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Why I Stopped Drinking and How I Grew to Love Living Alcohol Free
Alcohol promised one thing but led to another…
Alcohol makes me feel better.
I feel so ill.
Alcohol makes me feel happy.
I feel sad and depressed.
Alcohol helps me sleep better.
I wake at 3am mind racing and agitated.
Alcohol helps me to cope.
I can’t cope.
Alcohol heightens my senses.
I feel numb.
Alcohol makes me feel great.
I don’t feel so great.
I like myself when I drink.
I hate myself when I drink.
Alcohol relaxes me.
I’m so anxious.
Alcohol makes me laugh.
I’m crying inside.
Alcohol was a social lubricant that made me anti social…
Whose round is it?
Why is everyone drinking so slow?
Oh no their wine glass has a millimetre more wine poured than mine…..
Alcohol helps me relax as I get ready to go out.
How did I get home?
I’ll drive so I don’t drink.
I’ll come home early and drink before bed.
Alcohol makes me funny.
What did I do?
Wine makes me more chatty.
What did I say? Did I slur?
Alcohol makes me fun.
Was everybody laughing at me?
Alcohol helps me talk to others more easily.
Is everyone talking about me?
I’ll remember this night forever.
I can’t remember – just blurred flashbacks.
Alcohol helps me relate to people.
OMG -Have I texted/social media/ phoned anyone last night?
Alcohol Lied to me or maybe I lied to myself…
Alcohol doesn’t affect how I look.
I stare at my reflection in numb disbelief.
Alcohol makes me outgoing.
I close my eyes and turn inward
Alcohol makes my mind sharper.
Uncomfortable thoughts are racing through my head.
Everyone I know drinks like me.
I have surrounded myself with people just like me.
Everyone everywhere drinks like me.
I’ve no idea whether everyone drinks like me…
No one cares how much I drink.
Does everyone discuss how much I drink behind my back?
I don’t care what people think.
I care what people think of me.
My tongue was loosened so I was honest with them….
OMG……..did I say that?
I love doing this.
I hate myself for doing this.
This is who I am.
I don’t recognise myself.
Alcohol makes me feel alive.
Alcohol makes me wish I was dead.
Alcohol gives me confidence.
I’m so scared.
I’ll just have a couple.
My stop drinking button jams once I have a drink…
My stop drinking button jams once I have a drink…
I don’t have a problem.
I’m scared to think I have a problem.
Why would I stop?
I need to stop doing this to myself.
I know I can stop at any time I choose.
How do I stop?
I am in control.
I’m so scared that I’m not in control.
Admitting I had a problem to myself made it real.
I had no fight left in me to deny it anymore.
I was struggling with life, my marriage, my job.
– But most of all I was struggling with myself.
At that time I didn’t want to give up alcohol forever.
Nope nope nope.
At that time I so desperately wanted to control alcohol.
Yep yep yep.
At that time I hadn’t linked the dots together that alcohol would always have the same effect on me no matter how long I abstained. It’s a drug – pure and simply a drug – and I needed the effects from that drug – that’s why I drank it. I had learned no other coping mechanisms for life and this was an easily obtained drug to change my mood. – Though I didn’t realise that at the time.
Who’d have thought…
Alcohol was severely affecting my life in incredibly negative ways – yet here I was still wanting it in my life. I could refrain from drinking for periods of time but I couldn’t refrain from drinking for too long without feeling left out, lost, sad, grief and distress.
At that time ——— in that sudden moment of clarity – somewhere deep inside me stirred and I started to fight back.
I found a site online and when I joined I panicked that I was leaving myself exposed and humiliated. Shame is so very difficult to think about.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that by joining the site and posting and reading it would give me the support I so desperately needed.
I had found people that understood.
I gave encouragement to as many as I could.
I wanted them to succeed.
– I wanted ME to succeed.
The members helped me to focus and I came on the site every single day.
I posted my thoughts and fears, struggles and triumphs.
