Giving up alcohol isn’t the same as taking a magic pill.
Wouldn’t that be lovely?
But leading a booze free life exposes all sorts of experiences and revelations that are certainly worthy of discussion.
Our guest author this week, Anne (Sober-Style) tells us what she has learned since deciding to live alcohol free.
What I have learned since binning the booze.
By Anne Brason. Originally published on Sober-Style, December 27th 2018.
Other people can’t complete you.
I have spent a lot of my life believing that I need another person to complete me. I thought I was half of a whole and two parts would be needed to make me complete. I jumped from terrible relationship to terrible relationship desperate to find love. None of the guys I dated really cared about me and I was never treated as an equal. I went for men that were controlling, jealous and insecure which made me feel wanted. It took me a long time to realise that I needed to learn to love myself in order to feel complete. I would say I am still not fully there but it is something I am really trying to focus on.
Giving up drinking will not miraculously solve all of your problems.
When I gave up drinking I thought that suddenly all of my problems would be solved. I would be successful, fitter, richer and more confident. While quitting drink will really help with these goals it will not mean they will be achieved the moment you stop drinking.
To be successful you will need to work hard which I must admit is a lot easier when you are sober and hangover free. To be fitter you will need to exercise which will be easier without the lethargic feeling that comes from drinking. To be richer you will need to save the money you were spending on alcohol instead of spending it on other things. Confidence will come with time and is something that takes a long time to build.
You can still have fun when you are not drinking.
Back in my darkest drinking days I would pretty much hang out with whoever was around and was up for getting drunk with me. I didn’t have a very strong sense of self and all I wanted was to feel popular and liked by everyone. I spent a lot of time with people that didn’t really care for me or have any respect for me. Now I don’t drink I’m much more careful with my time and only spend it with those who make me feel good. I do activities I enjoy and say no when I don’t want to go to things.
Sometimes it is OK to stay home.
When I first gave up drinking I was so worried that people would think I had suddenly become boring. I made sure that I was at every party, every works drinks, every drinking event so that I could prove I was still fun. It was exhausting trying to keep up the party girl reputation whilst stone cold sober. I would get annoyed at everyone’s drunkenness and frustrated at my lack of drunkenness and would go home depressed and feeling sorry for myself.
I have learnt now that sometimes it is best to just not go to these things if it is going to make me feel that way.
Instead, I will cook some lovely food, light some candles, have a bath and watch a movie.
You really are not missing out.
I thought staying home would mean I was missing out on something. Something would happen, I wouldn’t be there, I would miss all the fun and not be part of the crowd. Not true, although it is great to catch up with friends and colleagues, this does not mean you have to go out and get drunk with them at every opportunity you can always catch up for coffee or lunch.
A lot of my wild nights out were really a bunch of us sat in the smoking area chatting till the early hours of the morning we were too drunk to remember what we were even chatting about. There was definitely nothing to miss out on.
Self-love is so important.
When you give up drinking in a world where the majority of us drink, it can be very lonely. Sometimes you will feel depressed and wish you could just join in and have a couple. It’s so important to remind yourself of why you quit in the first place. You are doing this for your own good and the result will be a much happier healthy version of you.
Your social life will change.
As I mentioned earlier, it is likely that you will not want to continue going out to all of the parties, events and pub days out. It may start to get very boring. Getting sober gives you the opportunity to get to know yourself and to discover what it is that you actually like doing. You may discover you enjoy yoga and start doing this on weekends. You could even discover a love for art and find yourself attending evening classes. You will have time now to be able to do the things you enjoy instead of spending all of your free time in the pub.
I am not as confident as I thought.
When drunk I am loud, quirky and very confident. I will dance on tables, talk to strangers and happily take centre stage. Take away the alcohol and I come over all shy and introvert.
I have an incredible support system.
When I first decided to give up drinking I was absolutely terrified about what my friends and family would say. We are quite a boozy bunch and I didn’t want them to feel they were going to lose me or that I would become boring. I Sent a very tongue in cheek text to them to let them know I had quit drinking and could they not encourage me to drink. I really do not know what I was so stressed for. The response was amazing, everyone has been so supportive. As long as I am happy they are all happy for me. In fact, many of them have also cut back on their drinking and are happy to stay sober with me on nights out.
In fact, I do have a sweet tooth.
For years I skipped the dessert. Every time I was offered a dessert menu at a restaurant I wasn’t interested. I skipped right past the tiramisu and chocolate cake and straight to the wine list. I never fancied cake in the afternoon or biscuits at elevenses. I just didn’t have a sweet tooth. When I quit drinking in May I suddenly started craving sugar. I would eat a pack of biscuits in one sitting, finish off a pot of ice-cream or much through an entire box of chocolates.
It turns out that my body was used to the high sugar content of alcoholic drinks, and was thus seeking it from different places. One small glass of prosecco can have 2-3% of your daily intake of sugar in it and some sugary mixers up to 60%. For my first couple of alcohol-free months I was eating at least a box of chocolate a day. Luckily ! have now been able to cut down drastically.
My IBS is not incurable.
For years I struggled with Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I tried everything, I was eating healthy, I had a well-managed diet, I was exercising, and my stress was minimal yet the IBS did not subside. It was disrupting my life massively. I couldn’t go on long journeys, I would panic going anywhere where there would not be a toilet close by. I even had to leave my best friends wedding mid-service. After just three months of giving up alcohol, my IBS symptoms were non- existent and I was completely cured.
There is a fantastic sober community out there.
Giving up drinking and starting my blog I soon came to realise what a great sober community there is online. There are loads of people online every day, talking openly with one another. Different people sharing their stories on giving up drugs and alcohol and encouraging each other to keep on going with their sobriety.
About our author, Anne:
Anne is a lifestyle and wellness blogger who writes about beauty products she can’t live without, her favourite places to travel and delicious meals she loves to cook.
She also shares her experiences of giving up alcohol, how she achieved this, and the ways in which it has improved her life.
Her blog is aimed at helping people live a glamorous and fun lifestyle without feeling the pressure of having to drink alcohol in order to do so.