I’ve always thought I was lucky that my sober year began full of illness. Not wanting a drink or a cigarette certainly helped my sober quest, although missing out on Christmas parties because I was deaf and not being able to work for the first week at my new job was not ideal.
By the New Year, I was feeling better and had been sober for 5 weeks. It was then that the reality started kicking in. A year was an awfully long time.
If you’ve ever done Dry January, there’s a certain euphoria around day 29/30 when you can almost taste the wine on your lips. You think about it constantly, planning how to celebrate your enforced alcoholic fast, deciding what you’re going to drink when the restriction is lifted and discussing how great it’s going to feel when you take your first sip of Devil’s juice. Then get completely hammered.
Well, that euphoria still creeps in at the end of month 1 but you have no debauchery to look forward to. Instead, I rewarded myself in other ways, buying little gifts as I reached each milestone .. a ring, a necklace, a plane ticket .. I needed these things to look forward to, to make the journey worth it.
From the start, I found socialising hard. I had always been the ultimate party animal. Now I was the ultimate wallflower. My friends were wonderful, always making sure there was alcohol free alternatives for me to drink. But it was strange for them too. I was there. But I wasn’t there. Dawn the Drunken (crying) Devil had disappeared, leaving a sombre, Elderflower sipping Sober Fish in her place.
The sober me soon realised that the best time at a party was the beginning before the slurring began, rather than at the bitter end that I was used to, watching the sun come up & freaking out. I’ve never had so much sleep! There is a certain smugness to a regular 10pm bedtime .. in fact, I turn into a pumpkin shortly after! My sleep is so different. Solid, deep & restoring. There are no more lazy lie-ins .. I wake up early and snoozing is a thing of my drunken past.
In May, I set myself a challenge to walk 10000 steps a day. I’ve never really challenged myself to anything before. I mean, I could barely stick to a diet, let alone anything else. But Soberdom was going well so it was time to tackle the booty. And I loved it! And smashed it! And so my addiction to walking began.
It has totally taken me, and everyone who knows me, by surprise that I’m walking to the extent I am. I went through periods of exercising before but became despondent if I didn’t see quick results. This time, the results are clear.
Cut out alcohol = weight loss = more energy = expel energy by walking.
I now try to walk at least 5 miles a day and the weight is staying off. It’s a winning formula!
After tackling the alcohol & smoking then the weight then the exercise full on, it was time to tackle the brain. The emotional iceberg was thawing, leaving feelings of ‘what am I doing?’ and ‘where am I going?’ and ‘what do I want?’. So I started counselling & light mediatation & gong bathing, even hanging in a cocoon on one occasion! I am constantly surprising myself.
My words of wisdom to you.
Be patient. This has been a long but incredible year. Nothing happens overnight. You have spent years abusing your beautiful body and it will take time to recover. It will need sleep and exercise and nourishing. It will reward you but only when you are repetitively kind. Remember, it knows your habits better than anyone else.
Be brave. You can do this. If I can, you can too. I promise.
Make sacrifices. Your life will have to change. You will miss out on things. You will sleep when your friends continue to party. You will drink water while they drink champagne. But their reward is temporary & yours is permanent. Remember that.
Don’t give up. You may not succeed the first time but that’s ok. Keep trying. How many times have we all said ‘I’m never going to drink again’ but then crack on for another 10 years. In the words of Ice Cube ‘You can do it, you put your back into it’.