Welcome to The (Not) Drinking Diary Series! I’ll be chatting to people on alcohol and on life; about their sobriety, mindful drinking and/or alcohol free, not drinking period.
Cole is a fellow yoga person at large, and travels the world collecting experiences and searching for the tastiest of croissants!
Read on for her not drinking diary …
Name: Cole Chance
Location: The world!
1.What led you to think differently about drinking?
Well, I was a really hard case. I had been in and out of treatment centers all through my 20s. Sober houses, hospitals, detoxes. Everyone but me had long realized my marriage to booze had to end yet I was resolute that I was going to find a way to make it work. Denial run rampant.
In the end, after one of the worst relapses I had had, my family had cut contact, I had no money, blacklisted from the emergency room (yes that’s a thing! I was looking for benzos to ease withdrawal but I always checked myself out and just drank on top of the meds.) Anyhow, I was at a loss…I spent the last of my money on some wine which had always been my medicine and my poison.
But when I drank it this time, I didn’t feel better. I didn’t feel anything. It wasn’t working and I was startled as I’ve heard that from other alcoholics…that one day it just wouldn’t work anymore. I never knew what they were talking about but low and behold…so feeling helpless, I remembered something someone had told me once. That I could be drunk or I could be happy but the two were never going to go together anymore. It was a tiny sliver of reality that finally had sunk in….I had to do something different…I couldn’t have gotten much worse without dying and I luckily decided that I was going to take that option off the table.
I called a sober house I had been kicked out of before, begged them to come back, and they agreed. They miraculously allowed me back in with no money…they told me to come on Wednesday and I showed up Tuesday saying I would sleep on the couch. I was ready. I don’t know ‘what’ lead me to change my mind other than something people had been saying for years finally got around the massive wall of my denial and I realized alcohol would NEVER give me what I was looking for….it once had given me connection, laughter, joy, excitement, but in the end it had only broken and isolated me.
I decided I had to look somewhere else. It all seems so obvious when you tell someone but I really believed I was going to figure out the magic formula…haha. So grateful to have received and listened to a dose of inner wisdom that day!
2.How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
Crazily enough, I really don’t even think about it. Actually pretty quickly after I got sober the obsession began to dissolve. I don’t mind being around people having a couple of drinks but I definite jet as soon as anything looking like drunk comes over people. It’s not triggering, it’s just not something enjoyable. I get a real sense of disconnection from people which is the opposite of what I’ve always been after.
3.What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your approach to alcohol shifted?
Hmmm… Damn, sobriety has been so amazing but of course there are challenges.
I think the most challenging is learning how to really let loose sober. It was hard for me at first to dance, or to let myself speak in groups, really anything that requires the least bit of vulnerability. I didn’t realise that I had been masking so much lack of confidence and anxiety. I began to push myself into uncomfortable situations though realising that no growth happens in the comfort zone. I have to thank Brene Brown for that. A fabulous author and shame researcher.
I still after almost 4 years see this stuff creep up on me but I know the drill…find the edge, open up, risk it, be seen. It has always been right, though not always easy. We slowly create new patterns, samskaras in Yoga philosophy. It’s like our habits are a well paved road and we have to work really hard to clear the wooded wild alternative to get through but eventually it’s cleared as well.
4.What lessons have you learnt about life (and yourself) since your relationship with alcohol has changed?
What do you do when you’re in discomfort? I know what I used to do. Sobriety takes away our coping mechanisms and we are left with ourselves.
Alone is ok. Sad is ok. Anger is ok.
Add knowledge and be curious about all of it. This was and is a big lesson for me…I think the root of why many people drink is not feeling ok about themselves or the present moment…so learning to sit with uncomfortable and to let all parts of us seen, felt. That’s a gamechanger.
5. How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
I travel internationally teaching so my daily schedule is always in flux. Most days I like to start with yoga to get myself cleared and centred. It such a nourishing base for the rest of my day. Then I eat a couple of dragon fruit (when I’m in Bali which I am now!) and a green juice for breakfast…I’m working on not checking my phone until all of this is done but it’s a practice…lol. I’m working towards it!
When I’m home I start the day cuddling my 90 pound dawgther. Shanti the Bernese Mountain Dog. That is even before yoga 😉 Can’t wait to get home to her in a couple of months!
6. Do you have any rituals you always make time for?
Rituals…I wish I had more…this is similar to how I start my day as in it’s hard traveling a lot. But I still have a few. I take a bath almost every night when that is an option. Maybe I’ll take a book, listen to a podcast or music. Every night since I was little I would read myself to sleep and and so happy to be doing that again rather than unknowingly passing out. Books are a cherished part of my life…thank you Mom!
Also I like to release muck that is getting in the way of my peace when I’m in child’s pose. Such a sweet pose of surrender. Also on the full moon I let the not needed slide away and on the new moon I manifest and attract in what I seek!
7. What’s your favourite thing to do (hangover free & not drinking) at the weekend?
Everyday is a weekend as I can’t keep track of the days of the wee k;)
I love to dance though, it can still sometimes be hard to slip into the flow space. Mind can get in the way but more often than not, I am free to move and groove without thought and that is bliss! I love to eat/cook good food, and love to treat myself to a good flick which is rare and treasured!
8. When it comes to your own personal development, what is one thing that you’re working on or learning right now?
Untangling old beliefs and getting deeper to the core of who I am.
The same work looks different as you go along the path 😉 Always working to stay in curiosity instead of judgment…that’s work!
9. What is the one thing you’re obsessed with at the moment that’s making your life better?
Food! Eating all of these exotic fruits! Truly food and yoga….both had a massage part of transforming my life.
We tend to forget how important the body-mind connection is in terms of addiction. And travel…the more places I go the more places I want to go! Insatiable…sounds familiar;)
10. And finally, thinking differently about alcohol can be challenging and isolating, is there any advice you turned to or do you have any words of wisdom for people reading this?
Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Keep going…you can do hard things.
Follow Cole on Instagram and check out her website & be sure to check out the other Not Drinking diaries, there is a new one every Tuesday.