In this article, I’m going to cover what a “Nolo” drink is, talk about NA (non-alcoholic) beers and kombucha. I’m also going to give my recommendation if you should stay away from these drinks or not since some of them do contain trace amounts of alcohol.
Side note – I feel more influencers, bloggers, podcasters need to cover controversial topics in recovery. Should we avoid NA beers that still contain small amounts of alcohol, does cannabis plays in recovery, and where does plant medicines such as ayahuasca, psilocybin, and ibogaine fit in recovery?
In episode 170, I came out about my experience with ayahuasca despite knowing I would face some intense criticism, which I did. I still feel it’s an incredibly powerful resource, and not sharing it with the audience wouldn’t be true to my mission.
Recently I heard from a blogger in this space who tried ayahuasca for the first time and they said it was the most powerful resource they have come across. I then said, “wow, I’m so happy with you, shoot me the link when you share your experience with the audience, I’m excited to read about it.” They responded with, I don’t have any plans about going public with it. I didn’t answer back, but my inner response was…. Weak. But I get it, I’m sure I’ll get some flack about the position I take with kombucha and non- alcoholic beers.
Speaking of Ayahuasca, I’m hoping to get dates set up for another trip to Rythmia in Costa Rica for later this year or early next. Email me a email@example.com if you’re interested in joining.
As you may know, I have a book titled Alcohol is Shit, so it may come as a surprise for me to admit, there are some excellent uses for alcohol.
What is alcohol good for?
1. It does have a place in the medical field. It does a great job of killing bacteria and sterilizing things.
2. It’s a highly flammable fuel. It can power a car, a train, or a rocket.
Apart from that, alcohol is shit. People are waking up to the fact alcohol is a class 1 carcinogen, and ingesting the poison can cause significant havoc on internal bodily systems. So a trend is emerging. People are drinking less alcohol. Especially younger folks. Also, consumers are switching to more non or low alcohol content drinks.
People in masses are starting to recognize that alcohol kills 88,000 people per year in just the US alone, causes ulcers, sexual problems, Vitamin B deficiency, apathy, gastritis, malnutrition, nerve damage, liver disease, alcohol poisoning, acute making an ass out of yourself disorder, and a barrage of other things that nobody wants.
People are consuming less alcohol
Sales of no or low alcohol beer (this is where the term “nolo” comes from) is up 30% since 2016. This trend is especially popular with 18-24 year olds. Another fantastic statistic with this age group is that the number of 18-24-year-olds who report they don’t drink at all, increased by 6% last year alone, to 23% in total. Wow, you get a lot of flack millennials, but good on you.
According to the craft brewers’ trade organization, “Nolo” alcohol is set to be one of the driving trends of 2020.
The report is forecasting that no alcohol, low alcohol, and “free-from” beers are set to be one of the fastest-growing parts of the market in 2020, with under 35s choosing low alcohol versions of drinks for a quiet night in or to accompany meals.
Consumers are more conscious of their physical and mental health than ever, and this has driven the fall in alcohol consumption, especially among young people.
Here’s another promising figure – Growth in beer sales is slowing, with total beer sales in 2019 rising by 1.1%, compared with 2.6% growth a year earlier. And The report also indicated a slight increase in the overall number of people who never drink alcohol, with 17% saying they were teetotalers, compared to 16% a year earlier. That’s roughly 3.5 million more people who don’t drink.
I share this with you in hopes of reminding you that you’re not alone. That more people than ever are questioning the role that alcohol is playing in their lives. People are taking addiction seriously and recognize it’s not something that younger people even want to mess with. When millennials say “Yolo” they aren’t including alcohol addiction.
People, just like myself and you, are consciously making the decision to not drink something that will make you less conscious, less alive, and less vibrant. I choose, and I know you do as well, vitality.
Okay, let’s cover non- alcoholic beer. Legally, they can market it as non-alcoholic if it contains less than .5% of alcohol. So, non-alcoholic beer isn’t correct since it contains alcohol. Thank you, FDA. And you might need to ditch the booze if you just calculated how many NA beers you’ll need to drink to relive the glory days. Now, good on you Heineken and UK Based Smashed Lager for making a true 0.0 NA beer.
