My relationship with alcohol has always been complicated.
Despite the relatively late start of having my first drink at age 19, I never mastered the art of ‘casual’ drinking. While I didn’t drink every day, it was often hard to find the off switch when I did. I’d do things I’d regret, and then feel embarrassed and ashamed. In addition to the lost evenings spent drinking, I would often lose almost an entire day of productivity after a heavier session. I was just scraping by and doing the bare minimum. I felt like I wasn’t living a life I could be proud of. I wanted to be the best version of myself, and to be the most clear and present mom I could be. I knew that wasn’t possible with the direction I was heading in. Throw in a divorce and a pandemic, and I got to a point where I knew things needed to change.
Learning to replace bad habits with good ones
I first found OYNB over two years ago, and initially did a 28-day challenge. Since then, there have been a few failed attempts at other programmes, along with some moderately successful ones. But what remained were my ongoing attempts to learn my triggers and deal with unhealed trauma, learning to replace bad habits with good ones, and continually trying to build a life I don’t need to escape from or want to escape from—all while staying engaged with the OYNB community. It’s without a doubt one of the most supportive and non-judgemental groups of people you could ever hope to find.
I feel so clear-minded now
My life is so much richer now. A big thing with OYNB—which I think differs from some other alcohol-free programmes—is that it’s not asking you to just use willpower alone. Instead, the focus becomes building a life so fabulous that all the other things take precedence over drinking. There are so many things I want to do now that are much more important to me than having a drink! I have plenty of goals and projects that are now clearer, and feel more possible without alcohol. I’ve been present and have made great memories with my two wonderful children, and I even started the process of realising my dream of moving to a property with more land and owning goats! I’ve rediscovered my love of art; painting and drawing in my free time, and it’s been more rewarding than I ever imagined. Spending time on my art projects would not be possible while spending an evening drinking. Or maybe it would—I just don’t think I’d want to see the results!
This journey has not always been easy, and learning to date alcohol-free has been both terrifying but absolutely worth it! My skin is much healthier, and I feel so clear-minded now.
I was incrementally changing my mindset
Looking back at all my stumbles, false starts, and baby steps, I see now that I was incrementally changing my mindset. I’m currently on day 58 of a 90-day challenge, which will wrap up before my 42nd birthday at the end of April. And even though it has felt so much easier this time and as if things just clicked, I know in reality it has taken every moment of the previous two-plus years to get here. It’s been worth every hard and uncomfortable moment I’ve had along the way.
Making room for all the amazing things life has to offer
The role and impact of alcohol in my daily life has diminished dramatically over the past two years, and my goal is to always keep it in its quiet little corner to make room for all the other amazing things, opportunities, and connections life has to offer. There is no true growth without self-reflection, and OYNB really provides the tools to dig deeper in a setting with like-minded individuals. I can’t recommend the programme enough to anyone who is looking to improve their life or even get to know themself better.