Switching to AF gave me the opportunity to demonstrate that we can celebrate without alcohol.
Originally, I am from Venezuela where the culture is to drink alcohol for any situation or celebration. I grow up seeing my dad ingesting large quantities of alcohol and be socially accepted. The message received was alcohol is not a problem, not paying the rent is a big one (paradoxical).
Living in Venezuela the amount of alcohol consumed was astounding. I became ‘Alcohol-Fit’ because my body was able to manage these quantities without blackout or collateral damage (lucky and stupid to be honest). Moving to Australia lowered the drink habit a bit, but it was still present.
A turning point
I usually drank toward the end of the week, starting on Thursdays, sometimes Fridays and last on Saturdays. However, 2020 as for many others it was a rough year. Due to family problems and few hits from work I started to drink more often. At my peak, I think I hit 6 days per week. It was not the quantity more than the frequency which raised the red flags about the consumption.
OYNB came at exactly the right time. In September 2020 I was dealing with mental issues and alcohol was not helping me to solved them. I didn't feel as though my drinking was causing me serious enough problems to attend AA, however I was also not anywhere near being able to stop drinking. It was really a turning point where if I didn’t tackle the problem, it could derail my life.
My experience going alcohol-free
My main concern joining OYNB was simply, would I be able to finish this challenge? I started with the 90 days challenge, being honest with myself was important to create genuine change, and I felt like 28 days probably wouldn't be enough time to discover what lays underneath. It was clear the alcohol was a consequence of a major problem and I was determine to find it.
One of the issues I faced initially was getting support from my family, my wife thought I was bluffing, my daughter teenager didn’t pay attention much. Only my son (10 years old) was the only one who wrote me the reasons of why I should stop drinking (I still keep his post). Just with the passage of the time, my family came to understand this challenge was real.
Taking the challenge
I wanted to set a good example for my children, specifically for my daughter as she was 17 years old when I started the challenge and her mind was starting to look towards what to drink when she reached the 18 mark. I had been a good example of “why not to drink” during her entire life, nevertheless, switching to AF gave me the opportunity to demonstrate that we can celebrate without alcohol.
Definitively the main learning has been to accept when you have a problem, and don't be afraid of searching for help. There is a stigma that men can't have problems, or talk openly about them when they do, but it doesn't have to be the case. Men and women are exposed to multiple situations that can end in mental issues but our society has taught us to avoid or deny help because we can solve them by ourselves.
Outcomes: there are many of them.
- Sleep: I’m not waking up in the middle of night, now I can sleep like a baby at least 7 hours without interruption.
- Gained more energy, it was translated to visit the gym in the early morning (5:30 am).
- Productivity has increased everywhere, added meditation to my early routine brought me to be more focused in my daily activities.
- Mental peace, this is the main one. I can’t find words how to describe it.
The OYNB Support
The videos are structured in a way that guide me across of different stages of the process. At the early days you are a bit lost, something is missing due to the lack of alcohol to solve your problems or numb your mind. Nevertheless, the videos start to guide you across different experiences and provide the tools required.
My approach about problems and responses now are different. I have learn to accept what can’t be changed (it was a difficult step). I must admit the anxiety created by the future was faded away, now I try live in the present. No more grumpy ‘Dad’ in the early mornings compared to the past, although my kids would sometimes put in a ‘good effort’ to bring it back ! ☺
The Facebook group is an amazing tool. You will find people around the world keen to share their experiences and give you additional support. It’s not only OYNB group, it is the entire community that has personal growth in mind which helps during this journey.
OYNB is a special experience during these times with a different approach than you will find elsewhere. It’s clear that a single shoe doesn’t fit all the sizes required, but that said, I would recommend OYNB to anyone who wants to changed their relationship with alcohol. OYNB will become a foundational steps in your wish to improve your life.