Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Best Decision

Overnight my sober counter ticked over to 300 days. It seems like a lifetime ago when I had my last drink and went to bed with Day 1 ahead of me. My wife was out for dinner, and a running friend popped over briefly. We talked about my next event and shared a glass of red wine before he left. I still remember sipping on the wine knowing it was my last. I can remember the dregs of my half-drunk glass washing around the sinkhole.

In the months leading up to the day I quit I was shaky, uncertain and scared. Over years I had slowly come to the point where I knew I needed to do something. It had finally come to a head. I was mostly scared about whether I would miss alcohol, because I thought I needed it. In some ways I used it to define who I was in certain situations. I was always the first to offer guests booze. I don't do that anymore. I would always rush to the bar to get enough booze into me to navigate social situations. I don't need to do that anymore either. I eagerly waited for dinnertime, especially Fridays but often any day, so I could take the top of a rigger of cider and take the edge off a stressful day (or celebrate a good one). That never happens now. I deal with the stress and revel in the good times without alcohol. I've found this to be a far healthier way to live. I no longer have to stock up on booze at the end of the week, worrying that I haven't got enough (because running out would really not be worth contemplating).  

In the last few days I've been reflecting on how different my life is now - how different I am. Materially things are still pretty much the same, but things have improved in some very important ways. I've got a much clearer sense of who I am. Self confidence is an amazing thing. I dwell less on my limitations. I accept that I'm not perfect and I wouldn't want to be. I have a very strong sense of pride which stems from having successfully given up booze and which is now spreading to every part of my life, and to those around me. My physical and mental health has improved. I'm far more even tempered. In the past I've often been slightly frustrated and dissatisfied (at everything and nothing, but mainly with myself). Now the frustration has ebbed away and I'm just getting on with life with all it's ups and downs. I'm just taking life as it comes on my terms.

You can't truly understand these things until you've taken alcohol out of the picture and had time to feel and see the changes. That's the perspective I wanted when I started on this journey, and it's a true gift. Earlier on, I was worried about whether I needed to give up at all (still stuck in denial about how unhealthy my drinking was), but now that question is totally irrelevant. Why would I ever go back?

I can't think of another decision I've made in my life that's had such a profound effect for the better. For that I'm very grateful.  



  1. Huge congrats :) You have described exactly how I feel too. I am struggling with the more confident side of me now though. I am still adjusting to this voice I have found lol. I realise when I was drinking I was also using disassociation tactics a lot. Just going about my job and life in a really disconnected way. I just need to find a nice healthy balance in my need to be heard and acknowledged for a change rather than always the disconnected mediator.Yeah this sober life has totally changed me in ways I am struggling to feel comfortable with but I know I need to feel this discomfort in order to grow. Happy 300 days my friend :) x

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this. I can relate to your journey as someone who was long term sober and then picked up again.

    Sometimes I do have control but not always which leads to the question of whether I have a problem. But the reality is life is better without alcohol and really I am just kidding myself about my level of drinking. Sure don't get drunk to falling over every time but definitely unhealthy and the times I do fall over I fall over bigtime. Keep on keeping on: Janna

  3. I love this and I think the last paragraph will be very helpful to those just starting out. It really does take some time for it all to settle into place, but man when it does, it's just brilliant. So happy for you, and your 3 beautiful girls xo

  4. Hello.
    I just wrote a long response that I was very happy with and lost it when I signed out. So here goes again as I do want to share my thoughts with you.

    A friend shared your blog with us last Fall and I have followed it sporadically.
    My Husband had to give up alcohol 5 years ago when his deteriorating health became a critical issue.
    It was a very difficult time for all of us as we watched him struggle with health although once he knew that alcohol was not an option for him he never looked back.

    Last winter I read him your blog on a cosy bed morning at the cottage (at 70 plus we are allowed cosy mornings in bed). It elicited a sharing conversation where we were able to really share our journey. I read him a long diary that I had kept over the difficult first year of trying to regain health, the journey that as the partner I had dealt with, thanking God for the support of friends.
    Partners perspective can be neglected in this journey.

    There was a very precious moment last month. Waking up the first morning of a carefully planned vacation in Italy. In a garret hotel room where alcohol was not a factor. It did not have to be planned for or thought of.

    On first reading of your last message I had many questions about how you saw others that enjoy alcohol. Your wife's Pino your family guests? On second more thorough reading this morning I got my question answered.

    You are on a one year journey. After 5 years my husband is who he is whether he drinks alcohol or not is no longer and issue, he will pour me a glass of wine, grab a beer for the kids when they come and pour himself a soda. It is just who he is. That has become easier with time.
    His kids are proud of his journey. I had always thought that I had done a great job of making our lives normal with alcohol and was shocked when the topic was opened up that there were scars and I had not done as well as I had thought.

    Life is good. My words of advise to younger people is to look at alcohol before it hurts your health and your family. It you cannot manage and enjoy it then leave it. It really damages over time.

    Take care , thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Helen, Thanks for reading and for getting in touch. That is great advice. As you will have read, I got to the point where I recognised that my drinking was causing me suffering, and I feel lucky that I quit before it got to be a worse problem. It is an insidious thing, alcohol. It creeps further and further into your life. It's a gift to know that you can live without it. And it has improved our family life not having it around the house, apart from occasionally. So I know I haven't just done it for me but for the kids too. All the best . SM