As well as drinking to oblivion, a lot of us drink/drank as a reward. We drink/drank because we were happy or sad, bored, had survived an hour/day/week at work, got a promotion or got dumped. Any excuse.
Being rewarded starts very early on in life and therefore is cemented in our brains by adulthood.
Before Soberdom, I would reward myself with food, alcohol and cigarettes. I remember being a member of the gym in the past and the minute I’d finished, would have a cigarette ‘to celebrate’. Oh the irony!
Friday night has always been treat night for me. After all, I’d worked hard for 5 whole days. I deserved to get smashed.
Imagine the excitement as a binge drinker, two whole days and nights off work, lots of time to sleep (badly), chill & drink. I would go to the shop on the way home, buy cigarettes, at least two bottles of wine (6 if there was an offer on) and a nice fattening ready meal that I intended to eat to ‘line my stomach’. I would also have gin on standby, just in case.
Once stocked up, and if I was staying in, I’d get home as soon as possible. The first thing I’d do is pour a glass of lukewarm wine (the bottle would then go in the freezer) and have a cigarette whilst hanging out the window of my flat. Beautiful. Then I’d have another cigarette straight away. The weekend had begun.
Even as I write this, I’m cringing. Drinking lukewarm wine in absolute desperation to get the party (for one) started. And chain smoking! I literally couldn’t get enough. I chose to ‘reward’ myself with two things that were slowly killing me. It seems ridiculous now but at the time it was the best thing ever. Or so I thought.
Once the initial euphoria was over and I settled down in front of the TV, my brain would start. It didn’t really matter if I’d had a good week or bad, alcohol made me feel depressed. Which led me to drink and smoke more. The reward to myself had now transformed into a cycle of misery.
Friday (treat) night subsequently became my trigger night when I stopped drinking. How was I supposed to reward myself now? What was the point in working hard all week when there was nothing to look forward to at the end of it? I’d stopped smoking and stopped drinking. What was left? Oh yeah, food. Oh, and of course Elderflower.
And so I changed my Friday night. I would still stop at the shop but I would buy food that took me a while to prepare. And I’d buy something nice to drink. I would cook whilst listening to music or a Podcast and I’d take my time. In the first few months, I’d read self help books and go to bed early, just so that I didn’t dwell on what I thought I was missing.
After several weeks of doing this, the trigger started to lessen. Instead, I would get excited about what I was going to cook or what new drinks I could try. I actually started to look forward to an early night, to recharge my batteries, and to a hangover free Saturday.
Now, 5 months on, I barely think about having a drink. And I definitely don’t think about smoking. The urge to binge has diminished as I become happier with who I am. The need to ‘fill the void’ is more likely to be with chocolate or ice cream once in a while now, rather than every weekend without fail. My reward is a hangover free weekend, lots of good quality sleep and no sign of the usual Friday night misery.
Have a great sober Friday!
– Alcohol made me cry
– Strangers are wonderful
– Sober isn’t boring
– Blossom is beautiful
– Sunshine is beautiful
– I am beautiful
– Alcohol made me fat. Fact
– People love my story
– Slimming World actually works
– I don’t like parties
– I love Elderflower cordial
– Coffee is my friend
– You can’t have too many friends
– Some people are toxic
– I’m not as argumentative as I thought
– I have empathy. Fact
– I am nice
– I have less chins
– I have more money
– Alcohol is evil
– I love sleeping properly every night
– I love writing
– People love before & after shots
– I am a machine
– I don’t miss drinking
– I love inspiring people
– I love being inspired
– Alcohol = chaos
– I love Podcasts
– I love memes
– Video blogs are HARD
– There needs to be more help for alcohol recovery
– I might run for Prime Minister
– Sleep is the nuts
– A little kindness can go a long way
– There are lots of hours in just one day
– I have more energy
– I actually quite like myself
– Alcohol was not my friend
It was easy for me to make the decision. I’d been making it every weekend for most of my adult life, whilst throwing up for the millionth time or wandering around in a fog. I was going to give up drinking.
The hard bit was actually seeing it through. We are all guilty, the sober ones or the drinking ones, of uttering the phrase ‘I’m never drinking again’ time and again, but it’s the actual going through with the statement, that’s the hard bit.
When I think back over the years, there were many warning signs that alcohol was just not good for me. There was the sickness, the memory loss, the inability to stop once I’d started, the nights that turned into mornings, the sheer volume I could consume. All normalised because ‘that’s what we do’.
The decision to actually quit was cemented by the destruction of the relationshit. I knew that for as long as I was drinking, I would keep returning for more heartache and that I was the only one with the power to break the cycle. For as long as I let him back in, he would keep coming. I had also started seeing more articles about quitting (coincidence?) and the urge to be sober started to outweigh the urge to be hammered.
So I created the plan. The aim was to give up at midnight on New Years Eve 2016. This gave me roughly 2 months to get my head around the idea, to get the wheels in motion for the blog and, well, get as much booze in me as physically possible before I gave up.
The reality is that the relationshit sent me pretty crazy well before the Christmas period began, I started a new job and then got struck down with flu. I’m not religious but it did feel like something out there was definitely making the decision for me.
