On 27 July 2018, I celebrated my first Soberversary; one whole year of being completely alcohol free.

It’s been a year of ups and downs but most importantly, a year of huge self -awareness. Choosing to live a sober life is so many things all at once. I feel strong, but also have incredible moments of weakness and self doubt.

People often ask why I decided to stop.

Well, to get to the nitty gritty, it took a healthcare professional to tell me what I already knew and had repeatedly tried to justify for at least the last 20 years.

Luckily, hearing her words ‘you need to stop drinking and what you are doing is not normal’, was enough to spring me into action.

I started drinking young, at around age 15 and always, ALWAYS, knew that my relationship with alcohol was far from normal. It just got worse and worse until a year ago, after really listening to this doctor’s words, I decided enough was enough.

I decided to try on my own and knew I needed something to make me accountable so started my blog called ‘Coins in a Jar’. I also actually put a coin in a jar every day so that I had something concrete to monitor my progress and I slowly watched the jar fill up.I did lots of research by joining groups, speaking to people, watching videos, reading books and getting my hands on just about any alcohol related content I could find. Reading and relating other people’s triumphs and struggles really helped me hugely.

The hardest part of the year was my mind.

I don’t think I ever physically needed a drink at all. It was the ridiculous tricks that our mind plays that make us think we are missing out. Like any unhealthy relationship that has ended, we always think of the good times. Not the sick times, the regrets, the mess ups, the wasted time.

A year on, I sometimes look at people drinking and think they are lucky. Lucky that they can relax for an hour or two and have that numbness wash over them but then my logical mind kicks in and screams ‘They’re not lucky! You’re the lucky one!’

I also find associations hard which is totally normal. A holiday, a sunset, a get together with friends, good times, bad times, hell! When exactly didn’t we drink alcohol?!😊

I find it quite easy to be around people drinking and when I am offered a drink, I don’t make any excuses. I’m a straight talker and I am honest when explaining how alcohol was simply f…ing up my life. When I verbalise this, I’m usually met with big eyes and a ‘well done’, immediately followed by their own beliefs, justifications or excuses such as ‘they only drink on weekends’.

Honesty is just the only way for me. I believe strongly in openness about mental issues including addiction. My mother was a huge sufferer of addiction, depression, anxiety, you name it. So for us and anyone else suffering with mental issues, I will never play it down. It’s just as important as any other disease that we can see.

If I were to describe my life one year on in one word, it would definitely be ‘quieter’.

Life is also much clearer. I’ve learnt to sit with discomfort and emotions instead of drowning them which takes a lot of practice! I am much fonder of chocolate these days. I’m not a huge stickler for plans as I once was; they don’t really bother me. My best friend is a planner. She will talk about Christmas plans or holidays next year and I laugh and tell her I just can’t think that far ahead.

I used to be a big planner. Had to be busy, see people, have people over. I realise now it was all mainly an excuse to drink. Now I’m in bed at 8 most nights and I love it.

So how did I celebrate my soberversary?

Well, I went out with some friends and had a giant mocktail but more importantly, I had a tattoo done on my arm! Words that I love and I can look at every day. Words that inspire me and remind me to keep going when I do have a down day.

Sobriety is the greatest personal achievement of my life. It’s not just about having the strength to not drink again; it’s made me believe in myself and my abilities. Cliché I know, but I can really now do anything.

I don’t have any intention to drink again, but I guess one can never say never. I don’t want to drink again and I’m almost on the verge of not having to need to drink ever again. Alcohol has become something I just don’t do. Like some people don’t eat sugar, I don’t drink alcohol. I have absolutely no problem being around it.

In fact, I feel a sense of satisfaction when I’m around pissed people.

I smile and think to myself. Thank God it’s not me.

MY 3 TOP TIPS TO HELP YOU LIVE A SOBER LIFE

1. Find something that makes you accountable. This could be joining a support group either online or in person, writing, finding someone with the same sobriety date and spurring each other along.

2. Always remember what you are gaining and not leaving behind.

3. Be kind to yourself and TREAT YOURSEF OFTEN!

Written by Jo, edited by Sober Fish 2018

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