Quitting Drinking Made Me Realize I‘ve Never Been Honest With Myself

Do you feel like you’re living in alignment with your values?

What’s inside:

  1. High school angst
  2. Drinking to feel ok
  3. Who are you, really?
  4. How to live in alignment

As humans, we’ve adapted to be part of a group to stay safe, fed, warm, survive. Avoid being eaten by predators by hunting together. And be likable so you can find a mate, reproduce, continue the human race.

We relied on each other for food and shelter, teamwork to lighten the load of caring for kids, as well as community, safety, companionship. We needed each other to live — and we still do.

The need to be liked is rooted in survival.

If you’re outcast, you die.

The fight to be accepted by your peers is a matter of life and death.

It’s unsurprising that we face so much unhappiness growing up — hingeing on our sociability, which hinges on our looks, confidence, charm, and so on.

Pimple-faced, sweaty, crack of the voice, awkward jokes, weak knees when you see your crush: high school. The angst was thick, the awkward moments beyond what you could cut with a knife.

High school: the fish bowl of lost souls

The joy and ease of elementary was rudely ripped out from under my feet when I entered the arena. Being a bit of an introvert, an expansive school with almost 2000 teens felt like being dumped in the bull ring with no cape.

I had no idea who my people were. Where was I supposed to be in those moments before the bell rings and everyone’s chatting? Is it cool to go to the school dance, or lame? Does he like me back?

So many questions — no one to tell me who to be.

It was years before I stopped trying to be someone else. Someone I thought others would like and approve. I hid behind the illusion that if I could just be like her or be liked by him I would finally feel comfortable in my own skin.

That day took a long time to come. So in the meantime, I relied on liquid confidence.

Drinking yourself into new life

Have you ever felt so acutely, deeply in your soul, that you just wanted to be someone else?

Someone cooler. Someone who knew what to say, with the best timing. The funniest jokes, or the coolest stories.

Drinking alcohol makes you feel like you’re exactly that.

Alcohol has an effect on the brain that actually increases your impulsive behaviour by shutting down the prefrontal cortex (your decision-maker). Dopamine and serotonin increase in the brain, making you giddy, excited and spontaneous — the most fun version of yourself, right?!

Party girl. Wild child. Independent woman. That’s ME.

I do what I want, when I want to. I flirt with boys, I sleep with whoever I want because I’m empowered and confident and fun and no one can stop me from downing that 6th tequila shot because that’s what makes me just like these interesting, popular people who actually invited me here (me! yes!) to this party where there are a hundred people I don’t know, but I don’t care!

And then the music stops. He rolls off. Condom in the trash. Ripped tights there, too. Ego as well, fuck it.

Now there’s just me, sitting on the toilet, world spinning, euphoria subsiding, and the illusion of being accepted is gone with the boy who left before I even made it back into the bedroom.

Prioritizing the approval of others put all my other needs on the back burner

Who are you, really?

I started drinking when I was 13 years old. That’s when I had my first “experiments” with bits of alcohol from adult dinner parties, highly supervised.

14 is when it all went downhill, into party drugs and binge-drinking, along with my self-worth and confidence.

14 years later — at the age of 28 — I finally feel in alignment with my true self. I don’t hide behind a drink when meeting new people. I don’t go to parties to fit in. I don’t sleep with random people to feel good about myself.

Writing that brings me so much relief

I realized that I never felt comfortable in my own skin growing up because I wasn’t being true to myself.

The social world values extraversion, sociability, charm, comedians, and the like. We don’t often praise the quiet, deep souls who spend their time reading, drawing, and meditating on those hard questions about humanity.

As a collective, we praise and give value to big personalities. Growing up, popularity was measured by beauty and going with the trends (and it still is — just go browse Insta).

But maybe that’s not you. That definitely isn’t me.

I’m pretty introverted. I like to spend time on my own or one-on-one, sharing deep truths, vulnerable moments, our darkest fears. I thrive in intimate settings and especially when I’m connecting with someone about spirituality, alternative living, and the human experience.

So, now I reflect back to you: who are you really?

Tips for living more in alignment

The first step is to acknowledge and accept that you are who you are. There’s no running away here — even those parts you don’t like so much: just own it.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t work on certain parts of yourself (hello, welcome to the last 5 years of my life), but it acknowledges the reality that — NO, you will not like every part of yourself, but that’s okay. You don’t have to “love” every part of yourself.

If you don’t like something, is it within your ability to change it? Or is it something you need to just accept as a deeply rooted quality?

This is important to think about. Some of our qualities are rooted in deeper habits that will be harder to change — it could take years of challenging practice.

Some qualities can be changed with a bit of mindfulness, habit-changes, or even just by bringing awareness to the behaviour. For a couple of habits, like my tendency to question people quite intensely, it’s been enough to snap me out of the pattern.

This is why you’re unhappy

Nick Keomahavong teaches about this topic in an incredible video. I’ve linked it below and highly recommend you spend 20 mins watching this while you drink your morning coffee or take a break from work.

The concept of alignment he shares is when you are living true to your natural way of being.

That doesn’t mean screaming at your partner every time you feel anger. Or having no self control at the buffet.

When you are out of alignment it’s because what you think, say, and do are not true to you

It will cause you to suffer. And you might have noticed, it’s actually very difficult to live your life with clarity about what you think, say, and do. When you drink alcohol it’s nearly impossible.

Start living in alignment with these steps

First:

Slow down. Spend some time understanding yourself.

Get to know the true you — who are you when you’re alone at home, with no distractions? Who are you when you’re with your closest friends and family? Who are you at work? Who are you with your partner?

Understand the different versions of yourself, and observe yourself in different settings, like a scientist.

Second:

Ask your loved ones for adjectives to describe you. This is a great exercise, and it really helped me see myself more clearly.

We are very subjective beings and it’s hard for us to look at ourselves objectively. Rely on your loved ones for this.

Third:

Consider what your intentions are in your life. What do you think and dream about? What do you really care about, and what keeps you up at night?

This is a key part in understanding yourself — discover what’s bubbling under the surface to see what really matters to you.

Last:

Do your due diligence now: are you actually living (doing things in your daily life, with other people, or by yourself) in a way that aligns with what you really want, think, believe, and the intentions you have for yourself?

If you think something is important or you really want something, but you are not doing it… you will suffer. You’re not living in alignment.

You’re not cultivating the life that you want because your actions don’t match your beliefs. Or your words don’t match your values. And so on.

You don’t have to go out drinking until 4am with a group of 20 people to be accepted and loved. Even if leaving people or places or changing seasons of your life can be painful…

the investment you make in yourself now will compound over time into an incredible life where you actually feel content and comfortable in your skin on a daily basis.

Attract the right people by being exactly who you are. Those who matter won’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.

Dr. Seuss book cover saying: Do what you want to do, say what you want to say, because those who matter don’t mind, and those who do mind don’t matter.

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Kaya Lemaire

Kaya Lemaire

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Thoughts and stories about Wellness, Health, and Self-Improvement | I research life-changing topics and break ’em down for you.