Just so we’re clear, a year is 365 days. That is a long time without sex or booze.
The way it played out is this.
On 29th May 2018 I decided I needed to knock booze on the head once and for all. I’m not going into the details, they are frankly unnecessary in the context of this blog but if you want to hear more about my sobriety then hop over to my YouTube channel (and subscribe, obviously!) to watch this video.
But this blog really isn’t about why I decided to quit drinking or how I went about doing it.
It’s also not a blog designed to sway you away from the Sauv Blanc (because for the average human Sauv Blanc is an excellent beverage choice) nor am I here to preach about the benefits of being sober (of which there are many).
But as my one year anniversary off the grog approaches, I have obviously been reflecting on my life off the piss, and as this year-long blog series has rapidly become a running narrative of my weekly thoughts, insights and reflections, it makes sense that I document this bit too, even though I find it confronting and vulnerable to do so.
Now I would imagine that you lot are all thinking “get on with it Em, we wanna know about the no sex thing” so let me explain.
Originally the abstinence from sex was a cute add-on to sobriety – it seemed like a good idea at a time when it was becoming quickly apparent that what I had been doing in the pursuit of happiness and wholeness was in fact, having the opposite effect.
I knew booze was the obvious issue because most (all) stupid mistakes happen on the other side of the third glass of Sauv Blanc (and definitely the fourth, fifth and sixth) (and seventh. And sometimes eighth).
But there was also a dawning realisation that these stupid mistakes, who weren’t even hanging around for breakfast (or rather, I wasn’t hanging around for breakfast) were in fact moving me further away from the connection and intimacy I was craving.
It didn’t start off as a strict year ban as such, more like a promise I made with myself that for the next 365 days, I was going to stop looking externally for the validation of myself; I was going to stop numbing emotion that felt too big and overwhelming for me; and in short, I was going to stop running away from loneliness.
This is what I learnt.
- Loneliness and being alone are different things.
The truth is, loneliness isn’t about being alone. It has nothing to do with how many or few people you surround yourself with. I have felt at my most lonely in a room full of people who love me. Isolation and loneliness are a dangerous combination and one I don’t recommend but don’t be disheartened if you put yourself in the company of others and still feel lonely. Keep being with people. Good people. Not dickheads. Find a solid tribe, even if it’s online (you can join mine here).
2. Be of Service!
Loneliness is a trench that is being dug behind the scenes, hiding behind the noise and the confusion that is your day to day life and one day you just find yourself deep in it, your eyes watching the feet of the world as it passes by. You don’t even know how you got there. And as you peek up at a world moving too quickly all you can do is stare blankly. But loneliness, like all emotion, is part of the human condition. No more. No less. Loneliness I have learnt is the gap that happens right before your soul calls out for something in a language you don’t understand. It is the space that opens up for something new, and allows room for you to evolve, should you be brave enough to do so. In my experience, the loneliness that came when I stopped distracting myself with booze and boys, as petrifying as it was, provided me the silence to hear my soul and to follow my passion with a clarity that was only available to me in the trench (once I stopped trying to scramble out). And then one day I looked around and noticed the trench had a ladder and that ladder was called service. At the core of AA runs the idea of service. My business is all about service. And now, I approach every day asking myself and the universe, how can I be of service. And while I am in service to humanity, I feel less lonely.
3. The Pain is in the Resistance.
To understand your loneliness you have to meet it where it’s at, listen to what it’s here to tell you and not try to bury it in booze or sex or food or work or empty promises. The pain is always in the resistance so surrender to the feeling and acknowledge it for what it is, an emotion. Don’t demonise the emotion just because it doesn’t feel great. All emotions are meant to be felt, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to feel them. But because nothing is permanent, the emotion will pass, and in my experience, it passes much more quickly once it’s been acknowledged.
So, here I am 363 days later (at the time of writing; yep – 2 days away from the 1 year mark!) and happier than I’ve ever been. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes feel loneliness. It doesn’t mean I don’t have days where I wish to hell that I could have a glass of wine. It doesn’t mean life is easy. It means I have learned to accept the full spectrum of my emotions, loneliness and all. And in doing so, I somehow feel less alone. It’s a funny paradox this being human malarkey!
To hear more about it, click here to subscribe to my weekly podcast, Unashamedly Human.
Thanks for reading, Em x