I’m proud to be free of alcohol. Proud to be a “flag waver” for OYNB and for the thousands of people who belong to it.
OYNB……it was always popping up on my social media and with equal regularity I would hesitate, maybe glance at the smiling pictures of participants or absorb a few of their words and scroll on by.
I’ve drunk alcohol since I can remember. My mother was a great “home brewer”, making wine from almost anything and our kitchen would have Demi-johns gurgling away under the kitchen table fermenting.
My introduction to alcohol
Drinking before dinner was a regular occasion. It formed part of my younger life and it was a normal, enjoyable routine as a young teenager. Drinking culture was so very different. When I first went out to work, lunchtime in the pub was almost expected and after work drinks with workmates and new pub friends was all part of my working routine. My friendships revolved around drinking and even my interests outside of that managed to always track down those individuals who also enjoyed drinking as well.
As a young and very confident woman I found alcohol to be exciting, engaging and something to accentuate my enjoyment of almost anything, but as I progressed through life that relationship started to change.
Transitioning through teenage years…
My twenties, thirties and onwards I never remember being “concerned” about my drinking. The only time I stopped completely was during my pregnancy with my son and whilst breastfeeding and a period later for around a year. I never questioned my consumption and rode out the hangovers, sickness, difficult drink imbibed situations with stoic resilience. They became part of my “norm”. A “norm” that as I got older, I tried to control.
By the time I was in my 40’s I had progressed to drinking in a different manner. My routine was work and wine. Never did I return home without knowing that I had enough of my companion in the fridge. Half a bottle left from the previous night always meant I had to purchase a new bottle on the way home. I detested eating and drinking together as my preferred routine was drinks first then dinner (a throwback from my teenage home life). This of course resulted in me rarely eating properly and I would simply go to bed to repeat the routine the following day.
A turning point
By the time I hit my late forties I was regularly finding myself struggling with the effects of alcohol. I tried to trade them off against what I perceived as the benefits, but they kept on battering me. For me, my sleep was disastrous, crashing out then awake to toss and turn in anxt around 3am. My anxiety (which I never suffered with) was my new friend. I overreacted to almost anything life threw at me and always sought to reason this with anything other than realise the truth of my drinking.
I soldiered on. Used my strength to “control and restrict” my drinking. Moving from stronger wines to Prosecco, drinking alternate nights. Drinking more only at weekends. Trying to eat as well as drink. The energy I expended doing this was unbelievably draining. It took everything I had to offer and left nothing but an overwhelming desire to get through to the days and times where I “allowed” myself to drink.
What really got me in the end, was I believed I was a fraud. My love of sport (particularly bodybuilding) was endless. Amazingly I had managed to build up my participation to a level where I was (in my opinion) my best shape ever. Eating well, training hard and enjoying every aspect of what it took. People would complement me. Ask me questions. Be genuinely interested in what it took to accomplish it and there I was, knowing I wasn’t telling the whole story.
Rarely does anybody challenge me at anything as they know I’ll win or die trying! If I’m honest I was 100% determined to prove to myself that I could do this….at least for 90 days anyway. My mindset was on green and it wasn’t going to get any greener. “Give me it all and I’ll give it my all” has always been my attitude and this was never going to be any different.
My alcohol-free challenge
OYNB was and is beyond anything I had ever anticipated. If it is true that we are “all one” then OYNB is the ultimate example. I found daily, through their emails, the fantastic group or “tribe” support, parts of myself in everyone. Truly, there is a part of me in the daily posts and experiences of others that resonates strongly. I had found my home. I wasn’t alone.
I said when I started my challenge that I wanted to see how going alcohol-free for 90 days would change my sporting performance. I lied. I knew that deeply and overwhelmingly sadly I wanted to be authentic and not feel like a fraud.
In my 90 days I discovered that I could go out and enjoy dinner at a restaurant, go to BBQ’s, attend my own brother’s wedding, have dinner without downing a bottle of Prosecco first and watch live music at a pub with friends……..all alcohol-free and all with the members of OYNB’s support and cheering!!
The benefits of being alcohol-free
For me this has been the most humbling process of my life at 54. I never cry, I won’t allow myself to. Reading this back to myself I have tears rolling down my face as I sit typing. It’s cathartic and needs to be so. It pays tribute to my life so far and to becoming the authentic, real person that I so wanted to be. I’m proud to be free of alcohol. Proud to be a “flag waver” for OYNB and for the thousands of people who belong to it. You really cannot make a better choice than to let OYNB into your life……then you will find you are part of a much bigger one in every way.
I finished my 90 days and am still alcohol-free. I am convinced I will stay that way and never have an alcoholic drink again. I was strong before my challenge but now, well I truly have nothing to hide and am even stronger for it.
An entrepreneur and former senior oil broker, Ruari gave up drinking after excessive consumption almost cost him his marriage, and worse, his life. Going alcohol-free improved his relationships, career and energy levels, leading to him founding OYNB to provide a support network for others.