What I learned From 9 Months of Sobriety

The first thing I learned is that alcohol is not the enemy, it’s the demons activated by alcohol that affect us the most. Some people keep their demons very controlled until alcohol unleashes them, creating havoc. Some demons are activated by alcohol leaving the bloodstream, beer fear is activated and extreme anxiety and paranoia is the result. Some people’s demons torment them day and night and alcohol becomes their only escape. Then there are the lucky ones, unaffected by their demons they can enjoy alcohol for what it is, without abusing it.

My demons were activated in the withdraw stage, alcohol anxiety would ravage my body leaving me feeling devastated. Each and every time I woke up with a hangover, I was consumed with terror that usually lasted a few days. Becoming alcohol free for nine months allowed me to make peace with my demons from hell. With no more hangovers, I could break the cycle and allow myself to grow spiritually.

My anxiety came from my need for emotional control. I worked hard to control what people thought of me and while drinking alcohol, I lost that control. On top of that, I hated who I was when I was drunk, so would spend days cringing and berating myself while being pounded by anxiety. Week in, week out. It took it’s toll. Being alcohol free gave me the time I needed to figure it all out.

Association
I’m not an alcoholic, I’m far from it in fact. I just had very bad habits associated with drinking.

Everything was an excuse to have a drink and with my all or nothing mentality, that usually meant go big or go home. Relaxing, feeling stressed, something to celebrate, something to commiserate, going out with friends, staying home with the dog, travelling, rewarding, and sometimes even healing, the hair of the dog was definitely this girl’s best friend.

Some people can drink in moderation without getting absolutely shit faced. Not me, I always drank to get pissed and didn’t see the point in anything else. Why bother having two glasses of wine when you can have six.

Being alcohol free allowed me to disassociate these things from drinking. I was surprised to discover the joys of camomile tea for stress relief and relaxing. Yoga and meditation are wonderful ways to quiet the mind. Traveling without being pissed on the plane and half pissed for the holiday is quite simply the best and no longer feeling like I was missing out was the biggest prize.

No More Distractions
There are no more distractions. The weekends don’t fly by when you’re alcohol free. The divide is gone, week days versus weekends. They blend together and life picks up a lovely relaxed pace.

This was very hard to get used to and for the first six weeks, I felt like a fish out of water. Friday at five was wine o clock, right? What the hell was I supposed to do now? Dating was super weird. Normally if I wasn’t that keen, a few glasses of wine made it much more interesting. I had dinner with a man one evening, who got pissed on wine while I drank water. Shit did I usually do that? Reality check, I got the hell out of there.

Yoga helped or a movie with the kids, an evening dog walk or a trip to the gym. Something that would never happen on a Friday night became the norm and very soon, the five o clock feeling disappeared, never to be seen again.

Alcohol Free Communities & Alcohol Free Beer
I read the book, ‘One Year No Beer’ and signed up for their ninety day challenge. The daily video’s from Andy, group discussion, inspiring stories and general support from people who’ve been in the same place, kept me going.

Heineken Zero saved my life on many occasions, in my opinion, the best alcohol beer there is. Alcohol free wine gives the illusion of having a glass of wine, but takes getting used to. This need for this fazed out after a few months, I still enjoyed an alcohol free beer, but no longer desired the wine. Sparking water in a wine glass hit the spot.

There’s been a huge shift towards an alcohol free lifestyle so it’s not hard to do it. All the alcohol companies have jumped on board and alcohol free everything is now available. Beer, wine, gin, and all sorts of other drinks. Could we all be moving towards an alcohol free life?

Friendships Change
Having been an ardent drinker for many years, it took a lot of effort for me to socialise while sober. I’ll let you in on a secret, drunk people are boring and being around them when you’re not getting pissed is hard.

I had to make a real effort to socialise and my friends noticed. I wanted to hide away in my alcohol free cave, away from the temptation and the reminder that I no longer drank. I retreated into myself for quite sometime, preferring the company of a good book.
Explaining that you’re alcohol free becomes boring and sometimes I just couldn’t face one more explanation so I’d stay home.

Eventually thought, everyone got used to me not drinking and it was no longer an issue. I could going out, not drink and really enjoy myself.

You Want More Sugar
Oh boy, did I crave sugar. I was eating the kids sweets, buying giant bags of bon bons and anything else with copies amounts of sugar. I’ve never eaten so many cream cakes in my life. The highlight of my day was coffee and a big fat cream cake at three. My waistline didn’t take too kindly to this and after initial weight loss from no longer drinking, my weight began to increase.

I felt so hard done by, most people who go alcohol free lose tons of weight but not me, I just replaced one bad habit with another. It took me a few months to get a handle on my sugar addiction, but I managed to do it and my weight levelled out in the end.

In Summery

After nine months of complete sobriety, I began to dip my toe back into the water. A glass of wine at Christmas, a couple of drinks while skiing with friends, a few pints at the rugby. To begin with, I was fine, then a couple of heavy nights resulted in anxiety. I’d been completely free of it for nine months and it returned to kick me in the stomach so I immediately pulled back.

A month later I tried again and something had changed. I’d learned to let go of any judgement towards myself and accepted who I was completely. I worked hard at loving myself and this meant I loved the sober version, but also the pissed, peaceful, happy, sad, lazy, crazy and wild version.
The demon were gone and I was free.

Releasing my demons was part of my overall journey, but could I have done it without being alcohol free? Absolutely not. This vital stage enabled me to take the last leap toward self love and acceptance.

Now? I drink or I don’t drink, I drink a little sometimes or I drink too much other times. Rarely do I get drunk (It has happened a couple of times) as I don’t like the feeling of being drunk. I no longer drink for the sake of drinking. I recently had some champagne and loved the taste of it. In the past, I would chug anything with bubbles down my neck not to enjoy, just to get pissed on it.

I like good wine and a cold beer, but I can also live without them. The 5 o clock feeling no longer exists and I base my decision to drink on whatever is happening the next day. Procrastination is my middle name. Procrastination on a hangover becomes my first, middle and last name. I know if I drink too much, nothing will done.

Alcohol anxiety is a thing of the past, in fact I no longer suffer with anxiety at all. If I do drink too much and it tries to creep back in, I laugh at it’s futile attempt.

Is an alcohol free life an option for me in the future? Yes, no, maybe. Who knows? The thought no longer scares me, I’ll just go with whatever feels tight at the time.

Namaste
Suzanne
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