Each week we publish a story written by someone from our Reframe community, sharing how changing their relationship with alcohol impacted their life far beyond the bottle. We believe in the validity of all paths and value the diverse experiences of our Reframe community.

Back then, when I used to binge drink regularly, I had the impression that the lifting of my inhibitions meant that this magic elixir was showing me who I truly was. The stressed out, anxious, overthinker could not possibly be the person I was destined to go through life as. No, it made much more sense that I was a fun-loving risk-taker who could charm strangers and gather crowds in bars to hear what I had to say...right? Well, not exactly.

You see, while I may have wanted to not have the thoughts looming over my head (like that I was inadequate and that no one could really like me for me), the solution I chose only led me down a road towards completely losing myself. And, almost losing everything else along the way. While I may have wanted to mask my insecurities by drinking and forgetting them in the moment, what really happened was that I forgot myself and turned into someone I eventually had a hard time seeing in the mirror. While I wanted to be the person who everyone wanted to be around, I turned into the good time party girl who may have been wanted, but in all of the wrong ways.

My binge drinking eventually pushed me to many rock bottoms. I became a manipulative liar...and would brag about how good at it I had become. I had the ability to morph into any character necessary to get my way. I avoided my amazing family and events with them because my priorities lay with finding the next high. As time passed, more legal woes presented themselves. With this came the self-loathing, and while I hated what I had become, I continued to drink and use, to the point it was no longer even appealing, but I did it anyway. I kept myself around people who were just like me. People who had problems just like mine. This was by choice. I didn’t want to deal with anyone’s talk of concern or care.

Finally, my final rock bottom moment hit and with that came the last day I drank. July 28, 2019. This is when the real work began. This is when I had to be brutally honest with those I loved, and also with myself. I admitted to myself that I had major issues and that I wanted to change. At age 42 (then), it was finally time for me to grow up. None of this was easy. Learning how to be an adult when your age is double that of two adults is NOT a simple endeavor. But step by step, I started to see the layers of Kelly peeling back. Things started to look clear. Emotions showed up and I was forced to deal with them authentically. I learned that while this was hard, sitting with the feelings and growing because of them was so worth it. I found out just how strong I really am. I am becoming the mother, daughter, and friend I wish I had been all along.

I am present for the things that really matter. Catching frogs with my daughter. Seeing the sun come up. Hearing birds sing at dawn. Learning what I like and don’t like. Discovering hobbies. Reading books and writing again. Sharing my story...the things that brought me the most shame are now the things that I can proudly put on display because it helps me grow each time I talk about it. And, it potentially helps someone else who could have experienced some of the same things. The fact that I have been allowed the opportunity to make it through all of this and gotten to this point is beyond miraculous to me. Never have I been more grateful for anything more than sobriety—it allowed me to discover who had been inside of me all along. Thanks to living alcohol-free, I can finally, for the first time in adulthood, say that I love myself and my life.

Kelly Belew is a mother and sobriety blogger in Charlottesville, VA. Kelly founded the East Coast Sober Squad and can be found @kelz_is_sober.

Try Reframe FREE for 7 days, and Reframe the way you think and drink.

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  • Reframe Content Team

man holding his face in his hands in stress

Whether you're juggling remote learning with three kids, the entire industry you used to work in closed indefinitely, or you've perhaps even lost a loved one, there's no denying that the last year (and more) has dramatically impacted our universal stress level.

And, how much alcohol we're drinking.

Though it will still be some time before we have a full understanding of just how much more folks are drinking as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic, initial data coming out of recent studies tell us that there has been a sharp increase in alcohol consumption since March 2020.

A recent study published in JAMA Network Open found that Americans drank 14% more alcohol from 2019 to 2020, and women, specifically, showed a staggering 41% increase in alcohol consumption over the same period. 1 in 10 women also reported an increase in problems arising in their lives because of their alcohol use.

So what do we make of this? There's still so much information to parse out before we have a crystal clear picture of what has happened, but one potential explanation is that alcohol is simply a substance that yields a rapid state change—going from Point A to Point B.

Anxious to relaxed, sad to numb, stressed to calm... and fast. Because alcohol is a physical depressant, it can dampen down our Central Nervous System, achieving that relaxed state in a split second. Sometimes we find ourselves craving a drink when we're stressed out, when we've had a long day and want to unwind, when we're lonely or sad or bored.

And we have all experienced an increase in all of those emotions throughout the pandemic. You are certainly not the only one, and you are also not the only one turning to alcohol more often as a result.

When we better understand the problem at hand, that empowers us to make a change. If you've decided it's time to change the way that alcohol is showing up in your life — if the pandemic has shifted your relationship with booze in a way that makes you uneasy or unsatisfied — there's an app for that.

