One of the most common questions I receive is simply: Where do I begin? Choosing to be reflective about our relationship with alcohol is, in and of itself, a courageous choice. Due to many different forms of internal and external messaging, we often don’t want to think critically about how this substance--or any other for that fact!--might be showing up in our lives. After a few weeks of theological reflection, I want to offer you some resources, and where these resources met me on my personal path to sobriety. That said, I want to be very clear about something: You do not have to do this work and also commit to quitting drinking completely. I was deep into reading all of these resources, and other drinking memoirs, before I ever actually made the decision to fully quit drinking. I think everyone could reflect on their relationship with alcohol, regardless of where you end up with it.
When people ask me for any level of insight into this, I offer them these 4 resources:
1. Hip Sobriety (Blog) By Holly Whitaker The first person I encountered in my journey to reflecting on my drinking (outside of knowing AA exists and my own family history with alcohol) was Holly Whitaker and her blog, Hip Sobriety. I remember reading different posts and feeling, for the first time, like I was reading about someone’s journey with booze that was “like me.” The chasm between myself and who I thought might struggle with alcohol became only inches wide, easy to step over, a world of reflection made easy for me to walk into. Her work is extremely accessible; it meets you where you are. She covers a range of topics that addressed some of my greatest fears about quitting drinking. Holly later started a company, Tempest*, that offers feminine-centered (but open to all people!) sobriety programs and resources online.
2. This Naked Mind (Book) By Annie Grace The second point of impact for me was Annie Grace’s book This Naked Mind. It had been highly recommended by my friend who introduced me to Holly, and then reinforced through Holly’s blog. I read the book with a bottle of chardonnay. It shifted my perspective about how my brain interacts with alcohol and I’m now fascinated by studying the human brain. I think this is a must-read for anyone who wants to think about this part of their lives.
3.“5 Signs You Might Be A Gray Area Drinker - And What To Do About It” (Article) by Jolene Park (The Temper) When I first started thinking about my relationship with alcohol in a really intentional way, I had already spent plenty of time asking myself if I was an alcoholic. I would look up lists of traits that define alcoholism, but the definitions felt like they did not connect. So, I kept drinking! In my brain, subconsciously, if you weren’t an alcoholic, then you should drink. It was very black and white. Later, I found this article (after I was already sober!) and it helped me figure out the gray area between the black and white that I had struggled with. I don’t consider myself an alcoholic, but I do think I was a gray area drinker, and I found that drinking that way was not good for me, so I quit completely.
4. Quit Like A Woman (Book) By Holly Whitaker Quit Like A Woman was released by Holly recently (January 2020) and it contains so much of the wisdom that I found initially so inspiring when I encountered her work over at Hip Sobriety, but with added insights that help me in my sustained sobriety. Holly especially acknowledges the challenges that it takes for a woman to engage in this sobriety space, which I find not only personally important, but that I also think are helpful for The Hive community. That said: it is not just for women! Anyone can read this, and I believe it would be helpful for anyone who wants to think about alcohol culture as well as their own history with alcohol, but through a feminine lens.
None of the resources I’ve offered today are explicitly spiritual, so we will be looking into some resources next week that address sobriety, but through the lens of spirituality and faith. I hope you’ll come back for more resources next week!
*Full disclosure: I now work for Tempest and The Temper (listed above) is Tempest’s online publication. That said, my engagement with all of the resources above started long before I became a Tempest employee. I did Tempest’s online program and then served as a volunteer support person for others going through the program for almost a year, before I applied to work there. I applied to become a Tempest employee because I knew personally that Tempest’s work was life-changing. I started sharing Tempest long before I worked there; it was not the other way around.