6 months alcohol free

Yesterday was my 6 month milestone so a good time to take stock and reflect. Giving up alcohol has changed everything though outwardly I’m still the same person living the same life. Its very much a work in progress but this is where I’m at now.

My mindset about alcohol has changed completely which has really surprised me. It happened quite quickly this time though last time I stopped it didn’t which is probably why I started again. When I did the ‘Getting Unstuck’ course the things that really clicked for me was ‘addictive voice recognition’, playing the film forward and reading Ann Dowsett Johnson’s wonderful book ‘Drink. The deadly relationship between women and alcohol’. I read a lot of other books too but this is the one that really hit home. She describes the marketing of alcohol to women from the 1980s onwards so gives the political and social context to the rising levels of addiction. She also shares her own experiences. The take home message for me was how much we have been manipulated into seeing alcohol as ‘our friend’; the must have accessory to cope with our lives. I see that everywhere now. Collectively this is our consciousness. At work the other week when we were all reeling from the tragic death of a young person almost everyone made some comment to me about wine chilling at home. I would have done the same 6 months ago. I’d have been desperate to get home and block it all out. It’s normalised and acceptable and it keeps us all compliant non complaining consumers. I was the alcohol advertisers dream in that respect. I drank a lot and I partied hard but outwardly I was successful, healthy and happy. That wasn’t the real story of course but hey it’s all about appearances isn’t it?

I have to say the past 2 weeks have been the most testing time so far though. Not because I believe alcohol is the fixer I once thought it was, but because I can’t bear to be sad. I didn’t want a drink to take the edge off, I wanted to get smashed. Playing the film forward and recognising the addictive voice got me through this as well as posting on here and your lovely comments. I’d not realised before how unbearable sadness is to me as I’ve never allowed it for very long. At work it’s the really sad young people that pull my heart strings the most and have me reaching for my prescription pad the quickest. If my girls were sad growing up I’d take it as a personal failing on my part. I rarely talk to my friends when I’m feeling low. I hide away and feel ashamed. Writing this now is bringing tears to my eyes and a wave of sadness. I haven’t figured out what this is about or why I find it so unbearable yet – just that it has been my life’s mission to get rid of it wherever I find it.

I’ve also realised that anger can be a mask for sadness too. It’s easier to be mad than sad. It has energy and you can direct it away from yourself. Without alcohol though you really feel the guilt and the shame of dumping your own crap on your loved ones. It takes you back there quickly so you may as well allow the sadness in the first place.

So for me the biggest challenge of not drinking is managing my emotions when I have to suppress or contain them all day in order to help other people manage theirs! I started regular yoga when I first stopped drinking nearly 2 years ago and without it I doubt I’d have been able to stop completely. It’s changed how I breathe and I can now use my breathing to calm myself down. Childhood trauma sets our nervous systems to permanent high alert and rapid response but we can learn to calm it down. Meditation calms our thinking mind and gives us more control over it. These are my main tools alongside time with nature and when I don’t use them I struggle more or smoke more cannabis to get the same effect.

I had a lovely evening out with friends last night – I’m in London for the week on a course and enjoying some alone time. I didn’t even think about having a drink or feel even slightly uncomfortable. I’m used to not drinking socially now. I’m still not used to drunk people when I’m sober. This is childhood stuff too – I’m primed to notice the moment when merry becomes pissed as that’s when things could get dangerous. I’m managing it by avoidance mainly and that’s actually ok but I am going to miss out on things if I don’t get my head round it. It also means my friendships are shifting as I don’t want to hang out with the big drinkers so much these days. Ive got complicated feelings about these relationships and I really don’t know how it’s going to pan out.

So what next? I want to stop smoking both cigarettes and cannabis. (I’m having a break from the latter whilst away and actually it’s fine.) Allowing my emotions, accepting how life is, just being present and in the moment as much as I can – that’s what I’m hoping sobriety will help deliver.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

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16 Comments

  1. Well done! Really. Last year I went 6 months without a drink. It was a slow build to a start date and, if I remember, the rewards were both subtle and surprising: my skin, my mind was clearer, my time more structured. I started to slip again sometime in early 2019, nothing heavy, but it disappoints me. I am three days without alcohol and intend to carry on thus. Already I sense reward. Thanks for this and keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good luck Nick! It’s an experiential journey – if I hadn’t stopped and started again I wouldn’t have learnt that I can’t moderate and I do still sometimes think that maybe I can – focus on the rewards in the early stages – I love the done drinking app as it reminds me of some of my reasons quickly and easily! All that money saved for one never mind the state of my liver! 😂

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  2. Well done on 6 months. I hope you navigate this period of sadness as well as is possible. I think you’re observations about the ubiquity and marketing of alcohol are spot on and that’s something that’s really hit home after just 5 weeks alc free; alcohol and references to it are everywhere. That’s why knowing there’s a strong community of people like yourself who are not only giving up but thriving and living better is so important. Enjoy London, my birth city and spatial home.
    Jim x

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  3. Congratulations ❤ 6 months is huge, especially given the difficult times you are (heroically) going through. It's truly inspirational to read your story and the stories of all the people on here, it gives newbies like me strength. Keep going ❤ You will be in my meditation thoughts today 🙂

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  4. Beautiful post. Congrats on six months – it’s a significant achievement. Trying to stay present to that sadness is a tough but worthwhile venture.
    And that book sounds excellent. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosh I related to so much in this. The shame of feeling sad. This is a major one for me right now. I love your blog, I love your honesty and I love your beauty shining through. Thanks for sharing yourself with us and huge congrats on six months. I’m imaging us having cake together now. 🎉🌷💓🎶🎂🌿💛

    Liked by 1 person

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