I like myself, and feel I deserve a life *without* alcohol!
I’d been a heavy drinker since my forties, when I was working in marketing communications. I did quite a few alcohol-free bouts, and they always ended with: “I deserve a bottle of nice winel.” That bottle would, within a fortnight, lead me straight back to the heavy drinking. I loved the wine, and I hated the wine.
During the first Covid lockdown, half of Australia hit the bottle shops with more gusto than ever before, which became a “legitimate” reason for me to drink even more. Which I did.
Once we were out of lockdown and life was showing signs of returning to normal, I had to face the ugly truth that I was drinking to the point of embarrassment. It wasn’t pretty. And I hated that alcohol had control of me and not the other way around.
Around this time OYNB kept popping up in my social media feeds – which I ignored – until I started reading some of the testimonials. The fact you had to pay to join somehow made it more real; more legitimate. So I signed up for 28 days, hoping like hell OYNB could help me get a grip on alcohol, because I was fed up with the drinking. I was fed up with myself!
The first couple of days I was convinced I would fail. It was all a bit white knuckle, hanging on to see how many days I could manage before giving up. Nothing had ever worked before, right? Then I joined the OYNB Facebook group and it was as if I had found my tribe, the ones who really understood how alcohol had gotten its clutches into me and wasn’t leaving any time soon.
My experience going alcohol-free
The community suggested some quit lit (a term I’d never heard before), so I did some research and bought a Kindle copy of several that resonated. That started the change: understanding what was really going on, understanding alcohol.
The daily emails and videos were a huge help in seeing the bigger picture of what I was doing to myself, on so many levels. I wasn’t living, I was existing.
On day 12 or 13, I “decided” to have a bottle of wine, to see if I felt any different about alcohol after reading about the stuff for ten days. That was my pivot: I was violently ill all night, could not get out of bed the next day, could only manage some tea, dry toast and a shower and was back in bed, three hours later. Usually a bottle wouldn’t even get me drunk! It was as though my body was rejecting the wine, like a dangerous poison. And the idea stuck: alcohol *is* poison, dressed as heady nectar to be enjoyed by sophisticated people straight out of Central Casting.
A mindset shift
I do not think of alcohol the same way. Alcohol lies to us, and I chose to believe the lie. The tentacles of alcohol dig deep. They were especially strong in convincing me that wine is great; have a glass with dinner; don’t you just love the taste?
No. For some of us who have developed a problem with alcohol, I can’t have a glass with dinner and I never really drank for the taste. I drank to get drunk.
Have I changed after 90 days? Better energy, brighter eyes, more motivation, sure. However, the greatest benefit, by far, has been how I now feel about myself. I feel empowered. I like myself, and feel I deserve a life *without* alcohol! I used to have cravings for wine. Now I have a craving for fulfilment, for joy, for health and well-being.
The OYNB support
One of the most powerful support tools is the Facebook group. It is well managed, and all the posts and responses come from a good place. You can sense the understanding and compassion of every member there.
The videos were a support as well. They created a space in which to reevaluate, and to see the bigger picture: we are not “giving up” alcohol, as I used to think. We are “choosing” to keep alcohol away from ourselves and by doing so, we are “choosing” life.
I’m not sure I ever want to drink alcohol again. It scares me. I know it has power, and in the past I dismissed its Machievallian ways as just me being weak and giving in. But in recognising the power alcohol can hold over us, we can be armed and ready. And one day, in the not-too-distant future, I will forget the power it had over me. I will forget all about alcohol. The stuff will be like the song: “somebody that I used to know.”
I would totally, absolutely and unreservedly recommend OYNB to anyone considering taking a break from drinking.