I posted about my crippling discomfort at other people’s extreme reactions to me not drinking.
– Giving up alcohol is not seen as a positive to heavy drinker friends.
– It’s the only drug you’ll ever get negative comments about you not using it…….
The site helped me to slowly unpeeled the onion layers of –
Why I drank.
When I drank.
How I drank.
The site was the underpin I needed for me to build on and slowly change my life.
Fate brought me to the site that day. Site members hands outstretched to help me up out of the dark hole I was in. The choice as to whether to grasp the hands and haul myself out of the darkness and stand on my own 2 feet was ultimately up to me and me alone.
I grasped the hands as hard as I could and slowly hauled myself out of the darkness and into my new life. And I learned that to stop drinking I needed people. People to relate to.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
TO RELATE — In order to relate you need be able to understand a situation or someone’s feelings because you have experienced something similar yourself. ( you can comment on this post here inside BOOM )
How long does it take to become comfortable being alcohol free?
When I first stopped drinking I didn’t tell anyone apart from the members on the site and Mr Zoo.
I was so grateful to find the site on the internet whilst googling
‘do I have a problem with alcohol?’
I was overjoyed to meet other like minded people many of which appeared that – like me – they sometimes needed a dumper truck to empty their bottle recycling bin.
Some of the posts made me gasp in agreement and some made me cry and sniffle because I empathised so deeply and recognised the anxieties they were going through.
Some of the posts were creative – not always centred on talking about alcohol – and many posts were purposefully humorous and made me laugh out loud to the alarm of Mr Zoo.
The posts were from people from all walks of life and from countries all over the World. I could see that we all shared a similar bond in that alcohol had eventually affected us negatively. For some of us it had also affected the lives of those around us.
Alcohol had clearly got its hooks into not just me, but all of us for a while…….
Of course I knew I had a problem at the time that’s why I found the site. Clearly what I needed was a ‘bit of a break’ and to reboot…..
When I found the site and realised I’d better stop drinking for a while I had no idea what I was doing and just stumbled through the days.
In retrospect the days were fine – it was during the early evenings that I struggled the most because that was the main time I chose to drink.
I posted regularly even if it was just a few lines and on the 3rd day I posted – “Suddenly I have a wave of yearning. Hubby and I would usually have wine tonight. God is this forever?”
The comments were quick to come back – and I was very grateful for that.
‘Yep and it’s great girl, you’re going to love it!’
‘don’t be scared it’s great.’
‘yes you’re gonna love this’
‘It’s a long journey with wobbly bits, head down and just keep going’
‘Just take it one day at a time, – it can be too overwhelming to look further than that. You’re doing fine’
‘Zoo – Do you know that you keep posting the same post? At my last count you’ve posted it 3 times?’
I stared at the comments.
I couldn’t really see that this was ever going to be ‘great’ – that a ‘forever choice’ to be AF could ever be a reality for me. No I could never see that becoming true – not at that time.
Positive answers – but….. for real?? I was ‘going to love‘ this? All I knew right now was that I was scared, anxious and did not have one jot of a clue how I would do this. Not a single clue of what I was doing.
To be truthful not only did I not think or believe I could do it, if I’m being truthful here I didn’t even know if I really wanted to do it. Well not forever… never drink alcohol again…… Hmmmm…….That was a big one….Maybe moderate after a while……But forever?……..Not really…….
For now I was advised that part didn’t matter, to stop looking ahead and just keep going and stay AF today.
I looked at the last comment. How the Hell had I posted my post 3 times? That made me laugh out loud which caused my anxiety level to reduce immediately.
In those days I think my dog probably had better IT skills than me. Even joining a cyber site to admit I was struggling with alcohol had taken me 1 hour to pluck up the courage and over 2 hours to work out how to join the site and write my first post. Finding my way around the site was like learning a new language. So I had absolutely no idea how to delete the 2 extra posts.
I found myself writing another post to ask for advice off the members on the site. Next thing I know I’m being scooped up and taught how to do that. So that passed at least thirty minutes of my time – and then I started reading posts.
