Drinking was my hobby. It was my go-to solution when I was happy, sad, celebrating, stressed. Or at least I thought it was a solution. Boy, was I deluded! This delusion stemmed from a lifetime of drinking, living in a high functioning alcoholic society and an upbringing where alcohol supposedly fixed everything.
I knew no different – it was ‘normal’ to tackle life with alcohol. So when I quit drinking on 1st January 2017, I no longer had my go-to elixir of life at my fingertips.
Who was I without alcohol? I had no idea. I had repeating feelings of living in limbo. For many months, I felt like a no-one because it seemed alcohol had stolen my identity. I didn’t know what to do without alcohol! It had stolen my hobbies and my ability to tackle and enjoy life wholeheartedly. My hobby WAS drinking. How sad is that?!! Even though I had a great career, friends and relationships, I felt like they all were starting to play second fiddle to alcohol. And I knew at that point, if I didn’t stop drinking, I’d lose all that. It was a no brainer: I had to get off that train early, before it crashed.
For 6-9 months after quitting, I had to re-establish who I was and what made me happy. It was so damn lonely at times – I had massive FOMO and was hating not being amongst my drinking buddies. I nearly joined them on several occasions but thanks to some amazing friends, I stuck it out.
If you’re desperate for a drink, ask yourself if the hangover in the morning will feel better than waking up sober and with a clear conscience.
It took MONTHS to find the new me. Experimenting with different hobbies, meeting new friends and getting out and about meant that I now have a raft of interests in my life that are part the new me.
If you’re feeling lonely and unsure about who you’ll be without alcohol, please know that over time, the new you will flourish. Social networks and online meetup groups for gardeners, dance classes, cooking schools and hiking all are worth thinking about. After all, what have you got to lose? Just go once, and if you don’t like it, no-ones forcing you to go back. Then again, you might love it and discover a new passion you never knew you had! Or better still, reignite a passion for an old hobby like painting, running or volunteering.
In closing, I know MANY people who couldn’t stay off the booze because they were unable to face the loneliness head on. And I get it – it’s awkward, painful, isolating and uncomfortable at times. But I invite you to push through it and tackle what’s at the root of these feelings. Write it down, every day. Talk to someone. Ask for help and research, research, research. Your knowledge is power. I found the the more I learned about what was going on for me, the better I was able to overcome those feelings.
You are worth the investment and once you come out the other side, the new you will thank you a thousand times over.
Go well, be strong, and I wish you success in becoming the person you chose to be.
Hugs from New Zealand,
PS I took this en route to work last week. We had the shortest day of the year down here in the wintery Southern Hemisphere – roll on summer! 😘