Looking Back at my First Year Alcohol-Free

eye looking back

It’s weird to remember that not long ago, if there was a Gold Medal for drinking wine I would have won the title and battered you out of the way in my victory dance to the podium. And that habit wasn’t going to be broken that easily.

My normal was to reward myself at the end of every day with wine. On average I drank at least a couple of large glasses a night. Now … a couple of glasses in truthful reality had possibly become the equivalent of 2 large vases and a bottle as backup… should I need or deserve more?

I might be preparing dinner or not. I might eat the said dinner or not. The wine was my main focus at the end of a hard day’s work. I felt I deserved it to ease the stress. At the end of a hard day, I thought of wine as my treat.

Excuses to drink wine were plentiful.

Weddings, Christenings, Funerals, Christmas, Easter, Happy days, Sad days, Problems occurring, Problems solved, Arguments, Friday nights, Saturday nights, Any nights, Holidays, Sat on my own, Sat with others, Bored, Excited, Parties, House parties, Barbeques, Summer, Winter Autumn, Spring etc etc etc .

You get the gist.

My life was hard.
I was unhappy.
My job was too stressful.
I can’t keep doing this.
I don’t know how I can get through tomorrow.
I am so tired, yet I can’t sleep.
I have to stop this cycle.
I did not like myself.

Waking I would shower. I used to drag myself to work. Drink water, tea, and coffee all day. As the day progressed I would start to feel better. I wasn’t that bad. My job is high powered, I’m functioning ok. No one even noticed. I covered up how I felt. About 4pm I would think I’m ok and start to look forward to my wine reward at the end of the hard days work.

My Groundhog Days stopped on 27th December 2013 at 3am. I clicked fearfully and tearfully on the 3 month HSM button on the Hello Sunday Morning site (now in legacy) . Within days I had changed this to a 12-month alcohol-free commitment.

I realised that time for me was running out.

I was 50, nearly 51 years of age. I focused for the first time on really committing to stopping. I read post after post on that website. I embraced and was embraced by the community there. People like me. People who understood. I mean truly understood.

I was not the only person with this secret. I was not alone. I was not the only person feeling like this. There were hundreds of us! I could tell them all anything and they understood. No judgment -nothing but support. My commitment became theirs in a way. If I went to a social event, holiday, meal out, wanted to drink they all came with me on my mobile phone. Willing me to stay strong. Waiting to hear how I’d done. How could I let them down?

Helping Hands

They taught me about cooking, mocktails, different countries cultures. I listened to some of their voices and spent hours learning how to record my own voice and learning how to add songs to posts. l learned a little about who they were, what hurt them, what made them happy, fearful or sad. I read about their lives, holidays, jobs, families, fitness goals and achievements.

And the laughs!

Oh I laughed so much in that first year on that site. From small giggles to big belly laughs. And I cried and struggled to support everyone as they supported me. I was sometimes late for work and going out if someone needed a reply of support. I lived through their happiness, sadness, fears, tragedies, and triumphs. Willed them to pick themselves up and start again after a so-called fail or glitch. Cheered and danced when they succeeded, however small the baby step.

How could any of us say we have failed when we are trying so hard -when others around us haven’t even realised they have a problem yet.?

Whether we drink or don’t drink we are all together. Trying our hardest to be the best we can be.

Has it been easy??
By 3 months I had it all sorted. — Believe me??
Well don’t!

I had only just begun to scratch the surface of my habit. A habit I had developed slowly over ?30+ years and may I say become rather skilled at. If there was a Gold Medal for drinking wine I would have won the title and battered you out of the way in my victory dance to the podium. And that habit wasn’t going to be broken that easily.

The Wily Wine Witch wasn’t far away. And she whispered that she had my wine vases waiting for me. So I told her to piss off and was taught by someone to count the days since I had got my life back instead of counting the days until I could drink alcohol again.

Between 5 and 8 months the emotions hit a rollercoaster.

I needed picking up on more than one occasion. Memories, flashbacks, came in abundance. Some hurtful, some unbearable. Other reasons that contributed to my Gold Standard drinking career emerged. Tragedies that I had buried and not dealt with. Times in my life where I had blocked out the truth in order to cope. People I had hurt in my drinking times. Traits of my own personality were blasted at me just by reading a solitary post. An incident on holiday hit me very hard –and I went into total meltdown. Again only to be picked up, soothed and dusted down by the community.

At 10 -11 months I learnt on the site about PAWS.

That I would continue to have downtimes for no particular reason. That it can take up to 2 years for the body to recover. And I accepted that my life will always have good times and bad times. That alcohol would only take the bad ones away temporarily and the after-effects for me would be catastrophic. By now my normal reward was Ginger beer with fresh Mint leaves which was obviously a bonus. Oh and I also can’t stand the smell of wine anymore.

On the day that I finished my one year alcohol-free commitment I decided to commit for the next year and the next again and the next….

The truthful fact is that the Hello Sunday Morning site and all of the wonderful people in that community helped keep me focused. Without all of them I would not have made it through that first year or the next or the next … Maybe now I am addicted to the site. And that’s ok. I like being addicted to all of you. My Cyber Friends, My Secret Club, Our Tribe.

Now my life is easy.

I love my job, I love my life. There’s No daily Angst, no daily anxiety, no bloated face, no dark rings under my eyes. I like myself and others seem to respect me for who I am Warts and all. I live my life through the good times and bad times. Now I pamper myself more, and I allow myself to sulk when I’m pissed off.

You see Alcohol for me was not my key to relieving my stressful life. Alcohol was the one and only cause of why I felt as I did and looked as I did.

It took me a long while to accept that.

I will never forget the dark hole I’ve come from.

I am saying a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you for being there for me during the first 12 months and the 5 years since !

Now that the Hello Sunday Morning site that was once my cyber-home has evolved into a different sort of thing you’ll find me at BOOM Rethink the Drink. We’re building a community, a tribe, a support network like none other.

Come talk to us… Here’s an invitation from me Together We Grow

And some of my thoughts from 5 and a half years alcohol-free and growing Musings from Five Years Alcohol-Free

And from inside the BOOM Community Private space

If you are drinking too much too often and want to take a break…come join us for Sober September or 100 days of Change .

We are an independent, anonymous and private community who share resources, support and talk it through every day. It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using

You can read more about us Here

Download the Mighty Networks app here for easy access and search BOOM Rethink the Drink

Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying “I think I have a problem with drinking”

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