“Instead of giving up something bad for me, I am embracing something which is good for me”
When I was seventeen my (wonderful, moderate drinker) parents sat me down and told me they were worried my life was getting a bit out of hand. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked defensively, ‘I just got great exam results!’ ‘You’re working hard,’ my Dad said, ‘but you’re playing harder.’
I wore that comment as a badge of honour. Sure, I was partying every night, drinking a lot and sometimes embarrassing myself in a way that I hated, but it wasn’t getting in the way of what I wanted to achieve.
The next decade panned out exactly as you would expect
At some point I became a Christian and although I felt that it should lead me to drink less, I found it hard to cut down in a way that lasted. Although I saw wine as a gift, to be enjoyed in a sensible way, my lifestyle felt out of kilter with my beliefs. I would ‘cut down’ or ‘quit’ on occasions but it never lasted.
The turning point
Then in the last couple of years the manageable became unmanageable. I felt like I was always playing catch up. I started to feel anxious and depressed, particularly after drinking. I was always on the go but I found it impossible to rest, always worrying there was something else I should be doing, that I was dropping the ball. I knew that drinking wasn’t helping but it seemed like too much effort on top of everything else to stop. I thought it gave me the ‘energy’ and the ‘escape’ that I needed to have fun, when I was always feeling stressed.
I had been reading OYNB adverts for perhaps a year, thinking ‘why would I pay for something I could do myself?’ One random Monday morning in January I went into the office once again feeling more tired and rundown than when I left it. A colleague asked me how my weekend had been and I felt a pang of conviction that it once again had not been the fun, productive time I had planned, that I was still feeling the impact of my decisions to drink heavily every night.
That evening I signed up for the 28-Day Challenge knowing I needed a break and a reset. Can you imagine my delight when I signed into the Facebook forum and immediately came across a post from one of my oldest and dearest friends who had signed up on the very same day! We linked up, and her support and encouragement has been invaluable.
28-days seemed to whizz by
When I started to creep towards Day 28 I knew I couldn’t stop there. I planned to moderate my drinking carefully afterwards but I knew I still need support. I extended to 90-days and have continued to engage with the emails and the community as I work out what my relationship with alcohol should look like. I am so grateful that this journey has taken me into the COVID-19 crisis in a far better state than I would have been otherwise!
The AF benefits
I was already pretty fit when I started OYNB so for me the changes were never meant to be physical – though I have lost weight and, without much effort, I’m training better and feeling stronger than ever before! However, the most significant change for me has been to my mental state. I feel a thousand times calmer, happier and more peaceful than I have in years. I have been doing just as much work and socialising as I ever have yet I have found opportunities to pursue old hobbies which got lost in the busyness.
One unexpected benefit is that I have learned to say no to things. I think until now I felt that saying yes to everything was my penance for the fact that drinking too much effected my energy. Now I have a clear head to make good decisions: to turn that late-night drinking session into a fun brunch the next day, or leave the party just a tiny bit earlier so I can spring out of bed in the morning. Even my friends have expressed relief when I’ve told them I’m not drinking, saying it gives them the chance to have a night off!
I have quit alcohol hundreds of times in the past, abstained for periods then quickly fallen back into old habits. OYNB has given me tools for life which I know have totally changed my approach. Instead of giving up something bad for me, I am embracing something which is good for me – a sober curious lifestyle which make me a happier, calmer, more fun and grateful version of myself!
An entrepreneur and former senior oil broker, Ruari gave up drinking after excessive consumption almost cost him his marriage, and worse, his life. Going alcohol-free improved his relationships, career and energy levels, leading to him founding OYNB to provide a support network for others.