100 Days Without Booze: Feeling Sober Curious
Hi! I am Olivia and I am NOT an alcoholic.
I don’t need to drink everyday, I don’t drink alcohol to get me out of bed in the morning, and I’ve never had the shakes.
This does not mean, however, that my life couldn’t be radically improved by going sober.
I have always been a big drinker, pretty much since my teens. My family are big drinkers and so are most of my friends. I have always eyed sober people suspiciously and viewed them as boring and weird. I shudder to think that I once uttered the phrase, ‘I don’t trust sober people.’
Drink has always been tied up in my identity. As a child, I was ‘the naughty youngest child’. This turned into the ‘naughty party girl’, but this label only served to pave the way for wild behaviour and reinforced my need to drink.
In the back of my head, I have always pondered the benefits of not drinking, but I have never even been able to get through a whole Dry January month. Despite enjoying the two dry weeks I did achieve, where surprisingly joyful activities included playing Monopoly and drinking coffee with friends, I felt like I couldn’t get through the slings and arrows of real life without the respite of a drink at the end of the day, or at least at the weekend.
“He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” Samuel Johnson.
This used to be one of my favourite quotes. I related it towards drinking to excess in order to justify ‘releasing the beast’ every weekend. I believed this quote to be true, that drinking was cathartic and that after a massive binge all the pain in my life would be magically dumbed down. I now see with hindsight that this beast has left a trail of destruction over the years, and that making a beast of myself more often than not has doubled the pain for me and those around me, and piled high my troubles rather than diminishing them.
I recently admitted to myself and those close to me that I have a problem with drinking. Over the last two years, I have had a snowballing problem with binge drinking, where I have drunk to a dangerous and destructive level.
For a long time I just put my head in the sand and no one knew except my partner. I tried to avoid wine, thinking this was the culprit. Then it happened with whisky, gin...it didn’t matter what alcoholic drink it was, it wasn’t the percentage of the booze but how much I drank...and the mood behind the drink.
I ended up seeing an alcohol counsellor fortnightly. He was more helpful than any therapist I had seen before. I was absolutely honest with him and he helped me to be more conscious about triggers, my moods, and what was driving that behaviour.
I have come to understand that the pressures and expectations of adult life have been stressing me out and, instead of dealing with them calmly and honestly, I have been diving into booze and not coming up for air. Thankfully this counselling has changed my thinking around drinking.
For three months I have been able to drink and stop before losing control or memory. I have had a good time drinking and no one has got hurt ( that I know of!) including myself. I have regained some self esteem and patted myself lightly on the back for being able to be honest with my friends and family about this problem and changing my habits.
But why stop there?
I have never, until this summer, considered going fully sober because, well, I am not an alcoholic so what’s the point, right? Despite the many aspects of my life that could be improved by not drinking, I just haven't felt that it is something I could be capable of. Until now...
After reading the brilliant book, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray, I feel totally inspired and determined to try sober life. So much of her drinking story resonated with mine and her positive insights on the benefits of sober living have inspired me to give it a whirl.
So, I have decided to challenge myself by going sober for 100 days. There is an excellent website www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com where you can read sober blogs, listen to audio, and sign up to the 100 day challenge where, if you want, the creator Belle will be your sober pen pal and mentor you through your sober experience and progress. I will also be writing a weekly blog here at Honestlittleone.com to reflect on the ups and downs of sober life. My gorgeous, lifelong, hilarious, insightful and sage friend, Sarah Ryan, has kindly offered to host me here on a weekly basis and I can’t think of a better place to share my experience.
I have learnt that honesty has been the only thing to start to mend my ways and change my thinking about drinking and I plan on being brutally honest here. I hope you can handle it!
As Gloria Stenhem said... “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off!”