During the first few months of quitting drinking, a friend gave me some very sage advice. She suggested that if I really want to kick the drink, one thing I needed to do was to keep myself away from situations where I’d be vulnerable. That is, to set myself up for success, I should steer clear of my old watering holes, parties and places that I’d typically associate with drinking.
So I did.
It was hard to sly away from social events like birthday drinks/leaving drinks/Friday drinks/promotion drinks… you get my drift. Everyone always has a ‘reason’ for drinking. And let’s be honest, it was never ‘a drink’ for me or anyone else. It was at least three then four then…
I didn’t actually announce to the world I was giving up alcohol, either. It seemed to daunting. Nor did I think it was anyone’s business. Moreover, it would have opened me up to more interrogations about why I wasn’t drinking. Like I have to justify it!!! Because drinkers, in my experience, don’t want to hang out with non drinkers. Then the question becomes, were these people really our friends or were we just drinking acquaintances they could get pissed with?
The good thing about staying away from these social situations:
The obvious good thing that came from steering clear of my old stomping grounds was that exposure to situations that tempted me to drink were reduced and therefor the likelihood of me being successful were increased. I think it’s probably a bit like quitting smoking… if you don’t want to start smoking again, don’t go to parties and surround yourself with a room full of people, smoking in your face.
The unexpected hard thing about staying away from these social situations:
Loneliness. Yes! Boy did I feel like a right loser, heading home to watch TV on a Friday night. It felt weird, tragic, lovely and uncomfortable. I felt like that for about two months. But the more often I woke up Saturday and Sunday bright-eyed and bushy tailed, the more I realised I’d made the right call.
Then, eventually, I started to replace boring, drunken, babbling bar time with real interactions with people. I also got comfortable with my own company. I started practicing yoga regularly, studying Buddhist meditation and having authentic catch ups with friends like weekend brunches and coffee dates. My self confidence grew as a result because I wasn’t hiding behind the booze or running away from life’s problems anymore. Podcasts like Erin Gerhagty’s Thriving After Addiction, Jeff Sanders 5am Miracle, actualised.org and Being Careful all contributed to me getting over this loneliness lull. As did This Naked Mind by Annie Grace (see my blog about this if you’d like more info). A small handful of key friends and my loving partner were also my rocks. Quality not quantity is key.
The loneliness was hard. But it was just temporary. If you’re scared about this aspect of quitting drinking, I don’t blame you: I was too. But please trust me when I say it dissipates slowly as you get more comfortable in your own company and your tribe starts to reformulate itself. You’ll start to become more confident, more focused and a more authentic version of yourself. Not to mention richer (drinking is expensive!), healthier and happier.
The temporary period of loneliness will be replaced… just go with me on that.
Anyway, I hope this helps. I wanted to write about this because it was something that petrified me and was hard to find information about.
Every day is a new day. A fresh start, a new opportunity for us to be successful. Trust yourself. Your mind is more powerful than you think.❤️