As I flipped the calendar over yesterday, I realised it marks four months belong alcohol free. How time flies! When I shared this milestone with a friend, they asked how I lasted so long without drinking. Fair question, I was KNOWN as a drinker!! So I thought I’d share my ideas with you here, with a hope that maybe it might help others early on their sobriety journeys.
What’s worked for me?
The following list (mostly in priority!) describes what I see as the key attributes to making it this far in a heavy drinking culture. I appreciate that what has worked for me won’t work for others. But here goes…
- A small circle of support. Without the love and support of my partner and some amazing friends and family members, there’s NO WAY I would have made four months! Looking back, I surrounded myself by half a dozen key support people – they had my back. They kept our conversations confidential, they didn’t judge me and they were there to share good times. They let me lean on them when the going got tough. I’ll always be thankful for their wise words and encouragement.
- Having a plan to please the drinkers. There were MANY social events early on whereby people (mostly the heavy drinkers) would drill me about not drinking. Let’s be honest, I was one of those people! I wanted to drink with DRINKERS. Not something I’m proud of, looking back. Here is my blog from those early sober days and my plan for pleasing the drinkers. This post describe how I coped with those awkward situations with as much dignity and grace as I could muster. Don’t get me wrong – I made mistakes and may have offended people unintentionally because it was hard to deal with the continued drilling by drunk people. But on the bright side, I quickly learned who my real friends are!
- Knowledge is power – retrain your brain. Consuming as much content as possible to help me retrain the brain after a lifetime of believing drinking ‘helps with stress’ or ‘makes me more fun’ etc. Podcasts like Recovery Elevator, online sober bloggers like Dawn and books all help considerably. One of the key resources that enabled me to do this was Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind. I explain how it helped me here.
- Experience, experience, experience. The more I attended parties and events where people are drinking, the more I realise that I don’t want to do it. The joys of waking up without regrets and without being worried about what I might have said to upset people the night before beats drinking hands down. Last weekend was a great example of this, it was a delight to share how it played out here.
- Finding your tribe. Along the way I have lost some friends (but were they really friends???) which saddens me. But conversely I have made some wonderful new ones! And the existing friendships are now so much more authentic! Quitting drinking has given me so much time to explore new things, it’s been an amazing journey. I believe some opportunities have come my way that would not have had I still been the old me. I’m getting into yoga and meditation in a big way. And am generally being a more authentic, happier, healthier version of myself. A friend and I are looking into a yoga retreat in Bali later this year – I will be funding it PURELY with the money I would have spent on wine. Win win!
In closing, these are the main reasons I’ve made four months alcoholfree. In putting this out there, I hope you might get a few ideas or suggestions to integrate into your own journeys.
Early sobriety is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
No job interview, work stress or other life challenge compares to how tough it was. But with the right focus, inquiring mind and support, I’m confident you can do it too.
Love and sober hugs,
From New Zealand xoxo