**Disclaimer** the following is my personal experience and is not meant to take the place of professional help. If you have a bona fide substance abuse problem that threatens your health or life, PLEASE don't look to this blog for guidance. Please get professional help ASAP.
I was a pot head from around 17 to my late 20's. In addition to pot I was a regular visitor of Ecstasy, Mushrooms and LSD. With the exception of my early teens, I only ever had the lightest of alcohol consumption. Other than that, I always had a strict, nothing up my nose and nothing that sounds like a scientific equation, rule. By comparison to many in the Electronic Dance music community, I was practically a prude. Even so, after years spent wrestling with myself, I thought I ought to try phasing out substances. Letting go of this common social fuel in the dance/party world, was a CRUCIAL journey. I give so much credit to this one choice in being the person I am today.
I am going to attempt to nutshell this for my readers. Ha! I started letting substances go in the order of what seemed most destructive at the time, or what gave me enough bad experiences to turn me off. Ecstacy was the first to go. I did enough of it that my serotonin levels were totally sapped and I made many many (too many) irresponsible decisions with my body as a result of being high on E. Next was psychedelics. After winding up in my tent for hours, effectively MISSING the party I was supposed to be enhancing my enjoyment of, it was easy to see that party dosing was not for me. In a crowd of people I would get self conscious. Combined with an overwhelming desire to get naked, it was clear that tripping in public spaces was not wise (for me).
Pot and alcohol were the last to go. Pot, because I was so used to finding my creative juice within it's delicious and inspiring interiors, that I wasn't sure if I could be creative or happy without it. Alcohol, just because I drank so little it never was really a problem. While every other thing I gave up, I easily cold turkeyed and abstained from for years, Pot I was far more attached to. I baby stepped it at first. Just taking 2 weeks off, then 1 month, then 2 months, then more. Finally, I let go of all substances for approx 4-5 years straight.
Throughout the time I was 100% sober, I found out SO much about who I really am. I found out that I have social anxiety. Yep, didn't know that. I found out that I am actually NOT lazy. You guessed it, I was just stoned or residually stoned all the time. yeesh. I found out that if I just give myself a minute, I WILL relax socially without having to get stoned. I found out that I CAN jump into my creativity without pot, it just takes a little longer. I found out that I really enjoy sleep, vibrant health and radiance. I found out that I much prefer to be the clear spot in a foggy room. I discovered that I KNOW who I should be sleeping with and who I should NOT. I discovered that I am monogamous. I discovered that I CAN access my inspiration and evolution totally au naturale.
That time period came to a close around 3 years ago. I had gleaned what I had to glean and was ready to relax a bit. In the first year on I experimented with the exact frequency and doses I could enjoy without getting deleterious effects. Quickly abstaining again if I felt any sensation of back slide or numbing. Now, I enjoy the medicine that is marijuana a few times a month on average and have MAYBE one or 2 occasions a year where I (in carefully selected company and environments) enjoy some E or Mushrooms/LSD. Having given myself the time to go 100% sober, I let the pendulum swing so far in the opposite direction that I was able to find the middle. It feels good to know that I am able to evolve, grow, find comfort and make good decisions with or without my previous crutches. And it feels good to know that I have found enough ground within myself that the occasional light indulgence is now possible.
So much for that nut shell! Ok, so I know the prospect of partying sober seems daunting or even impossible. It did for me at times. To offer whatever help I can in such an important endeavor, here are my tips for partying sober.
- Make a hard and fast commitment to let go of your vice for a predetermined amount of time. At first, make it short enough to be possible, but soon after, long enough to get the substance out of your system and give you time to try on your new sober lenses in social situations.
- Be prepared to NOT go out if you are craving your vice. Better to honor that, stay inside and have a hot bath and some tea, then to torture yourself needlessly.
- Contrary to the last tip, be ready for some torture. When in your usual social circles, old habits will have to be resisted and some painful stuff might surface. You may find, as I did, that reaching for that joint (or drink or whatever) was a direct response to feelings of anxiety, fear or not enough-ness. This is where the real work begins. Instead of being able to suffocate your feelings, you will have to sit in them.
- If you are feeling your "stuff". Try just waiting it out. Literally sit off to the side or go onto the dance floor and just breathe, stretch, dance and tell yourself that you are SAFE and loved. I have found that just letting your feelings be felt and holding a loving space within while that shit is spiraling through you, can make painful things dissolve like the wave of energy that it is. It's when we resist, that we get stuck in the finger trap of human emotions. Try letting it BE.
- Get LOTS of sleep, eat really healthy, journal, exercise and in general just take the best care of yourself as you possibly can.
- If things get really dark, PLEASE get professional help. In the age of social media we are more disconnected then ever before. We, as HUMANS, need each other sometimes. Like actually NEED eachother. Not in a dysfunctional way, but in a basic human need kind of way. Hearing yourself talk in the space of listening that most people have lost the art of providing for each other, can be like a cool spring breeze on your heart.
- Be prepared to leave social circles that do not support your choice to not imbibe. Even if you love them and long for the "good ol days". You will probably see soon that many aspects of what you thought where the good old days, weren't that good after all. Plus, from personal experience, it is kind of heart breaking to be at a party and witness your friends lights diminish into inebriation. So as to not alter someone else's path or fall into passing judgment, I have chosen to exit scenes... and some really really cool scenes.
- If you are going to a camping festival, like burning man, you will have to find a new rythym if you want to catch the good dj's and the sunrises. I found what works best for me is sleeping from 7-8pm to 1-2am is perfect. Crucial is also getting an additional 3 hour or so block of sleep in the middle of the day. Just be sure to set your alarm and put it as far away from you as possible. Otherwise you might miss the good stuff ;) Also, get your night outfit ready before hand, including accessories, and your will be more likely to beat the sleepiness and get your butt out on the dance floor. If you are anything like me, you will quickly get so much satisfaction from having natural, sustainable and healthy energy. No emotional melt downs here!
- That being said, sleep when you really want to sleep. One of the benefits of being sober, is you will more clearly hear what you body is saying. If it needs water, you will hear it. If it needs rest, you will hear it. If you end up sleeping for 10 freakin hours at a festival, awesome. Your body needed it. You didn't miss anything because you were giving yourself just what you needed.
Ok, my dear fun and fabulous friends, if you made it this far, you are a warrior to be sure! Go forth and make merry!!
xo ~ Anah