Whenever I tell people about doing the OYNB challenge they are always a bit surprised.
‘But you don’t have a drinking problem, do you?’ ‘What did we miss’? ‘We know you like a glass of wine or two or a Gin Tonic, but was it that bad’?
Well no it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t have any problems with people about my drinking, I didn’t get in arguments with people after drinking, I wasn’t a bad drunk. It was all just for fun. But maybe sometimes a little bit ‘too much fun’ and it wasn’t the kind of fun that made me happy.
I didn’t drink when I was sad or depressed. I actually drank when I was happy, when I have had a wonderful day, when I had achieved something I really wanted or I had finished a course or workshop, as a student or teacher. After such a day I couldn’t wait to get to the store and buy myself a bottle of wine to celebrate the wonderful day I had. But the promise to myself to have just 1 or 2 glasses, never lasted. Most of the time I ended up having the whole bottle.
I live alone so there’s nobody who would ‘help me stop’ after the promised one or two glasses’. I couldn’t trust myself with alcohol and almost never kept my promise to have just one glass. I hated that about myself. The next day I would feel tired, had no inspiration, was dreading the day, not liking myself and couldn’t wait to go to bed again. What a big difference with the day before when I felt so ecstatic about what I had achieved that day, all those feelings felt like it was another life.
Questioning my habits
The thing that made me aware of my behaviour and maybe the reason of doing this was something a spiritual coach told me in a womens circle group I was attending. She was telling about how for some people the ‘journey from heaven to earth’ was too painful so we tried to numb this with drugs or alcohol. I’ll try to explain this to you.
With heaven she meant being in a really good state, feeling wonderful and excited about something you did. For me that is when I’m giving a workshop or giving any other kind of class to people. When I had finished something I really loved and had to go ‘back to the ‘normal’ world, to my household, to the dishes, to doing groceries it wasn’t a nice ride. I had to go back from that awesome feeling, to the normal feeling and I numb that with alcohol. That’s why I was drinking when I felt really good.
But that wasn’t right for me anymore, I wanted to end that and be present when I was felling very good but also when I had to go from really god to normal again.
Starting my alcohol-free challenge
I tried many, many times before to moderate. But the alcohol always won. I wanted to break the cycle. And I knew deep down inside that that only would work if I stopped altogether. I saw these inspirational stories coming by on facebook about people who stopped drinking and every time I saw those it made me a bit jealous, every time i thought: I wish that was me. Until one hang over morning it occurred to me, but Maartje that could be you! The only thing you have to do is sign up. So I did.
First goal was 28 days. One of the first things that made me so happy was on day 3 when I promised myself I go to the gym at 8 o clock (which I had promised myself many many times before but never did) in the morning and I actually did.
I didn’t really know what to expect but the posts of all the other people in the group strengthened me. And what was funny, it were just normal people like me. They look like fun, strong, loving people all with great lives, nice families, lots of friends all without the alcohol. They didn’t look like alcoholics.
Creating a mindset shift
The thing that is different this time is my knowledge about what alcohol does, why we think that we need it, why ‘they’ make us think it is fun. The videos helped me, but also reading This Naked Mind. It isn’t fun, my body doesn’t like it at all. All the other times I tried not to drink, that was all I was doing: trying not to drink, but know I know why wanted a drink and even better, why I didn’t want it anymore.
It is such a relief not to have planned any activities around my drinking, often there were evenings with friends I planned and the had to think what I had to do the day after that, It couldn’t be something important because I know I would feel awful after a fun night and won’t be able to enjoy the day as I wanted to. I don’t have to plan anything like that anymore I can just go having fun, go to a party have a AF drink with friends and do want I wanted to do the next day, feeling wonderful.
My life has become so much more productive. I can’t believe all the projects I’m getting done. And I love even more all the achievements I make. I love waking up every morning loving the day ahead! It had brought me so much joy, I don’t think I want to go back ever again. Or better I know I don’t want to go back.