Soberistas.com is three years old. Today, thousands of people belong to this online community, which started out on November 26th 2012 as just a couple of hundred members posting blogs and comments and nervously wondering what would happen next…
Soberistas has been a major part of my own story of recovering from an alcohol dependency that eventually put me in hospital. When I set the site up, I genuinely had no idea that so many people felt exactly how I did – people from all walks of life; men and women, from England, America, Canada, Australia and so many other countries in between.
Gradually, this community has increased in size and strength, and over the last three years we have come to represent a viable resource for those drinkers who want to become alcohol-free but who need a bit of friendly support in getting there.
The things that helped me personally become happy, and therefore to stay happily off the booze, are detailed below, because I wanted to share them again for the benefit of anyone who is in that desperately dark place that I once was, back in the spring of 2011. But before I go on to explain what has helped me get and remain sober, I think it’s important to state why it’s worth putting yourself through the challenge of stopping drinking. What are the benefits of becoming alcohol-free?
Well, here’s what I’ve gained in the last four and a half years:
- My self-esteem
- A love of life
- An appreciation for EVERYTHING I have, and for all the people I am lucky enough to have in my life
- A job that I love
- Lifelong friends
- New experiences, travelling and taking up different and challenging opportunities
- Thousands of mornings, clear-headed and hangover-free
- Quality time with my children, free from the guilt-ridden anxieties over my drinking that plagued me so much in the past
- Becoming a published author
- A life free from a daily dread of developing liver cirrhosis or cancer caused by my alcohol consumption and smoking habit
- Finally knowing my own mind and what makes me happy – and what makes me tick
The stuff I did to help me become firmly established as a Soberista all stem from the first, extremely important (and perhaps obvious) starting point: I didn’t touch alcohol at all once I decided to quit. No cheeky little glasses of wine because it was my birthday, no sneaky halves of lager when nobody was looking. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
This was vital to my long-term sobriety because it enabled me to develop a completely clear head, free from all the negativity and confusion that arose from the excessive alcohol I once consumed.
I got fit and found other things to do with my time. This prevented me from getting bored, it gave me the mental lift and escapism (especially running) that I had previously attempted to obtain through alcohol, and it boosted my self-esteem, which in turn helped me to realise that I did actually deserve a life that wasn’t coloured by the terrible consequences of my drinking.
I discovered gratitude. I started to think positively about my life, and focused on the good bits instead of the crap parts. I recognised that actually, I was very lucky, and had a lot that was worth living for.
I spent time in the countryside and indulged myself in nature. This helped me to put my problems in perspective and reminded me that we are so small in the grand scheme of things, our lives are so fleeting, and that ultimately, we should be grabbing onto life with both hands and living it to the absolute max – rather than wasting it in a drunken haze, routinely floored by self-hatred and shame.
I reached out to people and opened up. I admitted to people that I had a drink problem. Again, sounds simple, but I stopped pretending that it was normal to pass out and blackout and embarrass myself terribly.
I repeatedly told myself that This Too Shall Pass. When the going got tough, I stuck it out. I persevered. I never gave in. I believed in better. And eventually, things got better. Much better.
I meditated and practised mindfulness. I made a concerted effort to live in the here and now. To focus on today, instead of worrying ceaselessly about shit that hadn’t happened yet, or shit that had happened and of which I could do nothing to change.
And so, here I am. Sober, happy; a happy Soberista. Thank you to all those inspiring people out there who helped me find this life free from alcohol. And to anyone who wants to be a Soberista but who hasn’t got there yet – if I can do it then so can you. This sober life is a vast improvement on a drinking life, for anyone who can’t moderate his or her alcohol intake. Good luck. xx