I spent years thinking I had to drink alcohol to go out. I spent years thinking I had to drink alcohol in order to enjoy myself. Even when I knew that for me the repercussions of drinking alcohol were vast.
I’d be waiting for the first drink with excitement. A buzz waiting to happen.
I’d drink fast – even though I’d already ‘talked to myself’ before I went out urging myself to ‘only drink a few’ so I could remain in control. But I couldn’t do that.
Why couldn’t I do that?
I watched as drinks were poured. Noticing whether my drink was a millimetre lower in the glass than anyone else’s. That millimetre could cause me anxiety at the unfairness of me getting less than my fair share.
My glass would empty faster than others – should I get another to fill in the time before the next round ? – or tap my feet under the table whilst I impatiently waited for them to drink their drink… ?
Sure I appeared interested in others tales. But was I really? And it was unlikely I’d remember the conversations in their entirety the next day anyway.
My aim was to have a great time. My ‘great time’ was solely based on drinking alcohol. To change my mindset. That’s what I thought having a great time was – changing my mindset. Which actually meant I wasn’t happy with just being me.
But I did think that I was having a great time.
Then I’d awaken, anxious at what I’d said or done because I often wasn’t sure – the evening had become a blur at some point. Like a film slightly out of focus – and I’d have assumed that everyone around me was in the same position as me.
But at 3am I would sweat and muse and ponder and relive what bits of the evening I could. Flashbacks coursing through my brain over and over again as I felt the panic start. The evening that had seemed such fun a few hours ago became a horror show. One in which I feared I had the starring role. But I wasn’t sure.
The next day sad – always so sad – anxious and weary I’d try to sift bits of the night from my husband.
“Was I ok?”
“Did I do or say anything I shouldn’t have.”
He rarely gave me any negativity but sometimes did.
Maybe I’d phone someone from the night before, racking my sore brain for an excuse to phone, and wait to see if they recalled anything from my behaviour that was negative.
“What a great night” I’d say. “Just phoning you up to say thanks for a great night”
I’d wait with a knotted stomach and a heavy heart if they recalled something I’d done. We’d laugh about it. And inside I’d cry… What was WRONG with me that I did this to myself?
And if they didn’t immediately recall some incident in which I’d ‘let myself down’ I’d breathe a sigh of relief. Anxiety and weight slightly lifted. But internally my struggle continued for the rest of the day and possibly into the next. The glass of wine that night would help….
But now I am five years alcohol free and things are very different
Last night I met up with friends. Friends I have slowly and purposefully linked up with again over the last few years. Friends I now invite to the opening of an envelope.
And so we go out together, meet up together.
Years of my being alcohol-free means that they no longer have any interest what’s in my glass. My latest drink of choice is Diet Coke and last night the glass was a large one. It lasted for the entire evening. 4 hours – and I still had some in the glass at the end of the evening.
A friend was playing in a band and we went to support them – all meeting in the same pub I spent hours, months and years of my youth. The pub where I first met my Mr and his friends. His and my friends becoming intrinsically linked all those years ago.
In those days yes we drank alcohol. But I was still sociable in those days. In those days I wanted to know about other people. My interest was not just in the alcohol but in them too.
Something changed along the way.
Last night my excitement was not for alcohol. My excitement was found in seeing the friends I now see regularly and those friends I hadn’t seen for years.
There is no fast forward to last night.
It’s taken months and years of dedication and determination to change the broken record which resulted in last night.
My low self esteem and reduced confidence has been obliterated by sobriety. Wiped out exposing the person I should always have been before I chose to hide her.
Last night I chatted to anyone I chose to. Listening as they updated me on where they were in life. Many of them I haven’t seen for years were sadly still trapped in the dark place I chose to hide in for too many years.
And I had so many wonderful conversations and so many laughs.
At no point did it occur to me that I wasn’t drinking alcohol. It may seem alien but after so many years it doesn’t matter to me anymore.
Can you imagine that?
I couldn’t have ever have imagined it could be like this. That I could be like this. To slowly learn to not care what you drink because you are now truly interested in living life.
At the end of the evening I took 4 friends and my Mr home. This is the bit I’ll try to explain to you but it’s so hard. I felt SO happy and involved with those friends So close to them in a way that I never ever felt when I was drinking. So peaceful. So grateful that I could have a fantastic night out – a better night out than when I drank alcohol.
There was a confusion as to where to drop 2 of them and I had to do a U turn. One of them said to me
“It’s so unfair on you having to always drive and listen to us lot pissed”
And we laughed.
“No don’t be silly it’s not unfair 😂 I love it! And in the old days I’d have been asleep in a corner by 10pm and I wouldn’t have heard any of you at all”
And my bestest and oldest friend from school agreed that I’d have been asleep or at least “not there” by 10pm (do you know what he meant? I do unfortunately). Then he unexpectedly said to his wife –
“she was unhappy when she used to drink alcohol and now she’s happy”
How amazing is that?
He knows me.
He sees me and he knows me.
Wow how cool is that! 👍
As we said our goodbyes in a drunken huggy kissy way I literally glowed with pleasure. What a fantastic evening. Better this way. Far far better…
There’d be no waking at 3am full of fear and anxiety.
No thirst, sweating and feeling alone, sad and scared.
There’d be no talking to myself that I had to stop this – all of this.
There’d be no talking to a God I don’t believe in to ‘help me.’
There’d be no staring at myself in the mirror the next day and not recognising who that person was.
If you recognise yourself in any of my words I’m trying to explain that alcohol may be controlling your life like it was mine.
I know how scary that feels – believe me I do.
I’ll never forget.
I thought my life would change for the negative if I stopped drinking alcohol. I thought my social life would be over. But my life was actually the opposite. I was hidden, hiding – becoming more isolated. Drinking in the house instead of going out. Thinking drinking on my own was ok too.
I was very very scared of giving up alcohol but I was also scared of what alcohol was doing to me. It was a strange position to be in. A dark place to live.
So what I’m trying to say is that you can take your life back by changing the drink in your glass.
Over time instead of your ‘fun life’ being over it can be the opposite and you begin to live again.
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More From This Author who is Now in Her 7th Alcohol-Free Year :
- Boozemusings is a lifestyle blog and the BOOM Community is a peer support group. We are NOT trained addiction counselors but simply a community of people who have overcome or are overcoming alcohol issues. We do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does anything on this website create a physician/patient relationship. If you require medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, please consult your physician.