Now before I give you my opinion, my stance on NA beers, lets first cover why you want to drink an NA beer. Is it the taste? That there are small amounts of alcohol? To blend in? To not be asked why you aren’t drinking? Personally, I never drank beer, wine, or hard liquor for the taste. I drank for effect. I can think of about 74 other drinks that taste significantly better than NA beers, all of which don’t contain alcohol.
Soda water, with a splash of cranberry and a lime wedge, is at the top of the list. Another one is called the “Dustimosa.” You take a couple of sips out of a La Croix, or Buble can, and then fill back up with cranberry, orange, or grapefruit juice.
This is how I treat NA beers. I don’t drink them. Not because I don’t want to flirt with the idea of trace alcohol amounts in my system, but I prefer the taste of other beverages. Now there have been several times when someone hosts a party, and they get me a six-pack of NA beers. Out of generosity, I’ll always have 1. One time, someone got me and my friend, Dusty, he was interviewed in episode 206, Busch NA’s to play flip cup with everyone so we’d feel included.
My stance on NA beers, unless it’s a true 0.0% – stay away. You can find better tasting alternatives, and you don’t want to rattle the cage. It’s not worth it. I once heard a story from a guy who’s wife only allowed him to have NA beers in the house. So each night, he would go into the garage and drink 25-30 NA beers…
Again, my unequivocal stance is, stay away from NA beers that contain trace amounts of alcohol. If you end up having all six beers in under an hour, there’s a good chance you’ll feel it, and crave more.
Now let’s cover kombucha. What is kombucha? And why is it so popular in the US right now? According to Kombucha Brewers International, kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that’s made by adding a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). This solution of tea and sugar produces various compounds, including alcohol and acetic acid, the primary flavor of vinegar.
Kombucha helps support healthy liver function and assists the liver in the detoxification process by making fat-soluble toxins water-soluble. A recent study found recovering alcoholics with higher gut bacteria diversity were more successful at staying sober. There is a strong gut-brain connection, and drinking kombucha strengthens that connection by increasing the number of healthy gut bacteria. 80% of serotonin is created in the gut when healthy gut bacteria and function are present.
I also want to mention, if you had a sandwich or burger for lunch today, you most likely had more alcohol than a Kombucha. Burger rolls have almost 1.3% alcohol, and a ripe banana or pear has about .4% alcohol. How far down do you want to draw this line in the sand?
With kombucha, my take, my stance, my opinion is… Have a kombucha for lunch. Greenlight. But make sure, if you’re at a kombucha brewery, it’s less than .5% or ideally 0.0%. I feel the health benefits outweigh the risks with a kombucha. Plus, for some reason, the thought of chugging 12 kombuchas at lunch makes my stomach stir.
What sometimes sneaks up on me with kombucha is the caffeine. If I have one for dinner, it usually keeps me up at night. So keep that in mind.
To go a little deeper with this article, the overarching problem isn’t alcohol. At first, it is when we are physically addicted. But after it’s been out of the system for a while, it’s about finding healthier ways to regulate inner discomfort without an external substance like wine, beer, spirits sex, shopping gambling, or kombucha. Awareness of what’s happening internally is significantly more important than avoiding kombucha.
I’d like to zoom out a bit and talk about the journey for a moment. There is no one size fits all approach to ditching the booze, but I think most of us can agree, there can by trying times. You often hear on the Recovery Elevator podcast from myself and interviewees how incredible a life without alcohol can be, which I can attest to. Still, the pathway can be complicated at times, and for reasons unknown, more challenging for some.
There is a comfort knowing you’re not alone. That you’re not the only person on the planet, who struggles with alcohol, which is how I felt when I first began my journey early last decade. There is also a comfort knowing that collectively, people find this pathway hard. The pains and painful moments are all part of it, and you’re not alone. Keep in mind, of the roughly 100,000 genes we inherit, not of them is the addiction gene, and you can reverse this progression.