Whilst I was kept busy on site I ate my evening meal and had a cup of tea.
My next comment was this –
‘’Thanks everyone, I stayed strong. The feeling didn’t last long once I’d eaten and had a cup of tea. I think my thoughts were deflected away by me being distracted by the site – interesting. So another day done…..”
Distraction deflected my thoughts of drinking away.
Talking to others deflected my thoughts of drinking away.
At the time I didn’t realise that I’d just learnt my first lesson of becoming Alcohol Free.🥰
I had made a very reluctant commitment to go for 3 months AF.
I reasoned that I could stop the 3 months at any time once I thought I could control alcohol again. I knew I could do a month AF by the skin of my teeth because I’d done it a few times before joining the site. When I did it I counted every day until the month was up and believing that I had proved I clearly didn’t have a problem and was ‘back in control’ of alcohol I would drink it again.
I figured that if I went more than 4 weeks that would be a huge result for me.
So I did what I was advised and over the next weeks I started to study my relationship with alcohol.
My house was the chosen party house for family celebrations. Chosen by me I realised when I looked back. Always awash with every drink you could imagine when family and friends congregated together. I knew who drunk what and would direct them to it as they arrived.
Me? I knew exactly what I drank – wine – and felt perfectly justified in drinking it from a large vase for these family occasions. Not really but you get the picture…
I drink very fast and large amounts. During the day a cup of tea is never very far from my thoughts. I realised that whether it’s a glass of water, cup of tea or a glass of wine it’s drunk at speed – and I very soon go looking for another one.
My social life revolved around alcohol – meals out, going to the pictures, going for a cycle, holidays – all closely wrapped around drinking alcohol.
At home at night a glass of wine was always nearby. It was ‘what we did.’ Me and Mr Zoo. I had made it a huge part of ‘who I was.’
Once I drink alcohol my ‘stop drinking’ button jams.
I drank to get the effects of alcohol. Not because I ‘loved the taste’ like I preferred to insist. No – I wanted the effect it had on me. The change in emotions it offered me.
When I look back to the beginning of being AF I looked after myself.
I don’t mean I didn’t work or do essential chores but I do mean that I put all of my focus on not drinking and tried to avoid stressful situations. I had no other amazing goals like climbing a mountain or becoming a Zumba Queen – my only focus was just that – staying AF. For me at the beginning just not drinking alcohol was exhausting enough. I had to focus on that and that alone.
I was advised that it was no good me looking at others around me with envy because they still drank. What they chose to do was now not my problem anymore. My only focus had to be on me.
There was no one more surprised than me when I woke up one day and came on site and determinedly changed it to one whole year of my life AF no matter what happened.
By then after reading so many posts and getting so much advice off the members way before me I had figured that for all my years of drinking I should give myself one year AF.
One year of not drinking alcohol no matter how hard it was and then I would allow myself to compare. Then I could decide what to do…..
Deep down I just thought I’d be cured after the year and drink less. I hadn’t yet accepted that alcohol is a drug and would therefore always have the same physiological effect when I ingested it – no matter how long I went without it.
I could never have known that instead of me starting drinking alcohol again I’d have given myself the chance to reboot my entire way of thinking and actually choose to continue not drinking it – because I wanted to.
But that’s what happened.
At the end of the first year I chose to carry on.
A long commitment had been a good choice for me – though I could never have known why a long length of time AF was so necessary at the time I made it.
The whole caboodle of staying AF wasn’t easy though, in fact very far from it at times. We all drink for different reasons and you have to find them out for yourself. No one can tell you what your personal reasons are. You don’t have to work too hard to find them. They become apparent when you get the siren call in your head that calls you to drink. Then what you try to do is take the time to work the reasons out as they come and resist the urge to start sniffing wine corks. You better believe it – for me they came thick and fast.
So many reasons to justify drinking…….and some of them were on repeat.
