I have safety for me and my children, self-worth, health, a job I love, more spare money… the list is endless. How marvellous it that?!

Alcohol and excessive drinking is insidious. I was drinking well in excess of the recommended healthy units: about two glasses of wine a night on average but found countless ways to justify it. I compared myself to people who drank more, to the stereotype of an “alcoholic” etc. It was really more like 3-4 bottles of red wine a week and I thought that was fine!

On nights out

I would invariably drink until memory loss and blamed it on my low tolerance level, not the quantity. I thought I was the heart and soul of a party or gathering but was probably obnoxious and definitely said and did things that even now can fill me with embarrassment. I always woke up with The Fear (if you know, you know)!

I always had fun to start with, followed by the evening crashing. I put myself in unsafe situations, I took risks, I drank at home for no reason, I never knew when to stop. Apart from my then husband, no one thought I had a problem! I either hid the amount I drank, or “mummy wine culture” jokes validated my choices: “drinking on a play date? how funny”! Or “of course we need wine o clock” etc. The memes and jokes around it are endless and seem to justify drinking and created a sisterhood.

But I was miserable

I was making awful choices, I had anxiety, I wasn’t eating well or exercising, my blood test came back showing some variations outside of the healthy range. My young children knew I drank daily, my marriage was failing, I was sometimes working with awful hangovers at best or possibly still under the influence at worst. I knew I was on a slippery slope and hit rock bottom. I was functioning but miserable.

My mother died when she was 49 of alcohol related problems. I was literally drowning my misery with wine, which just made everything worse. When I gave up, my husband had already left a few months previously (not directly because of my drinking, I drank more in the year beforehand to cope with the failing marriage and perhaps could have saved it without the destruction of alcohol but who knows). Dating with alcohol lead to some awful choices too. But alcohol was just a part of my life, purring away in the background.

It wasn’t even the night I fell over on my way home and bruised and lacerated my face, ultimately, I made a fool of myself at the work Christmas party in early December 2019 and knew that enough was enough. That night was my last drink, 19th December was my first day sober and I haven’t touched any alcohol since.

Finding OYNB

OYNB was advertised on Facebook so I was aware of it and had been thinking about joining. So I signed up for 90 days. It was such an invaluable tool for getting sober and I honestly could not have done it without the daily guidance. Having bitesize chunks of information to reflect on and action made habit change manageable. Each day OYNB reinforced or taught me a lesson.

The Facebook group is legendary! It is supportive, inspiring, informative and the most amazing thing to be part of on a sober journey! I downloaded an app as well that counts my days sober, calories and money saved. It is a great visual. I made a decision to stop drinking and I did. I still sometimes want to drink but every day I continue to make that choice not to. It is not a magic wand but the tool-belt I found through OYNB has been invaluable.

Being alcohol-free has changed my life!

I have lost friends on the way but even that I can’t see as a negative, as I now know to look for real connections. I am an entirely different person now to who I was 19 months ago. I am confident in myself, I understand my values and boundaries, I am motivated, I have a great relationship with my children. I have learnt to sit with all of my emotions, they are ALL valid, and I have learnt to process past trauma and be grateful for my life and strength. I no longer need antidepressants and now don’t suffer from anxiety beyond what is considered normal.

The time sober has thrown at me more challenges than I could ever have imagined. I have gone through a very messy and difficult divorce but, while stressful, I was clear headed enough to behave in a way that promoted resolution eventually and the best outcome for my children. I am a safe mother! I am present and there for my children. Through two surgeries that my son needed, or emergency trips in the car – I was sober, I could drive! I do sometimes lose my temper, but generally I am more patient and know to recognise when my emotional or physical resources are low and address that, not drown them. I lost my dear Grandad at 5 months sober and I did not drown the grief. I did grieve, I did cry, but I was not blinkered and I also celebrated his life and am so grateful he was such a big presence in my life for so long.

Even more benefits

I have lost weight, exercise more and have clear skin, but I am most proud of my mentality. I have accepted myself for who I am and addressed the body dysmorphia that I had since a teenager! It is wonderfully liberating and lifesaving in itself. As a result, accepting myself and knowing my worth, couple with dating sober has meant I have met someone, and we have started to build a wonderful relationship. I have kept my independence because I am secure in myself, but it is lovely to have a partnership too, but for the first time in my life, my relationship doesn’t define me, I love who I am, he is just the icing on the cake.

I have found joy again

I ran a half marathon at around the 90 days mark. I took up open water swimming when the pools closed during lockdown, I climbed the Three Peaks of Scotland, England and Wales – a long term dream! Sadly, I also got badly injured a week after the Three Peaks when a driver crushed me between two cars at about 9 months sober. I was told that I would not walk for about 9 months. With a clear head, healthy body and determination, this single mum was up and moving by Christmas! There is a long road to full physical recovery but I am able to do the physio without hang overs and my body is healthy and primed to heal. I got through the prosecution. And in a months’ time I will climb the highest peak in Norther Ireland to complete the UK set.

I have also worked really hard because I now have energy and focus. I dropped out of my nursing degree when I left school, shortly after my mum died. But now, as a mature student and single mum 15 years on, I have nearly finished my first year of the degree! Despite my leg injury, divorce, grief, and other hurdles, I have achieved a third of a degree and am on my way to being a registered nurse. A career that I love and cannot imagine doing anything else.

I can also demonstrate healthy choices by example and that integrity means the world to me. I could not have don’t any of the above without being sober. None of it. My life is unrecognisable compared to my drinking days and I love that I created this life for me and my children. I still sometimes want a drink, but it is not remotely worth it.

The OYNB support

I found the small and manageable goals at the beginning to be excellent. My “whys” kept me focussed and the daily emails, micro goals and inspiration helped me keep taking those early sober steps. Ultimately it was the Facebook group that I found most valuable. It keeps me going even now, 19 months on. The support, camaraderie, celebrations and sharing of success and struggles really helps to focus the mind and see alcohol for what it is: a substance that I cannot tolerate or handle and which does nothing to add to or support the kind of life that I want.

Every day I choose not to drink

Over time this has become habit and I recognise the cravings for what they are, the Wine Witch, neuro pathways, emotional or physical needs that can be met in a productive way etc. Nothing more than that.

I enjoy drinking AF drinks and have tonic water each evening instead of wine. Or a hot chocolate in winter to emulate that cosy feeling I used to attribute to wine. It IS hard to break a habit, to address questions on why I am not drinking, to learn to behave differently in social situations, to stick to boundaries etc. A lot of that just takes time, practice and a willingness to explore the feelings and reflect on choices available, but it gets easier every day and the benefits far, far outstrip anything that alcohol could ever do for me. Which is nothing. It holds nothing of value and have nothing to gain from alcohol: without it,

I have safety for me and my children, self-worth, health, a job I love, more spare money… the list is endless. How marvellous it that?!


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