How to navigate life without alcohol.
How I celebrate life’s milestones has changed quite a bit. Not long ago, I celebrated the two-year anniversary of the day I gave up alcohol. When I was a drinker, all celebrations involved alcohol. When you get sober you see celebrating in a very different light.
To be honest, I think it took me about the full two-years to realize I could celebrate anything without alcohol. In the beginning I avoided celebrations, or marking occasions. Then I realized, it’s not about the party, it’s about the meaning of the accomplishment, or the person being celebrated.
I’m comfortable being around others who consume alcohol, but I dislike being around people who become way too intoxicated. Funny thing is, I felt that way when I was a drinker, even when that person overdoing it was myself.
Rather than having a cocktail to toast my own milestones, I’ve taken to marking the occasion by treating myself to a massage, dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant, eating something I wouldn’t normally, or buying myself a new hat. I’m hat-obsessed. I’m accumulating quite the collection.
This year will be my third holiday season without alcohol. I’m forced to actually connect with my extended family, whom I love dearly—but in the past, alcohol kept me from truly being present.
Though I have my moments where I miss drinking, I don’t miss being hungover or bloated. I’ve been enjoying connecting with the people I care about on a deeper level. Ironically, I find myself celebrating much more than I did when I drank alcohol.
My hat (and I have a few) is off to anyone who can drink in moderation. That is not me. However you choose to celebrate life’s milestones, try to not lose sight of what and who you are acknowledging. Connecting with each other is the most important thing.
Local media maven Natalie Webster specializes in experiences that often push her outside of her comfort zone, and helps others stretch themselves, too.