Right now, since you’re reading this, it places you in the ring. You’re an active participant in the game of life. You’re in the center of the ring, and not up in the grandstands observing. And you’re an absolute badass, for purposefully placing yourself in this ring where there’s a good chance, almost certain chance, you’re going to get dirty. Smacked, kicked, punched, rolled over on, and a lot of other unpleasant things. This isn’t you saying, well, I’m open to failing, it’s you saying, I’m going to fail as many times as I need to be successful.
I admire each and every one of you for consciously choosing the enter the ring. Seriously. It’s impressive. I applaud all of you for continuing to listen to the podcast even if the message hasn’t quite “hit home” yet.
Now, to be fair, by electing to be here, living life on planet earth places you in the ring, so everyone is more or less in the ring. But your decision to move forward in life without alcohol, to address what’s holding you back in life, places you in the center of the ring and not way up in the upper decks as an observer. Your conscious decision to depart from the booze, from what provided relief, from what used to make your job, anxiety, depression, shame, guilt, winter, your neighbor Tom, and individual relationships bearable places you front and center of the ring.
You might be saying, “wait a second Paul, I haven’t told anyone about my decision to quit drinking.” Well, even if the only ship you’ve burnt is with yourself, which is where it starts, you’ve still taken the most essential step in your life. This is what makes you brave… courageous… valiant… daring… vulnerable… adventurous… and a bold leader.
Now you may have heard courageous and vulnerable in the same sentence, and that’s no coincidence because they are the same damn thing. And Deep down, you know, the only way out is through. And to go through, you get cracked open, in the most beautiful of ways. It’s almost like a vulnerable sandwich. First, we must be courageous enough to be vulnerable. Then we must be courageous again to address the vulnerable parts. The vulnerability sandwich. I like it, I will personally be adding some horseradish mayo or honey mustards. I’m a huge sauce guy.
Now let me describe what the ring looks like… Imagine a bull ring from Spain. One that Ernest Hemingway would write about in the “Sun Also Rises.” When you stop running, turn, and face your fears, you just made the conscious decision to place yourself in the center of the ring. Now, as I said before, everyone is in the ring, but you just came down from row 55, which is near the top and are now inside the ring. You can still get shoved around while sitting in the top row of the stands, and there’s a slim possibility you’ll to confront a bull, but by sitting way up there, you’re well in the comfort of your comfort zone.
Apart from the occasional shirt getting launched up there from a t-shirt cannon, not much happens. It’s a bunch of people who are living behind screens which have mighty thumbs and can type whatever they want. Up there, where you used to be, It’s called the sidelines of life. Where all you have is talk, inaction, and empty goals. How does that saying go? Talk is inexpensive? Talk is a bargain? Talk is of lesser quality… Talk is cheap. Got it.
So here you are, inside the ring. You look down to find your shoes are covered in dust. You suddenly feel smaller. Things don’t smell quite right. And you see large bulls running around. You see swords, bows, and arrows, spears, dinner parties where alcohol is flowing freely, your best friend Aaron is offering you a vodka cranberry. You don’t have things figured out. You recognize it’s only a matter of time before you get your ass kicked.
As I mentioned last episode, it’s not about avoiding these ass-kickings in life; it’s about getting up and back into the ring. I think I’ve done a fair job of accurately describing what this journey will be like. I cover this specifically in episode 250 titled “Is Sobriety all Unicorns and Rainbows.” Sure, after alcohol, a new life awaits, one without crushing hangovers and self-loathing, but when in the ring, there will be challenging days. Moments you don’t think, keyword think, you’ll be triumphant, but you are. You find the strength because it’s there. I know it’s there. It always has been.
Let me read one of my favorite quotes of all time for you. One that I had framed and hung up on my wall before the very FIRST episode of Recovery Elevator podcast dropped on February 25th, 2015. I remember looking up at the framed quote on the wall, them uploading episode 001 to iTunes and then said to myself, “Oh shit, here we go.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
– Theodore Roosevelt.
