a crutch / a tool to avoid the actual problem but just alcohol.
This is what I did about it….
- I took long breaks from alcohol (30 days in January and I’m currently in the middle of another 40-day devotion without any sugar, alcohol or coffee). Being in a state of devotion to adstenence allows me to really work through the emotional discomfort of my exhaustion at the end of the day or my in ability to source my sensuality on my own. It creates a container so I don’t just bypass those hard emotions.
- I started reading everything by @tellbetterstoriesmedia and @laura _mckowen on instagram and articles they suggested to get educated around the Wine/Mom culture. When you look closely at marketing, Mothers are being inundated with messaging that we need wine in order to survive motherhood. This made me not only blind to my bad relationship with alcohol but I also internalized that it was ok and even needed because I was a Mom.
- I explored other ways to “turn off” at the end of the day which now includes music, lighting an altar in my kitchen, changing my clothes and making a kombucha cocktail.
- I did some more inner child work around wanting to fit in and be liked. I wrote out all of my “stories” around being the odd duck and re committed to my path. In that process I also had to come to terms with the possibility that people wouldn’t want to hang with the fully expressed me, which of course, hasn’t happened. Often our fear around being ourselves is unfounded.
- I’m exploring other ways to feel more sensual, sexy and feminine, and the main one is around getting real about my health. It’s hard to feel sexy when you feel sluggish, tired and down most of the time, and this is mainly because my body just isn’t at peak health. As I write this, I am on day 20 of a 40-day devotional practice to my body where I’m not eating any inflammatory foods (no sugar, caffeine, red meat, grains, dairy or alcohol!) and I feel AMAZING and so much more feminine and sexy as a result. I am also spending more time getting into a soft, feminine energy by lighting candles when I’m getting dressed, using flower essences and adorning myself with essential oils. I am sourcing my sensuality from within and from rituals that support me instead of hurt me.
- I bring the bar. I recently went to New York to celebrate my friend Nitika’s birthday. Even though she doesn’t drink, it was those situations that would leave me craving a glass of wine, so I brought a full mocktail bar of kombucha, seltzer, essential oils, fresh herbs and juice. It looked beautiful and was fun to create some alcohol free alchemy.
- The final thing I am doing is using my party planning prowess to create celebrations that are deeply spiritual, ritualistic, fun and don’t include alcohol so I can learn that I can feel connected, wild and full of joy without it… and if you live near Medfield, MA, you’re invited to one!
I find that a lot of the overdoing of food, alcohol or sugar usually come from a lack of FUN. When we aren’t deeply nourished with rest, deep conversation, wild abandon, support and permission to cut loose, over eating and over drinking become our only source of fun, joy and letting loose. I invite you to join me for this sacred party to prove your habits wrong and experience how joyful and alive you can feel without your crutches.
I’m not saying I will never drink again, and when I do I will surely be more conscious of drinking organic or biodynamic wine, but the real invitation for me is to not use alcohol to deal with motherhood, stress, fit in or to feel sexy. I want to feel like I am addressing the things in my life that are out of whack head on and exploring WHY I drink has really shown me where I need to focus my attention. Then, alcohol can just be alcohol.
The work around alcohol is not easy. It’s can feel awkward, loaded and deeply triggering. Just know that I’ve been mucking around, and I feel like I’m making some headway and I’m so so so happy I started this exploration.
May we all be drunk on life, love and our wildness.
P.S. Some resources as you think about your relationship with alcohol:
@soberwitch – spiritual sister circles for women in recovery.
@laura_mckowen – vulnerable, inspiration + retreats.
@tellbetterstoriesmedia – explores the Mom/Wine culture
@thisnakedmind – brain science behind alcohol
@holly – Hip Sobriety course and events
@rubywarrington – author of Sober Curious