At nearly 6 months off the grog, I had my first 'night out' last night, and I can honestly say it was excellent, I didn't crave a wine once even though everyone else was drinking.
I made a conscious decision to not go to pubs or expose myself to situations where alcohol would be present, I didn't necessarily intend for it to be 6 months. I just didn't want to slip up, and I knew, if I went 'out-out' in the early days, I would.
Beware though, this ain't no cake walk, quitting the booze is undoubtedly difficult, but its 1,000,000% worth the effort. Here's my experience with it.
You'll feel ALL the feelings - because alcohol isn't numbing you any longer when you are sad or lonely you will feel it, and I encourage you to really feel it, roll around in it, journal about it, cry like nobody's watching and just like a child releases their emotion and moves on, you will too.
The upside? When you feel joy, gut-bursting happiness and peace, and you will REALLY feel all these lovely feelings completely too.
You'll eat ALL the food/sugar - as alcohol won't provide your sugar hit. Most people actually report weight loss (glowing skin, better digestion, and sleep among other benefits) but not me, noooooo I took up multi eating, eating while cooking, snacking, CHOCOLATE. But what I gained along with a couple of kilos was self-acceptance, clarity, courage, peace, the list goes on.
You'll get strong cravings to drink- You need to be prepared. I wasn't. Get your usual tipple in the alcohol-free version. If you are in Australia I ordered wine from Alcofree and got some Seedlip to have with tonic. The simple act of pouring ice cold AF wine into a nice wine glass really helped with the ritual of it all, and before I knew it the craving had passed.
You'll wonder what to do with all your free time- Now that you're not dying of hangovers on the regular you'll have time to do lots of activities! Or not. I felt desperately lonely. I was alone more anyway due to a separation. And being alone was a big trigger, I didn't want to sit in those awful sad feelings, I wanted to drink to forget and numb but I knew I couldn't, it would lead to more loneliness.
I had to learn to be alone and be OK with that. I had to learn to be super kind to myself. I had to (ugly) cry my way to being OK again. I listened to The Unexpected joy of being single- Catherine Gray and that changed my view of being alone and helped me massively. I would recommend it to anyone who is lonely (in a relationship or not).
I found a super cool Pilates class by the beach in Maroubra- Peaches Pilates (and cried in most classes). I sat in the cafe next door and looked at the sea- the grumpy baker and drank coffee (and cried). I went home to my apartment, alone and napped (after crying). I took magnesium supplements and journaled my fingers to the bone till I could make sense of the tornado in my head.
On the advice of my psychologist whom I was seeing weekly (and would not have survived this time without her) I put sticky notes on practically every surface in the apartment with the words 'You are loved AND you are worthy of love'.
I started running, and haven't stopped, I changed my approach to running, I used to run to try to lose weight and tone up, but that's not going to happen if your favourite pastime is eating, is it now! So I ran to fix my head, I ran for 10 minutes a day till I was out of breath and I could feel the blood pumping around my brain and body. I listened to Eat, Drink, Run- Bryony Gordon.
I did a profound course at The Indigo Project called 'Kickstart your heart' where I got some perspective and learned to let go of the damaging relationship patterns I identified with.
And then one day I didn't cry for the whole day!!!! a day turned into two days and so on till I started to feel strong, stable and able to fight another day. What works for you will be different, be kind to you, your learning to ride without stabilisers.
NOTE: Much of the crying was due to massive upheaval in my life in the form of separating from the father of my son, moving into an apartment, essentially becoming a single parent and coming to terms with the change in the life plan. I wasn't drinking to numb these feelings, and this was the first time I didn't drink through a really shitty time, and boy god was it gut wrenchingly sad, but it was the making of me.
As Stephen King said
“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side.
Or you don't.”
You may or may not cry that much when you give up alcohol. But the point is you will have lots of feelings (bad and good) and that's normal, so do everything you can to make it easier, join a support group like Soberhood, get a good psychologist, read all the books and be prepared for a very different person to come out the other side.
Whats your experience with quitting? What has worked for you? Post in the comments below.
(If you are going through a rough time right now please reach out for help. Call Lifeline
Call 13 11 14
The Alcohol and drug foundation have many resources and a helpline.
Call 1300 85 85 84