When COVID shut the world down in 2020, my husband and I went into instant survival mode.

I’d been seeing OYNB adverts on and off for about a year or so. I didn’t want to face that alcohol was the main reason why I wasn’t doing the things I wanted to do, and why I wasn’t feeling the way I wanted to feel. I also didn’t want to admit it because I enjoyed drinking and being sociable, and the thought of not having that was scary (and, I felt, unrealistic). My family are big drinkers, and it’s always been the norm to drink alcohol, but recently I felt it was all becoming too much. I wasn’t drinking every day, but I was drinking three to four times each week, and it had become a habit. I knew I was less productive, I didn’t exercise, and I was tired and irritable the day after drinking. I just wanted to feel better about myself. It was also obvious that my eldest son wasn’t impressed with the amount I was drinking. He challenged me about it, which made my younger son then start asking awkward questions about alcohol. All this led me to signing up to OYNB for the 28-day challenge, starting on New Year’s Day 2022. I had done month-long challenges before, so I thought I would sign up, do the 28-days, feel better, and reset my drinking habits. 

He was furloughed from his job and was home all the time, and so we basically had a non-stop party going at our home. Close friends and family sometimes came over to help keep us sane, and we began drinking more than usual (which I think a lot of people did during this time). The problem was I stayed on that path even when everyone else was starting to get back to normal. I lost my gauge on how much was too much, and I forgot how to control myself. I slowly started seeing a lot of alcoholic tendencies, and I knew I had to make a change if I wanted to keep my family intact and save myself from a desperate downward spiral. 

I hadn’t let go of the romantic notion of alcohol

It was exciting when I first discovered OYNB and I was so motivated to get going—I had reached my decision point and was ready to get into the programme. My goal initially was just to moderate my drinking, but I quickly figured out that wasn’t going to be an option for me. I started the challenge in October 2020 and made it a full six months the first time out. I thought, ‘Well, it’s been a while and I’ve done great. I think I’ve reset enough to get back to it.’ I didn’t realise that although I’d done well, I hadn’t let go of the romantic notion of alcohol. I kept waiting to fix myself so I could get back to it. I dropped off the challenge around April 2021 and went back and forth until I hit another breaking point a few months later. On 28 July 2021, I took my last drink. I called my dad crying, knowing that this was it and that I had to be done forever. I couldn’t allow myself to drift back into the mindset of drinking—it was ruining me. My self-esteem was tanking and I needed to let go of the toxic relationship. 

I’ve never once regretted my decision

Stopping hasn’t been easy all the time. In fact, there have been times when it’s downright painful. When anxiousness is tearing through me and all I want is to make it stop, and know that a drink would curb that sensation, it’s so tough to make myself walk away from it. However, I’ve never once regretted my decision to stay sober. 

It’s been a blessing to find a group that doesn’t judge, offers support and guidance, and allows me to vent, cry, beam with pride, and pat myself on the back through this entire journey. OYNB has been a huge aspect of my sobriety. I could’ve white-knuckled it for a while, but learning exactly why alcohol affects my body the way it does, and finding tools to replace the habit has been vital in keeping me away from drinking.

Something happens every day that makes me smile

I’ve learned to enjoy life again. I don’t need to have a drink in my hand to feel comfortable with myself. My confidence is significantly better and my sleep has improved so much. I no longer wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety ripping through me because I drank that night. My eyes are brighter and clearer, my skin has more glow, and my smile is brighter than ever. I’m told frequently that I look much younger than I am, and I feel that it’s attributed not only to better health but also to a positive change in my mindset. Every day is worth living for—even the bad ones. Something happens every day that makes me smile, and I’d lost that for a long time. I’ve also discovered my love of art and painting. Sobriety has given me the space to tap into my creativity and indulge in self-care in a big way. 

I’d recommend OYNB to anyone

Today, I rarely think about alcohol. It’s like thinking of an ex—it’s something I used to do, but no longer have any space for. Because I’ve been able to see alcohol for what it truly is, it doesn’t have the appeal it used to. Knowing what my life was like before OYNB, I just can’t see myself wanting to go back down that road. I get through every day with relative ease, and alcohol doesn’t need to be a part of it. Although I still enjoy having a fun drink in my hand, it’s been great exploring alcohol-free options. I’d recommend OYNB to anyone who wants to change their mindset with alcohol. It’s been the greatest investment of my life.

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