Instead of reacting to them by drinking you have to ponder on why they make you want to drink? Then the real work starts – you have to somehow work through them, slowly finding other ways to cope.
Posting on the site and talking them through with the members on the site helped me with that more than I ever imagined.
I can’t emphasise enough how important it can be for some of us to keep posting or start posting on the site. Anything will do – I just rambled away – but I made sure I posted regularly.
I was also encouraged to leave a comment on other members posts and to look out for newbies to the site.
I could already see the rational to this. Although I was new to the site myself a comment on my post – no matter how small – always helped me.
Just to know that someone had bothered to read it and was listening was really comforting. So it made perfect sense that my small comment on their post instead of just a ‘like’ might change someones day and help then to get through it – like it did for me.
I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again – unfortunately there’s no ‘magic’ to this. The rule of “never drinking alcohol whatever happens in your life” is the only rule that can help you to work your way through this and make some sense of it all.
Justifying drinking because of an “emotion, a reason or a happening” in your life is a choice you can of course choose to take.
But then you’ve drunk again.
Choosing to not drink despite that same “emotion, reason or happening” can be excruciatingly painful.
But then at least you’ve not drunk again.
I found I never regretted that choice the next day no matter how hard the night and day before had been.
There’s not just this site you can use. You could also try going to AA, take a drug to help you stop drinking, counselling, yoga, hypnotherapy, meditation, reading articles and books, etc. But if your ultimate aim is to not feel the effects of alcohol then you still have to stop drinking it.
I couldn’t work out the whys and the how’s of my drinking at the beginning because I was far too drained and confused. It was only later after being AF for a while that I began to have the strength and the will to start peeking a tiny bit deeper. To begin analysing the reasons and patterns to my drinking. At the beginning all I knew was I had given myself no choice but to remain AF.
I’ve sulked, I’ve cried, I’ve screamed inside my head. I’ve screamed into pillows and paced indoors and walked for miles outdoors.
At times I’ve thought ‘what’s the point of me doing this?’
I’ve been full of hope and joy and happiness one day and had the totally opposite emotions the next.
I just kept clinging on to the one absolute fact that I knew.
That without doubt if I picked up that drink I’d not only feel that I’d let myself down and regret it – there was the possibility that the black cloud of alcohol could envelop me again.
I know that some say to go day by day, one day at a time and looking back that’s actually what I did. I just focused on not drinking each day. One day at a time was all that mattered at the beginning.
I hadn’t realised that each season brings different ‘triggers.’
Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn bring all sorts of links to previous memories. They stir up emotions in you that you were not expecting. Each season brings new challenges and highlights the behaviours ingrained in you. Rituals and habits buried deep inside you that stir emotions – and in the past made you choose to drink.
Drinking dreams came unexpectedly. Some so vivid I would wake up sobbing, some so convincingly real you would find me searching my bins for evidence.
The ‘is my relationship good enough?’ stage was very traumatic.
It was hard to work out if alcohol had papered over cracks in my relationship or actually caused them.
The “me and Mr Zoo are just 2 friends living in the same house” stage needed a lot of work and I put much of the blame on him. Another learning process that wasn’t solved in a week, a month or even a year. Like I say this is a slow process – there’s no way of speeding it up. It was a shock when it gradually dawned on me that I was as much to blame as him. It was only then that we could make progress which for us improved our relationship.
There’s no time scale to this.
I didn’t just wake up one day and everything was rosy. Unwanted memories surfacing were always an unwelcome visitor for me. A shock for me.
Being reminded of cringe inducing memories for no particular reason was a bit of a shit show really. They often just appeared out of nowhere.
Sometimes from me and my own memory but sometimes, though less rarely, from other people. The ones that ‘no one ever mentioned’ caused me so much anxiety. Were they only in my head or had others seen/heard but didn’t say? Did they talk about them with others but not with me? What had actually happened? Many memories were a bit of a blur. What about the ones that no one else knew about? The ones that only I knew?
Memories of traumatic events that had happened in my life bubbled to the surface. Some of them I’d buried for years.
