Being Your Own Best Friend
While community is important in living alcohol-free, learning to sit with and enjoy the company of yourself is even more important. In many ways, drinking alcohol separates us from ourselves and makes being alone easier to tolerate, so when we remove that substance, many unexpected feelings may come up. Restlessness, discomfort, boredom, and more. AF life is a time of relearning, and learning how to enjoy our own company is an important step in building a life we don’t need to escape from. When we’re our own best friend, we always have someone to lean on when we need a helping hand.
Meditation + Breathwork
Early on in your journey, it can be especially difficult to just be. Alone, in our thoughts, in our body, without numbing or escaping. Just being. This physical and emotional discomfort is something that can only be cured with practice, but tools like meditation and breathwork can help guide us through this discomfort. Meditation is a practice - it will likely feel difficult in the beginning, but with perseverance, you will become skilled at stillness and sitting with yourself. If you’re feeling agitated right now, try a simple box breathing exercise:
Inhale for four counts
Hold for four counts
Exhale for four counts
Hold for four counts
Repeat for 3+ minutes (timers are encouraged!)
Meditation and stillness help us return to our bodies, something we’ve removed ourselves from through alcohol.
Finding joy practices
Like stillness and being able to sit with ourselves, joy is also something we can cultivate and learn. Willem Kuyken defines joy beautifully:
“A gladness of the heart, softheartedness, and tenderness that supports a capacity for appreciation, contentment, and gratitude.”
Joy is an incredibly supportive emotion, especially as we change our relationship with alcohol. However, it can be tricky to tap into if we aren’t accustomed to practicing it intentionally. Finding the joy practices that ignite you will take trial and error. Take some time to figure this out; try movement, dance, creation, art, gratitude lists, new hobbies, exploring, nature. See what sparks joy in your heart and brings a gladness in solitude.
Journaling + Introspection
Removing alcohol from our lives is a time of reinvention and introspection. Many of us haven’t had to really know ourselves, because we were always able to escape that by numbing with substances. If you haven’t tried journaling before, this is a wonderful time to take up a journaling practice. Find journal prompts, braindump everything in your head, write gratitude lists, script future dreams. You might be surprised what spills out on the page.