Sobriety was once a dirty word to me. Boring do-gooders avoided alcohol. Cool people drank, and drank a lot.
This was probably the biggest challenge for me in terms of deciding to stop drinking. I could not conceive of losing my ‘edge’ and metamorphosing into a quiet dullard who couldn’t let her hair down. I know I’m not alone in thinking these thoughts, and I often read about other people’s experiences with friends and family who are sceptical at best, or scathing and down right rude at worst, with regards to that person’s new non-boozy status.
What is it about alcohol that prompts people to share their opinion on whether or not we should be partaking in this national pastime? If I sat down for dinner with people I wasn’t overly familiar with and announced that I was a vegetarian, I would more than likely receive a lesser inquisition than if I declared my AF lifestyle and opted for a mineral water amongst the truckload of wine being delivered by the attentive waiter. But why do other people care so much about our drinking habits? Could it be that they don’t wish to draw attention to their own alcohol consumption? Generally, I’ve found that the people who have the least to say about me being a non-drinker are the ones who barely drink themselves, the ones who most definitely have not got any issues with alcohol.
Anyway, the point of the above observations is that society frequently has a tendency to be more accepting of heavy drinkers than those of us who opt for an AF life, and this can be a major obstacle in quitting. Peer pressure and the desire to fit in can contribute massively to ‘wobbles’ and, ultimately, to caving in and having a drink. In order to stay true to the path of sobriety, therefore, it is vital that we believe in the alcohol-free way. And I mean, really believe in it – to find it an aspirational way of life, fall in love with it, want it more than anything, and be proud to tell anyone who listens, “No thanks, I do not drink”.
I did not feel this way about not drinking until at least eighteen months into my sobriety. I was ashamed of my problem, angry because I ‘wasn’t allowed to drink’, lonely and full of regret. But eventually, something clicked inside me and all the monumental benefits of being a non-drinker dawned on me. What the hell was I being so negative about? Where is the need to feel demeaned by a choice that will provide me (and my family and friends too) with a far happier and healthier life? Why be secretive about declining to consume an addictive substance that consistently made me fat and act foolishly, which caused me to hurt both myself and those I love, which damaged my mental and physical health and routinely put the brakes on all my hopes and dreams for future happiness?
When you think about it, becoming AF is a lifestyle choice that we should be shouting from the rooftops! These days I am supremely proud of being a non-drinker, to the point of being a bit smug. I like the fact that I am in good shape, that I am the best person I can be in all areas of my life (well, maybe there’s a little room for improvement here and there, but things are eminently better than in boozy days gone by!). I am not apologetic in the slightest about my choice to not drink alcohol, and when people ask me why I am on the mineral water I just tell them the truth: For me, one glass always led to another, and another, and the fall-out from drinking was too much. I’m so much happier being a Soberista.