I think Teddy does a damn good job of summarizing just what level of Ninja status you’re at. You’re in the ring, which is all that matters. Now the thing you’re probably saying to yourself is this. “Teddy’s right. I don’t care what others think about me.” Say it to yourself, it sounds good. It feels good. But how come when we get criticism, it usually stirs up a whirlwind of emotions in some part of the body? You’re like hang on, I just told myself, I don’t care what others think about me, but how come there’s a knot the size of a grapefruit in my solar plexus? It’s because we’re wired as human beings to care.
We are genetically hardwired to care what others think about us. The reason why is we need a tribe. We need a community to survive. Okay, so here’s where I can add comfort. Criticism is normal. In fact, it can be a barometer knowing you’re on the right path. How does it go? Haters gonna hate, hurt people hurt people… Blah to them. We’ve covered countless ways on this podcast to stay grounded, to no let others affect your energy, but let’s be honest, some of it still hurts. It always will, and that’s alright. Allow yourself to feel it, and I can promise you with a capital P, alcohol will only create another, more ferocious critic.
Now, who’s the critic? Who’s the person saying you’re not worth it, or you don’t deserve this, or don’t even try because you’ll never make it? It’s not who we think it is. Stick with me for a second here.
The spectator, or the critic we’re thinking about, the one we imagine sitting in the stands, heckling from above, in the comfort of their seat, is mostly quiet. Why? The spectator respects you, admires you, is almost envious of you… for your decision to be the most authentic version of yourself because deep down, they want the same. They want you to succeed. Sure, you may get the occasional cackle or low blow from above, but even they are saying, “go, go, get back up and get it, girl. DO it. Show us how. Lead the way.” They all want you to find traction on this journey.
The loudest critic
So who is the critic when you’re in the ring grappling with alcohol? Who is the one that places the most seemingly impenetrable walls on your path? Wait for it… It’s you. I’m 99.99% sure the worst critic is you. The constant voice hurling those vitriolic painful volleys and insults is coming from you, or the voice inside your head.
So this is good news. You can’t control disapproval from the outside, and well, you can’t really control the thinking on the inside either, but with awareness, you start to rewire this inner critic to be your inner cheerleader. Your biggest fan. A coach when you need it most.
The way you do this is becoming more conscious than ever of the unconscious self, and when thoughts come across the mind that says, “Michelle, let’s not even try, we won’t make it.” Say, “thank you for your input,” That’s it. That’s the equivalent of a tomahawk throw into an opponent in the ring. With awareness, and one departure from those unhealthy thoughts at a time, you begin to tune out this critic, you stand tall. You move forward in life without the poison called alcohol.
You can do this, I know you can. You’ve been doing the heavy lifting for quite some time now. You are up to this task, I know you are. Come on, we both know you are. Being in the ring is scary at first, terrifying, but with time, you’ll find comfort there. Even enjoy it. Welcome it. All of it.
Keep in mind, you’re the one with dust on your face, or for us, sometimes with puke in your hair. It’s you that’s in the ring, not the external critic. You’re the relevant one.
Keep trying, you’re so close
Check out this video of this you gal who can’t be more than 4,5 or 6 trying to jump up onto a block. She keeps trying and keeps failing. This block is hitting her in the chin, she’s falling over, but she keeps getting back up into the ring. And then, after heaps of jumps, she gets it. Just like you will.
I got the idea for this episode after I got a couple of emails from listeners who were ready to give up. To accept defeat and exit the ring entirely and surrender to a life of drinking and misery. HANG WITH ME. I’m going to ask the readers a question.
Was there ever a moment when you could have sent that same email when you were ready to quit? Hang on,,, okay, every single reader who has ditched the booze or is in the process just nodded their head. SO, if this is how you’re feeling at the moment, know it’s completely normal, some call it the dark night of the soul. Which means you’re so close. So promise me to stay in the ring, for as long as it takes. Do you know who else is in the ring with you? Me, and let me tell you, the other side… is much closer than you think.
I was completely ignorant to how beneficial giving up alcohol would be to the overall quality of my life. After all, alcohol became me. I spent a huge chunk of my life intimately interacting with alcohol, completely isolated from any other solution. When I was first introduced to recovery, a life absent of alcohol, I wasn’t convinced that it was for me. Fear crept in and I rebelled against the idea of letting go of my vice. Until one day, the pain I was experiencing was far greater than my fear of change. First, I had to admit to my innermost self just how detrimental my drinking had become and the magnitude of the harm I was causing myself and others.I was pleasantly surprised to find that giving up alcohol enhanced my life so much more than I ever could’ve imagined.