Reframe is the #1 alcohol reduction app, built to help you drink less and live more. Whether your goal is to cut back or quit drinking entirely, Reframe’s neuroscience approach can help you change the way alcohol shows up in your life.

With a core 160-day, evidence-based, education program, progress tracking, a private community, and a multitude of tools (think meditations, games, and more!), you’ve got everything you need to change your relationship with booze at the click of a button.

Need extra support? Uplevel your alcohol-free or alcohol-reduction journey with Reframe’s premium Thrive Coaching and get 1:1 access to a certified recovery coach, live coaching calls, and exclusive video content.

Try Reframe FREE for 7 days, and Reframe the way you think and drink.

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SOURCE: Pollard MS, Tucker JS, Green HD. Changes in Adult Alcohol Use and Consequences During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the US. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(9):e2022942. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.22942

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

Each week we publish a story written by someone from our Reframe community, sharing how changing their relationship with alcohol impacted their life far beyond the bottle. We believe in the validity of all paths and value the diverse experiences of our Reframe community.

When I was younger, my friends would say that I was a lesbian when I was drunk.

I assumed it was because my first kiss was with a female friend. Or because at high school parties, I kissed way more girls than guys. Or because when I got to college, I found myself fitting in more with the frat boys, unable to connect with many of the women on my campus.

Eventually, people started telling me I was bisexual. When I was drinking, I happily accepted this label that had been thrust upon me. Aided and abetted by alcohol, I dove into my newfound sexuality. From the way I talked and behaved, you would have thought I was excited and proud to be bi. And I was. For a little while.

But deep down I was desperately confused.

My relationship with alcohol made everything in my life messy. It blurred lines that shouldn’t have been blurred and created divides where there shouldn’t be any. I thought alcohol was opening my eyes up to the truth: that I wasn’t straight. I thought getting drunk was freeing me and allowing me to find out who I was. In reality, it was the opposite.

If you want to figure out who you are, blacking out and not remembering who you hooked up with, or if you even liked them, is not helpful. Booze was a security blanket that kept me smothered and trapped. My relationship with alcohol kept me scared of sober interactions that might have led to clarity instead of confusion.

I had accepted this label (“bisexual”) that no longer felt right. Something important was missing. I didn’t know if I wanted to date women, befriend them, or if I feared them. I didn’t know if I liked hanging out with guys because I was attracted to them, or because I wanted to be them. It would take me years to realize it was a little of everything.

The change happened when I got sober. Not at first. At first, I was just struggling to exist. But when things calmed down and I slowly got used to living without alcohol, I began to revisit my earlier questions: Who was I? Where did I belong in this community? People in sober spaces would call me “girl” or “lady” and I began to realize that those words made me pause, made me consider them deeply. I came to realize that those gendered words were making me hesitate because I didn’t consider myself to be a part of them.

It’s hard to discover your truths, to discover your real self, when your brain is constantly being drowned in a drink that encourages self-doubt, depression, and anxiety. After almost a year of sobriety I realized I was struggling because I was focused on my sexuality and ignoring my gender. That’s when I discovered I was nonbinary.

A nonbinary or genderqueer person is someone whose felt gender doesn’t fit with socially constructed norms for their biological sex. Every person is different, but the similarities seem to be that most people like me feel a persistent unease with being associated ONLY with the binary gender. There’s a whole host of ideas and information about the intersection of sexual orientation and gender identity. I can only speak for myself and say that I am happy to consider myself nonbinary and leave it at that. It doesn’t erase my sexuality; it encompasses it.

Some days I feel masculine, others I feel feminine, but most days I feel like someone entirely else. Someone that is just…separate from the gender binary. My biology is female, and I do present as femme (though as I explore this part of myself that might change), but it was such an overwhelming relief to accept this other part of myself that had been squished under layers of booze for years. The they/them side of me was finally allowed to breathe, and it has been beautiful to explore that.

This is what sobriety has given me: Clarity on who I am.

I’ve always felt like a spork; somewhere between both genders, able to work well as either, but not completely identifying as one or the other. Sure, I might look like a spoon, but the truth is I find myself comfortable being a fork as well. Or even better, acknowledging that the spork might be an entirely new third option. Maybe the spork doesn’t want to be seen as an amalgam of spoon and fork; maybe the spork wants the freedom to be any way they want to be.

Maybe they want to be beautifully undefined.

Saratoga Schaefer (they/she) is an author, community builder, and creative. You can find their poetry collection Beautiful After Breaking on Amazon and connect with Saratoga on Instagram at@the_sober_climb, @boozelessbookclub, and @theselkieshoppe

Try Reframe FREE for 7 days, and Reframe the way you think and drink.

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