On 16th April 2018, I decided to give up alcohol, and take up opportunities. I began realising that I relied on alcohol to experience confidence, peace, relaxation and excitement. I wanted to abandon the plane that I boarded 16 years ago before the plane went down.
For me, alcohol took priority over other things. It became the backbone of any social choice, decision, event or opportunity that I would make. “Wanna go on holiday? It’s an all inclusive?”…WIN. “Wanna go to this Music Award Ceremony? It’s a free bar?”…YES. “Wanna go out for *food and drinks tonight?”…You’re on! (*I would choose a light bite so it wouldn’t deduct too much from my boozey balance.)
I mourned for non-drinkers
I really really felt for them. I sympathised with them and how hard it must be to live a life without a shot of fun. No more bubbles; just a flat, diluted life. Their glass was most definitely half empty. But today marks my 1 year anniversary alcohol-free. 365 days without my crutch; my white cane. Today I walk freely, without ‘support’, and with a clearer vision.
Yesterday I left my home for London. Tomorrow I board the Eurostar to Paris. With me, I hold my whole life within a backpack. My survival kit for my adventure ahead; no spirit insight, bar my own. I must admit, I do have a couple of alcohol wipes, but these are to soothe cuts and bruises along the way, rather than the type of alcohol I’d have carried with me, which would have always caused them.
Today I embark on an adventure
Back in December, I made the decision to go backpacking across the U.S and South East Asia; something I never imagined I would do. I’ve done it. First stop Paris, then New York, Chicago, L.A, Bali, Malaysia, Thailand and an intentional plan for the unknown.
December 31st 2018 was a different kind of New Years Eve for me; and for some of my best friends too. We all drank rose tea and created passion planners for the year ahead. Looking back on it now, I am overwhelmed by the magic of gratitude and how much has actually happened since.
My goals for the first month have already been achieved:
Receive financial support: I dodged the January sales, saved, and came into a little money from an accident I was involved in back in 2014.
Plan for travelling: I am about to board the Eurostar to Paris to kick start my backpacking adventure.
Record more music: I found myself back in the studio and recording a new track which received positive praise.
Get work through music and performing: I am excited to say that I signed a publishing deal last week as a singer songwriter with a company based in both London and the U.S.
Get a new car: Sadly my car took a turn for the worst, and I was able to buy my dad’s off of him with monthly payments. It’s cute too.
Get a new tattoo…I did.
I am not claiming that it is down to magic
Rather, I am exclaiming how magical positive thinking can be. Nothing is down to a fairy godmother, a magic lamp, or a sea witch. It is us. We are the magic. We are our own genie. We are the ones who can transform ourselves into whoever we wish to be. Positivity equals power. I sit here now and I feel powerful. I’m not half empty. Nor is my life bubble-less and flat. I’ve realised that the alcohol was in fact diluting my life, and that the absence of it has made for a richer substance.
I don’t think I’ll ever not have the occasional desire for an alcoholic drink. I believe that’s natural. Not something that measures weakness. We live in a society where alcohol is praised, celebrated, and used to add sparkle and sophistication to every situation. I’ve just chosen to not partake in this, as alcohol was the very thing that dulled my sparkle. Don’t get me wrong, a glass of wine on a summers eve is gorgeous; but crawling home on a summers morning isn’t…I couldn’t separate the two.
I’ve realised the ingredients that go into my glass of wine
Not the ingredients that the wine is made up of, but the ingredients that we ourselves add into the substance to make it what it is for us. My ingredients were confidence, excitement, happiness, contentment and escapism. Like anything we consume, there is always a ‘Best Before’ date, or a ‘Use By’ guide. My ‘Best Before’ date arrived, and those ingredients quickly antiquated.
During this time, I’ve had to find organically sourced ingredients to replace this limited shelf-life product. I’ve began to source other products, natural resources, that offer me those ingredients that I would find in my wine. These items don’t go out of date. They are promised to you, and rather than wilt over time, they blossom and grow. I’ve swapped shelf-life for self-love.
Have I found this easy? Not really. Have I found this hard? Not immensely. I just realised how desperate I was to find these ingredients to spice up my life, and now that I’ve found the route to the roots, I don’t want to give up their growth and sacrifice them for sauvignon.
Friendships come and go
This has been somewhat of an interesting evolution…My friendships have evolved, resolved or dissolved due to my decision to cut out alcohol. What has been beautiful has been the people that I have experienced this journey alongside, and continue to travel with. My friend Polly started her alcohol-free journey just after me, and I feel that our way of thinking has been a massive influence on my overall outlook on life in general. Never have we mourned or moaned together for the absence of alcohol, but instead, we have celebrated and cherished each sober moment as a blessing and an exciting stepping stone. Our glasses have always been overflowing with gratitude and positivity, and that helps; a lot.
I’m no Buddha, but a heads up…someone asked me whether I found it hard giving up alcohol. I said it was surrendering and giving up the lifestyle and routine which was the hardest. I understand the fear of social demotion once you pack in the prosecco and pints, I do. You feel that stepping away from the booze means that you step down from the position you’re in with friends. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Yes, there will be less nights out with friends, along with the drunk memories shared. But this is not because you’ll not have the option to. You still have the option to. You’ll just realise that not every option is the only option. You’ll choose your events selectively, and these nights will be memories that you will want to enjoy and remember.
The butterfly effect
I’ve realised that going sober, doesn’t just affect you, but it affects your family and friends too. I have noticed this. I have also noticed that the friends that matter remain. It becomes transparent over time.
My mother is an absolute blessing in my life. Someone I am so proud to call a guardian, a role model and a friend. Over the last five years, her choice of directions in life have really inspired me to condition my soul. I am very lucky. My sister, who also decided to part ways with alcohol, has been an inspiration and blessing. One of my best friends has been alcohol-free for many years now, and to watch her transform into this captivating butterfly inspired me to spin my own cocoon. To be able to share this experience with so many important people has made me view this challenge as more of a change. That’s all.
I am spiritual person
I must be. I have become somewhat more in tune with this side of myself during the last year. Don’t ask me what faith I am or who I envisage sitting up in the clouds; I don’t see it as that. There is something though. I know because I feel that this has been another support that has guided me. Deep. Very deep. But also, very true.
So, this is kind of like a birthday. My one year alcohol-free birthday. I’m sure to celebrate with some kind of Parisian cake once I arrive. Mind you though, I won’t blow out the candle; I kind of like the feeling of my flame now being alight.
If you are interested in following Benjamin on his travels, you can check out his blog here!