It’s been 550 days since going sober. 550! I still remember making the decision, failing, trying again and sticking to it. That was June 2018.
I’m feeling really positive today because I had a great evening out last night with my running club, woke up early, went for a 10k run in the sunshine, enjoyed a huge pub lunch with my husband and, just now, watched an epic thunderstorm scud across the sky.
As I celebrate my second alcohol-free Christmas booze is far from my mind. So much has changed in these last 500 days and sometimes I genuinely can’t believe how different my life has become. Yet, in so many other ways, it remains the same.
When I considered what I meant by ‘it’ I realised meant me. I’m the same. Just improved. Yes, there was lots of fun times with alcohol – when are there not? – but there were also times when I behaved like a total tool.
I used booze as a medicine. I see that now. I was administering a dose of whatever it was I needed at the time: a drink to relax, a drink to celebrate, a drink to boost my self-confidence, a drink to chat someone up, a drink to calm my nerves.
There will be people reading this thinking ‘Jeez, booze is just a bit of fun, what’s the big deal?’
Sobriety provides what I hoped to find in alcohol: self-acceptance and confidence that I am enough as I am – fluctuations, imperfections and all.
When I began to make sense of myself, I saw more clearly the role alcohol was playing. While it wasn’t the central character in my life, it definitely was the villain of the piece.
When I wanted to smother the feelings of inadequacy, alcohol was the blanket. When I wanted to exude confidence it was my social lubricant.
There was no Big Bang moment of realisation, more a gradual learning and a sense of curiosity. What would life be like without any hangovers? (Bloody ace btw) How much better could I be? What could I do with that extra time and money?
I see sobriety as living life in technicolour. And while there remain the occasional blacks and greys, they are not exacerbated by the depressant effects of alcohol.
And what have I learnt in these 500 days?
It doesn’t matter what other people think. It’s what you do that matters.
People will have an opinion. Sometimes people might be rude about your decision. Remember: it’s their problem and says more about their inability to control their mouths than anything else. This is your choice. And it’s a really good one for you.
You don’t need to explain.
I told people I stopped drinking early on because I wanted to own my choice. It’s entirely up to you what you decide to do. You don’t need to justify your decision, nor explain. If someone offers you a drink a simple “no thank you’ will always suffice.
It will change your life.
This is a bold statement, right? But it’s absolutely true. It may take a while for you to see the benefits but they will come and there are many. One friend of mine has used money he would have spent on booze on save for a house deposit. Another uses her spare cash to travel. Since June 2018, I’ve saved well over £2,000.
You’ll create headspace.
Being alcohol free enabled me to think more clearly about what I wanted to do in many areas of my life but especially my work life. I thought a lot about what would make me happier in my career and focussed on taking it in a different direction. This year that happened and I absolutely love it.
Since stopping drinking the benefits have continued to stack up until they tower into the sky. I like the alcohol-free me.
To my friends who tolerated the wine monster and are still around today: I am so grateful for you. You’re the best.
To those of you who are sober curious: Don’t be afraid to give it a go. Dry January is just around the corner and is the perfect time to try.