My first alcoholic drink was a shandy of beer and lemonade when I was 17 at the local pub
with a girlfriend. I didn’t like the taste, but with enough lemonade it was just bearable.
I didn’t drink for pleasure until my early twenties. Even then, not much.
When I did drink a few wines I was usually sick and vomiting most of the next day. I
specialised in horrendous hangovers. My friends would call me Cadbury (glass and a half) as
that was all I needed to get drunk.
As I wasn’t that fond of drinking it was easy to stop when pregnant and breastfeeding. I do
remember being told however, that beer would increase my milk supply.
It still did not agree with me in my mid 20’s. I was always badly hungover after parties even
though I probably only had 3 or 4 wines.
Once my children were both at primary school I could spend more time on my fitness. As I got
fitter, I also noticed I began to tolerate alcohol more.
In my 30’s we started having glorious ladies lunches with much champagne.
My hangovers were becoming less severe and I could drink more and keep up with friends.
I was never very good at sipping a wine. I remember regularly finishing my wine first and
feeling impatient for my drinking partners to hurry up so I could drink more. In my 30s and 40s
my tolerance continued to increase with hangovers being less of a problem.
Both our girls went to boarding school, which left some emptiness from 4om until 7pm during the week. Instead of just drinking at social events I began drinking one or two wines most nights of the week, usually with my hubby but often I’d had my 2 before he came home as his hours are long and I would get lonely.
Two years in a row I took a one-month break from alcohol. I found this easier than
When I did this I would always feel like my life had (temporarily) improved.
My father passed away after a few months of illness in 2016. Around that time I was juggling work, farm commitments, girls at boarding school | university - and I was drinking 2 or sometimes 3 glasses at night to numb the stress of keeping all the balls in the air.
I found myself avoiding alcohol in the month that I actually spent with Dad at the end of his
life. I felt fully present with my Dad and my family. It was a very sad but beautiful time to be with him at the end. Things felt real.
Once life returned to normal, my drinking did too: it was back to usually 5 nights a week. I began to notice anxiety slowly creeping into my life and I was less confident at work.
Apparently menopause can cause anxiety? I thought it could be that. But I also knew drinking
was possibly exacerbating the anxiety. I remember exercising in the morning and saying to myself “I won’t drink tonight!” But a wine would always end up in my hand. Moderation for me was really difficult! Wine at night would make me sleepy, I snored through the second half of most movies.
I was recommended a Podcast on Mamamia titled “Maz Compton doesn’t drink anymore” she
was described as a high functioning alcoholic who had turned her life around and never
looked back. That podcast and reading her book “The social rebellion” was the beginning of
an awareness of my drinking habits and a growth in my ‘sober curiosity’.
On reflection, I suspect a change in my mindset was occurring. I inhaled the book “This naked mind” by Annie Grace. She says “Without judgement, pain or rules we explore the role of Alcohol in our lives and culture”.
I decided to give a 90 day challenge with ‘One Year No Beer’ a try. I wanted to experiment
and see how a longer term dry-spell would impact me.
The hardest parts were the firsts.
The first week, when I still looked for that nightly vino.
The first catch up with friends without drinking, when everyone else is. And then ... each different circle of friends is difficult the first time.
About the 60 day mark, I started losing the anxiety.
In its place was a feeling of real joy and contentment that was and is hard to contain.
My family and friends have been a beautiful support.
Each gathering is a new opportunity to connect with friends at a deeper level in a different way. Connection with friends and family is as important as it has ever been. There is more time in my week, I have so much headspace and I’m following through with more tasks.
My thoughts are large and exciting- as if someone has opened the sunroof of my brain.
My moods are better, my self esteem has increased, my life feels more beautiful.
I’m sleeping soundly, blissful sleep!
Without trying, I’m making healthier choices in food and nutrition, I just am.
I’m losing cms and feeling more confident in my skin. I am saving Money- I’m not spending $$$ as I cruise straight past the bottle shop. And I have no hangovers – seriously not missing that one bit!!
“You weren’t that bad”, Friends said. It’s true. I wasn’t dancing naked at parties! I didn’t have
blackouts. But you don’t have to be drinking in the morning or dancing on the pool table for
alcohol to be a problem.
I realised that for me, the cons of drinking alcohol outweighed the pros.
Yes, friends have questioned it. I think some are perhaps questioning their own relationship
There are certainly still difficult moments, difficult days. But with new tools to reach for and so
many benefits of sobriety, I no longer feel the need to drink.
It doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy a great gathering of fabulous girlfriends and mates. Thank
goodness for that. Gatherings with girlfriends are still glorious.
Newsflash- It’s not the champagne that makes those times so good. It’s the friendship.
So 90 days is done, the sky has not fallen and for me, my life has improved exponentially.
Soda water with lime is now my bubble of choice, I’m choosing booze free and loving life!
I have discovered a path that has opened my eyes to a world of opportunities. There is no
way of getting this cat back into that bag!
I’m keeping this information fairly close to my chest. It feels too radical. I’m hoping in a small
way, by sharing, we can all work together to remove the stigma of 'alcohol use disorder'.
Thank you for reading my story. I wrote it for myself and anyone else who feels like they
would like to take a break or are questioning their own relationship with alcohol.
Curated and shared by Shanna Whan - founder of Sober in the Country: a national rural online health movement creating a ripple-effect of positive change across outback Australia.
*Shanna would love to again acknowledge and thank Liesel for her friendship, support, and overall awesomeness, and generosity. Please feel free to follow her instagram: ''soberleisel'' xx
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