I’d really love to tell you about the rock bottom I reached that made me stop drinking. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your view) there wasn’t one.
What there was was a growing sense of unease; like I was oh-so-slowly losing myself. In her wonderful book, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, author Catherine Gray describes hundreds of tiny rock bottoms culminating in a ‘slow, insidious undoing.’
It was like that for me. I love drinking. I love cool glasses of Pinot in the summer, deep red Malbecs in the winter, hoppy golden ales in springtime and a craft gin in autumn.
As an adult, alcohol always made me feel brighter, funnier, more sparky. I felt daring, bold, beautiful even. It enabled me to smother the anxiety I’d suffered since I was a child and whispered seductive sweet nothings to my fractured soul.
But alcohol is an addictive substance and an anti-depressant. The sweet nothings meant sweet FA. The day after, the spark always short-circuited and fizzled out pitifully like a cheap firework.
I had drunken blackouts. I said (and sometimes did) stupid things that I’d never do in the cold light of day. I wasted days being hungover or would cancel plans or sack off that run and eat rubbish, feel rubbish, tell myself I was rubbish and be rubbish. It would then trigger panic or anxiety which would – yep, you guessed it – exacerbate any depressive tendencies.
On most weekends I would silently vow to give alcohol a miss for a month but come Friday I’d be in M&S pondering which vino would pair well with the Dine In For Two meal. And so the loop would begin again.
I increasingly felt that alcohol was taking more than it was giving: my self-respect, my money, my time and my wellbeing. Alcohol was like the unpredictable friend with VIP access to the best bars but expects you to pay for all the drinks when you’re in, then hotfoots it somewhere else leaving you high and dry with no way of getting home.
I hated how it truly made me feel and behave.
Before I quit I did my research: I spoke with a close friend who does not drink who helpfully signposted me to support information and services, I joined online forums, downloaded a great app to keep track of money saved, read loads of books, talked it over with my therapist, family and friends and wrote a massive list of reasons to cut booze out.
Importantly, for me, I decided not to put a time limit on my new alcohol-free lifestyle. This really helped because in the past I’d failed miserably. I didn’t set down anything, I just gave myself the space of each day. It felt so empowering!
Then – deep breath – I started on my voyage of discovery.