One evening in October 2017, my son (then 12 years old) brought me a beer. It was 8pm and I was sat at my computer, working.

He hadn’t seen me all evening and as he presented me with his offering, I had a moment of clarity. What kind of example was I setting? 

That night I couldn’t sleep, but this was nothing new. The daily routine of soothing my noisy brain with a few tins of something strong often saw me awoken at 3am to a cacophony of anxieties and fears. 

Going back 15 years ago

man before quitting alcoholI was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease and had set about transforming my lifestyle. I lost weight, took up running and gained a reputation as a fitness freak. But my overthinking brain was relentless and every evening, my solution was to drink. And it worked, for a while. But life’s problems never go away and here I was again. Who was I kidding? Alone in the small hours one night, and armed with a web browser and credit card, I reached out. OYNB was the voice in the darkness. 

At first, I felt uneasy.

I kept it quiet, worried that I would be judged. As weeks rolled into months it became exciting… a cultural rebellion, an act of defiance in the face of social norms. Very soon it became liberating. I was free. Free from the physical, mental and social confines of alcohol and its consequences. No hangovers, no half-forgotten conversations or arguments, no unexplained aches and pains and fear. I could drive whenever I wanted, choose to party hard or sleep like a log, then get up early and seize the day. 

And people didn’t really notice. The not-drinking that is.

man healthy after quitting alcohol, runningThey did at first, as they would if I shaved my beard or dyed my hair blue. But sure enough, after the initial probing, the conversation moved on to more interesting things. And as I hadn’t fundamentally changed, I just carried on. After a while, no-one really seemed to care. Life would never be the same again. 

I am now waiting for a kidney transplant, but am able to live (outwardly at least) a fairly normal life. Despite my medical predicament I am able to work full time, run marathons (confounding my doctors’ expectations), party like a maniac and enjoy life to its absolute fullest. I’ve also saved a small fortune and bought myself a caravan. Holidays used to be limited by finances. Now I can holiday whenever I want, the limiting factor is time. 

For me, going AF was a life choice.

A logical next step, a well signposted but often ignored fork in the road. In this day and age of bold rebellion, I wear my AF badge with pride and a clarity of purpose. I am not evangelical but will extol its virtues to anyone who will listen. I am reaping the benefits of an alcohol-free life and would not be where I am today without OYNB and their quiet and unwavering support. Deciding to quit was hard, but once I had decided, OYNB made doing it easy. I have moved on and am a better person for it. 

 

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