I’m three years alcohol-free. Even saying that out loud sounds surreal: it’s the longest stretch of booze-free living in my adult life.
Sometimes I look back and think: what a waste of a good weekend! (hungover); or I’m still gutted about that coat (losing things when drunk); or even I’ve still no idea what happened (blackout).
We’re often told we shouldn’t regret the decisions we make (or fail to make). I don’t subscribe to that view – I think acknowledging regrets encourages a more developed sense of awareness about your own identity. It’s OK to see them because you can move towards acceptance and letting them go. It’s probably more unhealthy to suppress them.
So I’ll admit it: I regret not giving up sooner.
But I did and here I am. Three whole years!
I don’t want this blog to be all preachy about why drinking is bad but why NOT drinking is good for me.
First thing’s first: quitting booze had a massive impact on my overall wellbeing. Taking the effects of being drunk/hungover out the equation will definitely do that. (Saying that I ate a LOT of ice cream in the first few weeks – substituting the sugar intake, perhaps? – and slept deeply but my energy levels soon rebalanced themselves).
Now I feel fitter, more active and do more stuff with my time. I’ve rediscovered things I loved when I was younger. I don’t want to spend my time on screens and social media so I’ve quit that too. I used to feel embarrassed that, at heart, I’m quite reserved and bookish so I squashed it down. Somewhere along the line I became divorced from that part of me so I’ve spent a lot of time reconnecting with who I am.
Being a non-drinker helped me ask serious questions about some aspects of my life; for example, my career. I reorientated my career, helped with great advice and support from others. I tend to eat better because I’m not scoffing hangover food and I don’t suffer from stomach cramps anymore. I’ve saved money and I’m much happier with my mental and physical health.
Cutting booze out reinforced how important and precious my people were/are. You might find the same. Some relationships will change but anyone worth their salt will understand what you’re doing and why. Some people won’t – but remember: that is their problem. You’re doing this for you. The people that matter, they get it.
When I first became alcohol-free, I took each day as it came. I didn’t set major goals because I was worried I ay not meet them. Instead I focused on the many benefits rather than what I was missing. A friend of mine had also just given up so we talked/laughed about our experiences and that helped too. As time went by, it got easier.
So yes, there are booze-filled regrets but that’s alright because I can look forward to the many days ahead, alcohol-free.