138 reasons why being Alcohol Free is the BEST
I surveyed my ditch-the-drink community for their top reasons why being AF is awesome – and this list is the result!
For aaaaagges (like, til I was in my 40s) I thought there were only TWO types of drinkers.
1) “Normal” drinkers, and
Alcoholics were obviously the ones rolling in the gutter and pouring vodka on their cornflakes.
They were to be viewed with compassion because they had A Bad Disease.
They were to be pitied because they had to stop drinking forever and their lives would be endlessly boring and they would never actually be better, just live in a sort of limbo land where they had to count every day of their new boring lives and look back with sadness at their past of fun and laughter.
Yeah, thanks for that, Hollywood.
So when I realised I was drinking a bit too much I decided I needed to cut back on my nightly Chablis habit. And found that I couldn’t.
So I tried again. I found I *really* couldn’t.
And then I got sweaty palms.
Because I knew what that meant.
I was clearly...
Do you find yourself avoiding feeling discomfort? Or avoiding any kind of feelings?
I get it, because I spent ages (like, two decades) running away from stuff that made me uncomfortable.
Who am I, if I’m not a drinker?
I was a bit lost when I stopped drinking.
In my 20s I was “the party girl”, the fun one, the crazy one … I kinda knew I was a bit over the top – maybe a tad scary – when I was pissed, but told myself I was fun and non-drinkers were booorrrrrring. I was avoiding dealing with all kinds of shit, and put myself in some super scary situations. I look back in a kind of shocked awe at the way I treated myself. And others. Sorry, world.
In my 30s I was a mum and I struggled. Privately. In public I more or less had it together. I thanked God for the whole “mummy juice” and “mummy time” thing, even though I was a bit horrified that we were basically saying our kids drove us to drink. I was no longer the party girl, because I was Now A Mum. I was the one at the back of the barbie, surreptitiously trying to pour another...
Have you said Yes to something, then wished you said No and felt cranky and resentful?
Then I’d be horrified at the anger and resentment I was feeling TOWARDS PEOPLE I LOVE (eek!) and would try to drown the “bad” feelings out with a glass or two or five of dry white.
Boundary setting can be scary, I get that. But with practice it can be done with love & grace for both you and the other person.
I think there are two important points here:
I did a Live today about exactly this. Have a watch (it’s only 6 minutes long). I’d love to know what you think.
PS if you'd like to dig a bit deeper into this, I can highly recommend Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by...
“You’re at your most vulnerable right after you score a goal”
When I heard this, something clicked for me.
I’d been trying to stop drinking for ages. I knew I was drinking too much, and I knew that moderation was waaayyy too hard for me, so I was aiming to stop completely.
I would set a date, read all the quit lit, psych myself up and – stop! Yay.
Day 1: This is hard but I am determined.
Day 2: I can do this!
Day 3: I don’t know why I was so worried. It’s hard but not THAT hard.
Day 4: This is so easy, I think I can probably have just one ….
Day 5: Oh shit. What was I thinking??!! Waaah! I’m stuck again.
Then I read the quote “You’re at your most vulnerable right after you score a goal” and I realised what was happening.
The hard bit wasn’t Day 1. I had to keep my guard up the whole time. For days and weeks and months,...
I wanted to stop drinking because I seemed to have lost the ability to moderate. And spending most of your time hung over is no way to live your life.
I thought not-drinking would be just that, my life the same but without booze. And possibly more dull, because – well, the clue is in the word, surely? Sober.
What I didn’t expect was my life would suddenly open up into full colour. Drinking regularly had sneakily shrunk my life into a dull colourless box, bit by bit, when I wasn’t looking.
That was awesome. As was the relief of having my energy back again, my joi de vivre, my skin improving, being there for my family, not spending a small fortune at Dan Murphy's, not worrying about having enough wine in the house, mornings without a headache and a furry mouth and not drinking a million excess calories every night.
But what I didn’t expect were the little things, which are actually quite big...
I badly wanted to turn back the clock. Not for because I wanted to look younger, or be able to “do over” some of my more memorable stuff-ups, but because I wanted to get back my “take it or leave it” attitude to wine.
I just wanted to drink like I did in my 20s. Back then, I didn’t even think about it, I didn’t count units, I didn’t care if I drank or not … why couldn’t it be like that again?
It seemed so unfair that back then I didn’t care if I moderated or not. Now I was a wife and mother and responsible adult and I wanted to rein in my drinking … I just couldn’t.
We’ve all heard of habituation and tolerance, but I didn’t realise until I really started looking into it that drinking regularly actually physically changes your brain. Physically. Like, that lumpy grey stuff in...
There’s some fascinating research from the late 90s, called The Radish Experiment (I know, great name!), that posits that willpower is a finite resource. And the more decisions we have to make during the day, the less willpower we have left at the end.
Basically, if you REALLY want chocolate biccies and are surrounded by chocolate biccies, but have been told that you can only have radishes, there's a good chance you'll get fed up and chuck the towel in. It is argued that this is why, at the end of a long day, we turn to Netflix and pizza, instead of eating some steamed fish and getting our butts to the gym.
We now know that willpower isn't about strength of character or moral choices: when we’re tired and have been wrestling with hard decisions all day, it’s a lot easier to make good choices if we’ve done some forward planning.
Especially when we’re changing our...
Back when I was drinking too much, I couldn’t understand why it was so hard to change my relationship with alcohol.
I had my “Why” sorted: I wanted to be there for my family and I wanted to look after my health (ie no more hangovers and exhaustion!)
I had the “Where I wanted to go” sorted: I knew that I really wanted to stop, that moderation wasn’t working for me.
I had the “Who” sorted: there was only one person who had to wrestle back control of this pesky habit – me, myself and I.
I had the “When” sorted: soon as freaking possible! I was so tired of thinking about drinking.
I had the “What” sorted: what I wanted to be free of those impulses.
But dammit, I could NOT get a handle on this stopping thing. I kept getting a day or two under my belt of not drinking. Then by about Day Three my resolve would snap, I’d be overwhelmed by I JUST...