Things that Almost Broke me when I Quit Drinking. Part 1 of 3: Setting Personal Boundaries.

Inspired by your comments, feedback and ideas over the past 12 months, this is part 1 in a 3 part series. The purpose of this series is to confront the three things that almost broke me after I made the decision to quit drinking, 17 months ago.

Here in part 1, I share my struggle setting personal boundaries with drinkers. I’m not an expert of any kind, I’m simply laying out my experiences. In parts 2 and 3 I will confront two other meaty challenges … watch this space.

I want to do this three part series in the hope that someone, somewhere might find inspiration so that their alcoholfree journey is a bit easier. Even just a little bit.

Personal Boundaries – what are they?

We all have different perspectives when it comes to personal boundaries. I researched various sources and would like to offer a succinct, clear definition that resonated with me the most. It’s from a site you might find interesting called Essential Life Skills.

‘Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others.’ ~ Essential Life Skills

Personal Boundaries – why is it such a big deal?

After I quit drinking, it took me 9-12 months before I could comfortably set personal boundaries with drinkers. Sounds like a long time, I know. And at times, I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and say ‘Fuck it! I can’t do this anymore! I’m going to have a drink.’ But I didn’t. That would have been the easy way out. When it came to drinking, I was used to doing what I had always done, and that’s to do what everyone else is doing. I was used to caving into the peer pressure and heading off to the pub.

Personal Boundaries – what was my problem?

My problem with setting personal boundaries was that as I drinker, I never had to set these kinds of boundaries before. As a drinker, I had always just gone with the flow. I’d always said YES to a drink. I’d always said YES to boozy girls weekends away. I always said YES to wine while making tea because ‘I deserved it’ or ‘I’d had a hard day’ or some other bullshit I concocted in my little head to justify the YES.

But now I was saying NO.

People didn’t like it when I said NO. They didn’t want to hear it. They wanted everything to be how it had always been – easy. And it was the biggest drinkers that made my life hell. I couldn’t really see it at the time but now I’ve clocked them. Those few people are no longer in my life and have been replaced ten-fold by a new tribe of respectful, like-minded and loving human beings.

My second problem with setting personal boundaries was that I HATED the interrogations with a passion. So many people couldn’t accept my choice to not drink. And because I had never set personal drinking boundaries before, it almost broke me on many occasions.

I genuinely believe that not everyone interrogated me with malicious intent. I think that most people were genuinely shocked and let’s be honest, I understand why. Firstly, I was a drinker. Not just a 1-2 glass drinker, I mean a DRINKER. Secondly. I don’t know anyone (except one person) that was a pisshead like me and quit for real. So I can understand their curiosity and confusion. But that didn’t make it easier at the time; in fact it crushed me … devastated me … on many occasions. But thanks to my awesome partner (he’s my rock!) I didn’t cave in. I held my line.

Personal boundaries – how did I get comfortable with setting them?

OK so this is the hardest piece of the blog. As mentioned, it took me a year to truely get OK within myself with saying NO and genuinely not give a f&$k what people thought or said about it.

Here are the three things that got me comfortable with setting personal boundaries:

  1. TIME. You know that saying about the scars on your back making you stronger? That’s the concept that springs to mind. The more I was faced with drinking situations that I needed to walk away from, the more I became ok with putting the ‘alcoholfree me’ first.
  2. SUPPORT. Whether it’s a close friend, a family member, your other half, online groups or something else, get yourself support. Becoming alcoholfree in a heavy drinking society that pressures people to conform means the odds are stacked against us. Please don’t be ashamed to reach out and seek support from someone you love. Because when the pressure comes on and you’re at tipping point, having a reasoned and trusted buddy could be the difference between getting through it or not.
  3. READ, READ, READ. Blogs, books, anything you can get your mitts on that offers methods for setting boundaries. Knowledge is power. I read tones of stuff but without the other two items on my list, reading alone would have gotten me nowhere.

So that’s my take on personal (drinking) boundaries in a nutshell. If you would like some real life examples, you can find many here in my blog. For example, I offer you My Sober Vegas Vacation blogs… THAT was a true test of my ability to set personal drinking boundaries!!!! I was only five months off the booze at that stage and we went to Vegas for eight days with two other couples. There was no backing out of it as our airfares and accommodation was already booked from before I had quit drinking. So here I was, a petrified newly-ex drinker in Vegas with two other couples including some dawn-to-dusk hardcore drinkers. I was a disaster waiting to happen. But against all odds, I did it! After getting through that I now think I could get through most peer pressure drinking scenarios … but let’s not get too overconfident.

