A Step Back from Drinking Alcohol
For a number of years now I’ve wanted to take a step back from drinking. Each time that I aimed to take a month off I got a few weeks in and then thought “Stuff it!” and fell back into the old habit.
On the 18th of February 2016 I went out with my wife, we went to the Sydney Opera House to see Beethoven’s 5th and arrived around 30 minutes before the doors were to open. This should have been enough time to feel relaxed and comfortable with being on time, but I was stressed to the max because I needed to get to the bar for at least 2 drinks before hand! I was not feeling that great and was looking for that crutch that was going to help me “feel better”. Needless to say, I got to the bar and had those two drinks, I threw them down like water.
I got home from that night and felt disgusted in myself, felt out of control. I hated the feeling that I couldn’t enjoy a nice night out without feeling the need to put on my mask of alcohol. My wife had sent me a link to this website about a month or so earlier when I had mentioned to her for the 100th time that I wanted a break from drinking. On February 22nd I woke up and made the decision that I would embark on a 90 day challenge.
I’ve now been without a drink for 65 days!! This time around I have actually found it far easier then when my goal was to take a month off. Perhaps this is because I’ve really had to accept that I’ll be not drinking for quite a while. Also this time around I made a solid decision, it wasn’t born of a should, but instead a MUST. I have to show myself who is the boss here! If I can’t not drink for 90 days what does that say about my character, my strength? Is this the type of person I want to be? Is this the person that I want reflecting back to my wife or my children?
The first couple of weeks were of course a little difficult, I found myself avoiding social situations. I also replaced my beers with 0.0% beers as a substitute (to make it seem like I was still drinking I guess!). I kept a journal for the first 30 days almost every day, which was a great tool to get out my thoughts, frustrations and fears, but as time went on things got easier and easier. This past weekend I went to 3 functions where they all centered around drinking, I had water and felt great. I also realized that for the first time in a long time, my intention going to these events was to talk and meet people, as opposed to going for a few drinks. I found I had a wonderful time and met all these new people…who I still remember!
I have dealt with anxiety for most of my adult life and I’ve used alcohol as a way to avoid my feelings. When stress arrived in my life, so did the beer, I always turned to alcohol to deal with what life was throwing at me, but in the end it was only making my anxiety much worse. I was feeling really out of control and the drink was only drowning me further.
Not drinking has brought some massive rewards. Firstly, I’ve dropped from 87kg’s to 80kg’s!! How many empty calories must I have been consuming!? Crazy what one little change has done to my weight.
Secondly and most profoundly, the clarity that has come from not drinking has enabled and empowered me to look deep within myself. I’ve now started asking myself what my habits and thoughts are trying to protect me from feeling? What am I not allowing myself to feel? Am I scared? It’s okay. Am I uncertain? It’s okay. Am I feeling vulnerable? It’s okay. Do I feel regret? It’s okay. I now sit with and get to know the feeling rather than avoid it. I found a great website for those suffering from anxiety: Conscious-Transitions.com
I’m facing my true feelings like never before, I’m stripping back the layers of the onion so to speak. I am able to see that deep down I’m a soft and sensitive person who created a shell of armor, of supposed strength through all, in order to be accepted, in order to merge in to what I thought society wanted of me. Now I am accepting who I am. Now I’m okay to not be okay! It’s not weak at all, it is actually a sign of true strength.
I am almost at the end of my 90 day challenge. I am not sure yet as to whether I will continue past the 90 days, but all I know is that I have discovered the real me through this experience. I am now making new and empowered decisions about who I am, who I spend my time with and where and when I spend my time.
I’m currently also removing processed sugar and caffeine from my diet as I’m now on a quest to remove anything that is masking the real me. I don’t need a crutch, I don’t need stimulants, life is stimulating enough when we are not clouded from the storm of our bad habits.
I wish you all the very best on your own person challenge. No one can make the change but you. You will feel so good when you do something so positive for you, and the ripples will move into all areas of your life, and in ways you never could have imagined!
Take care and love yourself,