October 10, 2023

Seeking Balance

Libra, latin for balance - a word I was not privy to during much of my twenties. Something I have always craved. I desired the experience so deeply, yet the more I yearned for it, the more it seemed to fall out of reach. Little did I know, balance truly comes from within. It’s less about controlling all of the aspects of your life to maintain equilibrium, and more about going with the flow of your life and adjusting as the tides roll in and out. In the spirit of Sober October, I can’t help but reflect on my own Sober Curious journey that began in 2022. I certainly did not know balance when it came to drinking.

Cycles & Sober Curiosity

I often gave up alcohol for a few weeks every few months. This looked like avoiding all social interactions, not going to restaurants and bars and hermiting away with my healthy snacks. Truthfully, it was quite miserable for me and often very isolating. I told people it was because I was doing a cleanse for my gut health (which was in part true), but I didn’t share that there was an inkling inside of me that I should explore more than just a few weeks of alcohol free life. That perhaps I actually had an unhealthy relationship to alcohol. Right after the cleanse ended, I would find myself back to overconsumption, almost compensating for the month without alcohol. It was a cycle of extreme patterns, it was certainly not balance. 

It took me five years from my first inkling to explore sober life to actually committing, with lots of attempts during that time. February 23rd, 2022 was the last day I consumed alcohol. At first I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t know what to say to folks when they asked why I wasn’t drinking, or how to respond to the weird looks wondering if I was pregnant. A few months went by, and it was very clear to me that it wasn’t just another cleanse this time. I had the space, clarity, capacity and desire to sit with the uncomfortable feelings for the first time. My intuition and mind were finally in alignment. I could finally let my body’s needs come before my minds chatter of what will people think, how hard it will be or what happens if I fail…I share in depth about my journey in my blog posts here - updated a few months in, at 6 months and 1 year sober. 

What is your definition of happiness? How does this relate to your sobriety? 

Being in a balanced state of peace and optimism where I feel both content and confident in my mental resilience. Though, unrealistic to think one will always be in this state, I express gratitude for the days that I am happy and give compassion to myself on days that I am not. I have noticed a very significant change in my mental resilience since removing alcohol from my life. I am more confident, more connected to my intuition and more able to set boundaries in ways I never thought possible. 

What does it take to be happy?

Self-acceptance I believe is one of the most important factors when it comes to happiness and something almost every human struggles with, myself included. As I believe happiness is a balance, it also means accepting the full spectrum of the human experience all while knowing that these experiences are fleeting. The more we force ourselves to be a certain way, the more we can get disconnected. Building resilience towards stress, maintaining healthy relationships and overall well-being will support feelings of happiness but ultimately, it must be cultivated within. 

What are your top 3 tips for cultivating more happiness in your daily life?

Just like a garden, happiness takes work to cultivate, but it can also be quite simple, too!

  • Practicing gratitude. Letting gratitude fill me up, even on the challenging days. This can be as simple as being grateful for the hot tea I get to drink, or the rain that nourishes my garden, or the way my dog loves me unconditionally. There is so much to be grateful for but sometimes it’s hard to notice. Taking space to intentionally practice this is key, whether you write it down, speak it to someone else or give yourself space to feel into it each day.
  • Self-acceptance & self-compassion work. Reminding myself to be kind to me, or speak to myself how I would someone I love is instrumental to my happiness. Oftentimes we can be our own worst critic, and expect things of ourselves we’d never of someone else. Building trust in myself, accepting where I am at, acknowledging who I am as a person, not what I do, is all very important for me.
  • Prioritizing joy. Taking note of what brings me happiness (which changes over time too) and building that into my schedule. Sometimes that is social time with friends, sometimes it is working on a creative project or others it’s solitude in my garden with my hands in the dirt. Life moves fast, and if you don’t make space to examine what brings you joy, you may find yourself unfulfilled. 
  • Though I am not sure I’ve yet found balance in all areas of my life, especially with drinking, I am extremely grateful for all of the curious folks I’ve met along my path. Like the team at Libra who are on a mission to help us explore what balance means to us individually, and are paving the way in the beverage space and collectively. Or, my dear friend and Sober Coach Amy C. Willis who graciously offers her passion, gifts and voice to the collective. If you are feeling called to explore your relationship with alcohol, know that you do not have to do it alone. There are so many resources, communities, podcasts, workshops and more to support you many that I reference in my blog posts here.

    Steff’s Final Message To Readers:

    Trust yourself. You know deep down what you need even if it doesn't feel like it right now. Give yourself the time you need to examine who you are, what you desire and how to move forward when the time is right. You deserve to feel happy and joyous. Be kind to yourself, as you would a friend. Reach out to someone you trust. You are not alone in your struggle. At this exact moment, there is at least one person feeling exactly how you feel. You are worthy of self-care and prioritizing yourself over others. This is not selfish. Give yourself permission to walk away from the things you know deep down are no longer meant for you. In doing so, you create the space to explore what is next in your evolution. You do not need to know the entire path. Trust the next step will reveal itself. Until then, breathe.