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.