If you are unconvinced and on the fence about sobriety, let me be the first to assure you that things will only get better. What’s the worst that can happen? You may face conflict and resistance at first. Once you get over the initial slump, I can assure you, your life will approve drastically once you reach the other side of alcoholism. Here are 5 reasons you should stop drinking alcohol.
One of the most obvious reasons you should stop drinking is because of the direct negative effects of alcohol abuse. Heavy drinking increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, cirrhosis, kidney failure, and heart disease. When you make the decision to stop drinking alcohol your overall health wellbeing will improve in a multitude of areas:
Brain: A recent study suggests that as little as two weeks, of sobriety, can reverse and even heal damaging effects of alcohol on the brain.
Heart: Abstinence from alcohol will decrease your chances for developing high blood pressure and your risk for heart attack or stroke.
Skin: Alcohol is a potent diuretic. When you stop drinking alcohol, your skin’s elasticity will return as you naturally become more hydrated.
Weight: The calories found in alcohol are void of any nutritional value, but rather are filled with empty calories. Your appetite will soon return and you will consume nutritional foods rather than consuming unhealthy sugars.
Alcoholics spend most of their lives trying to numb all emotions with alcohol. When you stop drinking, your emotions may be all over the place. In fact, I had a hard time even identifying my emotions when I first got sober. Eventually, that changed. Consuming alcohol can lead to incomprehensible demoralization, which ultimately ends in guilt and shame. Absent from alcohol, guilt is eliminated. Quitting alcohol can relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, encourage longer/deeper sleep, and overall stabilize mood.
When I was drinking, life was tough. Not only was I spending way too much on alcohol, but I evaded any/all financial responsibilities. Eventually, I wasn’t able to be much use at work either. Without alcohol, you are able to be a productive member of society. The money spent on alcohol can be spent on repaying old debts and current bills. Financial freedom comes, once you put down alcohol.
Mental clarity, memory, and focus are seriously impaired when under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol. The benefit of not drinking alcohol will directly impact your mental clarity. I don’t know about you, but the mental fog I experienced on a daily basis created many problems for me. My memories were skewed, my thinking was delusional, and I couldn’t focus on any task that didn’t involve drinking more. When you give up alcohol, the fog is lifted. One study followed a group of men and women with at least 6 months into their sobriety. Researchers were unable to distinguish any cognitive differences between the recovering drinkers and the non-drinkers.
One of the most meaningful benefits of my sobriety is the quality of the relationships in my life today. Truth be told, when I was drinking I was unable to maintain any healthy relationship. I had an unhealthy love affair with alcohol. I was a horrible friend, daughter, mother, and human in general. I preferred isolation over engaging in interpersonal relationships. When you quit drinking alcohol, the veil is torn away. You may find acceptance of relationships that have been damaged, beyond repair. Communication doesn’t ignite fear but rather it becomes a healthy necessity. You are able to make healthy choices and mend broken relationships
When you first stop drinking, you may feel like a total train wreck. (That’s how I felt) It didn’t take long before all of the promising benefits of sobriety, started to become my reality. I’m not sure I ever experienced the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional freedom prior to getting sober. Without the commands of alcohol shackling you to self-propelled misery, the world is your canvas. When you decide to stop drinking you get the opportunity to live a life beyond your wildest dreams.
This is a guest post from Tricia Moceo who is an Outreach Specialist for Recovery Local, a local addiction/recovery based marketing company. She advocates long-term sobriety by writing for websites like detoxlocal.com, providing resources to recovering addicts and shedding light on the disease of addiction. Tricia is a mother of two, actively involved in her local recovery community, and is passionate about helping other women find hope in seemingly hopeless situations.
We all love to travel
Nearly every online dating profile can confirm this. We only have a finite amount of time on this planet, and we have a pull to see as much of it as possible. This can be an incredible experience, especially when we’re traveling with fun light-hearted people. When traveling, our guards are often down, and our heart opens to the present moment. The sights, sounds, and smell are all taken in. We are fully present, and this is where the magic happens.
