Sober AF

September 1, 2022 marked eight months of being alcohol free for me. After waking up on January 1 with a wicked hangover, I started my journey to not drink alcohol for all of 2022 and I am two thirds of the way there. It has been easy, difficult, empowering, frustrating and life changing.

I have found a community of people who are supportive and energetic to keep the alcohol-free (AF) movement going. I found an alcohol-free bar and bottle shop with an invite-only speakeasy here in San Francisco. I attended my first alcohol free party sponsored by FRE Wines and Sans Bar and had a great time. I drank six or seven drinks AND I drove home because all of those drinks were alcohol free and delicious – well, except for the alcohol removed merlot – not a fan!

I went on vacation with my wife and for the first time in my adult life, I had an alcohol-free vacation sipping on non-alcoholic pina coladas and enjoying a book by the pool without thinking about where my next drink would come from.

I drive everywhere, safely, and have saved a lot of money on Ubers because getting home safely after a night out is easier now. I have changed my brain chemistry, slept better and have a different kind of energy.

I joined an online Facebook community for non-drinkers, a non-drinkers meetup group and have read seven books about removing alcohol from your life. “Quit Like a Woman” by Holly Whitaker is my favorite and “We Are The Luckiest” by Laura McKowen is a close second. I continue to actively explore communities, education and establishments that will support my new lifestyle.

All this said, it has not been easy. Communicating that I need an alcohol-free margarita in another country is tough. Justifying why I don’t drink alcohol is a weird concept. I don’t do cocaine and no one ever asks me why not, but not drinking alcohol is baffling to some. Going to a staff happy hour and drinking water because there are no other alcohol-free options is annoying. Telling a friend of a friend that I went to a new Mexican restaurant and the guacamole was great and getting the response, “I don’t care about the guacamole, how were the margaritas?” was awkward. Walking the dog past a “rehab is for quitters” sign outside of the local pub takes a hit to the self-confidence. Am I a quitter? Walking by my favorite restaurant on a Sunday morning while the patrons are having unlimited mimosas can make me long for those days of three-hour boozy brunches.

Then I pop back to my new reality and remind myself of my “why” of not drinking. It is to be my best self. She is a kind, thoughtful, healthy, energetic, happy and positive person with a sense of humor and confidence. I like her. My wife likes her. My future self wants to keep being her.

What I have done on this new alcohol-free journey is to be kind to myself when things are hard. I remind myself that I am doing this because I am often an emotional, irrational and angry person when I drink. I remind myself that the 45 minutes of a buzz is not worth the hangover, self-loathing and destructive early morning thoughts. I remind myself of who I want to be and alcohol does not line up with that person. I remind myself of my future personal and professional goals and staying alcohol-free will support me on my journey towards achieving those goals.

I am two thirds of the way to my initial goal of going alcohol free for a year. I know that by surrounding myself with supportive, kind and loving people, along with seeking out resources that will push me forward on this journey, I will make it to the 365-day mark.

The most important part of this journey is to be kind to myself, knowing that I am making a lifestyle change that takes a commitment every single day. A commitment to not drink, to put myself first, to help “future me” become the person she wants to be. She deserves it.

sara doell
Sara Doell is a CLCC certified life coach, Division 1 college golf coach, Class A LPGA member, co-creator of the Best Parts Podcast and is now a freaking published author. She is a three-time Big East coach of the year, 2015 LPGA National Coach of the Year and was inducted into the Gates Chili High School Hall of Fame in Rochester, NY in 2016. Sara believes in the law of attraction, that the toilet paper goes over and not under and that Charleston Chews should only be eaten straight out of the freezer. She has an irrational fear of frogs, is a loyal fan of the musical “Rent” and thinks olives taste like feet smell (you will never convince her otherwise). She lives in San Francisco with her wife, Caitlin and their rescue dog named Mr. Harvey Milk who spends his time barking at the toaster oven, peeing on every third tree on dog walks and defending his moms fiercely from squirrels and the mailman. Her future dreams include owning a home in a sleepy beach town that is within an hour of a major metropolitan airport, visiting all 50 states before the Big 5-0, petting a sloth and learning how to play the guitar. You can connect with Sara on her website.

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