This weekend I was invited to celebrate a close family member’s 30 years of sobriety. This person is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the group was celebrating four “birthdays” that evening.

Each of the celebrants had a significant number of years of sobriety under their belt: the range was from 27-31 years.

As I listened to the speeches they gave after receiving their chips, I heard a very common theme throughout.

More than the 12 steps themselves, the celebrants cited the supportive community and friendships they had made through the program as being the biggest reason they kept coming back to meetings, day after day, year after year. 

These folks also have a lot more in common with each other than simply their commitment to sobriety. They are all retirees, all love Mexico and spent at least a good portion of the winter here in Puerto Escondido (and some live here full time). Their politics can all be described as left of center. They have crazy stories and experiences they shared from “back in the day” yet in the now, they are all seeking a fairly similar quality of life.

I was moved to tears hearing the gratitude and love they felt towards their peers that had supported them in their commitment to their sobriety, and living well.

One person mentioned that he had often heard that “sick people attract sickness” and what he felt being a part of the group here was the opposite… that well people attract wellness.

This resonated with me so strongly. I believe that I have made an unconscious shift towards living that adage… the healthier I become, the more I attract health into my life… by the activities I chose, the people I surround myself with, the partner I attracted, the values I wish to share with my child… It is the positive ripple effect of choosing a life of wellness.

It can be hard when making a transition to know who “your people” are. It may require a shift in friendships and in how you chose to spend your time.

You may find yourself letting go of certain relationships or pass times. Sometimes this happens naturally and sometimes it requires a painful decision (on your part) when you realize that certain people in your life aren’t able to support your wellness goals, or you realize you just don’t have as much to relate to now that you aren’t sharing the same alcohol-fuelled activities.

It can also happen that certain friends or acquaintances start letting go of you. This too can be painful. It’s happened to me… invites to certain kinds of events (read parties) come fewer and far between.

All of this to say, finding supportive people that are aligned with your wellness goals is absolutely critical to achieving what you desire.

I heard somewhere that you are a reflection of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Think about that. Are you surrounding yourself with the people that will most help optimize your health and wellbeing? If not, why?

When I was first starting to want to make changes to my drinking, I found it hard to know who to talk to. I didn’t really want to share my process with everyone as I was grappling to understand what it all meant. I also didn’t want to alienate my friends at the time.

One of the first steps I took was to open up to one of my best friends, who was also going through something similar. Even though we lived in different cities, we started a shared google document where we would write to each other as if it were a journal entry, as we worked through our issues with alcohol and set new intentions for ourself.

If you are not sure where or how to find supportive people in your immediate surroundings, try reaching out online. There are communities of incredibly supportive women online, including Sip Sisters. I’m also a member of a few others, so let me know if you are interested.

The most important thing for you to know is that you do not have to do this alone. 

In fact, it will be much harder if you do.

If you are not ready to talk to your close friends and family about the changes you are going through, that’s totally fine. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be doing this in isolation.

The speeches I heard the other night reflected that the members of that group had found solace and comfort in an anonymous group, but that the members of that group quickly became their closest friends… and they came to share so much more than sobriety.

Whether it be a workout partner, an accountability buddy or a sip sister, go forth and find your peeps!