A trip from hell
Traveling the globe is great until it becomes a nightmare. In 2014, I was a counselor for a high school trip, and we had just finished the Inca Trail and exploring Machu Picchu (this is where I got the idea for the 2018 sober travel itinerary to Peru). I had plans to continue my travels after the students returned to Colorado and I was ready to strap on the backpack and let the wind take me. That was the plan at least.
I said goodbye to the group and had every intention of staying sober for the rest of my trip. That internal declaration lasted no more than two hours, and I found myself drunk at the hostel bar later that evening. For the remainder of my stay in South America should have been the sober vacation of a lifetime, but it ended up being a disaster where I wanted to hit the eject button nearly every moment.
Death Road mountain bike tour
After that, I traveled to Puno and visited the highest freshwater body of water on the planet, Lake Titi Caca. Then I visited La Paz Bolivia where I saw Guns and Roses on my birthday. They didn’t sell alcohol at the concert, so I saw it as a sign it was going to be my new sobriety date, my birthday! After the show, I was drunk followed by a brutal hangover for the Death Road mountain bike tour.
After that, I did a jungle tour in the Bolivian Amazon and was so thankful to hear I wouldn’t be near a bar or store that sold alcohol. Well, alcohol is everywhere, and ended up convincing a local to sell me 3 liters of beer. I was becoming demoralized, and the trip was only half done. Next up, my trip involved renting a car and drove (mostly drunk) through northern Argentina, then a 16-hour bus ride over the Andes into Chile where I vomited on myself twice. The bus driver apologized for the windy roads. To the day, I still don’t think he knew I was just flat out drunk. Oh yeah, I forgot about the salt flat in Bolivia and northern Chile. This is usually a highlight for travelers, but I was too hungover to exit the vehicle most days.
Will this trip ever end…
I found myself in northern Chile in the San Pedro de Atacama Dessert wanting nothing more than to just “go home.” I think I even googled “time machine” or “tele-transport” a couple of times in google searches. I was utterly defeated by alcohol at this moment, and I still had ten days left on the trip. I booked a stargazing trip in the desert of Chile which, apart from Machu Picchu, was the best part of the whole trip. During this stargazing excursion, I got a glimpse of the universe. A seed of spirituality was planted in my heart… For a moment, I thought I would be able to go the rest of the trip without alcohol.
Then Lima happened. I woke up every day promising myself I wouldn’t drink. I did so well until the sun went down. I did manage to attend a couple AA meetings in Lima which helped, but overall, it was a total dumpster fire.
I’ve also googled “dolorian time machine” in hopes that I can go back and to that trip again: sober. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I go back and see these incredible places again. The difference this time is that I won’t do it alone.
Great Experience with Sober Vacations
After that vacation from absolute hell, the idea of sober travel vacations first arrived. I said, I love to travel, and I need to find a way to do it without being tempted to drink. Call it fate, destiny, or whatever, I then started the Recovery Elevator podcast, the sober communities Café RE and we just did our first international dry travel vacation to Peru in 2018 with 20 total attendees. During that trip, not one person drank. We had 20 people who have decided to live a life without alcohol and not one person drank. Incredible. On top of that, laughter seemed to be the theme of each day!
Next up is Asia January 20 – 31st, 2020. We will be flying into Bangkok, Thailand and departing Seam Ream, Cambodia. Apart from exploring two top destinations in Southeast Asia, we will be doing service work with Ourland, an elephant sanctuary, in Kanchanaburi. This sober travel tour should be the trip of a lifetime and simply cannot wait.
If you can’t make a Recovery Elevator sober travel vacation, and you still want to travel, here are some tips.
Tips for sober travel
- Go with a friend who knows you won’t be drinking. This person can hold you accountable and give you support in those difficult moments. Make sure this friend doesn’t prioritize alcohol.
- Go with a sober travel buddy – even better! If you have a sober friend ask them to travel with you.
