I’ve not had an alcoholic drink since November 2021. It was a conscious decision to begin with and now, it doesn't even cross my mind to drink alcohol, why would I when I feel this good without it?Prior to that I hadn't touched a drop for almost 18 months - I had stopped drinking alcohol at the beginning of 2020, when Suzi Shaw asked if I wanted to try doing One Year No Beer with her (I'm so grateful to her for asking me!) There was a blip from August - November 2021 when I started drinking the odd glass of wine or gin, when finally I decided I preferred my life without alcohol.
Before I continue, I want to clarify, I am not judging anyone for how they live their lives and whether they drink or not, I’m simply going to share my experience of going sober and my reasons for it.
White wine (Chardonnay to be precise) was my drink of choice (unless something bubbly was on offer instead) and I would happily keep on going until I was sick. Yup, almost every time I drank. I would just keep going, there was no off switch. I used to envy those people that would just fall asleep, head home or knew when to stop because that was definitely not me!
Many a night has been forgotten. Many a night has ended abruptly because I am puking and whoever was with me had to suddenly sober up so they could support me and look after me. Many a night I would fall into bed only to experience that dreading spinning room sensation. Many a night I would spend far more money than I intended and only realise in the morning. Many a morning I would wake up with that panicked feeling thinking “Oh sh*t, what did I do last night?!” Many a morning I would dread the day ahead knowing that I was going to feel like death. Many a morning’s plans would be obliterated because I was far too hung over. Many a morning I would wake up with new bruises and wonder how on earth I got them (in fact my friends and I fondly called them UDIs - unidentified drunken injuries).
When I look back, thats what I think about when I think of the times I drank. I’m sure fun times were had and many were a laugh, I just cant remember it!
Alcohol is the only drug that people will rib you for if you try to stop using it
I used to like the feeling of being tipsy, I hated being drunk and as for hangovers? Well, there are no words. The older I became the worse the hangovers became and they impacted far too many aspects of my life. Since I became a mother, these were very rare because we just didn't have the opportunities to go out any more, but when we did, not only did I feel crap because of the hangover, there was that guilt of having to face my kids whilst feeling like that.
So it started to feel a bit pointless. Why bother in the first place?
Shouldn't we be asking "Why do I drink?" rather than "Why don't I drink?"
I remember when I was auditioning for drama school, my mum telling me that if I ever needed a substance in order to do the job at hand, or give me confidence then I have a problem with it. I’ve never forgotten that and I totally agree with it. If I am unable to face the world authentically as myself then that's really sad isn’t it? If I have to rely on a drug to make me feel better, to perform the task at hand or mask who I really am then there must be a part of who I am or the life I am living that I am not happy with. I know, bold statement, but re-read it, it’s true.
I often look at my children and relish in the pure joy they get out of seemingly nothing. Where does that go as we grow up? And isn’t that such a shame? Why do we stop appreciating the little things? Why do we stop expressing ourselves openly and carefree? Why do we care so much about what other people think and allow those thoughts to change our authentic selves? I remember school discos and the sense of freedom and unadulterated joy that my classmates and I had, we didn't need any substance to have fun, we just needed each other.
This is why I want to stop drinking alcohol. I want to appreciate the little things again. I want to be authentically me. I want to have proper connections with people. I want to stop missing out on life and start living it fully.
I can honestly tell you that I am the happiest I’ve ever been now that alcohol isn’t numbing life
When I was pregnant I gave up alcohol without a second thought, its just something you do right? I even went on an adults only all inclusive holiday to Mexico just days after I found out I was pregnant so I was sober for the whole thing and it was probably one of the best holidays I have ever had. I can remember the whole thing, no one cared if I danced like a loony because they were all far too drunk, I had no hangover the next day and I could appreciate the whole thing. (I should have realised then that life was more fun with no alcohol, hey ho, I got there in the end though).
When I was training for my bikini modelling competitions, I just gave up alcohol, its just something you do and it wasn't a struggle at all. The ability to go alcohol free is clearly there if the reason is obvious enough.
For me, there is no more obvious reason to stop consuming alcohol than life itself! It is perfectly imperfect, unbelievably precious and it goes by so fast. It is not guaranteed and I want to get everything I can out of it.
Sober living hasn't taken anything away from my life, it has given me life. I wake up with clarity. I sleep better. I am more motivated and inspired than I’ve ever been. I have better sex. I am a better wife and mother. I am stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been. I am more productive. I am more appreciative and grateful. I am more playful and creative. I am more able to deal with stress and the unfortunate events that life throws at us. I am just a better version of myself. (My bank balance is much happier after a night out now too!)
There are some hurdles that you may encounter at the beginning though - the peer pressure, the comments that people feel necessary to make (remember though, that is just a reflection on them and their own insecurities, no reflection on you at all). The past may throw things at you and bring unpleasant truths to the surface that will take some time to work through, but I promise you, it is worth it. It is really important to find yourself like minded people that you can ride the journey with or who support you and appreciate what you’re doing so you don't feel left out of the tribe and like you have to justify yourself every time you ask for a non alcoholic drink.
I am so inspired to share my experiences because life without alcohol is like turning on your senses for the first time.
I am so grateful Suzi asked me to join her on this journey and I would urge everyone to give it a go.
On that note, there will be slip ups and moments when you falter and have a drink. That's ok! It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you’re human. Learn from that experience, pick yourself up and keep on going.
If you want to give it a go, I highly recommend “The Happy Health Club”. Suzanne Shaw is an inspiration and leads the way by offering support and an honest account of her sober life journey. There is a fantastic community of people who are all giving it a go and sharing their experiences and support too, so you will have a tribe of like minded people to keep you going.