A few things helped me along the path to quitting booze permanently: stubbornness, writing, fear, perseverance and running.
In addition to these, a true belief in sobriety ensured that I stuck to this way of life through thick and thin, even when I was desperate for a glass (or a couple of bottles, more accurately) of wine. I didn’t give up because fairly early on in my new alcohol-free life I started to believe more in not drinking than I did in drinking.
I wasn’t the sort of person who you’d once have imagined ever believing in not drinking. I was rather proud of my reckless ways, my love of getting smashed via excessive amounts of wine and all the messy things that went along with my boozy lifestyle. I thought people who chose to not drink were either alcoholics or miserable buggers who didn’t know how to have fun – I felt sorry for all of them. What was the point of life without drinking? I seriously felt that way, for twenty long, alcohol-fuelled years.
But stopping drinking felt as though I’d had a pair of heavy-duty blinkers removed, as if I’d been shackled in a cell for years and then suddenly released into daylight and fresh air. Very quickly, I came to realise that many of the things I thought were true about me were, in fact, skewed. I was skewed. I didn’t know who I was, had never become properly acquainted with myself as a result of living in a fog of alcohol. Planning a drink, having a drink, recovering from a drink, beating myself up over things because of drink…my headspace, free of booze, had never been allowed to flourish.
The benefits soon began to outshine the fact that ‘I could no longer drink’. After about a year and a half I had absolutely no desire to drink. I stopped believing in it as a valuable aspect of life. Me, sober, was a much better concept than me pissed. In every capacity – as a parent, a friend, a girlfriend, a worker – I was better without alcohol.
I could not have imagined me as a non-drinker, once upon a time. I would have run screaming to the hills if someone had told me that aged thirty-five, I would never touch a drop of alcohol again. But…I am majorly grateful for the series of events that led to me putting down the bottle in April 2011. I’m grateful that I got the chance to see life as it really is. I’m grateful that I found out I wasn’t a bad person after all. I’m grateful that I got to live a life free from regrets and shame. I’m grateful that I became alcohol-free.