Today I celebrate 10 months alcohol free. During the last ten months my lifestyle has completely changed. I have swapped nights out in bars wearing short dresses and heels for nights in on my couch wearing pyjamas and slippers. Sunday mornings nursing a hangover have been replaces with attending a yoga class. I no longer wake up with ‘The Fear’ of not knowing what happened last night as I can remember the entire evening and lets face it I am usually in bed by 10. People may consider me boring and that is fine. Binning the booze has taught me who I am and what It is I want out of life. Here are just some of the valuable lessons I have learnt over the last 10 Months.
Other people cant complete you
I have spent a lot of my life believing that I need another person to complete me. I jumped from terrible relationship to terrible relationship desperate to find love. Not one of the guys I had dated in the past cared about me. I went for men that were controlling, jealous and insecure which made me feel wanted. It took me a long time to realise that I needed to learn to love myself in order to feel complete. I would say I am still not fully there but it is something I am really trying to focus on.
Giving up drinking will not miraculously solve all of your problems
I used to believe that if i gave up drinking all of my problems would disappear. I would be successful, fitter, richer and more confident. While quitting drink will really help with these goals it will not mean they will be achieved the moment you stop drinking.
To be successful you will need to work hard which i must admit is a lot easier when you are sober and hangover free. To be fitter you will need to exercise which will be easier without the lethargic feeling that comes from drinking. To be richer you will need to save the money you were spending on alcohol instead of spending it on other things. Confidence will come with time and is something that takes a long time to build.
You can still have fun when you are not drinking
In my darkest days of drinking I would be happy to hang out with whoever was around. I did not care who I hung out with as long as they would be up for getting drunk. I didn’t have a very strong sense of self and just wanted was to feel popular and liked by everyone. I spent a lot of time with people that didn’t really care for me or have any respect for me. Now i don’t drink i’m much more careful with my time and only spend it with those who make me feel good. I do activities I enjoy and say no when i don’t want to go to things.
Sometimes it is OK to stay home
During the early days of sobriety I was terrified that people may think I was boring. I made sure that I was at every party, every works drinks, every drinking event so that I could prove I was still fun. It was exhausting trying to keep up the party girl reputation whist stone cold sober. I carried on going out all of the time but this was never fun. My lack of drunkenness would frustrate me. I would go home depressed and feel sorry for myself.
I have learnt now that sometimes it is best to just not go to these things if it is going to make me feel that way. Instead I will cook some lovely food, light some candles, have a bath and watch a movie.
Your really are not missing out
I used to believe that by staying home I was going to be missing out on something. Something would happen, I wouldn’t be there, I would miss all the fun and not be part of the crowd. This is not true. It is sometimes great to catch up with friends and colleagues however that does not mean you have to go out and get drunk with them at every opportunity. You can always catch up for coffee or lunch another time.
In retrospect many of my wild nights out were a bunch of us sat in the smoking area chatting till the early hours of the morning. We were usually to drunk to remember what we were even chatting about. There was definitely nothing to miss out on.
Self love is so important- When you give up drinking in a world where the majority of us drink, it can be very lonely. Sometimes you will feel depressed and wish you could just join in and have a couple. Its so important to remind yourself of why you quit in the first place. You are doing this for your own good and the result will be a much happier healthy version of you.
Your social life will change
It is likely that you will not want to continue going out to all of the parties, events and pub days out. It may start to get very boring. Getting sober gives you the opportunity to get to know yourself and to discover what it is that you actually like doing. You may discover you enjoy yoga and start doing this on weekends. You could even discover a love for art and find yourself attending evening classes. There is now nothing I enjoy more than sitting back with a cup of tea and some glossy magazines.You will have time now to be able to do the things you enjoy instead of spending all of your free time in the pub.
I am not as confident as i thought
When drunk I am loud, quirky and very confident. I will dance on tables, talk to strangers and happily take centre stage. Take away the alcohol and I come over all shy and introvert.
I have an incredible support system
When I first decided to give up drinking I was terrified about what my friends and family would say. We are quite a boozy bunch and i didn’t want them to feel they were going to lose me or that i would become boring. I Sent a very tongue in cheek text to them to let them know I had quit drinking and could they not encourage me to drink. I really do not know what i was so stressed for. The response was amazing, everyone has been so supportive. As long as I am happy they are all happy for me. In fact many of them have also cut back on their drinking and are happy to stay sober with me on nights out.
In fact I do have a sweet tooth
For years I skipped the dessert. Desser menus did not interest me. I would skip right past the tiramisu and chocolate cake and straight to the wine list. I never fancied cake in the afternoon or biscuits at elevenses. I just didn’t have a sweet tooth. When i quit drinking in May I suddenly started craving sugar. I would eat a pack of biscuits in one sitting, finish off a pot of ice-cream or much through an entire box of chocolates.
It turns out that my body was used to the high sugar content of alcoholic drinks. This resulted in me seeking sugar elsewehere. One small glass of prosecco can have 2-3% of your daily intake of sugar in it and some sugary mixers up to 60%. For my first couple of alcohol free months I was eating at least a box of chocolate a day. Luckily ! have now been able to cut down drastically.
My IBS is not incurable
For years I struggled with Irritable bowl syndrome (IBS). I had tried everything to cure my illness. I was eating healthy. I had a well-managed diet. I was exercising. My stress was minimal. Despite all of this my IBS did not subside. It was disrupting my life massively. I couldn’t go on long journeys, I would panic going anywhere where there would not be a toilet close by. I even had to leave my best friends wedding mid service. I gave up alcohol in May and within three months my IBS symptoms were non existent.
There is a fantastic sober community out there
Giving up drinking and starting my blog i soon came to realise what a great sober community there is online. There are loads of people online every day, talking openly with one another. Different people sharing their stories on giving up drugs and alcohol and encouraging each other to keep on going with their sobriety.