I drank 2-3 large drinks a day pretty much every day for many years. At the start of 2018, I had 3 of my running friends do alcohol-free months which made me start to think I should really take on a new challenge.
Then another friend wrote about “Being kind to Tomorrow You”. He made me realise that not drinking is a lovely, sympathetic gesture towards the person we are now, and whom we will wake up as.
I don’t look at a day without alcohol as a punishment for drinking too much. A night off is a treat for Tomorrow You. You’ll wake up without guilt about last night’s drinking, and without a headache or hangover. A night off will be an achievement you can be proud of all day.
On February 1 I decided I’d take it one day at a time and see how I went. One day led to the next, and soon it was my birthday. Instead of celebrating with a drink, I felt it would be a more significant occasion if I didn’t drink on my birthday for the first time in 30 years.
I also celebrated other milestones (decluttering my room; running my first 50 km run) without drinking. I found I was enjoying my “streak” and my natural highs much more than a couple of hours “buzz” then many hours feeling crap.
I’ve now passed the 9 months alcohol-free mark.
I always felt “fine” as a daily drinker, but I didn’t know how much better I could actually feel!
- No guilt, fear, or foreboding about what the drinking is doing to me.
- Sleeping soundly.
- Better memory.
- Huge boost in creativity.
- No mood swings.
- Better relationships.
- More money!
I have an app set up, “Nomo”, which tells me I’ve already saved over $1,600 by not spending the $40 per week I used to spend on alcohol.
I read this yesterday, by an alcohol-free woman who has made and is making big changes.
“From school, to uni, and at work, at sports and weddings, funerals or even community events – it’s always been a prolific and revered part of any social connections.”
“Somehow, I made it. The odds were overwhelmingly against me – as I kept reading and being told. Some fanatics declared ‘once an alcoholic always an alcoholic’ and I realised that was why so many people cannot beat the stigmas and are overwhelmed before they even start.” Hello Sunday Morning
Sure, it can be helpful discussing not drinking with like-minded others. I wouldn’t have got this far without discussing how to think differently about alcohol with others online.
But many people find the idea of attending AA meetings too confronting, though they do help many others.
To me, thinking you’ll always be fighting a permanent part of your being (“I’m an alcoholic”) seems very unhelpful and defeatist.
I choose to think that alcohol is a form of chemistry that can be fun… for a while, but it has side-effects that snowball with consumption, and increased consumption is one of those side-effects.
Don’t blame it on yourself. Blame the alcohol chemistry.
Once you’re free of the alcohol, you’re free to be whatever you want to be.
I found it easier to quit rather than to moderate, or have regular days off, with a disclaimer. The way I “quit” was by thinking I’m not quitting forever. I can drink whenever I want. I choose not to for now. I felt that the occasional drink is how I became a daily drinker. It’s too hard to drink then quit, repeatedly, considering how hard I found it to quit for one day for all those years.
Thanks for reading.
Edited 20 March 2019 to include something about my participation in discussions online. That was a huge part of what helped, along with reading articles such as those in the Hello Sunday Morning newsletter.