Tackling this alcohol free challenge was a natural next step on my quest for self acceptance and self care. Life before going AF was unhappy. I didn’t feel able to experience joy. My days would start in a fog and end finishing off a bottle of wine. My youngest children weren't aware of the amount I drank but they knew that Mommy her loved wine. It was a running joke in our family.
It was a culmination of events led to my decision to go AF.
I wouldn’t consider myself to be a heavy drinker, but I loved being the life of the party. I would host lavish events centred around drinking and eating. All of that changed 4 years ago. First with a huge, almost marriage ending argument with my husband that was both physically and verbally unacceptable to us both. Then months later my best friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
I felt like my world was collapsing.
She was not only my best friend, she was a mother figure to me and to have her slowly leaving me was devastating. I cried every day for months. She died 14 months after diagnosis. On the heals of that loss, my doubles parter was diagnosed with terminal cancer and we lost her 7 months afterward.
By this time, I was on antidepressants and medication for my spastic colon and recurrent ulcer. The stress was unbearable and I still had kids at home to raise and be present for. I made the decision, with the full support of my husband, to seek therapy.
That decision may very well have saved my life.
In the following years, I came to realise all of the reasons I felt inadequate. The reasons that I drank to “compensate” for those perceived inadequacies. As therapy continued…. I came to understand that the emotional baggage I have been carrying around for 30+ years was not my shame to own. I had been the victim of sexual abuse in my family and it was not addressed. In fact, it was ignored and covered up.
I am now 49 years old. I am a new person.
I am alive and I have hope. God, therapy, understanding who my tribe is and the support of my husband, children and tight circle of friends unconsciously brought me to the decision to attempt an AF challenge after seeing the pop up on facebook feed. I will be forever grateful.
Immediately I downloaded the book and looked for a physical challenge to undertake. Little did I know that my challenge would be an emotional challenge of the highest order for this enmeshed child-like adult. I finally found the courage to set healthy boundaries with my parents. I finally found my voice to say I did not own that shame from my childhood. I was a child and I was not protected. That was not burden to bear.
I have experienced so many things AF.
I went to my first group birthday party (normally I would be drink for drink with my husband). Plus, my dear friends going away party. I was asked to bring wine. I did. But I did not drink! She was thrilled to have a DD for the event! I experienced my first Spring Break with my kids in YEARS AF. I am living my best life now and I plan to continue.
To date, I have lost 10lbs.
My skin and eyes are the clearest and brightest they have ever been! I have undertaken a fundraising event for my 11 yr old that requires I bake umpteen thousand cookies and cupcakes and I am DELIGHTED TO DO IT! I no longer feel the need to drink and cover up my emotions. That has a lot to do with the fact that antidepressants work MUCH BETTER without alcohol in the mix.
I am content and alive.
I plan to make amends where I need to and continue to stand strong in resolve with my personal healthy boundaries when I need to. I have a lifetime to go and I plan to make the absolute best of it!
Thank you for your encouragement, the OYNB book and the ad that first caught my eye. My life is better because of it. I hope to motivate anyone remotely interested in trying an AF challenge to do so. I have already spoken to so many people about my journey with OYNB and hope to continue to be an advocate for AF life.