When I first decided to stop drinking alcohol, the idea that I would spend the rest of my life feeling miserable as a consequence and as though I was missing out on something was never an issue I paid much credence to.
Living by a self-imposed regime of teetotalism when my heart was still firmly attached to the bottle and yet consistently denied its effects was a prospect too miserable to contemplate. My attitude towards becoming a non-drinker was bloody-minded, and I have remained determined to always continue to seek out the numerous positives to be found in living free from the alcohol trap.
With this mind-set which has now become an inherent part of who I am, I am forever mindful of so many seemingly insignificant events and occurrences that happen each day which I am fully aware would never happen should I choose to drink again.
Yesterday as I pushed the pram up an almighty hill, hot and tired and feeling the strain in my calves, I suddenly remembered the horrific physical state of being hungover – queasy, sweaty, with stinging eyes and clammy skin, dehydrated, and exhausted in a way that never hits me as a non-drinker despite being up and dressed by 6am most days. And no matter how difficult that hill was to climb, I just kept on thinking about how awful I used to feel on an almost daily basis – even when simply sitting in front of the TV, never mind pushing a toddler up a steep hill in the sweltering heat.
Last night I poked my head out of our Velux bedroom window shortly before I climbed into bed, and stared for a while at a beautiful yellow moon hanging low in the sky. How many moons I wondered, had I missed as a drinker when night after night I would either fall asleep on the settee not even making it upstairs to bed, or was so drunk that I couldn’t remember what I’d seen the following morning?
Waking each day and acknowledging the marvel of a fully-functioning memory, feeling no regret or anxiety and with nobody to apologise to for my stupid drunken behaviour of the previous evening, is something I don’t think I will ever take for granted. I feel so lucky to be present and to notice all the important things around me, and to be completely in charge of my life and who I am.
For me, maintaining a commitment to sobriety is much less about steely willpower, and more about bathing in the beauty of a life lived untainted by alcohol. I wouldn’t give that up for the world.