Today I am 7 years sober. Actually, I do not use the word sober to describe myself. Sober is a word that does not describe what it means to me to be free of alcohol – Today I am 7 years Alcohol-Free!
Never underestimate how your words can help change someone else’s life.
I can vaguely recollect being allowed to have a small sip of my dads ‘snowball’ at Christmas when I was young – although I preferred to eat the sweet cherry on a cocktail stick.
Another memory is that of being age 14 and classmates hiding cider under bushes to drink before the school disco.
My relationship with alcohol started somewhere around the age of 15/16.
Shandies allowed by our family. Lager at New Year, then on holidays….
By the time I was age 17/18 I knew the effect alcohol had on me – and I liked it.
Alcohol would have a direct effect on my life for the next 3 and a half decades until I finally kicked it out of my life when I was age 50
My intake varied from controlled drinking, moderate drinking, social drinking, abstinence for short periods of time (during pregnancy or after an ‘untoward incident’) eventually settling into drinking in the evening after work as my ‘normal.’
During the periods of my life where I was at my most ‘alcohol active’ I self-devised numerous reasons that “gave me permission” to drink it.
Over the years I had become highly skilled and inventive at formulating this fanciful, fantastical list of reasons. Reasons that covered……..well everything………until I had a spectacular list of ‘permissions to drink alcohol.’
I would add to the list whenever necessary to ensure it covered pretty much every “reason” – for every occasion, situation and scenario possible.
In the imaginary World I’d created in my mind these “reasons” could only be lived through with alcohol.
It wasn’t my fault
I had no other choice
because these “reasons” were my ailments…..
I knew that alcohol had become too big a part of my life and was causing me problems but I was waiting for “that day.”
That magical day when I’d wake up and all thoughts of alcohol would be gone.
When that day came I would never need alcohol in my life again.
It had taken me far too long – and the making of my very last ‘bad drinking memory’ – to finally accept that it had always been me alone that gave myself permission to drink alcohol.
The ‘magical day’ was never going to happen.
There was only one person who could stop all of this – and that was ME.
Only I could give myself permission to not drink…
No more finding “reasons to drink.”
No more putting the blame on other people persuading me to drink – that if I didn’t drink they wouldn’t like it, that I wouldn’t like it, that it would look as if I wasn’t being sociable. No more thinking that my actions were in any way responsible for other peoples enjoyment.
No more thinking that if I didn’t drink alcohol it would spoil everything for me. That at a social gathering, a wedding, a party or celebration if I didn’t drink alcohol both me and everyone else would not enjoy it as much.
No more relying on alcohol to be the way for me to have fun, to relax, to reduce anxiety, to feel better and to cope with life – I needed to find new ways to do that.
I wanted the process of finding new ways for me to deal with my “reasons” to be found quickly.
I smile at my naivety as I write that last sentence – I’ve already told you that I was living in a fantasy World….
These other ways would not be found quickly. They could only be found slowly and gradually as I walked forwards through this new life.
– Although when I was newly AF I wasn’t walking, and I certainly wasn’t running.
Picture a slow crawling creature on their hands and knees dragging their body forwards through another day.
Refusing to let alcohol win I could be found soaking in the bath with magnesium salts – or frightening my labradors with anti-anxiety deep breathing exercises – as I learnt new ways to relax instead of automatically filling my body with a poison.
I’d spend my evenings listening to music, reading or watching TV in bed – the wrappers the evidence of my new best friends – chocolate and ice cream.
Make no joke about it I sulked and pined for the companion I had lost…. my grief a physical pain at times.
– Though deep down I knew we hadn’t been friends for a very long time.
For now, for today – the rules were so very simple – I could not drink alcohol – and the reality of living that rule was so very hard.
– AND THEN THE MAGIC STARTED TO HAPPEN AS THE DAYS AND MONTHS WENT BY
– Seeing the World through new eyes I realised I was becoming happier and healthier in body – and most importantly in mind.
It was – and still is for me – TRULY AMAZING to live this way
Being Alcohol Free is the greatest gift I could have ever given to myself and I don’t miss it at all. Alcohol is now a distant memory of a life I used to have.
26th December 2020 – 7 years AF.
I would never have done this without the support of an online community in the early days and years.
Thank You All
One sentence that you write, one word that you say, can help to change someone else’s life
This post was written by Zoo. You’ll find more of her writing on Boozemusings 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.
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
community support 24-7 or sign up and sign in here
Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying
“I think I have a problem with drinking”