Well, here we go.
I started by sharing my intentions for beginning a sober curious journey online. I don’t know why, but I felt I needed to say it on my socials before I spoke to my husband about it. Maybe it was because telling the person closest to me meant I’d have to be accountable to my plan, and I wasn’t sure I was ready. Posting about it online gave me an opportunity to float the idea and get the encouragement I needed to talk to my husband and put my plan into action.
To reiterate, I don’t have a drinking problem. I’m just someone who’s rethinking my relationship with alcohol (wine is my alcohol of choice). Why does it seem like we only hear about sober life from people who have hit rock bottom? I think it’s time for those of us who are making an intentional, deliberate choice to step away from alcohol for maintaining a better lifestyle (instead of for escaping addiction) to speak out about it.
The book It’s Not About the Wine: The Loaded Truth Behind Mommy Wine Culture by Celeste Yvonne has been instrumental in pushing me toward this decision. It portrays stepping away from alcohol as a feminist act of taking our power back—refusing to numb our feelings and to instead strive for focus, clarity of mind, and healing. Put that way, how could I not want to give it a try?
Here are my main reasons for beginning a sober curious journey:
1) I think I’ve allowed myself to rely too heavily on wine for being my fun and my relaxation. I don’t need alcohol to enjoy my life, nor do I need it to help me unwind. So, why am I still using it for those purposes?
2) I am on an SSRI, and I am finally understanding the extent to which alcohol might be hampering the benefits of my medication.
3) Alcohol is expensive, and we are in a down economy.
4) I have fitness goals that matter to me, and wine is not doing anything to get me closer to those goals.
5) I feel like my healing and mental health journey have plateaued. I’m starting to wonder if I would make more progress if I didn’t have wine to dull my feelings.
I shared these reasons with my husband, and he agreed that he would like to begin a sober curious journey, too. He usually only drinks when I’m drinking—just something we do together at the end of a hard day. But since it’s something I want to commit myself to, he’s going to join me. High five for supportive partners!
Our sober curious journey is about harm reduction. We don’t have addiction or dependence, so it’s not like we need to cut alcohol completely out of our lives or else we might go back to it. We just want to set some boundaries around our alcohol use and lead a lifestyle that reflects the list above. Here is what we have agreed upon for our sober curious lifestyle. Please remember that this is what makes sense for us. I am not a sobriety expert; none of what I’m sharing here is prescriptive. I’m simply sharing our plan in case it helps someone else formulate their own plan. So, here it is:
No drinking on weekdays.
No drinks at restaurants unless it’s a date night.
Date nights are special. We will order a nice bottle of wine at dinner and split it. That’s two glasses per person, which is plenty. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
On weekends when we don’t have a date night planned, we can each buy a bottle of wine for the weekend. Just to sip on weekend evenings while we have “date nights” at home. Again, when it’s gone, it’s gone.
I’m happy with this plan. It’s suitable for me and my goals. I hope that, through gradual reduction in alcohol use, I’ll eventually lose interest in it altogether. If not, that’s okay. My life will be better and more healthy by the simple act of reducing my drinking.
If you’re thinking of starting a sober curious journey, and harm reduction in particular, allow me to share a quote from It’s Not About the Wine that is really useful: Harm eduction will provide you with one fo three outcomes: (1) you are able to cut down enough to eliminate problems, thus successfully reducing both problems and intake, (2) you are unable to cut down enough to eliminate problems, thus providing valuable information about your lack of control, and (3) you cut down and the experience prompts you to stop altogether.
The way I see it, those are some excellent reasons to give it a try.
Today is my Day 1. I’m nervous, excited, and a little reluctant. But I know I’m doing the right thing. I’m ready to see how expansive my life can be when it’s not being muted or dulled by alcohol.
Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.