2 years ago in September 2020 I stopped drinking and have never started again…
I never said I’d never drink again.
In fact quite the opposite, I always said if I fancy a drink I’ll have one…
And then I never really did.
By the time I’d done a few months of sobriety it just became a thing that I did and might as well see how long I could keep it going.
Well it’s been two years now and I’m still going and although I never say never and all that, I can’t imagine taking up what I now consider to be an expensive and fruitless habit!
When I decided to stop drinking, it wasn’t because I was out of control or struggling with addiction, it had just become a mindless habit. Just something you do isn’t it… couple of beers in the sunshine… bottle of wine with a meal… out for drinks with friends for a social activity (otherwise what do you do!?)
The pandemic put a stop to social lives in some respect for a while… it invited us to slow down and in some cases question our way of living…
I’d made enough bad choices and spent enough money that I felt the need to reevaluate my relationship with alcohol and to do that I had to take a break from it… in doing so you also inevitably reevaluate your relationship with yourself and those around you…
Due to the pandemic there were no social events to turn down or feel like I was missing out on in the beginning… I didn’t have any occasions where people were questioning or peer pressuring me to drink…
Although I’ve had the occasional “boring” comment and countless “WHY’s!?” when I’ve said I’m not drinking I’ve never really experienced any expectations from others that would make me second guess my decision…
In fact the most common response I get when I say I haven’t had a drink in two years, after a little shock, is “well done” or “that’s amazing!” which actually makes me just as uncomfortable 😆 because I don’t think it’s really deserving of a “well done”… it’s something that most people could do…
I wasn't addicted, I haven’t found it a challenge and I think we need to normalise not drinking… ?
I think probably internal and societal expectations and insecurities is more of a struggle for some when exploring sobriety.
We’re (collectively) a nation of drinkers. It tends to be the answer to a lot of things - celebration, commiseration, everything in between.
So it’s become the norm to drink and far less normal to abstain.
I guess I’m lucky in that my partner doesn’t really drink. No doubt that makes it easier because there was far less likely to be any temptation when I started. No one saying “shall we order a bottle of wine?” when we went out or “do you fancy a couple of cocktails at the weekend?” No one to crack open the festive spirits over Christmas.
I also have a really good friend who’s been through the 12 steps programme and is alight with enthusiasm for most things in life but especially supporting people to be their best selves which more often than not I would say doesn’t include alcohol…(!?)
Another thing I can accredit to the pandemic but has also come with sober life is finding so many more things to do outside of pubs and bars! Now when I want to meet up with friends I get way more creative… hiking, surfing, axe throwing! among the more obvious coffee and cake dates.
I’ve not avoided any social occasions where drinking occurs but I have to be honest these have long since lost the appeal they once had…
I’ve been to pubs, bars, family meals, BBQs, drag shows, birthdays… plenty of things where I would traditionally drink and nigh on everyone else has been… and I’ve never felt like I was missing out. I wouldn’t actively choose to do something where there’d be loads of drunk people, (tbh these days if I can’t take my dog I’m rarely interested in going) but I’d never turn down an invitation or not go somewhere or do something because I don’t drink.
I even went to Ibiza last year and not a drop of alcohol touched my lips. We enjoyed mocktails and soft drinks for the most part which meant we had a lovely time, remembered our nights out and saved some money - have you seen the price of drinks in Ibiza!?
Likewise I went to a wedding this summer where (as a plus one) I didn’t know a single person (except anna ofc). I’ll admit I did have the thought beforehand of “oh god, party full of strangers and no alcohol 😬” but we had the best day, met some really interesting people, laughed loads, made genuine connections and ended up with a load of new insta friends! 🥰
I will warn you, when I first stopped drinking I expected to just wake up one day feeling like a new person, refreshed and re energised with a new lease of life… I’d suddenly be able to get up at 6am and go for runs and do yoga but noooooooo nope that never happened. I mean I could do that if I wanted to but I still can’t be arsed despite not drinking 😆 I just don’t want you to be under any illusion - quitting drinking has improved my life in loads of ways but they didn’t all hit me in one go like a super hero surge of lightening.
For the most part I can see the benefits in hindsight: the mental and emotional clarity which has improved all of my relationships with myself and others. I seek peace much more. I’m calmer.
I have more focus.
I manage my emotions better.
I do more stuff! Have more fun. Waste less time on bullshit like hangovers.
My social life doesn’t revolve around drinks/pubs/errors in judgement - I don’t use these things as a tragic form of comedy to entertain others.
Now if I thought about having a drink these ☝️ would be the things I’d be giving up and I’d have to consider if the pay off would be worth losing that clarity, peace and freedom I’ve gained from not drinking.
I think a lot of people worry about their social life when it comes to giving up drink… what their friends will say or even if they’ll still be your friend… and honestly my opinion is - if we’re not friends without a drink then we’re not friends.
If you’re even a little sober curious, questioning your relationship with alcohol, yourself or others… I highly recommend giving sobriety a go. Even just for a little while. Take some time to assess the benefits or cost. See what you notice, what you might gain from giving it up…
And if the thought of that scares you - you definitely need to do it.
Would love to hear your thoughts as always 💙