Living an alcohol-free life as a sensitive person
Sometimes I find it funny that I’ve chosen to live without drinking alcohol anymore. Mainly because in my teens and twenties, drinking was such a big part of my social life and going to parties, clubs, raves and festivals were one of my main “interests”, if you could really call it that. And cutting alcohol out of my life, wasn’t something I had planned on doing either, it just kinda happened!
Let me explain more…
When I was a teenager growing up in the UK, drinking was a big deal. It was “fun”, “cool” and basically everyone was doing it. It seemed silly and harmless, although I knew very early on, that drinking really didn’t sit well with me. In fact, I’m actually allergic to alcohol (shock, horror!), which is common within Asia and has been passed down the genetic pool from my Chinese Grandmother. Despite the flushes, the rashes, the heart palpitations, the trouble breathing and other gloriously obvious symptoms, I didn’t let it worry me too much. I enjoyed it enough and it made me feel “fun” when I would be otherwise too tired to party.
As I went to Uni and worked in an underground alternative bar, my tolerance for alcohol increased and went through the roof! I moved away from my home town and started a new life and much of that new life included drinking copious amounts of alcohol to meet new people and keep up with everyone else. And at this time in my life, I loved it! I felt free to express myself completely, I dressed wildly, danced on tables, loved karaoke, had radical new hairstyles and colours every few months and felt that I could finally be who I was, when I was drinking alcohol. It felt freeing, and in the days before hangovers, I could keep going and going.
And apart from the physical affects (like the fact I would go bright red or even purple), I really did enjoy drinking, dancing and being far more extroverted than I really was. I wanted to be the life and soul of the party, so I always gave it 100%, for fear that I was actually quite boring without alcohol in my life.
But it was last year that made me realize that the downsides to alcohol could actually be getting in the way of my relationships – not in a serious way – but as an opportunity cost from being too tired or hungover to catch up with friends properly or make deeper connections when I most needed it.
I felt like this after an incredible 6 weeks back in the UK visiting friends and family during the hottest UK Summer! It was amazing to see so many people, hang out with friends and party like we were in our twenties again! I had some great days and big nights out, which resulted in some serious hangover time, which I hadn’t felt for quite a while. It felt awful to crawl out of bed, to the nearest café and spend an hour picking beans off toast and sipping a cuppa tea because I couldn’t stomach anything else. But the real downside was the missed opportunity I had to connect with a close friend of mine who had disclosed some really personal experiences back in her youth that I wasn’t aware of. It was a heartfelt reaching out, and I was oblivious in my drunken state to really acknowledge and say anything of comfort or meaning. And by the time morning rolled around, the moment had gone and the hangover had kicked in.
Later that day, I was hanging out with my sister – just the two of us – something that we haven’t done in years. It could’ve been the opportunity I had been waiting for, for so long, to really connect in a meaningful way and discuss some big topics, worries and experiences that just can’t be done over Skype. But alas, the hangover and hunger-pangs had taken over and by the time I felt human and nourished again, the flat was full of people and another moment had slipped by.
After this trip, I stopped drinking and took part in Sober October to detox from my UK trip and support MacMillian – a UK based Cancer Support Charity. It gave me a good excuse to not drink whilst socializing or at work events, because I’ve always felt that in Australia “not drinking” is actually quite taboo and felt pressured to drink or have a good reason not to.
And I loved it! Doing Sober October helped me to gain the courage and start saying out loud that “I don’t drink”, which was good practice and made me realize that good friends actually don’t care. And the people that do care about it, are generally the people that you’re not worried about their opinions anyway. So I just carried on not drinking!
Since I stopped drinking nearly 6 months ago, I have noticed my intuition and empathic skills soar! Which is amazing because I rely on these skills to help support my clients and online community. I feel more confident and empowered to say “no”, even in challenging situations and generally, I love not feeling hungover and always feeling my actual feelings.
My health feels better, my mind is sharper and I can enjoy being social without alcohol. I’ve realized that I was probably hanging onto my twenties party nostalgia for longer than was good for me, and whilst I’ll probably not dance on the tables anymore that’s because I’m in my thirties and I don’t need to prove anything to myself anymore!
My idea of fun has changed, and I much prefer smaller groups, deeper connections and am comfortable in my introverted self. Now I’ve cut out alcohol to live a sober life, I’ve redressed the balance between my young extroverted self and my experienced sensitive self.
And I must say, I’m absolutely love feeling free and being my truly authentic self, without the alcohol mask.
Have you considered going alcohol-free? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
What a lovely article. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Thank you so much Kirsten, I hope you got something out of my words to help in your own experience. Much love, Heather xo