Mine went something like this.
Feel fat. This makes me unhappy and be less confident. Have a drink. Loaded with calories. Smoke.
Have too many drinks. Loaded with calories. Smoke. Believe I’m more confident. Drunk text. Sleep badly. Wake up. Feel bad and less confident and smell of smoke. Worry about what I said/did/didn’t do. Eat. More calories.
Feel fat. This makes me unhappy and feel less confident. Have a drink.
You get my drift. It’s a vicious circle full of badness. There is nothing remotely positive in any of the habits mentioned. And the end result is misery.
Last year, various factors including a toxic relationshit, a change of job and health issues have made me seriously assess my own vicious circle. The loop was literally sending me loopy and something drastic needed to happen before something serious did.
I took a long hard look at what the root cause of all my unhappiness was and found the common component was my good old pal alcohol.
Without alcohol, the urge to smoke was immediately gone. The two have always gone hand in hand for me. This was an absolute revelation, as I have tried to (unsuccessfully) give up many times before.
Take alcohol out of the loop and the overwhelming desire for carbs rapidly diminished too. This meant that my habit of massively overeating, not just the next day but most of the week after, has disappeared. Instead, I’m eating sensibly and losing the weight that was zapping my confidence.
The weight was also hindering my efforts to exercise and making me sluggish and lazy. Weekends were becoming increasingly inactive and hangovers were spilling over from one day to two. This was adding to the self loathing and so I’d have another Sauvignon to cheer myself up.
I’ve never been a good sleeper after a night on the lash. I’m also miserable without a good nights kip and so the following day after a binge would be tense and anxious, while stuffing my face.
Alcohol basically gives false hope that you will feel better, be a happier, shinier version of you. This is an absolute lie. Alcohol is a fun sponge. It steals all the good bits and replaces them with bad. We all believe alcohol is a reward but what other drug do we think it’s acceptable to reward ourselves with? Why do we choose to reward ourselves with a poison? I challenge you to name anything else that makes us feel so bloody awful, that we choose to take time and time again under the guise that we will have a great time?
For me, the positives of not partaking are far outweighing the numerous negatives of something that I incorrectly believed was making me having the best time ever. Now I am actually becoming that happier, shiner version of myself and the bonus is it’s not costing me my health or my wealth.
So many people, like me, think they don’t have an ‘off switch’. In fact, I thought I didn’t have one for most of my life. This leads to proper bingeing. It could be from devouring a whole packet of biscuits in one sitting or smoking a whole packet of cigarettes or drinking a bottle (or 5) of wine, nothing could have stopped me.
I’ve always been the same. Enough is never enough. Apparently, at the church Jubilee party in 1977, aged 2 and 3/4, I had to be dragged away after everyone else had left, as I didn’t want the party to end. This trait stayed with me until recently when, aged 42 and a bit (a mere 40 years later), I finally decided to put a end to gluttony and indulgence.
I am lucky. I had a good childhood with most things I wanted. Sweets were a treat on special occasions however, when I was let loose as an adult, I had as many sweets as I could stomach. Literally. As I grew older, I realised I couldn’t buy big bags or multiple bags, or actually keep sweets in the house, as I wouldn’t stop until they were gone. The same happened with wine. And cigarettes. If I took advantage of the ‘buy 6 bottles and get 5% off’, I’d drink them in record time. And don’t get me started on boxes of 200 cigarettes at Duty Free!
I often think, wouldn’t it be lovely to have one, maybe two glasses of Prosecco, go to bed at midnight and wake up feeling fresh. I’m not sure I have ever done this. Once the first glass is consumed, I’m anybody’s! Usually until the early hours, until the first Prosecco is a long, distant memory. And I’m on repeat.
If I ever decided to drive to dinner or the pub, I probably wouldn’t bother with any alcohol, as couldn’t really see the point of ‘just the one’. If I did have ‘just the one’ I’d then spend the entire evening hatching a plan as to how to leave my car and pick it up the next day. An utterly pointless waste of time.
Today is day 51 of not drinking or smoking and I’m on a healthy eating plan. I’m full of vitamins and feel great .. I’m moving more and have tons more energy, as well as sleeping better and feel much sharper. I’m still struggling a little with social situations, especially where others are indulging, but I know that, in time, they will become easier and drunk people will become funny again!
I’m so happy I have finally located said ‘off switch’. I feel lucky now that I know I actually do have one as I know others struggle to find theirs. The trick now is to keep it jammed firmly in the ‘off’ position whilst I nurture my body, rather than destroying it week in, week out. And not lose it for the next 40 years .. if I have that long left!
