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What Does it Feel Like to go Alcohol-Free ?
Maybe you are like me.
Like I was.
I could guzzle 1-2 bottles of wine a night.
Wine was my friend.
Alcohol made me happy and took away my anxieties.
I drank alcohol to feel free.
Yet deep down and for too many years I knew I was drinking too much.
I knew because I was waking too many mornings wishing I hadn’t drunk alcohol the night before and yet choosing to drink it yet again when it ‘called to me’ later in the day…..
On my other attempts when I gave up a month at a time I always always ‘fought it.’
-What I mean by that is that I counted the days until I could drink again and I was very resentful of giving up alcohol, wishing I could drink it “like other people.”
I did that many times.
Stopping for a month and counting the days until I could drink it again.
Patting myself on the back and reintroducing moderation drinking.
Changing the drink in my glass to a different type of alcohol.
Adding soda water to my wine.
Then slowly going back to the same drinking pattern as before.
But finding a site like this and reading. It hit me. What alcohol was doing to so many of us. Too many….
If all these people were struggling and scared like me…..
So that’s the beginning of my story of becoming AF.
In December 2013 I found a site like this, an online community of people working to change their relationships with alcohol, and realised how many people were affected by alcohol.
It brought home to me that I wasn’t alone after all and what a huge problem alcohol was – negatively affecting so many peoples lives.
So I decided I was going to live through my life good and bad without alcohol whatever happened for a year and see if it was better without it.
To be honest it couldn’t have been any worse….. 😰
I won’t sugar coat it – it was very hard at first.
Going alcohol-free felt anything but … free.
Replacing my ingrained habit of picking up a drink for every reason I could think of (or make up) was hard.
When I gave up I found the mornings awesome. Waking without any after effects was an amazing feeling. I saw life through new eyes. I heard life through new ears.
But every evening and whenever there was something ‘happening in my life’ the Wine Witch would appear.
But I had no choice. I couldn’t drink alcohol…… I had told myself not this time.
Focus and total commitment.
Scary stuff 😱
I was flailing around not having a clue what I was doing.
But slowly, very slowly, I felt my pride come back.
With every day and week that passed my physical and mental health improved.
Some of those effects were almost immediate and some within a few months.
And some within a few years….
But most importantly when I gave up this one last time I realised that as well as not drinking alcohol I had to work out why I drank it by living through life and when I got triggers working out why they came.
There was no choice to avoid this part -it was part of the process.
So for the first few months and years it was a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Questioning everything about my life. What was good and what was bad.
I analysed my marriage, my job, my life, my relationships with friends and family – I had to ride the bizarre questioning of society that insists we drink alcohol.
I wrote out post after post after post on the site for advice and support.
I read other people’s posts and commented and gave support back.
And I concentrated on me and me alone – it wasn’t selfish it was necessary for me to survive.
And the strangest thing happened.
A peacefulness became the normal.
Instead of wishing some people in my life would change I now accept others with all their faults and peculiar traits. I just take people as they are. Warts and all just like me.
I mentally ‘detach’ when I need to.
I don’t take on board their stresses and their problems anymore unless I want to. I just listen and that’s all I can do. I’m not the solver of everybody’s problems anymore
Highs and lows. Climbs and dips.
It’s taken me a few years to ride that rollercoaster until the waters have become calm.
Do I miss alcohol ???
Well I no longer worry what I said or did the night before.
I have respect for myself and others seem to have respect for me.
I go to parties, days/meals out etc etc.. and have a great time and return when I want (I love driving home when I want!) looking exactly how I did when I left.
If a Parties boring then I know it’s boring and I don’t have to use alcohol to make it a better one I just leave ASAP.
I haven’t had a hangover for over 5 years and know I will never have one ever again.
I can look in the mirror and see a healthy face, body and shining eyes instead of a sad eyed, bloated face with dark rings under my eyes.
I can truly say I am the best I can be.
I don’t count the days/months/years since I haven’t drunk instead I count the time since I got my life back.
I love my life and the majority of the time I live it in peace instead of anxiety and fear of who I’d become and how I much I was wasting what life I’ve got left.
I look on alcohol now with fear of what it did to me and so many others – with puzzlement why I convinced myself I needed it to ‘live.’
Seemingly I looked fine and in control to others but inside it was destroying me.
Some would have called it a slow suicide.
The drug alcohol controlled me and made me want to continue drinking it.
Even though I told myself I didn’t want the after effects anymore once the triggers came I drank it.
Yet looking back now it made my life such hard work and it turned me into someone I didn’t want to be.
I didn’t know who I was anymore.
But now I do.
I don’t drink alcohol anymore
– not because I HAVE to make myself not drink it like I did at the beginning – but because I don’t need it anymore.
I don’t need it to cope with the normal ups and downs in my life.
Because I slowly learnt to find other ways to fill my time and other ways to cope.
So no. I don’t miss it in my life at all.
Not one bit.
I am Free.
Because I slowly found out who I am and changed what I didn’t like where that was possible and accepted parts of me that I couldn’t.
I learnt to cope with the people around me.
I learnt to cope with stress and bounce unwanted stress off me.
– and now I like myself again – warts and all….
I think that if you want to try to change your life. That you’re unhappy with how your life is now and feel that it’s probably linked to your alcohol intake then it’s worth considering maybe doing what I and others have done and giving it up for a long time – if not for good.
It’s scary believe me I know.
But no matter what it is that you think you’re papering over and the cracks you’re filling and numbing with alcohol – if you truly want to find yourself again then you have to face all your demons head on and without alcohol in the equation.Give yourself a break. Go Alcohol-Free.
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.
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
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Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying
“I think I have a problem with drinking”
This post was written by Zoo. You’ll find more of her writing on Boozemusings here :