Life after alcohol?
Boy, did that one thought keep me stuck in the shit
for a long time? I was a regular binge drinker from the age of sixteen, so had absolutely no idea who I was or what I was going to donwith myself, without it. Drinking was a huge part of the culture that I grew up in. I loved it. The taste, the feeling, endless socialising, wild partying, the unpredictability, the chaos, I craved it all. It never once occurred to me that life could be fine, maybe even better than that, if I stopped completely. I envisioned a future of the boring sober girl, enviously gazing at everyone’s drinks wishing i could have a wine or six and never again getting excited about anything, ever!
This time last year after a not out of the ordinary boozy Sunday lunch, I decided to have another go at quitting drinking. My previous attempts of 4 months, 2 months and quite a few 1 month stints had been anything but a walk in the park so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Each time I hoped that the previous attempt would mean that I would find it easier, that I might have found the magic formula that was going give me that shot at real success. Honestly, I think that each time I experimented with abstaining from booze, I was secretly hoping to fix the problem, make my addiction disappear, and get back to drinking like a regular person.
Although forever scared the life out of me, I knew that I’d researched, practised, tried and failed with moderation enough times to realise that it was never going to be an option for me.
I emailed Belle and signed up for Team 100, enlisting the help of both her and Amy at Soberbia as sober penpals.
Whilst I didn’t email everyday, it was then that I started to use the sober blogging community as my daily tool for support. I checked in online everyday, reminding myself that I wasn’t alone, absorbing the advice of those with time and experience, cheerleading and being cheered on by many in the same boat as me. If I had to single out the most important thing that I did diffently this time, it would be that. There were days when I didn’t feel like being ‘in recovery’, other days when I felt ‘cured’ and wanted to wing it on my own. But I forced myself to do the same thing everyday, regardless, because it was working. It was still hard not to answer the call of wine time at 6pm everyday but I busied myself with other things and spending time on my recovery was the main focus. Reading, commenting, sharing, laughing out loud sometimes at these genius sober accounts has lifed my spirits every single day.
I’ve cried tears at the stories of struggling and relaspe. Felt deep sadness and been humbled when the dark drunk- tales of despair and collateral damage resonated all too often with me.They serve as a remindert that I am exactly where I need to be. I would not be sober now without this blogging community and I thank you all for that.
I also embraced the treat concept (another brilliant idea of Belle’s) wholeheartedly. Being kind to myself, cutting myself some actual slack and rewarding myself when I’d climbed a sober mountain or simply got through the day without booze. I allowed myself to believe that I was worth it.
Putting the booze to one side was only one part of the journey. It was easier not to drink than it was to come to terms with being comfortable in my own skin. It quickly became apparent that without wine, I had gaping holes in my adult emotional toolbox! Coping skills were almost non existent and I didn’t know how to just be with myself. My emotional development had been stunted by the constant blotting out and drowning everything in booze. I cried ten years worth of tears in the first 3 months.
There’s been lots of work to do and although it’s been tough, it has been worth every second. Quitting is not easy but it is worth it beyond belief. My life is a million per cent better than it was when I was actively addicted to wine. Drinking doesn’t make all of your problems disappear but being sober, not being hungover, makes the problems easier to tackle one by one.
I am happier, thinner, richer, I have better skin and a wardrobe full of sober treats!I’m a better mother, a nicer wife, a more attentive friend, a more productive employee, every area of life has improved. I wake up refreshed, energised from sounder sleep and look forward to what each day will bring. It’s been an adventure, I’ve met some awesome people. Made new amazing friends. I feel lucky to be on this journey , it is the road less travelled. I am grateful to be here rather than in that addictive place where obsessing, guilt and shame prevail. I am thrilled to have discovered a life on the other side of addiction where there is peace, calm, and kindness. A place where I have rebuilt my self esteem and taken the power away from booze, I am no longer defined by it. It’s not always Rainbows and Butterflies but It does exist, a fucking awsome life after alcohol and if you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend that you do.
Happy One Year Sober Birthday to me!!!!
Time for cake 🙂