Day or night, you can find someone to support you in the group.
I was a 1-2 nights per week binge drinker, I did it for the buzz. Every time I drank, I was looking for that feeling of being free and untethered from my responsibilities and “enjoying life”. I drank to escape and reward myself for a job well done, because I thought that’s what I deserved.
With my tolerance so high, I had trouble reaching the buzzed feeling I was going for, so, just one more…and one more. I knew it was getting worse and that I needed to do something about it for years. My close friends and family didn’t express much concern, except my husband on a rare occasion. But the truth is, I didn’t give enough credence to my own inner alarm bells.
I did all the half-measures
I tried the moderation techniques and even stopped for short periods of time. But everything I attempted was like putting a band aid on a chest wound, and because of my failings, the negative self-talk and cognitive dissonance became unbearable. “I used to have willpower, where did it go? Why does half my brain WANT TO DRINK so badly? Why can’t the other half that KNOWS this is not a good thing get a handle on it? Why do I make myself sick?”… The worse I felt about myself, the more I drank.
The turning point
I went deep into my spiral during lockdown of 2020 and it became routine for me to be out at a friend’s house until 2 or 3 a.m. at least 1 night per week, driving home way over the legal limit, and having raging hangovers for 1-2 days afterward. I was regularly putting myself and others in physical danger, and my relationship with my husband was suffering because I was unreliable and untrustworthy. Two things I never thought would define me.
My last binge was on May 9th, Mother’s Day 2021. I stayed out all night, too out of it to let him know where I was or that I was ok. The next day when I got home, the feeling in the room had shifted. It was time…I knew something had to change. That’s when I joined OYNB.
My experience of the challenge
When I signed up with OYNB, my intention was to do the 28 day challenge to ease my way in. I couldn’t fathom making such a big commitment as 90 days or one whole year, and I didn’t want to put undue pressure on myself by doing that. But somehow, I accidentally signed up for the 90 day challenge… and I panicked. I tried to get it changed, but with the weight of last night’s binge heavy on my heart and the alcohol still coursing through my veins, it sank in that this might be the universe’s way of guiding me to what I really needed.
So I decided to stay the course for the full 90 days – I was committed. I am a person who likes the structure of a course or program, and it felt right to plug into a train that was already moving. I felt the momentum of it was what I needed.
The biggest thing I learned
I began to realise just how much alcohol had been affecting every aspect of my life because I wasn’t living in my integrity. When you don’t live in your integrity, suffering is the result.
My relationships were deteriorating because I compartmentalised my feelings and didn’t know how to communicate effectively or create boundaries. I knew the person I was supposed to be, but that life was out of reach. My inner chatter was so deafening there was no room for a spiritual connection, and I didn’t have enough self-worth to put any energy toward continuing my growth.
I compared my alcohol use with others around me and didn’t trust myself to KNOW that my relationship with it was taking me down a dark path. Since I stopped drinking 100 days ago now, I have begun a healing journey to address all the physical and emotional issues that I had been suppressing with alcohol for years.
I’ve gone to doctors and have implemented health regimens. I’ve created a yoga and meditation space to dedicate myself to a regular practice. I have meditated more in the last 90 days than in my life up to this point, though I’ve always known the benefits of it. I’ve started journaling again which is such a cathartic way of working through your feelings. I always journaled in the past but had stopped years ago, because my self-growth was stunted by alcohol. I wasn’t making any progress toward all the things I had aspired to do, and the negative feelings this would create came flowing out of my pen on repeat each time I sat down to write. Without alcohol in the way, I am connected to myself and who I know I am meant to be.
The OYNB support
The daily videos are very helpful for focus and staying on track. I liked having the prompts to consider different aspects of my journey each day. But surprisingly, it turned out that the private Facebook group was the most instrumental to my process and success.
Connecting with people around the world who are all duelling with the same ugly monster individually, yet together, is powerful. Because I didn’t know them personally at first, and the fact that there was a computer between us, I was able to lay my heart out on the table with no inhibitions. I was completely honest about how I got there, why I wanted to quit drinking, and what I was learning along the way. It was a healing release to be able to discuss this part of my life with people who really understood.
Day or night, you can find someone to support you in the group. We celebrate our victories together, like the first sober party, being AF during a vacation, or reaching a milestone…and we help pick each other up when there’s a back slide. Through this bonding experience, I’ve made some great friends worldwide!
A mindset shift
My relationship with alcohol has completely shifted after 90 days. I don’t need it anymore because I’ve deepened my relationship with myself. I realised the root of my addiction was a lack of self-worth. I found that once I was able to really commit to removing alcohol from my life, it cleared the path for my next steps toward self-love and self-actualisation.
I now say I’m retired from drinking alcohol. I really have no desire to drink it because 1) I know it’s not healthy for me and my body deserves to be cared for & 2) I’m finally living in my integrity and can only do that with clarity of mind. I value myself and know that it’s a line I can’t cross because it takes me out of my integrity. It has the power to really damage my life and I deserve better than that. There are gifts of presence and awareness on the other side of that line.
This AF chapter of my life includes learning new coping techniques to help dissipate the negative feelings that arise (that I pushed down with alcohol), connecting more with myself through meditation, journaling, and self-care (which I had stopped completely because I didn’t think I deserved it), connecting with others, and figuring out what’s next in the way of service and giving back. I have upgraded to 365 so I’m here for the full year now and it feels great!