Thanks for reading! All the best with becoming a strong personal drinking boundary setter. Your mind, body, confidence and inner peace will flourish. xoxo

Virtual alcholfree hugs,


P.S. you’ve probably seen truck loads of quotes on your social media feeds about boundaries. I’m offering you the following because it sums up my last year brilliantly. I also love the image: railway tracks. My interpretation:

  • People WILL try and railroad our alcoholfree journeys.
  • People WILL try and throw us off course for their own drinking pleasure.
  • But if we hold true to ourselves, we will come out dancing. And people who love us will honour and respect us for it. ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿพ๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿพ๐ŸŽถ

14 thoughts on “Things that Almost Broke me when I Quit Drinking. Part 1 of 3: Setting Personal Boundaries.

  1. I enjoyed your post very much. And the idea overall about creating a feedback driven series of posts. Very clever!

    I could relate most to the saying no boundary. I just couldnโ€™t. I was willing to throw my body out there willingly without cause or care for what happened, and then expect people to respect my sense of personal boundaries. Just doesnโ€™t work like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post NWIF! I get to choose to whom and what I share- what a revelation. I also found that when I did share with those who I judged to be sincere or just honestly curious, I became much stronger in my own identity as a non-drinker. Now if someone “rudely” asks why I don’t drink, I just pipe right back- “Why do you?”. Seems to shut ’em up every time! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Elizabeth, ooooh I LOVE your comeback! Thatโ€™s gold! Can I please steal that?!? It must be brilliant, seeing the reaction. Itโ€™s not rude, answering a question with a question… especially if done with a smile! ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

      • Be my guest! I think you’ll be very satisfied with the results! Usually a scrambling about and then an awkward apology for asking. Or silence and a stunned look. Both are priceless!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, boundaries. Difficult. Being born as a surviving twin I had little to begin with and then drank away what I did have. Knowing that, I started ‘ditching/losing’ drinking friends a few years before I quit already and making extra time for non-drinking friends.
    Good job on the Vegas trip. We have a word for that: baptised in fire, and gloriously living through that obviously. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thank you for your post.
    xx, Feeling

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Feeling,
      Your messages ALWAYS make me smile! Thatโ€™s a great approach, ditching the friends (or should I say โ€˜friendsโ€™!) ahead of time.
      Baptized by fire – I love it! It was a crazy ole trip but after 2-3 days, I was absolutely on fire! I was out there, having the time of my life doing early morning yoga, walking rediculous miles daily… all while our drinking travel buddies drank the holiday away. Anyway, hugs to you my friend, love your work ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜˜

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well done on Vegas!! I would find that sooo hard ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป I genuinely think that its other people that make sobriety so hard! Weather its peer pressure, or too much interrogation, or being irritated by us not drinking… also other people donโ€™t realise how powerful their words are in early sobriety. Saying things like โ€œOh its not like youโ€™re that bad is itโ€ or โ€œWhat – so youโ€™re NEVER drinking Ever AGAIN?? I just couldnโ€™t do that, I love drinkingโ€ etc etc etc or even just going on about how they are going to go home after work and sit in the garden with a large glass of wine. Society is so obsessed with drinking (as am I!!) that itโ€™s so bloody difficult when we try to disentangle ourselves from it. And drinking friends are definitely amongst the toughest of audiences.
    I think us sober folk deserve big fat gold medals for sticking to our sober guns!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ๐Ÿฅ‡๐Ÿฅ‡๐Ÿฅ‡ Gold medals all round!
      Your words resonate so much, itโ€™s like we are experiencing exactly the same challenges. I agree, the people part is harder than the alcohol part of quitting drinking! This came very unexpected. Slowly but surely we will become disentangled. Thanks so much for popping by. ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ”†๐ŸŒบ

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fab post!
    I do as little nights out as possible at the moment and the ones I do go to hubby is prewarned what time I am leaving – and leave I do, he’s welcome to come with me or taxi home later.
    Huge kudos to you for getting through Vegas when newly sober.

    Liked by 1 person

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