This weekend marks six months since I said goodbye to booze. It’s been a wild ride. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to share the contrasts observed between then and now.
How I used to think
Looking back, I’m so embarrassed about how deluded I was about alcohol! What an idiot. But then again, the people I hung out with, coupled with our heaving drinking society and the intensive alcohol marketing industry all condoned drinking. How I perceived alcohol and how I behaved was ‘normal’. No-one batted an eyelid.
Here’s my little list about how I USED to perceive alcohol.
- I needed alcohol to relax / decompress / unwind / chill out
- I deserved a wine when I’d accomplished a milestone in both my professional and personal life
- Celebrations and commiserations need alcohol
- I could not socialise without wine
- I was more fun / wittier with a wine
- Alcohol helped with coping in life
- Alcohol is what everyone does therefore my consumption was normal.
How I think today
The last six months have not been easy. But the last six months have taught me a lot about myself, where I want to go, how deluded my conscious and unconscious minds were towards alcohol and who my real friends are. The following is a work in progress.
So here goes.
- Drinking is expensive. I saved my drinking money and used it for an overseas trip in May – we had an absolute blast! I called it My Sober Vegas Vacation and shared what I learned here. Bring on the next alcohol-funded vacation.
- Alcohol marketing is a wrought. The alcohol marketing industry has a lot to answer for. Those Corona bill boards depicting young kids, scantily clad on a beach at sunset. With you guessed it, Corona. Corona will bring you youth, sex and tropical sunsets. Yeah right! But just like the cigarette advertising / billboards in the 1950s and 1960s, the majority of society fall for the alcohol marketing today.
- Drinkers get uncomfortable around non drinkers. The majority of hard drinkers got uncomfortable when I stopped drinking. They wanted me to stay as I was. I felt like they wanted me to break and go back to being a pisshead again. Hard drinkers got uncomfortable around me as a non drinker… perhaps it shone a light (unintentionally) on their own drinking and their inability to cut back and control. These people are at arms length in my life now. I didn’t find being around them constructive or helpful to me staying alcoholfree.
- Moderation or cutting back is a myth. It’s either all or nothing. I think if moderation worked, none of us would be here reading or writing these blogs.
- Having ‘a break’ from drinking will not mean that I will become a ‘normal’ drinker if I start again. Whether I stop for one month, one year or ten years, my drinking will be right back where it was – or worse – the day I quit. There are lots of reports and empirical evidence supporting this. So I’d rather not take the chance.
- Drinking is a spectrum, it’s not black and white. People say things like ‘he’s an alcoholic’. But I don’t believe we can be an alcoholic or not an alcoholic. Rather, I consider drinking behaviours like a rev counter in a car from 0 to 8. As children, we were all at 0 because we didn’t drink. As we age and due to traumatic life events, the dial gradually winds up without our control. When I quit, I was 6/8. Evidence shows that the dial ever only moves up… some peoples’ dials wind up quickly, some peoples’ dials creep up on them insidiously. It’s just a matter of time. So if I hadn’t staged an intervention on 01/01/17 and decided I to quit, I believe I would be a 6.5/8 today. Then a 7/8 in 12 months. Either way, continued drinking was a runaway train, gaining momentum downhill with no brakes.
- Friendships change. I lost friends but I am strengthening the existing ones and making new ones. I call it reformulating my tribe and I wrote about how I’m finding my new tribe here.
- Parties and pubs suck. I no longer frequent drinking establishments, but I won’t be going to any of these sober parties either (none of my friends won’t be there). Friends, family and us will continue having weddings, 50th birthdays and other celebrations. I will continue attending – just because I’m not drinking, it’s not my place to boycott or judge others’ drinking habits. Nor is it my place to take the moral high ground or not attend. But I still find these events awkward… I wrote about the dread of going to parties and how I prepare for success here.
- Meditation and yoga is helping me understand happiness comes from within. Regular practice is helping me become less material, monkey-mind and more calm. I’ve written a bit about how solo retreats have helped and meditation, too.
I’d just like to close by extending a heart filled thank you to you, the wonderful sober blogging community, for all your advice, wisdom and encouragement. You have been instrumental in keeping me aligned with my truth over the last six months.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. xoxo