When the idea came to me to go sober for a year, I never imagined just how amazing it would be in so many ways. I mean, yeah, it would be great not to have at least 104 hangovers a year (and the rest), and yeah, it would be great to hopefully lose some weight (yes please), and yeah, it would be great to save some money, but I seriously didn’t know just HOW much greatness it was going to bring me.
When I started the blog, it was really just my way of documenting how I felt, for me. I really didn’t think many people would care about it. I anticipated feeling far more negative than I do and thought it would be interesting to document the highs and lows of soberdom. And maybe encourage a few others along the way.
What has actually happened is, apart from a small wobble on New Years Eve, I have not felt any negativity about what I am doing. I have been encouraged by so many people and I can honestly say it’s the best decision I have made in a long time. Probably because it was a sober decision!!
I have received numerous messages from people thanking me for writing about my experiences and making them think about their own drinking habits. I have chatted with strangers and met up with people I wouldn’t have done necessarily when I was drinking. I am getting off my arse at lunchtimes and have taken to walking rather than procrastinating at my desk (thanks Anna) and I am taking control of the size of said arse. I can honestly say that I am enjoying going to bed at a reasonable hour EVERY night and I’m particularly happy to have given up the highly addictive pursuit of drunk texting (cheer), despite being an expert at it. I am eating much healthier food than before (as not craving junk after a binge) and have also not smoked a cigarette since the last sip of alcohol passed my lips.
I keep waiting for the doom to commence. For the craving to hit and for the depression to come when I realise that it is unlikely I will drink again. But for now, while the going is good, I’m gonna go with the happiness this journey is bringing me and be thankful it is such a positive experience.
Us Brits. We like to reward ourselves. Everything we do is because we deserve it. Whether it’s buying those shoes or eating that takeaway or drinking that drink. We drink to celebrate, to commiserate, because we’re going on holiday, when we’re on holiday because we’re on holiday, because it’s Friday, because it’s the weekend.
I have recently joined several online alcohol free support groups. The absolute worst time of the week for most people is Saturday night. This includes the build up to Saturday night, the actual Saturday night and the aftermath. Isn’t it interesting that the one night of the week we should really be nurturing ourselves after a busy week, by feeding ourselves good healthy food and getting plenty of nourishing sleep, is the one night that historically, people get bladdered, eat crap, smoke, sleep badly and then spend Sunday dying? Why do we think we are rewarding ourselves by putting utter crap into our bodies??!
Drinking alcohol is so habitual. Even if you don’t fancy a drink, you’ll still have one ‘because it’s Saturday night’. Everyone has a drink on Saturday night right? And then another. And another. No one ever has just the one glass because it’s Saturday because hey, tomorrow is Sunday, the day of rest and dehydration.
I must admit that Saturday night is the worst night of the week for me too as I do feel like I missing out. I know however, that it is just a matter of time before my habit is broken and Saturday night becomes about much more than just getting plastered. I am also questioning what exactly I missing out on? Calories, chemicals, late nights, poor sleep, spending money on drinks I won’t remember? Oh, and the Godawful hangover. Slowly, as the alcohol fog depletes, I am realising that I am not actually missing any of those things and am instead enjoying my new life without them.
I’ve always been a party animal. I used to like nothing better than getting together with my friends and getting hammered. It wasn’t always intentional but was inevitable. I don’t know many people that I could meet ‘for one’ and it would literally be just that. One drink. Generally, it would mean one bottle and inevitably turn into three. And a shot or two. And a gin. Oh, and a glass before I went out. And a nightcap when I got home.
It’s interesting how drinking habits have changed and escalated over the years. Booze used to be a rare treat for our parents and was expensive, so buying more than a bottle at a time was unheard of. I know my parents would share a bottle and it would last a week. I’d have a bottle and it would be lucky to last two hours.
It would also appear that the more you drink, the greater your tolerance towards it. This means buying more, which means more expense, more calories and a bigger hangover. In the UK, it has become more than acceptable to drink copious amounts before you actually venture out the door. This culture started in an effort to save pennies however now just results in consuming far more, for far longer. One would have to question whether you actually save money doing this or just buy more when you’re out to maintain the high!
One major reason for me stopping drinking, was to get back some precious spare time. I found myself drinking enough on a Friday night to sink a small ship, which would result in a crap nights sleep, which would lead to a sluggish unproductive Saturday, eating carbs. By the time I felt ok on Sunday morning, it was nearly time for work again. This cycle has steadily got worse over time, sometimes creeping towards Monday before feeling better. Now, I sleep better, have more money in my pocket, am eating better, am getting off my arse and have rediscovered my love of writing! What’s not to love about being Sober For 2017?!
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