- Attend an AA meeting. I’ve attended AA meetings in nearly a dozen countries and not only is it great support, it’s a quick way to meet locals. I went to a meeting in Mexico and then was invited to a BBQ at a local’s house. It was so much fun.
- Keep recovery in your pocket – My recommendation is Café RE, but there are several supportive online recovery communities.
- Don’t risk it – Wait till you have some solid sobriety footing before embarking on a sober vacation 2019. If you’re in your first 30 days of sobriety, it may be prudent to wait another couple of months.
- Do not stay at the party – many hostels are where the party happens. Do your research and make sure you have an exit strategy when you’re ready to call it a night.
- Be strategic with your destinations – If sobriety is your goal, then the Spanish party Islands Ibiza, probably shouldn’t be on the itinerary. Maybe think about visiting Morocco where alcohol isn’t part of the culture.
Don’t let your goal of sobriety hinder your travel plans. There are many ways to do this. I’ve been to over 15 countries sober, and I plan to add to that list! Sobriety has given me a life I could never could have imagined. Thanks for being part of it.
I suddenly find myself three years sober. I’ve been contemplating how to write about this milestone for weeks. Recently distracted and shamelessly overwhelmed with life events, to a degree that I actually did not over analyze this past year in recovery. It just “happened.” Odd how the days amass when conducting myself like a palpable, functioning adult.
Life evolved this year. My godmother died. I said my final farewell to my amazing dad. I went through a tumultuous and extended break up; my first one sober. My eldest daughter graduated from high school, while we opted to pull my youngest daughter out of public school to embark on a home school scenario. Most recently, I resigned from a reliable job to engage in this new, unfamiliar path of educating my child.
That’s a lot of shit. A whole lot.
My therapist asked me to imagine a scenario: What if you had been told one year ago, or even six months ago, that all of these life events would materialize? Leading me into absolutely uncharted territory, a real transformation in my sobriety.
I would not have believed it. Nor would I have welcomed it. Any of it.
However, my gratitude abounds. Exhausted and somewhat anxious? Unquestionably. Waiting for the next move to be revealed, I do so without any evident amount of dread.
Three years ago I was paralyzed by dread on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. For me, dread is not fear. It is an emotion characterized by boredom, lethargy, laziness, selfishness, non existent self esteem, and yes…fear. Dread was the contrived outcome of my lack of human authenticity. An unrealistic, inner dialog with myself, that I would be “found out.” That I was an emotional adolescent, masquerading as an adult.
My list of dread was as follows:
Hurting my children
Loving my children
I recognize a plethora of self imposed imbalance on that list (accompanied by a dozen more blog ideas). Dread of pain and joy. Just and unjust. I once suggested that my addiction eased some of this dread; pain. A suggestion of delusion.
Drinking obliterated legitimate coping skills. It diluted raw and pure emotions, and diverted my responsiveness to life.
In the past year I have embraced the “undread.” Welcoming the concept that feeling anxious and occasionally fearful is typical. To truly live is to let go of dread and the unrealistic expectation that life is painless. Realizing that our best laid plans are not truly of our making at all. There is a power greater than ourselves that releases us from the responsibility of dread and morose repercussions.
Life for me is not easier in recovery, not by a long shot. Yet I am amazingly content, mostly serene, and able to accept that my worst day sober is far more acceptable than my best day drunk.
Embracing the journey. One day, one moment, one new trail at a time.
Written by Kellie Ideson from Pure Recovery
Grief: The Most Sobering Emotion of My Sobriety
By Kellie Ideson
My dad died. On December 20th, 2016 he passed away peacefully in the care of his wife, my sister, and my brother, three short weeks after I left him in a Las Vegas hospital with a hug and “I love you” as I made my way back to Montana.
That day, I knew he was going to leave us soon. I could see it in his eyes and felt that sinking feeling of grief, already settling into my stomach. This shift in perspective, as I boarded a plane, knowing in my heart that last embrace, truly was the final contact of our relationship here on earth.
