Standing in my own magnificence

I have done a lot of good work on my mental health over the last three years, which includes creating healthy boundaries. Prior to three years ago, I did not really recognize what boundaries were or how to establish them. I was a lot more impulsive back then and rode the waves of what came my way, doing whatever I had to do in the moment to get my needs met.

I have also learned a lot more about repair since becoming sober. Not only do I need to repair myself on the inside, witnessing and living life through a sober lens has made me much more aware of how my actions and words impact others. Once upon a time, I would have just let situations play out and things would become whatever they were meant to become. That fluffy kind of thought does not sit well with me anymore. 

Repairing a relationship after a tear whether it has been losing my patience with my daughter, getting frustrated with my husband, or having a kerfuffle with a friend has taught me about compassion, communication, responsibility, and trust.

Boundaries and repair work together side by side. My boundaries are emotional and mental based that sometimes play out in a physical sense. It is important and necessary for me to review them often to ensure that they still resonate with me and who I am. I have come to realize that my boundaries will forever be fluid and need flexibility, but I am careful to not jeopardize my values on a particular matter. Boundaries are in place to protect my mental health and to maintain my well-being. 

 

With regards to sobriety, it has been especially important to create boundaries structured around alcohol. These boundaries have changed and evolved since day one. These boundaries have included places, people, and events and are critical to my self-esteem and self-care. This is my voyage and I know that the choices I make will impact my mental health.

In the very beginning, I did not want to be anywhere that alcohol was served. That boundary didn’t last very long because I realized that I really like certain restaurants and I didn’t want to give up their delicious food.

I have since had food made with alcohol a handful of times during my sobriety.  Alcohol that has been used to enhance the flavour of beer battered fish, rosé sauce on spaghetti, and chili with beer is fine with me. I once had a cupcake with Bailey’s in the buttercream icing, which I found out about afterwards when I asked about the flavour. I didn’t beat myself up over it.

I went out for dinner with friends a few weeks ago and while I was eating Fuzzy Peach Crème Brûlé, I realized that it was made with peach schnapps. I stopped eating it and again, didn’t beat myself up.

I have inquired during baby and bridal showers if the mixed drinks are alcohol-free but I have never asked about alcohol content in food. My obvious preference is to not have food with alcohol in it but I understand from a culinary standpoint why a chef may chose to cook and bake with it.

If I start intentionally looking for alcohol based dishes on menus at restaurants or doing shots of sauce to try and catch a buzz than I will get my butt to my therapists couch. I have realized that dealcoholized wine is a slippery slope for me and I keep my distance from it except for odd occasions.

I have learned that there is no one size fits list of boundaries for sobriety. I have had to create the boundaries for myself and sink or swim as I go along. I do not have a running physical list of my boundaries and for the most part, they are just stored in my brain except for a few journal entries where I have attempted to sort out situations.

There was a time where I was not at all comfortable being at private social gatherings where people were drinking socially. I remember awkwardly sitting on a stool in the corner not knowing what to do with myself. I tried to make myself seem invisible.


I am comfortable now, to a certain degree with being around friends and family drinking alcohol. My husband drank a beer with our sushi dinner this evening. He likes the taste of beer and doesn’t drink it for the affects of alcohol. I have only seen him drunk once and that was the night of his bachelor party. I don’t think I have ever seen him remotely buzzed either, at least that I can remember. 

Once the reason for drinking alcohol changes and there is an emphasis put on unwinding and kicking back through the affects of alcohol, that is where I withdraw my desire to continue being a part of a gathering.   

I have had to do a lot of soul searching and put thought into attending some of the gatherings I have been invited to. I know that alcohol will be at most gatherings I go to but some gatherings have a different intention with that alcohol.

I recently chose not to go on a girls weekend to Arizona because I knew that there would be more alcohol flowing than what I would be comfortable with. I told a white lie to my friends and said I did not have enough vacation time and that my Appalachian Trail trip drained my fun money.

I admitted that the reasons I gave them why I couldn’t come were not true. One of them had an inkling that alcohol was the reason why I didn’t want to join.

I imagined that laying on a pool deck would be similar to sitting around on a camp site. I associate both with alcohol. That is the exact reason why I have grown to prefer backpacking over base camping. I don’t want to just sit around.

Before I decided to abstain from alcohol, I went away for a girls weekend to an event called Art and Wine Walk. I have attended twice since becoming sober. I felt comfortable going while sober because the entire day was spent walking around downtown to visit shops, boutiques, cafés, and restaurants to look at art and taste wine. I declined the wine samples and bee-lined to browse the shops and look at art. I knew what to expect and had an action plan for during the day. At night, I chose to settle in early and enjoy quiet time to myself.

I like being around people and I also very much enjoy being alone. I spent today hiking by myself and didn’t see a single person. I liked that I was alone. I am reminded of the time that my husband and I spent a weekend in Vancouver and I told him that I wanted to go to the art gallery by myself. I needed time to just be by myself.

I wonder if there will come a day where I will be at peace to lay on a pool deck or sit around a campsite? Or will those moments be my que to go do something that I enjoy by myself? I could visit an art gallery, go shopping, or get a spa treatment in a city adventure and go for a bike ride, take a solo hike, or read in my hammock tucked away in the corner on a campsite.

Each and every moment is a learning opportunity for me to find out what it is that I need to give myself. I need to nurture my soul and mind and there are a number of ways for me to do it. I’m feeling strong and confident today after my solo hike. Onwards and upwards, I shall continue to build my version of success.

1 Comment

  1. I am a bit further down the path than you and I enjoy being with my friends. I drink coffee or tea. They all know that and dont pressure me. I do avoid boozy parties though. This often makes me feel left out and I get sad.
    Stay strong and maybe I will see you on the trail. If you ever want to go paddling let me know.

    Christine

    Like

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