Maintaining Sobriety throughout Major Life Changes

Welcome back, Teetotalers! Today marks three months since my last post... I have no excuse other than life has been crazy busy for me lately. No, seriously... I could write a whole book on what the past three months have looked like for me, but I'll try my hardest to keep it short and sweet.

In the beginning of August, my boyfriend and I made the cross country move from Washington DC all the way to Tucson, Arizona. We rented a 5x8 uHaul trailer, and lugged all of our belongings behind his Volvo, which undeniably had an oil leak.

Luckily, we arrived to Tucson all in one piece, and we had about two weeks to settle into our new place. Those two weeks were spent exploring the city, hiking through the desert, furniture shopping, and making the apartment feel like ours.

After two weeks in Tucson, we flew out to Minnesota, where we would be attending my childhood best friend's' wedding. I was the maid of honor, so I spent 10 days in Minnesota visiting family, hosting the bridal shower, and helping with wedding planning.

After the wedding, we only had two days to regain our bearings before we left for our two-week backpacking trip to Europe. It turns out, while we were away, one of our pipes had a leak, and our apartment flooded. We returned back from Minnesota to a musty smelling apartment and a drenched carpet. Those two "transition" days consisted of maintenance workers, carpet blowers, and an awful smell.

Two days later, we were off to Europe for two weeks with nothing but the packs on our back. We traveled from Athens to Mykonos; from Rome to Venice; and from Dublin to Galway. After staying in hostels for two weeks, we were more than ready to relax in our apartment again.

At the end of September, we arrived back to our new home, to what *seemed* like the calm after the storm. I had a job interview and was informed that I wouldn't be starting until the beginning of November. In the meantime, my boyfriend decided to take a trip to Montana to repair his Lexus he left there years ago. I accepted a job in Flagstaff, four hours away from Tucson, and we would be needing two cars.

Since I had over a month off of work, I decided to go with him to Montana. We spent two weeks in West Yellowstone fixing his car, exploring the wilderness, and connecting with his family. On our way back, we decided to take the scenic route and drove through five national parks. We didn't get back to Tucson until the beginning of this week.

It wasn't my intention to provide a laundry list of what the past three months has looked like for me, but it seemed unavoidable for a post like this one. From moving across the country, being the maid of honor in my best friends wedding, backpacking in Europe, and taking a roadtrip in a 1995 vehicle, I feel as if these eventful past three months could have constituted a whole year.

Don't get me wrong, the past three months have brought all great, new and exciting changes. I got to see a lot of the world that I hadn't seen before! But, it's important to admit that major life changes can also cause anxiety, overwhelm, and stress. Not to mention that before everything took place I was scammed for $6,500. So, yeah... exciting, and stressful.

The real question is, how did I maintain my sobriety throughout these crazy three months? My routine was completely off-wack, and for the most part, I was devoid of my own personal space. How did I do it?

To be completely and utterly honest, I'm not entirely sure. I think it was a mix between feeling comfortable in my sobriety, being surrounded by supportive loved ones, and the inability to satisfy my urges since I couldn't slow down.

Yet, there were times that tempted me:

When we moved to Tucson, my boyfriend and I attended meet-up hikes to try to meet new people. Of course, after a sunset hike, the group went out for drinks afterwards. I wanted to fit in with the group, but needed to deny the invitation to maintain my sobriety.

During the bridal shower in Minnesota, one of the guests continued to push me (and others) to drink with them. Social situations where drinking is involved has always been a trigger for me, and I felt overwhelmingly uncomfortable. Luckily, I didn't give in to the temptation to drink, but I absolutely coped with my negative encounters by stuffing my face with cupcakes, chips, and s'mores. That night I ended up vomiting from eating so much crappy food.

In Europe, temptations were there, too. Hostels offered free drinks at their bars. Mykonos is known as a party island. Walk through the streets of Italy, and most women are consuming wine with their meals. In Ireland, Guiness is treated like a gift from the gods, and the stout museum is one of Dublin's top attractions.

Luckily, I didn't have any temptations in Montana, but the point is, a lot of the time, society is not aligned with the value of sobriety. While I am happy to say I didn't drink, it doesn't change the fact that temptations can lurk behind every corner you turn.

By no means am I perfect. I wouldn't even say that I handled every situation with grace. More often than not, I didn't. The point of sobriety isn't perfection. The point of sobriety is to lean into life and all of its imperfections, and to learn about yourself along the way. To live a sober life is to experience the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad. It's the decision to embrace what life has to offer, even if that offer is less than what you hoped for.

Now I know that in tricky situations, I turn to food for comfort. Now that I've seen the problematic implications, I can adjust accordingly the next time I feel triggered in the same way. I am learning everyday. Just because I gave up drinking does not mean that I don't turn to something else to cope. That's okay, because I know better now. Everybody deserves empathy and grace while figuring out what helps them cope with the difficulties life provides.

Wherever you are on your alcohol journey, you are learning and growing. It's not always going to be easy, but we will always handle life in the ways that we know how. We are creatures of habit, and once you kick the habit of alcohol consumption, it will only get easier with time. That's not to say that it will always be easy, just that it won't always be hard. Give yourself grace, because you are deserving.

Love to all. XX

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