I wrote down my thoughts, as follow, as soon as I buckled in and tuned out the flight attendant’s redundant emergency training dialog. These feelings raw and of the purest form, the true grit of sobriety; feeling everything. I experienced emotions on a level that is at once uncomfortable, yet so necessary to move through the rest of my life on these new and still obscure terms:
“His jovial eyes are nearing a void, twinkling only with the prospect of a nap or of going home.
Yet, he barely remembers home. For 49 years he has been my home. Without his memories of us, I feel like an orphan fumbling to find my way through the welcoming threshold of all that is pure and true.
I have faltered through the years, yet he remains my truth. Never judging me. Or maybe he has, but in a patient silence, allowing me growth through my errors.
Truth. Where is that now? Truth for him is in 5 minute increments, as that is as much capacity this wretched disease allows.
God loving and honest, he has lived within the golden rule. Today he swears, flips the finger, stomps his feet, his eyes often brim with tears, as he apologizes. For he knows, he is behaving out of character. Knows he is being stripped of his existence, and is still thankful after he completes a dreaded task. The goodness of this man lies deep within. Along with the knowledge that he makes mistakes, asks questions, and feels senseless.
I told him stories of my youth and the things we did. All that he has afforded us with his sensible and generous spirit. Lessons in all realms; emotional, physical, and spiritual.
On my knees today at the base of his wheelchair, I promised him he is going home in two hours as I board a flight to Montana and the life I have been unable to show him. I told him he is a good man. The best father a girl/woman can ask for, thanked him for all he’s done for me, how he raised me to be a good person, how he affected my life and how thankful I am and will always be. I asked him not to forget that…he said he would not forget it. In one last gesture, I showed him a photo of us from 6 years ago, his response, “You are beautiful, pretty, pretty, pretty…I love you honey.”
He, with one foot in this world we know, and a reluctant toe in the next.”
These thoughts of mine still seem random and scattered as my grief is in the mode of ebb and flow. There is a blessing here, enclosed in my sadness. I see the gift of my sobriety. It allowed me to be 100% present for those concluding moments with him. It gave me the capacity to devote a last week with him; this once would not have been a possibility. It gave my family the confidence to ask me to join them, to aid in the strategy to make his last days here as calm as possible. They WANTED me there. I WANTED to be there. And, I was THERE.
Not with my gaze in the bottom of a carafe, the obsession of my ensuing drink. The inertia of yet another hangover. The selfishness of wanting the symptoms of my own progressive disease to be nullified with another glass of something…anything. I was patient, present, and able to be…just be.
Be still with my dad, with sincerity in his presence. Retelling him the tales of my youth, now that my memories are uncluttered; real. Our time together, during his near final decline, are now some of my most beloved moments. I am sober; what a gift.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, I had a mental list of reasons I would allow myself to again imbibe, no matter what. The top of that list; the death of a parent. I mean, really…who WOULDN’T expect me to drink over this? No one could possibly judge me for it. This was definitely a reason to find solace with that old friend of mine, shiraz or merlot. In fact, my dad and I shared many glasses of wine together, many cheers over beers. He certainly wouldn’t be ashamed of me…
Truth: I haven’t had a drink. I haven’t had a craving. I haven’t wanted to disappear from this despair.
I would know. I would be ashamed. I expect more of me.
And this is the gift of sobriety.
I was on the floor in my closet, inconsolable, two nights after he died. Crouched in the dark, crying like I never fathomed was possible.
I have raged at my family. Angry with God, not with them. I apologized.
I sat through Christmas morning, sad. Sober. Present.
Almost immediately, I found solace in putting the holiday décor in storage.
I am feeling all of this in its entirety. There is no heartbreak that compares. There is no way to prepare for this. I’m not handling grief flawlessly.
I am doing it.
I want to feel this now. I need to know how to grieve. And, grieve I am. Every sadness that has been sheepishly pushed in a corner for my entire life, is now reintroduced for me to handle. Sort it out. Talk it out. Pray. Meditate.
Much of my life as a child, adolescent, and young adult is now bubbling to the surface for me to evaluate, absorb, and let go.
It’s time. Thank God.
I miss my dad and wish I had many more years with him. If there are gifts to be had in the longing for someone and the natural and convoluted process of grief, it is that I have a new opportunity to do this thing called life.