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How I Stopped Drinking and Stayed Sober – A Shift in Focus
Four years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that I would be as sober or as healthy as I am today. As a matter of fact, I would have laughed at the idea. I used to be one of those women who couldn’t wait to finish work so I could come home, settle in, have a drink and light up a cigarette. Drinking was my reward for surviving the stress of the day. If anything tried to get in the way of this routine, I would either avoid it or if I couldn’t- it would put me in a filthy mood. Drinking daily had become second nature to me, and I didn’t realise how addicted I was to alcohol until I tried to stop drinking it. It has been a very long road to recovery.
Before I stopped drinking a little over three years ago, I would wake up in the mornings hungover, and promise myself that today was the day that I would quit alcohol. At the end of every day, my promise to myself would prove futile and I would drink. On my way home from work, I would buy a can of Jim Beam and drink it whilst driving home. I would stop off at my local, pick up a ten pack and go home to drink it- without even stopping to eat. If I was interrupted, I would soon reacquaint myself with another drink.
alcohol wasn’t doing its job anymore, I was chasing a buzz that seemed forever out of my reach
I was trapped in this rinse and repeat cycle for so long and I began to get more and more depressed about it as I truly thought that I couldn’t stop. I went searching on the internet for answers and found an online community that was committed to helping people get sober and stay sober. I would post to this community in an attempt to draw from others experience, however the sober ones seemed so far ahead in their journey that sobriety seemed unobtainable for me.
I wasn’t able to control alcohol so I gave up, I relinquished my control. I thought to myself that I’d never been a non-drinker and everyone else around me drinks, so it must be okay. I was not okay. I was so weighed down with self-loathing, guilt and shame. I would wake up every morning riddled with anxiety, biding my time until my next drink. Alcohol had completely taken over and the loss of control scared me. I kept making promises to myself that I would stop drinking, but four o’clock would come, and the urge to drink would overwhelm me.
The worst thing was that alcohol wasn’t doing its job anymore, I was chasing a buzz that seemed forever out of my reach, and it was no longer fun. I was now drinking because I simply couldn’t stop, and I couldn’t find a way out. I checked in with my online sober community and decided to get serious and go to my doctor for help as I felt lost and hopelessly scared. My doctor and I discussed medication and my sober community rallied around me whenever I was struggling.
Something finally clicked and I managed to get a day of sobriety under my belt. One day alcohol free and then I would drink. I was reading ‘This Naked Mind’ by Annie Grace at the time and posting to my community whenever I slipped and somehow, I managed to get two days under my belt… then three days… then four. This pattern went on until I got sick of it. I figured that if I’m putting in all this effort to get sober, then I may as well stay sober. Eventually I made it to one week, and then two. Two weeks of sobriety for the first time in twenty years.
The first few weeks sober were utter hell and I was just hoping to survive the day, so I could go on to survive the next day. Eventually I was on a high that carried me over to 100 days sober. 100 days was an important milestone for me, and my confidence grew. I would get to each sober milestone and want to celebrate with a drink but knew if I did, that I would be right back to where I started- so I kept going.
I shifted my focus; no longer did I focus on what I was missing out on by not drinking, but instead focused on what I’d been missing out on when I drank too much. Sober I was waking up and feeling able to take on the day. Alcohol free I was not missing work, I was reliable and always giving 100%. I won back my daughter’s trust and enjoyed living in the moment. I enjoyed feeling the natural, good endorphins one gets from a long walk. There are so many things that I cheated myself of for so many years, and I still have so much to catch up on. Now I have all the time in the world to do so.
I don’t think that I truly counted myself as sober and in recovery until I had made it to a year sober. At the end of that year I had to face the question of whether I would ever drink again. Of course, I knew that the answer to that was no. After a year of sobriety under my belt, that answer wasn’t scary anymore and I was willing to go through life without alcohol. I knew that I would never be able to moderate my alcohol intake, and that I couldn’t stop drinking once I started. This was a sad reality for me as alcohol had been my friend, or so I thought, for a long time.
Sometimes I miss joining in with people who are drinking and can feel a bit left out, but that’s slowly disappearing with time. I don’t have the desire to drink anymore. I am the same as anyone else who has ever questioned their relationship with alcohol. I questioned it and realised that our relationship wasn’t working.
I used to think that I was too weak to stay sober, or that my life was too hard and I needed to drink to manage what came my way. In these past three years however, I was diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder, I gave up smoking, I found out I have cholesterol problems, an auto immune disorder and a family history of heart disease. I have also been through hell with my daughter’s mental health. I’m not stronger than anyone else and my life is not easier than most, in fact I have had every reason in the world to kick the fuckit bucket in the last three years, but when I looked at my relationship with alcohol critically, I realised that alcohol was never my friend. I would never be friends with someone who constantly guilt-tripped me, made me anxious and hateful. Someone who injured me physically and emotionally, who almost took my life on more than one occasion. Looking at it like that, I was finally released from the bonds of alcohol.
Something I have realised is that there is no secret to stopping drinking, there’s no wrong way or right way. We all start at the same place, and where we go from there looks different to everyone. I am now 977 days past my last drink, young in my sobriety but strengthening my sober muscles every day.
So, I ask you all a question: Are you happy with your relationship with alcohol?
If not, there’s no time like the present to address your relationship with alcohol and rethink your drink.
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.
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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 go Sober? ( 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
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