The deed was done. My last sip was on 27 November 2016, at approximately 2am. Vodka. Large. Shudder. I’d been drinking all day so the hangover the next day was pretty grim. Little did I know it was my final one or how much my life would change from that day onwards.
Month 1 was tough. It was the festive season but I was determined. I had ruined a previous Christmas by getting so drunk and not being unable to keep down water, let alone turkey & all the trimmings. I wanted to be present and I wanted to be clean.
In month 2, I started Slimming World and so the weight started coming off and the butterfly started emerging. The blog was also becoming popular and taking my mind away from any temptation. I also had a whole army of Dry January warriors so I didn’t feel quite so alone in my quest.
In month 3, many Dry January warriors had jumped off my wagon with a vengeance. But my determination was peaking. The weight was falling off, I had lots of support from various online forums and from my faithful followers who had not abandoned my cause.
Month 4, and I celebrated 100 days. Life was starting to feel more normal. It was like I’d got a new pair of glasses, everything started to feel brighter and clearer. People were also getting used to me, believing I was serious in my alcohol free journey.
Now, I’m hurtling towards month 5. It still seems kind of unreal. Alcohol has been such a massive part of my life and it’s been hard to unravel those ties, to break down the association with something I thought was my crutch but actually was my silent killer.
It has, without doubt, been the best thing I have ever done for myself and I’m so pleased that I took action when I did. I urge anyone who wants to give up to do it today. It’s not easy but it is more than worth it. If you have the will, you can find the power. Promise.
Have you ever?
Got up in the morning and tried to do your routine backwards? Or tried strange food combinations? Or landed in a foreign country with no idea where to go? Or worn something all day and just felt ‘wrong’?
This is what it is like to become sober. Stepping out of your comfort zone. Discarding the trusty old comfort blanket of booze.
Initially, it feels like there is definitely something missing. Something big. There is a gaping hole in your soul .. an intense internal nagging .. something is very wrong. You are not complete without it. The nagging is there, day and night, even in situations like work where alcohol never featured. It’s the little tiny voice, highly irritating, reminding you of what you think you need.
In fact, the truth is you are actually whole without it and that alcohol is the master of deceit. You can survive without it. You just have to learn how and part of that is breaking habits and riding the triggers like waves.
It never ceases to amaze me how habitual we really are. How a song on the radio can flood the mind with memories from 20 years ago or how a smell can remind you of something you hadn’t thought of since you were small. Or how a situation can really make you want a drink.
Last week, the sun came out. Wow, that was a trigger! Combine that with a full moon and we all went slightly crazy!
I was dreaming of a large glass of chilled rose wine. Why??? Why on Earth is that all I can think about because the sun came out? Why not BBQ food or watching the sun go down or getting a tan? Well, those things did creep in but the first thought was most definitely alcohol. Why do we romanticise it so much? Why do we have to celebrate every little thing with the poison?!
Fast forward a week and I survived. I didn’t succumb. In fact, I haven’t given the blush a second thought. The sun has risen and set every day and I haven’t felt the need. I am learning how to live and enjoy life without washing it down with a glass or two of poison. I thought this weekend would be hard but as my thought patterns are adjusting and the habit is gradually being broken, the tiny voice was actually inaudible. Or perhaps I just chose not to listen.
Marketing. It’s big business. Every minute of every day, someone somewhere is trying to sell us something. Whether it’s a face cream to make us young again or a liquid potion that promises to makes us thin, we love it, always willing to give it a go, to splash the cash for a miracle.
Just imagine there was a product on the market that was guaranteed to make you live longer. Would you want to try it? It was promising to reduce your living costs considerably, to rejuvenate not just your skin but your entire body and your quality of life would improve drastically. Would you give it a go?
When you used the product, you became a much better person, stronger and happier, and people around you marvelled at the person you had become. It made you sleep properly and make better food choices. Your productivity in daily life increased massively and you were happy again. Would you try it for a trial period?
What if I told you that this product was already out there but not being marketed to the same extent as the poison that destroys it. That the poison makes far more money than the actual miracle product itself.
What if I told you the product was sobriety.
I wish I’d known many years ago how great sober life is. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret all those awesomely crazy moments I had but I do wish I spent less money on poisoning myself, on making myself fat and unhealthy.
Over the years, I’ve spent thousands of pounds on alcohol, cigarettes and unhealthy food. Those marketing gurus certainly got their money’s worth out of me. It was a viscious cycle of eat, binge drink, smoke, repeat. I then spent thousands combatting the badness on exercise classes, Fat Clubs and hangover cures. What a waste (rolls eyes).
I wish there had been more marketing telling me about the other side, of what life could be like if I wasn’t making myself sick. But would I have listened? It’s just not cool (yet) to promote healthy living without a Prosecco in hand is it?
I don’t believe in regretting the past. I can’t change it and for the most part, it’s been great. I’m glad I’ve cracked the code for the future, that I’ve removed the one component that was affected everything in my daily life. I will continue to promote sobriety as it really is the best product on the market and hope that one day, it will be promoted more publicly than the alcohol itself.
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