Raegen Hedley

I decided to walk away from alcohol for good in Jan. 2019. Unlike a lot of sobriety stories, I went out with a whisper rather than a rock-bottom bang.  I wasn't at my absolute worst, BUT I also really wasn't happy with who I was and had this feeling like I wasn't living the life I was meant to live. People say a lot ‘well I can stop anytime,’ but the truth is not everyone gets to walk away willy nilly, and that's not something to take for granted.

My first year being boozeless was wonderful...until it wasn't. I was floating on the pink cloud, planning to move to Australia on a working holiday visa, training to become a boxing instructor, and feeling optimistic. I had my first sober lows and fell off the pink cloud and a dark cloud started following me around - that's the part I didn't put on social media. I was angry, anxious, and unsure of how to let myself feel all the feels. Becoming a dry drunk (when you get sober but continue behaving in dysfunctional ways) can happen to anyone, even someone who didn't meet the criteria for alcoholism. I think there's a misconception out there that sobriety will fix your problems and deliver inner peace and I fell for it. Sobriety itself isn't the solution, but it sure as hell helped me see things - like my own BS than I ever had before. 

Moving to a new place in the first year of sobriety was a major lesson in growth and change. I wanted to make friends, but I was mostly surrounded by backpackers who wanted to party. I struggled to balance my desire for connection and belonging with a knowing that I needed to stay true to my values, but at the end of the day, I never regretted saying no to all the seemingly fun stuff I turned down. It left me with the energy to say yes to the things I really wanted to do and helped me find people I vibed with. It wasn't easy, but I've realized I don't want it easy. If I wanted to avoid getting grilled by strangers about why I don't drink and float through life having fun and feeling numb, I would just keep drinking. Live in a way that's authentic to YOU, and if anyone takes your choice to abstain personally, tell them to kick rocks.