When Ali Roff started her alcohol-free journey seven weeks ago, she hoped its absence would allow her to build authentic self-confidence. But she could never have predicted the reactions and realisations she experienced along the way…

When I first started writing for OYNB, I thought about my relationship with alcohol – a glass of wine over dinner was no big deal, but as a quiet, sometimes shy empath, I had known for some time that on a big night out I hid behind alcohol and allowed myself to use it to make me feel more confident in big social situations. A glass in my hand and the steady sipping of bubbles made me feel invincible – but from what?

Looking back now, I see this time almost as a goodbye letter to alcohol. A ‘thanks for the great times, but it’s time to part ways’ letter; an ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ kind of break up. I knew that if I wanted to ever be truly confident, and therefore achieve the things I wanted to achieve, https://www.oneyearnobeer.com/a-life-less-ordinary-how-saying-no-to-alcohol-helped-me-find-true-success-by-ali-roff (eg. writing a book), or get over the fears that had long stood in my way (eg. public speaking), I had to allow myself to be just me, and that meant not hiding behind a glass of wine for Dutch courage.

But aside from what actually happened next for me on my alcohol-free journey, the reactions I received in response to this very personal lifestyle change were in themselves so interesting. Ultimately, when we make a decision to change something in our lives that is accepted as socially normal, like drinking, it can trigger others to look at their own relationship with the thing at hand. One friend didn’t seem to get that I was simply sharing my own personal experience, and told me I should be careful not to tell people that drinking is ‘bad’ because lots of people “just enjoy it”. Quite a few admitted they used alcohol to boost their confidence too, but could never give it up. Others simply said nothing. And then there were the friends who said ‘wow!’, or who silently supported me and my quest for inner confidence, bringing me back pretty glasses of tonic water filled with fruit from the bar. One friend said she’d given up alcohol privately over a year ago and promised I’d never look back. And another said they didn’t think I was such a different person when I drank anyway, so I’d be well suited going alcohol-free, which in itself was a strange kind of compliment. What I realised through each and every one of these reactions, is that this choice isn’t about anyone else – be that their opinion of my choice, or their own relationship with alcohol. I saw the vast range of reactions as a blessing; each one a practice to allow myself to come back to my own reasons for doing this thing, which ultimately is all that mattered, and the only thing that would ever take me to the end of my journey, wherever it may lead me.

And as for this part of my journey, well, the things I worried about never came to fruition. Out with friends at bars, birthday parties or weddings, once the temptation to drink passed (helped along by my trusty mindfulness practices, https://www.oneyearnobeer.com/mindfulness-for-an-alcohol-free-summer-series-practice-1-noticing-your-thoughts-by-ali-roff, I found myself having just as much fun as I would have with the alcohol. My friends still spoke to me, I still danced, I still had deep and meaningful discussions with people. And here was the big revelation; my friends still liked me. And they liked me for the real me, not because I was a ‘more-fun-drunk-me’ – which apparently was a figment of my imagination anyway.

Was this the thing I had been using alcohol to feel invincible against? Myself? And could it be that I had been giving the alcohol too much power all along with this idea I had of myself as a more interesting, more fun, care-free person after a few glasses of prosecco? It turns out that she was there all along with or without the bubbles. It just took removing them from the equation altogether, in order to see it for myself.

Want more support? One Year No Beer is the leading habit changing programme with a 96% success rate – sign up for one of the challenges here, and get access to the incredibly supportive OYNB forum, where you can meet, be inspired and supported by like-minded people on their own alcohol-free journey.


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