Memories of where I said something I shouldn’t.
Memories of where I caused a row with Mr Zoo (for no real reason I could remember the next day) and flounced off to bed.
The marks and the bruises of unknown origin…I always had a reason ready if anyone asked. But inside the truth could take me to breaking point because it was breaking my heart.
Memories of being so very tired all the time. The regular waking at 3am in an anxious cold sweat and drinking a pint of water had become a ritual I was sick of doing.
Promising myself that this would stop, that I wouldn’t drink that night. Easy promises at 3am. Easy promises during the morning. Promises that inexplicably eased during the afternoon as I chided myself to stop being so dramatic, that I wasn’t that bad. Promises that vanished and I’d stumble into repeating the whole process all over again.
Memories of my pretence as I scoured my mind and struggled to remember the end of the night before.Trying to appear happy and cheerful whilst I subtly tried to gain information from those around me. Gauging their interaction with me, their reaction to me as they spoke to me in words and movement – which too often told how I’d acted the night before.
Frantically merging together what bits of memory I had to theirs – so I could convince myself that I could remember the conversations had, what we watched on TV, that I knew exactly when I’d gone to bed.
Memories of making a stir fry (“see how healthy I am” 🙄) in the kitchen that took me so long to prepare…..as I drank my glasses/my ‘gift’ of wine because I’d worked hard today…….and I never really ate much because by the time it was made I was…..well you know what I was.
I can clearly remember sitting on a bus on holiday. For no particular reason a particularly painful memory involving my daughter surfaced and I had to face it head on and think it through for the first time without numbing it.
I found myself crying. Mr Zoo noticed but I signed to him with a waft of my hand to ask him to leave me to it. To some of you that may seem like a strange request.
I have been very lucky in that right from the start Mr Zoo has been totally and absolutely supportive of me coming onto the site day and night even though I often spent hours on here. He doesn’t try to analyse nor give his views to try to make it better when my memories surface because he knows I don’t want him to.
When I was working through my memories he left me to my thoughts, didn’t try to ‘solve them’ or comfort me unless I asked him to.
My memories were personal to me. They were for me to work through.
I had to recognise and accept the part that alcohol played in causing the situations. The groundhog days, the internal misery and the chaos alcohol can cause.
That it HAD caused….
I sometimes talked to other members on the site as I tried to make sense of it all. Because it helped to talk to others that understood – helped me to slowly come to terms with the memories – and most importantly make my peace with them and try to move on.
You may be reading this and thinking this very odd – my asking him to ‘leave me to it’ and me working through it on my own and then standing on my own two feet and taking responsibility. It has been one of the biggest strengths I didn’t know I had to learn in helping me to change my life.
This was my decision and only I could do it. No blaming others if I give in.
Some memories can be faced by talking to the people involved but I didn’t do that for a long time. Not until I felt I was ready. They are never going to be easy conversations.
I have ‘faced’ certain situations and talked about them to the person involved but that was only after a long period of time AF. Definitely not at the beginning because I simply wasn’t strong enough.
When you first become AF you may be too selfish and defensive to hear the other persons view of what happened.
I had to become the person I was meant to be before my words had any meaning.
The memories I spoke of are of someone I don’t recognise anymore.
My bottle recycling bin is full of – well not much really. I hope the dumper truck man still has a job.
Life still has its normal ups and downs and I still have many of the same character traits that made me want to drink alcohol. But I recognise them now. Some of them I control better and some of them are just ‘me.‘
Do I still want to drink alcohol?
I’m as surprised as you about that. I now can’t stand the smell and I can’t stand the taste.
By going so long without alcohol I’ve slowly developed alternative ways to manage my life without using alcohol. I’ve given myself the time to learn to not turn to it as my first default for the ups and downs we all face.
My life isn’t perfect but absolutely no-one has a perfect life. I still have anxieties that surface – it’s part of who I am. I can still feel down and sad at times – but these are usually always acceptable reactive emotions to a situation in my life. Human emotions. Normal emotions.
They aren’t the ridiculously abusive alcohol induced after effects that made me so deeply depressed, self pitying, self hating and without hope.
So yes my life is so much better without alcohol. I’m much happier, visibly healthier and best of all I’m the best I can be.
I’m not perfect by any means, but now I can take every day as it comes without it being wrapped around a drug that was slowly taking me over and sucking my soul away.
I can definitely recommend giving it a go. If you recognise any part of my post and feel it may help you if you stay AF maybe give it some thought.
I now know that if I’d never have made this choice of a year AF I would never have been able to see through the empty lies that alcohol promised me.
The couple of hours of a drug induced ‘happiness’ – followed by anxiety and sadness.
The relief from stress being just a numbing – the alcohol causing more stress once its after effects appeared.
The insidious way that alcohol lowers inhibitions – inhibitions that are there to protect us from saying and doing things we may later regret.
‘’Sobriety delivers what alcohol promises.’’
Alcohol was offered to me. Was offered to you too.
If society hadn’t offered alcohol as an acceptable legal drug in the first place would we have learnt other ways to cope without alcohol, to cope with the ups and downs of life in a better way much earlier in our lives?
Would we have continued to grow as we matured?
Did alcohol stunt that growth by offering an easy way to change our emotions instead of working out other ways to deal with them?
For me I’ll never know the answer to that because alcohol WAS offered to me as a solution – and I chose to take that solution.
It was a drug that offered me wonderful promises – until I realised that it didn’t. Instead alcohol was continually disconnecting me from experiencing my life and the people in it.
Hence me finding myself searching Google on
It may be why you found yourself searching for the site on
I’ve made my choice. I now don’t yearn for alcohol nor feel I’m missing out by not drinking it.
It took me a long time to realise that I’d become comfortable with my choice and wasn’t just doing it because I had to anymore.
Everyone in my life now knows I’ve chosen to be AF but very few people know I’m on a site even though I first googled 6 years and 5 months ago.
I told my daughter and son after about 6 months and my parents and sister after about a 18 months. As far as I’m aware none of them know my username nor have ever been on the site.
I have never particularly discussed my choice in my ‘real world’ or felt the need to discuss the reasons for my choice to those who are outside my very close family and friends. I don’t care if others drink alcohol around me and I am no longer intimidated by those who choose to enquire ‘why would you do that?’ – or try to question my choice to stop drinking.
All that matters is that I made this choice for me.
I will never make another drunken memory nor awaken in an anxious cold sweat worrying about everything at 3am because of alcohol.
I will never feel the crippling sadness, hopelessness and dark thoughts that the after effects of alcohol made me feel.
I will never look in the mirror and stare at a person I don’t recognise and not even have the self esteem to care.
I’ll never forget how I felt in those days. I can take myself back there in a second. How alcohol made me into a person I didn’t recognise and certainly didn’t like. I’ll never forget why I chose to do this. Never forget what a hard choice this was to make and to stick to at the beginning.
All I can tell you is that all the time I’ve spent learning to be alcohol free has been absolutely worth it
– For Me
This post was written by Zoo. You’ll find more of her writing on Boozemusings here :
( comment on this post inside the BOOM community here )
If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break…or if you have stopped drinking and are trying to stick to sober! Talk to Us. Start with 30 days. Try a Dry July, Sober October, or New Year’s Dry January Challenge.
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Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying
“I think I have a problem with drinking”
How do you Stop Drinking? ( more reading in blue titles)
B Be accountable Talk to Us We Understand
A Avoid alcohol like the plague Ideas Here
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats Ideas Here
A Allow yourself to cry when needed Ideas Here
N Nourish your body with good food Ideas Here
C Create happy & fun memories Ideas Here
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day Ideas Here
W Work hard to get what you want Ideas Here
O Organise things for less stress Ideas Here
R Realise you can’t control it all Ideas Here
K Keep going & prepare for success Ideas Here
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest Sleep Solutions